TOLDEO, Ohio — The final presidential debate on Monday night marked the beginning of the home stretch for President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s campaigns for president. And with less than two weeks until Election Day, its likely that the Republican and Democratic tickets will both continue to campaign heavily throughout Ohio, as Vice President Joe Biden held a rally here Tuesday on the campus of the University of Toledo.
There is no question that Ohio, and Toledo in particular, could decide the election, and both campaigns are well aware of the stakes. Both campaigns, as well as allied interest groups, have spent or reserved around $950 million on television ads in the state.
Though the Romney groups have accumulated an approximately $100 million advantage over Obama’s groups, Obama looks to have a slight edge in the state, with an average lead of 1.9 points, according to Real Clear Politics.
Obama visited Ohio on Tuesday, making it his 17th trip to the state this year. The president has visited Ohio more than any other state this election cycle, and Romney has a number of planned trips to the state in the coming two weeks.
The economy remains a paramount issue in the state, and has remained a theme in campaign appearances by all candidates.
In his speech, Biden delineated the clear vision of the Obama administration for alleviating social issues and aiding the middle class before a crowd of about 1,500 attendees.
Biden talked about job outsourcing, and distinguished between the two presidential candidates on the issue, noting that while Romney emphasizes a difference between “off-shoring” and “outsourcing,” he and Obama see both as taking jobs away from Americans.
“The president’s job is to bring jobs home; the president’s job is to create jobs here,” Biden said.
He emphasized the need for Americans to stand for what they believe in and vote in a way that reflects what they want, adding that there should be a heavier focus on the middle class and a concerted effort to continue creating jobs.
Biden said Romney and Ryan have not publicly addressed their thoughts on how to ensure economic success for the middle class well enough.
“Instead of signing a pledge … promising that they’ll cut taxes for the very wealthy, they should be signing a pledge to you, the middle class, saying that they’ll level the playing field,” he said. “That’s the pledge we wrote — that’s why we’re running.”
He noted that he and Obama have already started develop a plan to create new manufacturing jobs and double the country’s exports.
“We’re going to give tax breaks to companies who stay here and come here — not those who go abroad,” Biden said. “We’re going to develop home-grown energy.”
If re-elected, he explained that he and Obama foresee an increase in coal, oil and natural gas generated domestically, as well as solar power energy and biofuel. He noted that the administration plans to create 600,000 jobs solely in natural gas production.
Guyton Mathews, a University of Toledo junior studying political science and communications, was chosen to address the audience before Biden took the stage. In an interview after the event, he said he was glad to see that the vice president addressed some of his primary concerns — affordable education and women’s rights.
Mathews added that with the help of supporters like Biden, the Obama administration can secure Ohio’s support.
“If they just keep at it the way they’re doing it now, (Obama will) definitely get Ohio,” he said.
Mathews was one of many Ohioans to take advantage of early voting, which began in late September.
“It’s a lot more convenient,” he said. “We have classes so sometimes it’s not as easy to get out to the polls.”
Deonte Howard, a University of Toledo junior studying social work, also voted early. Howard explained that because he has cerebral palsy, it is hard for him to stand in line or walk long distances.
“Early voting gives me the opportunity to (vote) at a slower pace so I won’t be tired on Election Day,” he said.
Howard added he thinks Biden’s speech “hit home” for the college students in attendance.
“I feel like Biden coming down … is showing that they do care about us,” Howard said. “We are willing to put in our vote and I appreciate the fact that they acknowledge that.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Daily Staff Reporter Anna Rozenberg reported from Toledo and Daily News Editor Rayza Goldsmith reported from Ann Arbor.