Obama pushes students to register in Ohio

President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at the Oval, Ohio State University October 9, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.
President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at the Oval, Ohio State University October 9, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.

President Obama opened a campaign speech at Ohio State University in Columbus today by imploring students to get registered and vote early.

"Are you registered to vote? Because if you're not, today is the last day to register," Mr. Obama told the students, adding that they must register by 9 P.M. this evening. He told the student's "we've made it easy" to register, pointing them to a campaign website, and told them that while it's "easy to procrastinate" in college, it's important they register today.

"All right, Buckeyes, we need you," said the president, who lead the crowd in an O-H-I-O chant. In response to a shout from the crowd, he said, "I love you right back, but I need you voting."

Mr. Obama also noted that attendees can already cast their ballots in Ohio, and told them there were buses lined up to take them to the polls. "There are buses around the corner that can get you there and back," he said, telling them that musician of the Black Eyed Peas, who performed before Mr. Obama's speech, would lead the trip.

Ohio is a crucial battleground in the presidential race, and Mitt Romney has put a renewed focus on the state in the wake of his strong debate performance. Romney was set to campaign in the state late Tuesday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and he is scheduled to spend four of the next five days in the state. A poll released Tuesday by CNN found Mr. Obama with a four-point advantage in Ohio

After his appeal to vote, Mr. Obama shifted into a slight variation on his standard stump speech, which includes references to the passage of health care reform and the end of the war in Iraq. He stressed his decision to bail out the auto industry, which is central to the Ohio economy, and criticized Romney for what Mr. Obama (not entirely fairly) called a willingness to let the industry go bankrupt. Now, the president said, the U.S. auto industry is "roaring back to the top of the world."

The president also mocked Romney's desire to end funding for public broadcasting, which the Obama campaign has turned into a campaign ad. Speaking of Big Bird, the president quipped, "Who knew that he was driving our deficit?" The subsidy for public broadcasting is a very small part of the federal budget.

"Governor Romney wants to let Wall Street run wild again but he's going to bring down the hammer on Sesame Street," Mr. Obama said. He also referenced other characters from the show, at one point saying that Oscar "is hiding out in a trash can" from Romney.

Mr. Obama said he wants to use the money saved from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to nation-build at home. "We can't afford to go back to a foreign policy that gets into wars with no plan to end them," he said.

He also pointed to the death of Osama bin Laden, tax cuts for the middle class, the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, his support for clean energy, student loan reform, and the fall in the unemployment rate. The president cast Romney's "top down economic" policies as those that "got us into this mess" and said his rival believes it is fair that he has a lower tax rate than a teacher.

According to the Obama campaign, 15,000 people were on hand for the speech.