Opposing views: Left, United States President Barack Obama speaks about job training at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio (April 18, 2012). Right, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to a crowd at the now-closed National Gypsum Company plant in Lorain, Ohio.Source: Michael Francis Mcelroy/Getty Images (Left); Stacey L. Palm/The Real Truth (Right)
American President Barack Obama and likely challenger Mitt Romney are ratcheting up campaign appearances ahead of this November’s election, targeting Midwest cities hit hard by unemployment.
Near Lorain, a Northeast Ohio city of around 64,000 once defined by manufacturing, Mr. Obama appeared at the local community college, drawing attention to the school’s “Transformations” job training program and interacting with several students.
The White House’s website stated, “Lorain County has been greatly affected by plant closures over the last three decades. Between 2001 and 2010, the county lost 11,500 jobs overall, with manufacturing losing 10,500…The programs at Lorain County Community College…rely on critical federal funding provided to their local area ($4.5 million in 2012, for Lorain County) through the Workforce Investment Act…” Mr. Obama touted the college’s program as an example of federal dollars used on his watch to address the Rust Belt’s labor drain in the outsourcing era.
The next day, in a short-notice follow-up visit, Mr. Romney spoke to supporters at the city’s defunct National Gypsum plant. The plant’s cavernous interior was nearly empty aside from a front-loader, some wood pallets, and several towering stacks of new drywall in one corner.
Speaking in front of a banner reading “Obama Isn’t Working,” the presidential challenger used the setting to draw attention to what he termed “unfulfilled promises” from the Obama administration. The crowd, mostly middle-aged and above, paid rapt attention to Mr. Romney’s 15-minute speech, and most stayed afterward to shake the former Massachusetts governor’s hand.
The fall election is expected to be a hard-fought contest, featuring massive ad spending, extensive voter registration initiatives, and frequent appearances by both candidates in battleground states such as Ohio and Virginia. It is also expected to highlight the deep division between the right and left in America.