CINCINNATI - Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney heads to Carthage Thursday to meet with a small business owner who shares his views on how the nation's economy can regain its luster.
It's just another example in the counting story of the important role Ohio plans in all presidential campaigns.
The former Massachusetts governor will tour the Encor Foundry of Seilkop Industries, Inc., on West North Bend Road, then speak to employees and members of the media.
The campaign event follows Wednesday's fund-raising reception at the Hilton Netherland Hotel in downtown Cincinnati. Several hundred people paid $2,500 each to get in the door for the two hour event and $10,000 to have their photograph taken with Romney. Overall, the Romney camp will leave town with $3 million in donations.
Romney arrived in a police-escorted motorcade just before 5 p.m. and was greeted by a dozen protesters upset with his economic policies. Several laid down on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and had a red carpet rolled out over them to symbolize what they said was the nation's rich walking over the poor. Numerous Cincinnati police officers stood by and quietly watched events unfold, but they neither moved in nor made any arrests.
Nearby, many Democratic party leaders were joined by union representatives on Fountain Square to explain why they're backing Barack Obama for a second term. Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council Executive Director Doug Sizemore, said fresh in their memories were Republican efforts in Ohio and other states to lessen the impact of collective bargaining for teachers and other public unions in the state.
Out in Carthage, production at the Encor Foundry was canceled for Wednesday and Thursday as crews set up the sound and lighting systems for Romney's visit. It was much quieter than normal in the green-sand-foundry, which casts aluminum parts for the auto industry. That includes such things as supercharger housings, oil-filter adapters, water jackets, cylinder legs and oil filter adapters.
The company was chosen by the Romney campaign because the owner, Ken Seilkop, agrees with many of Romney's economic policies. Seilkop Industries employs 90 people systemwide and with about half of them working at the foundry.
"My dad is very passionate about keeping manufacturing in the United States, as is Gov. Romney," said Julie Hammons, Seikop's daughter and company head accountant. "He goes to Washington and lobbies with Congress and does whatever he can to see that it comes back.”
Much of the recent campaign conversation was triggered by President Obama's comment that the private sector is doing better with jobs and job creation right now.
Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou said the GOP's goal is to make sure voters are aware that the election is a referendum on Obama's four years in office.
"The Republican party has always stood for lower taxes, getting out of the way of a business so businesses can create jobs, creating a fair climate for business owners to grow public sector jobs," he said. "This president has never been in the private sector."
Tim Burke, Hamilton County's Democratic Party Chairman said the president's remark was a "little mistake" that can be overcome during the remaining days and months of the campaign.
"President Obama's priorities are to help the middle class and to make sure that we've got programs in place that will create jobs for the middle class," said Romney.
Xavier University Political Scientist Mark Mariani said the real danger of the remark for the president is that it changes the narrative and moves economic issues to the top of the list.
"It's dangerous because the economy hasn't gotten better," he said. "People don't perceive it as having gotten better."
Marinari went on to say that if the president wanted to run a kind of "Reaganesque 'American Is Back' campaign,” the opportunity for that tactic is gone.
So, how should President Obama play his cards in the coming weeks and month?
"The president has got to make a clear case for why his plan for the next four years is going to be better because he can't talk about this four years because people are just not happy where things are," said Mariani.
What about Romney?
"I think the challenge for any challenger is to demonstrate to voters that he is an alternative who is reasonable for people -- that he has a plan that will somehow get us out of this lingering recession that doesn't appear to ever go away," Mariani added.
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