Romney on the rise in Ohio

By Joe Vardon

Originally Appeared in “The Columbus Dispatch”

LANCASTER — Maybe Vice President Joe Biden stopped the bleeding for the Obama campaign on Thursday, but he did little to stall the momentum Mitt Romney’s building in Ohio.

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“I’ve had the fun of going back and forth across Ohio, and this week, I was also in Florida and Iowa, … in North Carolina and Virginia,” Romney told 8,500 people packed into the Lancaster Town Square last night for a rally featuring him and running mate Paul Ryan.

Ryan debated Biden on Thursday night in Kentucky in their lone duel of the campaign; afterward, both sides were claiming victory.

“You know what? There’s a growing crescendo of enthusiasm,” Romney said. “People recognize that this is not an ordinary campaign, this is a critical time in the country. There’s more energy and passion. People are getting behind this campaign.”

Romney was previously greeted by huge crowds in Cuyahoga Falls on Tuesday night (12,000 people) and in Sidney, Ohio, on Wednesday night (9,000), and both he and Ryan have campaign stops scheduled in the state today. Ryan also added a noon rally in Cincinnati on Monday.

Most polls still show President Barack Obama with a lead over Romney in Ohio, a lead that inarguably has shrunk from the 5- to 10-point margins Obama held not long ago.

The Romney blitz and poll-tightening in Ohio followed Romney’s clear win over Obama last week in Denver — a debate for which Romney was praised and Obama was widely panned.

Most pundits agree Biden performed well enough Thursday night to at least heal some of the wounds Obama’s performance inflicted upon his re-election bid, but there was enough good from Ryan for Romney to credit him for some of the Lancaster crowd’s enthusiasm.

“Guys, we got to watch this guy debate. And there was one person on the stage with thoughtfulness, who was respectful, who was steady and poised,” Romney said, with Ryan standing on stage to his right. “There was one person on that stage who you’d want to be with in a crisis, and it’s this man right here.”

Romney was referring to Biden’s tone and body language. The excitement in Biden’s voice and smirks on his face while Ryan spoke earned the vice president the most criticism for his performance.

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