Romney, Obama Focus Attention On Ohio, N.C. Voters

The Democrats hold their national convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney traveled there Wednesday to deliver a prebuttal to President Obama's speech. Meanwhile, the president traveled to Ohio, another politically-important state, to deliver an address on the economy.

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And I'm Lynn Neary. Mitt Romney has closed the gap on President Obama. A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Romney and the president in a dead heat, both at 46 percent support from registered voters. That marks a three percent pickup for the former Massachusetts governor since March. At the moment the rivals are on a cross-country tango. Today, Romney is campaigning in Ohio. President Obama spoke in that state yesterday.

Romney, meanwhile, spent yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, delivering a speech in view of the stadium where the president will formally accept his party's nomination at the end of the summer. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: The venue is called A Roof with a View, and the view in question is Bank of America Stadium, the football field in Charlotte where tens of thousands of cheering Democrats will welcome President Obama 20 weeks from now. The rain-streaked windows behind Mitt Romney framed the massive concrete structure. Romney offered what he called a preview of what will take place in the stadium just after Labor Day.

MITT ROMNEY: You're not gonna see President Obama standing alongside Greek columns. He's not going to want to remind anybody of Greece.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Romney recited quotes from the speech candidate Obama delivered four years ago at the Democrats' convention in Denver, and he argued that the president has failed to keep his promises of economic prosperity and bipartisan unity.

ROMNEY: We're a trusting people. We're a hopeful people, but we're not dumb.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: And we're not gonna fall for the same lines from the same person just because it's in a different place.

SHAPIRO: Both parties are fighting hard for this state. Four years ago, Democrats carried North Carolina by less than half a percentage point. Romney wants voters here to ask themselves whether their life today is better than it was in 2008. For Deshawn Wilson, the answer is yes, things are better. He works as a cook at the stadium, and a dishwasher at an Olive Garden restaurant.

DESHAWN WILSON: Because compared to last year after I got laid off here, I couldn't find a job. I could not find a job at all, till my doing at least five, six applications a day for about four or five months, could not find work.

SHAPIRO: He says now working two jobs to make ends meet can be stressful and overwhelming, but at least he can support his wife and daughter, and he gives President Obama some of the credit for that.

WILSON: It's a long bumpy road that we gotta walk, and whoever walks that road, you know, they gonna see some potholes in the road, you know.

SHAPIRO: Bryan Brown is not so sure that President Obama deserves another four years behind the steering wheel. He works at a pub around the corner. He was an Obama voter last time, and this time he hasn't made up his mind.

BRIAN BROWN: Everybody has known somebody that's cutting back. I think everybody's actually cut back and so many people are looking for jobs, so I personally know several.

SHAPIRO: And you think Romney could help fix that potentially?

BROWN: I don't know that he can actually fix it, but he makes good points.

SHAPIRO: Romney sometimes campaigns with a big blue tour bus. The bus was not in Charlotte for this event. It was more than 500 miles away in Elyria, Ohio, circling the community college where President Obama was speaking.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Here in Lorain County, 90 percent of people who graduate from this program have a job three months later. Ninety percent. That's a big deal.

SHAPIRO: The president met with unemployed workers who are getting retrained for new careers. Without naming Romney, Mr. Obama argued that Republicans want to eliminate programs like this one to give the rich a tax cut.

OBAMA: Understand, this is not a redistribution argument. This is not about taking from rich people to give to poor people. This is about us together making investments in our country so everybody's got a fair shot.

SHAPIRO: While Romney's lectern featured the slogan the president isn't working, Mr. Obama delivered his pitch in front a sign saying an America built to last. After the speech, Air Force One flew from Ohio to Michigan for more campaign events. Meanwhile, Romney flew to Lorain, Ohio. He'll be speaking today at a shuttered gypsum factory, where President Obama campaigned in 2008. The factory closed a few weeks after Mr. Obama campaigned there, while President George W. Bush was still in office. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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