Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns in Findlay,… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)
FINDLAY, Ohio — His planned events in Virginia canceled by a giant storm off the Atlantic coast, Mitt Romney campaigned across another key state Sunday, offering dual arguments that President Obama has taken the country in the wrong direction and that his Republican administration would work with Democrats to accomplish his goals.
The targets appeared to be twofold: to remind Romney supporters of their aversion to a second Obama term, and to convince wobbling and undecided voters to give him a chance.
At a campaign stop in Celina, Ohio, Romney said Obama's reelection would represent a continuation of the status quo, while he represents true change — language virtually identical to that Obama used in his 2008 campaign.
"His campaign slogan is forward. Forward on the same path," Romney said. "And I ask you: Do you want more four more years with 23 million Americans looking for a good job?" The crowd screamed "No!"
"I mean, do you want four more years with trillion-dollar deficits? Do you want four more years where half the kids coming out of school can't find a job? Do you want four more years with Obamacare?"
In Findlay, at another stop, he argued that collaboration would be key to his approach.
"We need to actually do something people have talked about for a long time, and that is reach across the aisle," he said. "And work with people in the opposition party and find common ground. We can find people who love America, in both parties, and work together."
That sort of appeal is wildly popular among independent voters, who have fueled Romney's upward movement in Ohio in recent weeks. A poll released Saturday by the Ohio Newspaper Organization showed the two men tied in what is a must-win state for Romney; other polls have shown him trailing Obama by a few points.
Obama spent his day keeping abreast of developments related to Hurricane Sandy, whose impending arrival scattered the candidates' schedules for coming days. Obama flew to Florida on Sunday evening for an early event Monday, after which he planned to return to Washington to monitor the federal emergency response. He canceled a planned event in Ohio, where he will be represented by Vice President Joe Biden.
After a briefing Sunday at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, from which he vowed a swift response and encouraged residents in storm-affected areas to heed the advice of local officials, Obama was asked whether the storm would affect voting.
"We don't anticipate that at this point, but we're obviously going to have to take a look," he said. Officials in Maryland halted early voting in light of deteriorating conditions.
Obama's campaign, meantime, hit back hard at Romney's assertion that he would work with Democrats to solve problems.
"The American people can't trust a word Mitt Romney says, especially when he claims he'd work across the aisle as president," said spokesman Danny Kanner.
Times staff writer Alana Semuels in Ohio contributed to this report.