BRUNSWICK, Ohio—The torrential rain began well before Mitt Romney arrived here for a Father's Day breakfast in the parking lot behind a local restaurant.
Under dark skies and the occasional ominous clap of thunder, hundreds of people sought to protect themselves anyway they could. Some held Romney signs above their heads to block the rain, while others quickly threw on impromptu ponchos constructed out of black garbage bags. Meanwhile, as the clock ticked by and the rain grew heavier, a few gave up and just headed back to their cars.
But a strange thing happened when the candidate rolled up in his campaign bus a few minutes behind schedule. The rain let up, and the sun came out—a sign from Mother Nature that Romney just couldn't overlook when he finally took the stage.
"This is courage. You guys out here wearing garbage bags," Romney said, eying his drenched supporters. "I guess you didn't know the rain was going to come. I didn't know it was going to rain this morning… But it looks like the sun is coming out, and I think that's a metaphor for the country. The sun is coming out guys! The dark clouds are about to part!"
It was the first stop of day three of Romney's five-day tour of six battleground states, which has already taken him through New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. But it's Ohio that is considered a true must-win for Romney this fall—as no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning in Ohio.
A recent Purple Strategies poll of likely voters in the state found Romney and Obama statistically tied in the state. But Romney is hoping he can gain an edge on Obama by endlessly hammering him on the economy in the state, which has been hit hard by foreclosures and job loss across the state.
Romney's bus tour continues on the same theme the candidate has emphasized over the last two days, taking him through small towns across the state where he'll talk about the economy.
But the larger focus is likely to be on who is traveling with Romney today. After two days on the road with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Romney is on the road today with another Republican rumored to be in the running for his vice presidential pick, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
The two will appear together at a rally in Newark, located about 30 miles east of Columbus. Later in the day, Romney and Portman will meet up with House Speaker John Boehner at a hamburger joint in Troy, Ohio. The event will mark the first time Romney has appeared with Boehner on the 2012 campaign trail.
Joined on stage in Brunswick by his wife, Ann, and two of his five sons, Romney told the crowd here the upcoming election will be a "turning point" for the country and repeatedly emphasized that Obama didn't understand the struggles of average Americans.
"He hasn't has the kind of job you have," Romney said. "He hasn't had the kind of experience you've had to understand what it takes to have a job, to create a job. I think it's time to have a president who's had a job to be the one to create jobs."