“We’ll win Ohio. We’ll win this election.”
That is what President Barack Obama told a cheering crowd near the end of a Friday speech, his second-to-last scheduled stop in Central Ohio before the Nov. 6 election.
Obama arrived to the Franklin County Fairgrounds at about 10:45 a.m., where he took the stage in a small indoor venue and spoke to a cheering crowd of 2,800.
The visit was different from his other Central Ohio campaign stops because Obama didn’t focus on one topic. He instead spoke on several subjects including women’s health, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the automotive industry, the national debt and the economy.
The 27-minute speech was slightly longer than other local speeches he’s delivered on the campaign trail, where he has tended to speak for only about 20 minutes.
Obama talked about what he considers to be the highlights of his presidency, but said more change is needed.
“We made real progress, but we are here today because we know we have more work to do,” he said.
To a cheering crowd, Obama criticized the policies of his opponent Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan.
“We know what we want to do works, we know what they want to do doesn’t work,” Obama said, who called Romney a “very talented salesman” who is trying to “repackage” failed policies from the George W. Bush administration.
“When you try to change the facts just because they’re inconvenient to your campaign – that’s definitely not change,” he said.
Obama talked about how he contributed to saving the automotive industry, which proves jobs for thousands of Ohioans.
“I know it was the right thing to do. I knew betting on American workers was the right thing to do,” Obama said. “That bet paid off.”
Romney, he said, was in favor of letting those businesses fail, and urged Ohioans to stick with him for another four years.
“After all we’ve been through together; we can’t give up on real change now,” Obama said.
Obama opened his speech by talking about the devastation on the East Coast from Hurricane Sandy and said “as a nation we mourn those who are lost,” but that he has been inspired by the relief efforts he has witnessed on a national level.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland took the stage at about 10 a.m. before Obama arrived, and highlighted the importance of Ohio’s electoral vote in the election.
“My friends, we have four days to make history, and let me say this to you: Ohio is at the tip of the spear, and the world and the nation knows that Ohio is the firewall for President Barack Obama,” he said.
Strickland said “Ohio will be the fireball” that elects Obama, and encouraged supporters to devote the next few days to making that happen.
In his short speech, Strickland criticized Romney and Ryan’s Hurricane Sandy disaster relief efforts, and said the men “don’t even know how to fake compassion.”
Rally attendee Jackie Neely, a 26-year-old from Grove City, Ohio, enjoyed the event and was energized by Obama’s speech.
“I felt like he was very positive for Ohio. I’m just really excited for the next four years because I’m really hoping that he’ll make it,” Neely said.
The Hilliard, Ohio, stop was the first in a day-long campaign tour of Ohio. After the event ended Obama was expected to continue on to Springfield, Ohio, and Lima, Ohio, for campaign rallies.
On the last day of campaigning Monday Obama is expected to return to Columbus accompanied by Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen. Further details about that event were not available Friday afternoon.
Romney is also expected to visit Columbus Monday, a stop in his final campaign tour.
In his speech Obama noted the importance of Ohio in the election, and said the Buckeye state is getting a lot of attention – with good reason.
He said he hopes Ohio will, like in 2008, chose him.
“I’m not ready to give up on the fight,” he said. “I hope you won’t either, Ohio.”
Michael Burwell contributed to this story.