Jim Carney

BEDFORD HEIGHTS: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney swung across Ohio on Wednesday, hoping to connect with voters less than six weeks before the election as recent polls show him trailing in the critical swing state.

A crowd of about 1,200 gave the former governor of Massachusetts a loud and warm welcome as he walked onto a stage at the American Spring Wire factory in southern Cuyahoga County for the second of three rallies on the day.

A confident Romney, wearing a light shirt, dark pants and no tie, let his supporters know what his intentions are for Nov. 6: “I am going to be the next president of the United States.”

Romney touched on several familiar themes. He told his supporters that if elected he would repeal Obamacare, would not cut military spending and would label China a “currency manipulator.”

He said President Barack Obama has been too lenient in dealing with China on trade issues.

“They’ve artificially held down the value of their currency, and by doing that the prices of their goods are artificially low,” Romney said. “And that’s why one thing I will do from day one is label China a currency manipulator. They must not steal jobs.”

He said Obama’s economic policies make it harder for U.S. companies to create more jobs.

“When you see policies that have not created the jobs America needs, you know it is time to choose a new leader,” he said.

“We can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”

Joining Romney on stage were several local manufacturing representatives, including Ward J. “Tim” Timken Jr., chairman of the Timken Co., as well as Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, who spoke of the millions of unemployed people in America today and the “skills gap” in which jobs are unfilled because people need training.

Rowe said that along with opportunity and training, there is another element needed to fill jobs, including the dirty jobs his show focuses on: “You need desire,” he said.

Seated on the stage behind Romney were about 30 workers from American Spring Wire. Many wore hard hats. Surrounding the stage were large bales of wire made at the factory.

Company President and CEO Timothy W. Selhorst introduced Romney.

“What we need is better leadership,” Selhorst said. “Today we have that leader here.”

In the audience, Dyanne Giammaria, a registered nurse at the Cleveland Clinic from Highland Heights, said she turned out to hear Romney because he is working “to bring back America to where it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m excited to hear him,” she said.

And she said that regardless of the polls, she thinks Romney is doing well.

“I hope it goes his way for the sake of all of us,” she said.

A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times Swing State Poll released Wednesday showed President Barack Obama has a 53 percent to 43 percent lead among likely voters in Ohio.

Showing support

Before Romney took the stage in Bedford Heights, U.S. Senator Rob Portman warmed up the crowd and asked them if the economy under Obama is working,

“No!” the crowd shouted back.

Cindy Prothero of North Royalton, attended the rally with her husband and her three children and said she thinks the race will be close. What she likes about Romney are “his faith and his family values.”

Jeff Rak of Valley City watched Romney with his 11-year-old son, Tyler. He said he wanted his son to see how the political system works and thinks it is looking good for Romney.

“We still need a little bit of work,” he said.

Romney concluded his comments with a pledge to make things better.

“I know what it takes” to help the country, he said.

Early Wednesday morning, Romney spoke in Westerville, a suburb northeast of Columbus, sharing the stage with golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus, 72, told the crowd that he likes the Republican nominee because of his free-market views.

“I didn’t lean on someone else in tough times,” Nicklaus said of his golf game. “And when I won, I certainly didn’t apologize for my success.”

On Wednesday evening, Romney spoke at a rally in Toledo.

Beacon Journal wire services contributed to this report. Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.