And when a Cleveland dairy owner wanted to make more ricotta cheese, he won what was then the largest loan in the history of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“One of the tastiest investments the government has ever made,’’ the president joked as he mentioned the dairy and other businesses his administration has helped in the state.
It goes without saying that, every four years, presidential candidates shower battleground states with attention. This time around, it’s Obama in Ohio, doling out the perks of office — all the time.
He will return to the state Wednesday to barnstorm in Bowling Green and Kent, making what will be his 29th visit since taking office. Excluding D.C.’s neighboring states, Virginia and Maryland, that’s more than any state except New York, where he often flies to raise money, and far more than other swing states, including Florida (22 visits), Colorado (14) and Wisconsin (9), according to White House records.
Either Obama or Vice President Biden has popped up in the Buckeye State every three weeks on average since they took office.
The president has eaten Cincinnati chili, led the cheers for Ohio State basketball and planted himself in the back yard of a Columbus family to highlight, next to their tomato garden, what his policies did for them. His trips, along with repeated outings by Biden (18 visits) and other Cabinet members, often have come with good news about funding and other government largess.
Obama even jokes about his courtship of the state, saying in a 2010 visit that he had been there so many times that the governor “might start charging me for it.’’
And he is clear about the stakes. “If we win Toledo, we will win Ohio,” Obama said in a Toledo speech this month. “And if we win Ohio, we’ll win this election.’’ The line is a refrain he is known to have used in various battleground states.
His efforts appear to be paying off in what is perhaps the ultimate battleground, a politically divided state with 18 electoral votes that has gone with the winning candidate in nearly every presidential election for 70 years.
A Washington Post poll released Tuesday shows Obama with an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio among likely voters.
The gap also could be tied to the state’s improving economy and the relative popularity in Ohio of the auto-industry bailout that the administration oversaw. Obama and other officials have repeatedly touted the bailout on visits to Ohio, emphasizing Romney’s opposition to it and the fact that the domestic car industry employs about 150,000 workers in the state.
Administration officials said that they have not favored Ohio and that federal money flows to every state, including those with little political benefit, according to merit-based reviews. “These decisions are made on the merits by professionals with the relevant policy expertise,’’ said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. “These projects often have bipartisan support and are part of programs that have created jobs all across the country.’’