WASHINGTON/CINCINNATI, Ohio (Reuters) - In a presidential campaign packed with nasty attack ads, truth-bending allegations and general rancor, there finally is something that Democrats and Republicans can agree on:
The replacement officials in the National Football League stink.
On a day when he spoke before the U.N. General Assembly and former president Bill Clinton’s global charity group in New York, President Barack Obama joined the chorus of football fans criticizing a controversial call by substitute officials on the last play of the game that gave the Seattle Seahawks a 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers late Monday.
“Terrible!” Obama shouted when reporters asked about his opinion of the game as he walked across the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from New York.
The NFL is relying on backup referees pulled from college and semi-professional football during the league’s lockout of its regular officials because of a contract dispute.
“I’ve been saying for months we’ve got to get our refs back,” Obama said.
Earlier he had expressed his displeasure on Twitter by saying: “NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon.”
In Obama’s rare show of sympathy for the Packers - he’s a fan of the Packers’ big rivals, the Chicago Bears - the president managed to avoid politics.
That wasn’t the case with Packers fan Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who is the vice presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican rival in the November 6 election.
At a rally in a cavernous steel warehouse in Cincinnati on Tuesday, Ryan compared Obama to the NFL’s replacement officials.
”Did you guys watch that Packers game last night?“ Ryan asked the morning crowd. ”I mean, give me a break.
“It is time to get the real refs. And you know what? It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can’t get it right, it’s time to get out. I half think these refs work part time for the Obama administration in the budget office.”
Later Tuesday, Ryan joined Romney for a rally in Vandalia, Ohio. The meeting, during a day of furious campaigning for the Republicans, marked the first time in 24 days that the running mates have appeared together.
No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio, a politically divided state that again is considered crucial to determining who will win the election.
A poll released by the Washington Post on Tuesday showed Obama leading Romney among likely voters in Ohio by 8 percentage points.
The Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll showed Obama leading Romney nationwide, 49 percent to 42 percent.
While much of his stump speech on Tuesday focused on blasting Obama on foreign and domestic policy, Ryan seemed stuck on Monday night’s loss by the Packers, particularly when describing how he and Romney might win in November.
“Unlike the Seattle Seahawks last night, we want to deserve this victory,” Ryan said. “We want to earn this victory.”
Editing by David Lindsey and Bill Trott