MARIETTA, Ohio – Echoing Mitt Romney -- and co-opting a line from President Obama’s 2008 campaign -- vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Saturday told a crowd here to vote for love of country, not out of revenge in the way Obama suggested at a Friday campaign stop.
“In 2008 he appealed to our highest aspirations, now he’s appealing to our lowest fears. You know, just yesterday he was asking his supporters at a rally to vote out of revenge,” Ryan said of Obama. “Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love of country. That's what we do in this country. We don't believe in revenge. We believe in change and hope.”
At the rally in Springfield, Ohio, Obama responded to boos at the mention of Romney's name by saying, "Don't boo. Vote. Voting is the best revenge." Republicans have seized on the comment, issuing a new ad blasting it.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Saturday that the comment was prompted by what she called Romney's "scare tactics," such as an ad implying that auto jobs would be moved to China that has come under widespread criticism.
The Romney ad was "frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they're not going to have a job," Psaki said, according to Yahoo News. "And the message he was sending is if you don't like the policies, if you don't like the plan that Gov. Romney is putting forward, if you think that's a bad deal for the middle class, then you can go to the voting booth and cast your ballot."
During a subsequent conference call with reporters, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said Romney's argument "seems very small" as a final statement of his campaign. He also cited the auto ad and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani calling for Obama's resignation, referring to the latter as "the kind of thing you do in a banana republic."
Campaigning in the southeastern part of this crucial battleground state, Ryan attacked the president for his regulation of the coal industry in the hopes it will drive up turnout among the blue-collar voters who depend on the industry.
“These are serious times. We know this. Look, I see your coal signs. Livelihoods are at stake,” he said, promising to roll back coal regulations on the first day of a Romney administration.
As he talked about the need for better skills training for workers who lose their jobs in their 40s and 50s, Ryan sought to connect with the 1,200 voters gathered in a college gymnasium by describing his hometown of Janesville as “a hard-hit, blue-collar town where we lost our big factories.”
With his middle-class, Midwestern upbringing, Ryan is the most authentic messenger to many of the voters the Romney campaign needs to reach. He has held nearly 30 rallies or town halls in the state. But the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Romney trailing Obama by six points in the state.