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Candidates seek to secure Ohio women's votes
Polls show Obama is leading with women in Ohio; Romney leads with men
This story is part of a special series.

Jo Ingles

The battle is on for the votes of Ohio women. Surrogates for both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are trying to capture the attention and votes of women with different messages. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

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It was a simple question.

"Are you in?  Are you in?"

First Lady Michelle Obama asked the 2000 people in Columbus yesterday whether they would help re-elect her husband.  She told volunteers and supporters at a suburban high school that every supporter needs to recruit one person to vote in what promises to be a close election in November.

"You know that one conversation you have. That one new volunteer you recruit.  That one could be the one that will put us over the top," Obama said. "That could be the one that makes the difference between waking up on November 7, asking could I have done more or feeling the promise of four more years."

The first lady used her familiar style to tell stories about her family….and President Obama’s family…to explain why he pushed so hard on health care reform, why he pushed for equal pay for women and why he supports a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. She told the audience that when she and President Obama married, their combined student loan payment was more expensive than their mortgage payment.  And she said that’s why he increased pell grants and supports the dream act.

"And like me and so many of you, Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it," Obama said. "And he knows that when you’ve worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.  You reach back and you give other people a chance to succeed as well.  That’s what the American dream is about and more than anything else, that’s what’s at stake in this election."

Mrs. Obama told the audience her husband needs another term to finish what he’s started.  And she used his familiarity to underscore that message.

"When it comes to the time to stand up for the middle class, so our kids can go to college and our families can have a decent living and save for retirement, you know what my husband is going to do, don’t you?" the first lady said. "When we need a president to protect our most basic rights, no matter who we are or where we are from or what we look like or who we love, we know we can count on Barack Obama because that’s what he’s been doing every day as president of the United States.

But just a few hours later, inside a small business that sells flags, a group of Republican women said the President has been doing the wrong things.  Republican State Representative Cheryl Grossman, one of the leaders of a new campaign called Women for Mitt, said she’s afraid.

"In the past there have been times that I’ve disagreed with policies of presidents but I’ve never feared until this current president," Grossman said.  "And I fear right now."

Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, another leader of the Women for Mitt campaign, said Romney speaks to the issues that women care about.

"Getting rid of burdensome regulations, looking at our tax codes, making it easier for a small business to create jobs….those are the issues women care about," Taylor said.

Taylor said Romney would cut wasteful spending and cut taxes.  Mrs. Obama says the President has already done that… cutting taxes on small businesses 18 times and saving the average American family about $3,600 a year.

The fight for women in Ohio is real.  The latest polls show Romney has a lead with men in Ohio and Obama is leading with women.

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