With polls showing the presidential race too close to call in Ohio, the candidates and their supporters plan to blanket the state — and the Akron area — in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election.
Former President Bill Clinton will have a rally to stump for President Barack Obama at 6 p.m. today at the John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St. in Akron. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets for Obama’s planned event Wednesday at the University of Akron that was canceled will be honored for the Clinton event. Tickets also are available via email at https://my.barackobama.com/page/s/clinton-akron-nov-1.
Other candidates and surrogates who have announced trips to the Akron area include Ann Romney, Josh Romney, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass). Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is also planning a local visit.
A pair of polls released Wednesday showed President Barack Obama leading in Ohio. The University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll had Obama leading Mitt Romney by 48-46, with the spread within the margin of error. The Quinnipiac Poll showed Obama ahead 55-45.
“Ohio looks very, very close,” said John Green, executive director of the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute for Applied Politics. “It’s basically tied. The way the other states are shaping up, as of today, Ohio turns out to be critical.”
Green said turnout will be the key factor in the election and is the reason so many candidates and surrogates have been and will continue visiting Ohio. He said these events help to excite voters and the campaigns’ volunteers.
“We hear a lot about the candidates and see the ads, but most of us don’t get close to [the candidates] at all,” he said.
David Gergen, senior policy analyst for CNN who was in Akron on Wednesday for a health-care event, agreed turnout will determine the outcome in Ohio — and possibly the nation.
“What they call the GOTV, the ‘get-out-the-vote’ efforts, are going to make a big difference in the last 72 hours,” Gergen said after an appearance for Summa Health System’s annual Community Leadership Briefing.
The announced campaign events in the Akron area through the end of this week are:
• Ann Romney, Mitt Romney’s wife, will stop by the Romney campaign office at 300 Weatherstone Drive in Wadsworth about 4:30 p.m. today.
• Josh Romney, one of Mitt and Ann Romney’s sons, will speak at the monthly meeting of the Portage County tea party at 7 p.m. today at the Maplewood Career Center, 7075 State Route 88, just north of Ravenna. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who is from Green, also will speak.
• Black and Gass, who make up Tenacious D, will encourage Kent State University students to vote early for Obama at the Student Union at 11:30 a.m. Friday and will accompany them on a bus ride to the Portage County Board of Elections. The bus will be parked at the MACC, 1025 Risman Drive.
• Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and a former New Mexico governor, will hold a meet-and-greet with local officials and donors from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Z-Plex, 1543 State Route 303 in Streetsboro. A rally will follow.
• Boehner will speak at a rally at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Romney’s campaign office in Wadsworth, 300 Weatherstone Drive. (That time is 30 minutes earlier than previously announced.) At 2 p.m., he will stop at Wooster Town Square, at North Market and East Liberty streets.
Beacon Journal staff writer Cheryl Powell contributed to this report. Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @swarsmith. Read the Beacon Journal’s political blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/ohio-politics.