TOLEDO, Ohio -- In some ways, the lobby of the Toledo hotel looked like any other upscale hotel might on a Monday night.
But the Toledo police officer standing near the entrance and the Secret Service officials hinted at the hotel's VIP guest -- Vice President Joe Biden.
The vice president arrived at the local hotel at 6:24 p.m., after speaking before crowds in Lorain and Canton.
Vice President Biden focused like a laser beam Monday on the Ohio economy that he and his boss hope could be their ticket to a second term.
In the visits to Ohio, he picked up on President Obama's recent characterization of what he's claimed is a shifting of positions on the part of Republican Mitt Romney as "Romnesia."
He also claimed that GOP running mate Paul Ryan has it, too.
"It's contagious," Mr. Biden told a cheering crowd of about 1,300 at Lorain High School. "Ryan has it now. Amazing. Ryan said his budget, heralded by the right as a bold effort to fundamentally change spending, cut entitlements, etc. ... all of a sudden he said before our debate: We don't cut the budget. We just slow the growth. Slow the growth.
"Right now, Ryan is denying that his budget decimates Medicare, eviscerates education," he said. "Him talking about how his budget doesn't do great harm to the middle-class concern is like telling a guy in the unemployment line: Look, I didn't outsource your job. I just off-shored your job."
The campaign is counting on Ohio's better-than-national-average numbers -- a 7.0 percent unemployment rate compared to a national average of 7.8 percent -- to give it the edge in what is increasingly seen as a must-win state.
No Republican has made it to the White House without going through Ohio, and no Democrat has done it in 52 years.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University and CBS News on Monday shows President Obama losing some support in Ohio, but still holding at 50 percent -- 5 percentage points ahead of Mr. Romney.
A second poll, by the Boston-based Suffolk University, had the two candidates running in a 47 percent tie.
The Quinnipiac/CBS Poll has consistently reported the most positive polling numbers for Mr. Obama, a pattern that held true in 2008, as well.
Ohioans have been voting since Oct. 2, and Monday marked the first day of extended voting hours, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays.
Monday's and today's stops were part of a three-day Ohio tour. Later today, after the rally at the University of Toledo, Mr. Biden will join Mr. Obama, fresh from the debate the night before, in Dayton. Then Mr. Biden will stay in the state for a rally in Marion. Mr. Obama will be back in the state on Thursday.
With the exception of Marion, all of the counties the pair will visit backed Mr. Obama in 2008.
Both Mr. Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are expected back in Ohio later this week.
"Vice President Biden may believe there is a renaissance in manufacturing happening in the Buckeye State, but don't tell that to the 6,400 Ohioans who lost manufacturing' jobs in the month of September," Romney spokesman Robert Reid said. "President Obama has issued major new regulations at an unprecedented rate, stalled trade negotiations, and raised taxes on hundreds of thousands of small businesses, causing the United States to lose its competitive edge and cede its leadership in the manufacturing sector to China."
Carla Reichlin, of nearby Elyria, stood in the Lorain crowd as she fed her 5-month-old daughter, Heidi-Mae. She showed support for the Obama ticket despite the dollar signs that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have indicated await her daughter when she grows up due to the nation's mounting debt.
"We want to see funding for things that are important for babies this age," she said. "I can't imagine her growing up without Sesame Street. Not that she's formula-fed, but he wants to cut WIC [federal Women, Infants, and Children program] funding.
"I work for an OB-GYN," she said. "Ninety percent of my population relies on Medicaid, WIC, food stamps, and all those things."nation - electionspresident
Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Jim Provance and Kate Giammarise are reporters for The Blade. First Published October 23, 2012 4:00 AM