FINDLAY, Ohio -- Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, headlined a "Women for Mitt" event on Wednesday that focused on female pocketbook issues and studiously avoided more controversial topics of interest to women.
Mrs. Romney, in her first solo campaign event in Ohio since the Republican National Convention last week, told about 800 people in the University of Findlay's Winebrenner Auditorium, "this is going to be fun."
"We've heard about how many women are struggling in this economy right now, more than the men are. Women have to ask themselves who's going to be there for you," Mrs. Romney said.
"You heard about how hard this economy is on women. Women have been hit the hardest in this economy, and guess who else, kids coming out of college," Mrs. Romney said.
"For all those kids who voted for [President Barack] Obama and are now unemployed, I'm saying this, wake up. It's time to fire the coach," she said.
Mrs. Romney charted her husband's career running the 2002 Winter Olympics, operating a successful business, and governing the state of Massachusetts, calling him a "can-do kind of guy."
And she expressed gratitude for the speakers who testified at the GOP convention last week in Tampa about her husband's acts of kindness or business acumen.
"I'm so grateful people are now standing up and saying, 'This is the guy that has integrity, decency, goodness, and this is the guy that cares about you,'" Mrs. Romney said. "We aren't running to make our lives better. We're running for you."
Speakers ahead of her on the stage highlighted the sluggish economy and their fears that the future will not be as prosperous for the next generation.
No mention was made of issues that figure prominently in Democratic talking points, such as abortion rights, college loans, access to birth control, and equal pay for equal work.
Democrats have accused the Republicans of waging a "war on women." An Aug. 23 poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found Mr. Obama leading Mr. Romney 54 percent to 41 percent among women in Ohio.
"I don't think women can afford four more years of Obama," Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor told the audience.
She said there are 5.9 million women unemployed and 401,000 have lost their jobs.
"[Mr. Romney] will give us back the peace of mind that, as women, things that we worry about we'd like to say are being taken care of. We're worried about our children's future and we're constantly worried about how we can afford the rising cost of groceries, gas, and health care," she said.
Other speakers preceding Mrs. Romney to the microphone -- women only -- included Student Government president Christina Terry; university president Katherine Fell; Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik; Tami Longaberger, president of Longaberger Co., and Marcia Latta, wife of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green.
"I was glad that they are addressing issues specific to women, especially in the job sector," said Brianne Kuns, 21, a pharmacy student from Sandusky. "I also like that they are promoting successful small business. The other party focuses on the not-crucial issues that are affecting this country."
Courtney Crawford, 32, of Findlay, an analyst for Marathon Petroleum, said she is concerned about the country's future for her two teenaged children.
She said birth control "is a woman's right, but I shouldn't be expected to pay for someone else. I thought the message today was a very good one," Ms. Crawford said.
Jessica Kershaw, spokesman for the Obama campaign in Ohio, said the ticket or Mr. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would take the country backward with $5 trillion in "budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy paid for by the middle class and the end to Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program."
"While we are not where we need to be yet, the president has helped put Ohio back on the right track by saving the auto industry, cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses, and investing in education and infrastructure," Ms. Kershaw said.
Mike Gillis, spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO, which is supporting Mr. Obama, issued a statement saying the Romney-Ryan ticket would reverse "progress that has been made over the last several decades on women's health and workplace issues."
He said Mr. Romney has refused to take a position on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is intended to ensure equal pay for equal work.
Mrs. Latta said the most important issue in the campaign is the economy.
"I am 100 percent sure that Mitt Romney is for equal pay for equal work," said Mrs. Latta.electionspresident
Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Tom Troy is a reporter for The Blade.