LANCASTER, Ohio--Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney emphasized the importance of the battleground state of Ohio at a Friday evening rally here, telling the crowd that the state is vital for him to secure the presidency.
"We need your help. We need to win Ohio," Romney said in his closing remarks. "You've got to get your friends to help us win Ohio. If we win Ohio, we take back America, we keep this country the hope of the Earth."
With 18 Electoral College votes, Ohio is indeed a crucial part of the path to victory for both the Republican and Democratic candidates. The state supported President Barack Obama in 2008, President George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000 and former President Bill Clinton in 1996. No Republican presidential candidate has lost the state and gone on to win the election.
Romney and Obama are pouring significant resources into Ohio and spending a lot of time campaigning here.
Standing in front of an American flag draped over Lancaster City Hall, Romney joined his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, on stage for what was their first public appearance since Ryan's debate on Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden in Danville, Ky. Romney praised Ryan for his performance during the debate, in which Ryan faced an aggressive Biden through most of the night.
"There was one person on the stage with thoughtfulness, who was respectful, who was steady and poised. There's one person on that stage you would want to be with if there was a crisis, that's this man right here," he said, pointing to Ryan.
During his speech, Romney appeared emboldened by recent polling that shows him leading Obama nationally and in key states. In his remarks, in which he focused heavily on increasing military spending if elected, Romney predicted victory over Obama in November.
"I come to you with this commitment, when Paul Ryan and I become president and vice president--and I mean when we become president and vice president--we will do everything in our power to keep America strong," he said. He added later that his administration would build "a military so strong no one would think of testing it."
Romney plans to remain in Ohio to campaign on Saturday before taking a few days to prepare privately for his second debate with Obama in New York on Tuesday.