Mitt Romney touted his expertise on jobs and the economy as he courted Mahoning valley voters hours before the polls were to open here and in nine other states offering the by far largest collective cache of delegates so far in the GOP nomination battle.
"My message to the Mahoning valley is pretty simple. I want to bring good jobs back here ... My experience in the economy came by actually living in the economy,'' Mr. Romney said, at a town hall meeting in a fabricating plant outside Youngstown."In business, if you're not a fiscal conservative, if you don't balance your budget you're out of business.''
In a reference to the relatively greater emphasis on social issues by his chief rival, former Sen. Rick Santorum, he said, "There are other folks in this campaign talking about a lot of other things and that's fine, but me me [the issues are] more jobs, less spending, smaller government.
Mr. Romney was introduced by Sen. Rob Portman, who symbolized the establishment support he has won here in a state where he has been clawing back in the polls since his victories in Arizona and Michigan last week. As he stood in front of a giant auto crushing machine, Mr. Romney pointed to other recent endorsements from Republicans in Super Tuesday states, including Virginia's Rep. Eric Cantor, and Oklahoma's Sen. Tom Coburn.
Mr. Romney spent much of his time assailing the Obama administration's economic and energy policies, never mentioning the names of his GOP opponents..
One questioner made a reference to Mr. Romney's statement last week that he wouldn't "set my hair on fire'' to draw attention to himself.
"Someone suggested there's enough oil in my hair that it would burn for days,'' he noted, in a novel twist on the search of alternative energy supplies.
At one point, the sometimes rhetorically challenged candidate found himself scrambling to rehabilitate his introduction of his wife, Ann as "the heavyweight champion of my life.''
"That didn't come out right. She is a fighter, that's what I meant.'