Obama Tries To Bank Early Votes In Ohio



The presidential candidates will be hopscotching among the handful of states that are most closely contested this weekend. President Obama begins campaigning Saturday where he left off Friday, in the all-important battleground of Ohio.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And the multi-billion dollar presidential campaign has come down to its final weekend. All that money, all these months are campaigning come down to just a few more frantic days for the candidates. The polls now show a close contest between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as they campaign in a handful of swing states. Mr. Obama begins campaigning today where he left off yesterday in - have we said this before? - Ohio. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Yeah, this is my town...

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Obama spent Friday working his way through some of the smaller cities of West Central Ohio. Thanks to legal pressure from the president's campaign, early voting in the state continues throughout this weekend, and the president's trying to bank as many votes as possible before the polls open on Tuesday. At each stop, the campaign featured testimonials from local residents who've been helped by the president's policies. In Springfield, Ohio, Alicia Mitchell talked about the discounts her mother and grandmother receive on their prescription drugs, thanks to Mr. Obama's health care law, and the help her high-school aged son hopes to receive when it's time for him to go to college.

ALICIA MITCHELL: So, yeah, my family and I are better off than we were four years ago.


MITCHELL: And we'll be even better four years from now.


HORSLEY: The president got a boost from some positive economic news yesterday. The last employment report of the campaign season showed U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October, more than forecasters were expecting. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent, but only because hundreds of thousands of newly hopeful workers decided to start looking for work again. In Ohio, the unemployment rate is lower still, thanks in part to the rebound of the auto industry. Judy Kamalay talked about that at an Obama rally in Franklin County, Ohio.

JUDY KAMALAY: When President Obama rescued the auto industry, he not only saved my brother's job in Detroit but he bet on a million other American workers right here in Ohio.


HORSLEY: One out of eight jobs in Ohio is tied to the auto industry, which may help to explain the president's small but resilient lead in the state. Mitt Romney tried to undercut Mr. Obama's auto advantage this past week with a campaign ad, suggesting Chrysler is preparing to move Jeep manufacturing jobs overseas. Mr. Obama says the Romney ad is deliberately trying to scare hardworking Americans.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You've got folks who work at the Jeep plant who've been calling their employers, worried, asking is it true? Are our jobs being shipped to China?

HORSLEY: It's not true. While Jeep is expanding in China, it's also adding jobs here in the U.S. The Obama campaign calls Romney's ad a desperate attempt to reverse Republican fortunes in Ohio. Mr. Obama's political advisor, David Axelrod, says the Romney tactic backfired.

DAVID AXELROD: Sometimes it's hard to unite business and labor. He's managed to do it this week. And they're united in their outrage about the callousness and the cynicism of what he was trying to do here.

HORSLEY: By highlighting the discredited Jeep ad, along with his challenger's shifting positions on taxes, abortion, and health care, Mr. Obama sought to sow doubts about whether voters can trust Governor Romney.

OBAMA: When you try to change the facts, just 'cause they're inconvenient to your campaign, that's definitely not change.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama says while voters might not agree with all his positions, at least they know where he stands. And he vowed to keep fighting for middle class families in Ohio and elsewhere.

OBAMA: I've got a lot of fight left in me.

HORSLEY: Voters now have four days to decide who'll be president for the next four years. Scott Horsley, NPR News.

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