In an effort to win the votes of moderates in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney vowed yesterday that, if elected, he would work "with people of good faith in the other party," while asserting that President Barack Obama "will still be unable to work" with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
At a rally at the sprawling International Exposition Center before thousands of supporters waving "Cleveland Rocks" placards, Romney pledged to meet regularly with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, saying he would "endeavor to find those good men and good women on both sides of the aisle who care more about the country than they do politics."
"I learned that respect and good will go a long way," Romney said. "They're usually returned in kind. That's how I am going to conduct myself as president. I'll bring people together. I won't just represent one party. I'll represent one nation."
Romney, much like Obama in Mentor on Saturday, is trying to persuade skeptical independent voters in Ohio that he can put an end to the paralysis on Capitol Hill that nearly caused the federal government to default on its debt a year ago in August.
But he was appealing to a broader audience than just those in Ohio. After the rally, Romney flew to the Philadelphia suburbs, where he is hoping to win the votes of moderate and liberal Republicans who backed Obama four years ago but have grown weary of the intense partisan bickering in Washington.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a key Romney adviser who yesterday joined GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in Mansfield, cited new polls in Pennsylvania that showed the race tightening. He said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., "laid it out for me how it can happen in Pennsylvania. It's all about the Philadelphia suburbs.
"They kind of like Romney; the more they see of him, the more they like him," Portman said. "He's talking more about bipartisanship, he's talking more about working across the aisle to get things done. So I think the message is having some impact."
Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, dismissed Romney's speech, saying that "the American people should be very wary of Mitt Romney's promises of bipartisanship."
"Over the six years that he's been running for president, he's been too weak to stand up to the most-extreme and divisive voices in the Republican Party and, in fact, has catered to them," Smith said. "If he can't stand up to the far-right wing now, he certainly wouldn't as president."
Romney made his comments on the same day that Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Ryan all campaigned in Ohio, hoping to win the state's crucial 18 electoral votes.
Romney's promise to soothe the partisan anger in Washington is similar to the messages of Obama in 2008 and former President George W. Bush in 2000, who liked to say he was "a uniter, not a divider."
In his speech yesterday, however, Romney blamed Obama for the discord on Capitol Hill. Reminding voters that Obama campaigned in 2008 as a "post-partisan president." Romney charged that the president has "been most partisan he's been divisive, blaming, attacking, dividing."
"Instead of bridging the divide, he has made it wider," Romney said. "You hoped that President Obama would live up to his promise to bring people together to solve big problems. But he hasn't. And I will."
Romney will be in Columbus today with the Marshall Tucker Band at Landmark Aviation, 4130 E. 5th Ave., at Port Columbus.
While Romney stressed bipartisan cooperation in Cleveland, about 70 miles to the south in Mansfield, Ryan ripped Obama as a failed president.
Speaking to about 900 in a private hangar at the Mans-field airport, Ryan said that Obama continually deflects attention from the big issues facing the nation because "he can't run on his record."
As he has throughout his many appearances in Ohio, Ryan talked anew about America having the " highest poverty rate in a generation" and falling 9 million jobs "shy of where President Obama said we would be if only we would borrow all this money and spend it on the stimulus program."
"He said he would bring people together to solve the country's biggest problems," Ryan said. "He said he'd cut the deficit in half. He said he'd create all these jobs. The deficit has doubled. It's the most-partisan atmosphere and the most-divisive partisan Washington I've ever seen. This may be the best President Obama can do, but it is not the best we can do."
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