* Presidential race could hinge on Ohio
* Republican governor touts economic gains
By Samuel P. Jacobs
NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio, Oct 27 Republican vice
presidential candidate Paul Ryan told an Ohio rally on Saturday
about a friend's financial hardship, but his party's narrative
that President Barack Obama has failed on the U.S. economy may
be a difficult sell in the crucial battleground state.
"I've got a buddy who was making 25 (dollars) an hour who
went to make 9 dollars an hour as a cashier at a gas station
temporarily with no benefits. That's the story of the American
economy right now," Ryan told a crowd of 1,000 people at an
With the tight presidential race potentially coming down to
a contest over Ohio and its prize of 18 electoral votes, the
question of whether the state is in good shape economically is
The Midwestern manufacturing state, where latest polls show
Obama holding a slim lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney
before the Nov. 6 election, has an unemployment rate of 7
percent, below the national average of 7.8 percent.
In Tuscarawas County, where New Philadelphia is located, the
jobless rate in September was 5.9 percent, down two 2 points
from September 2011. Obama beat Republican presidential
candidate John McCain in the county four years ago.
Appearing in Zanesville on Saturday afternoon, Ryan's
argument about the sputtering economy was given a partial rebuke
from a surprising source: Ohio's Republican governor, John
"You know the situation here in our state, as you know,
we're doing better," Kasich said in his introduction to Ryan, at
the start of a two-day, eight-stop bus tour of Ohio.
Like Florida and Virginia, Ohio is a battleground state home
to a Republican governor eager to offer sunny economic news that
occasionally sounds different from the picture painted by the
Kasich outlined the economic success in Ohio since he took
office in early 2011. Hundreds of thousands of job losses, he
said, had turned into job gains, balanced budgets and a growing
government surplus. Kasich said Ohio had become the No. 4 job
creator in the country and led all other states in the Midwest.
"Not bad, huh?" he asked.
Kasich did join Ryan in saying the federal government under
Obama had hindered, rather than helped that success. Throughout
the campaign, Obama has insisted that the decision to inject
taxpayer dollars to bail out General Motors and Chrysler saved
jobs in Ohio where 850,000 people work in the automobile
Listening to Ryan, who held a rally for 500 people at the
Zanesville High School on Saturday afternoon, was Bob Kessler,
61, a small-business owner, who said he had seen those economic
Kessler, who employs 60 people through his electric sign and
outdoor advertising company, said business "is good because we
made it good."
"It's better this year, a lot better. We've hired people,"
While Kessler said he had not voted for a Democratic
presidential candidate since he cast a ballot in 1976 for Jimmy
Carter ("the last mistake I made in politics"), the challenge
for the Romney campaign as it scrambles to win Ohio is whether
economic recovery in the state will work against Republicans.