Ohio is feeling the love of the presidential candidates, and Stark County is among the most cherished.
With Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s rally in North Canton on Friday evening, the GOP presidential campaign will have visited Stark County three times. Romney held a private fundraiser in Jackson Township in July; Ryan had a rally at Walsh University in August.
The Republican ticket will appear at an event across from North Canton Hoover High School, 525 Seventh St. NE, at 7:15 p.m. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.
“This is a battleground county,” said Chris Maloney, the spokesman for the Romney campaign in Ohio. “Not only has Gov. Romney and Ryan had the good fortune of visiting Stark County in the past, they look forward to being there on Friday.”
The North Canton rally, which is expected to include fireworks, is among numerous events across Ohio featuring presidential candidates and surrogates from both campaigns battling for votes in the waning days before the Nov. 6 election. Here’s a list of stops this week — for just the candidates — and more could be added on the weekend:
• Romney will be in Cincinnati, Worthington and Defiance today, and North Canton on Friday.
• Ryan was in Cleveland on Wednesday and will be in North Canton on Friday. He will be in New Philadelphia, Zanesville, Circleville, Yellow Springs and Dayton on Saturday, and Celina, Findlay and Marion on Sunday.
• President Barack Obama was in Dayton on Tuesday for his first joint appearance of this campaign with Vice President Joe Biden and will be in Cleveland on Friday.
• Biden visited Canton and Lorain on Monday, Toledo and Dayton on Tuesday, and Marion on Wednesday.
In North Canton, Maloney said Romney and Ryan will discuss utilizing America’s natural resources, such as coal and natural gas, and the job opportunities this would create, bolstering the manufacturing sector, and standing up to China for being a “currency manipulator.”
“He will give a clear understanding of what he wants to accomplish in his first 100 days and in four years,” Maloney said.
He was unwilling to say how many tickets the campaign plans to give out, except to say it will be a “crowd in the thousands” and that an overflow area is available. Romney drew a crowd of at least 11,000 people to Cuyahoga Falls earlier this month.
Those interested in tickets can go to www.mittromney.com/oh or the Canton campaign office at 3976-B Fulton Drive NW, Plain Township, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to midafternoon Friday.
Maloney said those who attend will go through airport-like security and shouldn’t bring any large bags or other big items.
The North Canton school district found out it was the chosen venue for the rally Monday. Secret Service visited the school Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss logistical plans, said Todd Henne, the district’s business manager.
Henne thinks the high school was on a short list because it was among a small number that didn’t have home football games Friday night. Hoover plays at rival Jackson, which will force some to choose between attending the game — with its big OHSAA playoff implications — or the Romney-Ryan rally.
The Romney-Ryan rally will be on the varsity baseball field, rather than in the school’s football stadium, which Henne said was the campaign’s decision. Maloney wasn’t sure of the reason — he said the campaign’s advance team makes these decisions — but said the choice probably was made for security purposes. Temporary bleachers and a stage will be added to the field.
Hoover students and staff will be dismissed at the usual time at 2:30 p.m. and will be required to leave the grounds while the Secret Service does a last-minute sweep of facilities, Henne said.
The biggest concern for the district and police is parking.
Henne suggested people come in 10th Street Northeast — which dead ends at the high school — from North Main Street for the best parking. Some streets around the school will be closed around the time of the event.
Henne and other district leaders can’t recall a presidential candidate visiting the school.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the city and North Canton City Schools to showcase our community,” he said.
The Stark County Republican Party also is pleased to have the candidates on their turf again.
“We feel a shift in our momentum,” said Elisa Leonard, the party’s executive director. “We feel Stark County will go red this time.”