They are 18 of the most important electoral votes anywhere on the battleground state map, and they belong to Ohio where Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan kick off a multi-city bus tour today
Romney was last in Ohio on September 14, and his last bus tour was with Ryan right after the vice presidential announcement on August 11.
But the GOP ticket faces an uphill battle in the Buckeye State, which has emerged as the most troublesome of the tossup states for Romney. A Washington Post poll out today put President Obama's edge in Ohio at eight percentage points, 52 percent to 44 percent, over his Republican challenger.
If Romney doesn't win the state, it means he needs to run the table in almost all of the seven other battlegrounds, winning Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada. Obama, on the other hand, can afford to lose Ohio and Florida as long as he wins Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. As ABC News Political Director Amy Walter points out: No Republican has won the presidency without Ohio. If Romney loses Florida and Ohio it is impossible for him to win.
Romney advisers in Boston contend that Obama's boost in the polls defies political gravity. In Ohio, one Romney strategist said, voters don't feel a real difference in the economy which suggests that the bump in Obama's standing is more of a short term sugar boost instead of a suggestion of a long-term trend. There is nothing that is "underpinning the economic optimism," one Romney adviser noted.
A recent Ohio Newspaper Organization-Cincinnati Enquirer poll found that on the question of "are you better off today than you were four years ago," just 23 percent said they were better off. Even so, voters are feeling better about their own personal standing than they were in 2008. Back then, the Ohio Newspaper poll found that almost half (47 percent) said they were worse off. Today it is down 11 points to 36 percent.
At an appearance in Lima, Ohio yesterday Ryan sought to speak the crowd's language: "Not only do I like to hunt and fish, I like to hunt and fish in Ohio, because I'm a graduate of Miami University of Ohio," Ryan said to applause, "and there's some good hunting and fishing around there."
And in an interview with ABC's Emily Friedman, Romney previewed his message for the week ahead - including the Ohio bus tour today and tomorrow.
"I'm going to be speaking about the same topics I have in the past, but I'm going to make sure that people understand that this is a different direction for the nation and that if they want the status quo," Romney said. "They can re-elect the person who has been leading us over the last four years. If they instead want to see this country go on a path that creates jobs and rising incomes, then they're going to have to vote for real and positive change, and that's what I represent." http://abcn.ws/PD1fzN
But Romney's going to have some competition getting that message across. President Obama descends on the state on Wednesday hitting Bowling Green and Kent.
LOCAL COLOR: RYAN HAMMERS OBAMA OVER PROPOSED OHIO TANK-PLANT CLOSING. The Los Angeles Times' Micheal Finnegan reports on Paul Ryan's campaign stop in Lima, Ohio: "The Wisconsin congressman told hundreds of Republicans at a veterans hall that Obama's 'only eagerness to cut spending' was on national defense. He blasted the president for proposing federal budgets that included the Army's proposed mothballing of the Lima tank plant. 'If we keep showing that the only thing we want to do is gut our military, that projects weakness abroad,' Ryan said. 'And by projecting weakness abroad, our adversaries are so much more tempted to test us, and our allies are so much less willing to trust us.'" http://lat.ms/PUWQbg
ROMNEY VS. OBAMA ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS: HARSH WORDS, HIGH STAKES. ABC's Jake Tapper reports that as the U.N. General Assembly convenes, the two U.S. presidential candidates are engaged in an intense back-and-forth over Libya and the Arab Spring. Tapper reported on "World News": As President Obama arrived in New York City today, Romney was focused on comments the president made to "60 Minutes" about whether recent events in the Muslim world gave Mr. Obama pause about supporting the Arab Spring movements. The president said no … In Pueblo, Colorado today, the Republican nominee berated the president, accusing him of downplaying serious threats. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/S1fFYT
PREVIEW: OBAMA TO WARN IRAN. More excerpts of President Obama's U.N. speech: "America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
And ABC's Martha Raddatz (moderator of the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate) reported for "Good Morning America" on the message Iran is trying to send with its claim that it has test-fired a missile into the Strait of Hormuz. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/UCG0SZ
Our virtual political roundtable:
ABC's AMY WALTER: Romney's troubles in Ohio began long before his post-convention stumbles. Take a look at the Pollster.com or RealClearPolitics.com average and you'll see Obama with 5-6 point lead that goes back to May. Since the end of August, Romney has run six ads here on the economy - running the gamut from protecting the coal industry from Obama's over-regulation to getting tougher on China - yet he continues to trail Obama on the question of who you trust to handle the economy. This suggests that it is going to take an outside event, not more ads or campaign stops, to change his trajectory in the state.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: If a campaign hits reset and nobody notices, does it still count? Today marks the start of a Romney-Ryan downsized bus tour, the latest iteration of the tighter, more focused campaign promised by Boston. But it comes on a day of big campaign maneuverings - foreign, domestic, and entertainment. Dueling speeches to the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama's address to the United Nations General Assembly, the Obamas' trip to the couches of "The View," and an Ann Romney appearance on Leno tonight - that's some of what's competing for the electorate's attention today alone.
RNC WEB VIDEO: 'A CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP.' A new Republican National Committee web video uses footage of violence in the Middle East and news reports about the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens to accuse President Obama of a "crisis of leadership." WATCH: http://bit.ly/UPnLIp
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: OHIO ISN'T BETTER OFF. As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan kick off their Ohio bus tour, the Romney campaign sends this statement along with economic factoids about Ohio. From Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg: "Ohio's middle-class families can't afford four more years like the last four years in the Obama economy. As a result of President Obama's failed economic policies, jobs are down, poverty is up, and household incomes are at their lowest level in decades. Ohioans deserve better. Mitt Romney will deliver a real recovery for middle-class Americans by helping create 12 million new jobs, more take-home pay, and a trade policy that finally works for hard-working Americans." http://mi.tt/PD2Qp9
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
ROMNEY TO CRITICS: WORKING 'PRETTY DARN HARD.' ABC's Emily Friedman interviewed Mitt Romney on Monday, asking the candidate about criticism that he hasn't used Paul Ryan, his running mate, effectively on the campaign trail. "Well, Congressman Ryan and I are both working very hard," said Romney. "We, of course, recognize that part of a campaign is to have the funds to run advertising. Our president has done an unusual thing. President Obama is the first post-Watergate candidate to say he's not going to live by the federal spending rules. So he's raising unlimited amounts of money." Read more and WATCH the interview: http://abcn.ws/PD1fzN
ROMNEY ON THE 'RESET.' ABC's Emily Friedman reports on her interview: Asked today what kind of reset voters will see going forward, Romney said he will be speaking "about the same topics" he has in the past, but will seek to contrast himself with the "status quo." "I'm going to make sure that people understand that this is a different direction for the nation and that if they want the status quo, they can re-elect the person who has been leading us over the last four years," said Romney. "If they instead want to see this country go on a path that creates jobs and rising incomes, then they're going to have to vote for real and positve change, and that's what I represent." http://abcn.ws/PD1fzN
MORE FROM THE UN: CLINTON'S LONG DAY OF DIPLOMACY. ABC's Dana Hughes reports on the first day of the U.N. General Assembly: Secretary Clinton stacked her first full day of diplomacy at UNGA by meeting with the leaders of some America's currently most challenging allies. She met with President Zaradari from Pakistan, Afghanistan's President Karzai, Libyan President Magriaf, before ending the evening holding talks with Egyptian President Morsi. The Secretary and her delegation met with Morsi and his delegation for nearly an hour, according to Senior State Department officials.
NOTED: CLINTON SUBTLY WEIGHS IN ON TAXES. When Secretary of State Clinton talked about the collection of taxes in countries around the world during her keynote address to her husband's Clinton Global Initiative, she was careful not to talk specifically about the United States or mention political parties or names. But after speaking generally about her belief that all nations need to have a tax policy where revenue is collected in an "equitable manner," she paused and said, "Especially from the elites" which received a huge applause from the audience. http://abcn.ws/SjOyMo
ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: DINESH D'SOUZA DEFENDS '2016.' ABC's Jonathan Karl interviews filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, whose Obama documentary "2016? trails only Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9/11? as the second-highest-grossing political documentary of all time." "The reason I think that the film has struck a chord is that in the core of it, there is a riveting story about Obama," D'Souza tells Karl. "You have an abandoned kid, Obama, who was dumped really at birth by his dad, and abandoned at the age of ten by his mother. So he undertakes a kind of heroic odyssey in a way to find his father and find himself." WATCH here: http://yhoo.it/SPmRXZ
FACT CHECKERS UNITE TO PREDICT DEBATE DECEPTIONS. ABC's Amy Bingham reports: The top fact checkers from Politifact, FactCheck.org, The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog and The Associated Press are putting their heads together this week to root out the less-than-factual lines President Obama and Mitt Romney are likely to spin. The four groups will forecast these debate deceptions during a panel at the Press Club in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. "In an age where the typical citizen is subjected to an avalanche of the kind of pure baloney that journalists used to keep out of the public discourse … they are looking for journalists to be kind of adjudicators or referees," said FactCheck.org Director Brooks Jackson. "That's what we try to do." http://abcn.ws/Pj1LBV
CAN RICHARD TISEI BECOME THE FIRST OPENLY GAY GOP HOUSE MEMBER? Richard Tisei is not a candidate you see every day: pro-abortion rights, openly gay, member of the Massachusetts state legislature and Republican, ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports. But Tisei, the GOP nominee for the sixth Congressional district of Massachusetts- which encompasses the state's north shore- is shaping up to be one of the Republican Party's strong chances to pick up a seat from Democrats. And he's certainly their best chance to pick up a House seat in the deep blue state, where currently all 10 representatives are Democrats. If elected in the fall, Tisei would become the first openly gay Republican member of Congress. It's a distinction Tisei says he embraces. "I feel like yeah I'm probably- I might be the catalyst because I'd be one of the first people to break through and I embrace that," Tisei told ABC News. "I'm not afraid of being myself." http://abcn.ws/Pj1sa2
'POWER POINT GUY' PAUL RYAN TURNS TO TOWN HALLS. Paul Ryan is turning back to a familiar campaign format: the town hall meeting. ABC's Shushannah Walshe notes: He's held over 500 in his home state, but before recently he had only done one just after being named Mitt Romney's running mate. He's done five since becoming the vice presidential nominee, including three in the last two weeks. It's a free-wheeling format that even Romney generally avoids. On Saturday at the University of Central Florida, Ryan unveiled a four slide Powerpoint presentation on the national debt, something he used again in Lima at the start of the GOP ticket's Ohio bus tour … He scrolled through the slides, noting when he first brought them out that he's "kind of a Powerpoint guy." It's far from the quick 20-minute pep talk he stuck to at rallies during his initial weeks on the campaign trail, but his background in policy and his reputation as less of a cheerleader and more of a policy wonk fits this format. http://abcn.ws/Pj1jmU
ROMNEY 'RESET': CANDIDATE REVIVES PAST PROMISES. The Romney campaign has been promising a "reset" for a few weeks, but setbacks-like the now-infamous fundraiser videos-keep getting in the way. ABC's Gregory J. Krieg reports on the current state of the reset: Today, with just 42 days until voters - the patient ones who haven't filed early ballots - go to polls, the "reset" is back on. "I'm going to make sure that people understand that this is a different direction for the nation," Romney told ABC News. If voters want "real and positive change," he said, "that's what I represent." This latest recalibration is more in line with that the campaign promised in early August, when after months of deliberation Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to be his running mate. http://abcn.ws/VzgQ5N
HARRY REID: ROMNEY 'NOT THE FACE OF MORMONISM.' The Salt Lake Tribune's Thomas Burr reports: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he agrees with a fellow Mormon who wrote recently that Mitt Romney has "sullied" the LDS faith and that the GOP presidential candidate is "not the face of Mormonism." Reid, a Mormon Democrat from Nevada, blasted Romney in a conference call for reporters over a litany of things the Republican nominee has said recently. And Reid added that Latter-day Saints aren't buying Romney's rhetoric. "He's coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church," Reid said in advance of Romney's Friday visit to Nevada. "They understand that he is not the face of Mormonism." http://bit.ly/RenSfb
ELIZABETH WARREN REPRESENTED COAL MINING COMPANY IN BANKRUPTCY CASE. The Boston Globe's Noah Bierman reports: "US Senator Scott Brown has attacked Elizabeth Warren in recent days for her legal work on behalf of Travelers Insurance in an asbestos case, asserting that it undermines her reputation as a consumer advocate. But Travelers is not the only large corporation Warren has represented. Warren also helped write a petition to the US Supreme Court for LTV Steel in the 1990s, assisting the former industrial conglomerate in its fight against a congressional requirement that it pay millions of dollars into a fund for its retired coal miners' health care. Her advocacy on behalf of a large corporation, opposing a mandate to pay for the health benefits of blue-collar retirees and their families, would seem to undercut her image as a middle-class champion, the central message of the Democrat's Senate campaign against Brown, the Republican. But Warren's campaign argues that the retirees' benefits were not in danger, even if LTV had won its legal battle. And it argues that she was fighting for a principle that could protect less powerful people who have claims against bankrupt companies. Warren had a small role, the campaign said, making about $10,000 to write a Supreme Court petition." http://b.globe.com/ QBQBYZ
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-FACEBOOK GETS OUT THE VOTE: A spokesman for the social networking site tells The Note: "Starting today, you can add to your Facebook timeline that you registered to vote, and share your story about when, where or why you decided to register. Read more in this brief blog post on the U.S. Politics on Facebook Page: http://bit.ly/fbvotenote"
-A DISSENTING VIEW OF OBAMA'S APPEARANCE ON 'THE VIEW'. Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist and former spokeswoman for Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Mike Huckabee as well as the current spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America pens this Op-Ed for Fox News. Here's an excerpt: "While President Obama will address the UN Assembly Tuesday, he has turned the face-to-face meetings over to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The leader of the free world chose to sit on the couch with Barbara, Whoopi, and Joy when he should be engaged in bilateral talks with the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The Obama campaign insists the president is not shunning the visiting dignitaries. Senior Campaign Adviser Robert Gibbs told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace 'they have telephones in the White House … we don't need a meeting in Washington just to confer with leaders.' That's not true, there's no substitute for face-to-face meetings. Foreign relations is about relationships; you build on them in person. A true leader doesn't find time in the schedule for such critical talks, a true leader makes time for it. When you have diplomats and heads of state from 193 nations gathered in this country, you move things around, you work them in. I'm sure the crew of 'The View' would be willing to reschedule." http://fxn.ws/RRCfsu
-PLANNED PARENTHOOD BACK ON THE VIRGINIA AIRWAVES. In a new television ad going up in Virginia, the abortion rights group, Planned Parenthood, says "Mitt Romney is Out of Touch." An announcement from the group: "Planned Parenthood Votes is rolling out its second TV ad on northern Virginia airwaves this week as part of the organization's campaign targeting women voters in key battleground states. The ad features Cynthia Wilson, a Planned Parenthood patient whose cancer was diagnosed early as a result of the care provided at a Planned Parenthood health center. In the ad, Cynthia says, 'I believe Mitt Romney is out of touch. I think he just does not have any idea how many lives he's devastating.' WATCH: http://youtu.be/fzo5JD9-hIM
@ananavarro : Suggestion 4 Romney 4 CGI speech. Give Clinton credit 4 post-president actions, say: "Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton built that"
@ByronYork : Obama is not only enjoying lead in polls. He's also enjoying GOP insiders slamming Romney while big Obama problems go largely undiscussed.
@stevenportnoy : RIP Miss Monitor, "Tedi" Thurman. Sultry weekend weather girl was a big part of NBC Radio history. She was 89.
with ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
-President Obama will address the UN General Assembly this morning and later will address the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
-Mitt Romney will address the Clinton Global Initiative Convention and the NBC Education Nation Summit at the New York Public Library before flying to Ohio to attend a rally at the Dayton International Airport.
-Paul Ryan holds a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio before attending a rally at the Dayton International Airport with Romney. Ryan heads to Texas tonight for a fundraiser.
-Vice President Biden holds a campaign event at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds, in Chesterfield, Va.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV