TOLEDO, Ohio: President Barack Obama told Americans Monday to punt away Mitt Romney’s economic game plan, in a new swipe at his Republican rival on the road to this week’s Democratic National Convention.
Obama surrounded himself with union members in Ohio, the crucial swing state that Republicans must historically win if they are to reach the White House, on Labor Day, an annual holiday honoring achievements of U.S. workers.
He also freshened up his stump speech with American football metaphors, playing off Romney’s self-portrayal as a new coach that would lead the country to a winning season.
“The problem is everybody has already seen his economic playbook, we know what’s in it,” Obama said, accusing Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan of plotting middle class tax hikes and cuts in health care for the elderly.
“I have got one piece of advice for you about the Romney-Ryan game plan Ohio – punt it away, it won’t work, it won’t win the game. You don’t need that coach, that’s a losing season,” Obama said.
Romney, who was in Ohio Saturday on the first day of the U.S. college football season, portrayed Obama as the coach of a losing team, and suggested himself as an alternative.
“It’s time to get a new coach ... it’s time for America to see a winning season again, and we’re going to bring it to them,” Romney said in Cincinnati.
Toledo is home to General Motors and Chrysler factories whose workers benefited from a multibillion dollar auto industry bailout championed by the president and opposed by Romney in 2009.
Romney chose not to campaign on Labor Day, which fell the weekend after the intensity of his own nominating convention in Florida, spending time with his family, and taking a turn on his boat near his New Hampshire vacation house.
But he issued a statement saying Labor Day was a chance to celebrate the strong American work ethic.
“For far too many Americans, today is another day of worrying when their next paycheck will come. Over 23 million Americans are struggling for work and job creation has not returned to our economy the way it should,” Romney said. “My plan for a stronger middle class will champion small businesses, create millions of good jobs, and build a better future for our country.”
Obama is on a four-day “Road to Charlotte” tour taking in territory that will decide November’s election, in which his prospects are clouded by a painfully slow economic recovery and a 8.3 percent unemployment rate.
He has already visited Iowa and Colorado and headed to hurricane-stricken Louisiana later Monday.
Obama is traveling to another swing state, Virginia, Tuesday, before flying into Charlotte, North Carolina, Wednesday on the eve of his big Democratic National Convention address.
Thousands of Democratic party activists were already gathering in Charlotte ahead of the first night Tuesday of the nominating bonanza which features an address by first lady Michelle Obama.
Party officials said Obama’s speech, to be held at a 74,000-seater stadium Thursday would go on “rain or shine,” despite a questionable weather forecast.
According to the National Weather Service, there is “a chance of showers and thunderstorms” Thursday night with the likelihood of precipitation placed at about 30 percent.
Officials said they were monitoring the weather but the only thing that would force a change of plan would be a risk to spectators’ safety.
“Obviously we want to make sure that everyone is safe, so we will make a decision based on that,” said top convention organizer Steve Kerrigan.
One option Democrats have is to move the speech to the nearby Time Warner Cable Arena, where the rest of the convention is taking place.
However, with a roughly 20,000 seat capacity that would offer considerably fewer voters the chance to see Obama speak and would alter the big-stadium vibe that served the Democratic flag bearer so well four years ago.