“When and if I become president of the United States, I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square and I will not take it out of the platform of my party,” Romney said, repeating a line he began using over the weekend and drawing hearty applause at a rally in this town a little over an hour’s drive northeast of Columbus.
With Obama opening a lead over Romney in the final two months of the long — and long-deadlocked — presidential race, Romney is trying at once to appeal to the nation’s moderate middle and to stir the passions of his more strident conservative base.
On Friday, Romney campaigned alongside one of Washington’s most conservative firebrands, Rep. Steve King, in King’s staunchly evangelical Iowa district.
“I want him as my partner in Washington,” Romney said.
The next day, Romney addressed a Virginia Beach rally just moments after Pat Robertson, the venerable and sometimes inflammatory televangelist, took a turn onstage. The Obama campaign said Romney was “pandering to the most extreme voices in his party.”
Yet there Romney was Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” praising Democratic former president Bill Clinton and sounding a softer, more conciliatory tone on the issue of health care. Although he said he would work to repeal “Obamacare,” Romney said there were aspects of Obama’s health-care overhaul that he would keep, such as ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to health insurance coverage.
And here in Ohio on Monday, Romney seized on the looming cuts to the nation’s defense budget — which he said would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and endanger national security — and on poor economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate and the rising number of Americans on food stamps, to sow doubts about Obama among undecided voters.
“ ‘Forward’ is his campaign slogan,” Romney said at a rally inside a Mansfield factory. “I think ‘forewarned’ is a better term. We know what would happen if he were reelected. We’d see more years of unemployment.”
Romney said Obama, who spoke extensively in his convention speech about what he has done to help middle-class families struggling through the economic recession, did not talk specifically about the unemployment rate, which stands at 8.1 percent, or the 47 million Americans now on food stamps.
“These are not numbers, or people, he spoke about during his convention speech,” Romney said.
A man in the crowd shouted out, “It’s not Bush’s fault,” to which Romney responded, “Yeah.”
“Not only did [Obama] not mention these people, he did not mention what he was going to do to help people get back to work,” Romney continued. “He does not have a plan.”