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Noon headlines, Oct. 23, 2012: Ohio's politics, early voting, FirstMerit
Political visits and ads launch Ohio blists; early voting more popular; voter fraud and intimidation watch; Ohio and Smithsonian, FirstMerit, Craigslist killings

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:
Ohio remains presidential politics central
Early voting growns in Ohio
Federal prosecutor assigned to voter intimidation/fraud
Ohio Historical Society and Smithsonian ink a deal
FirstMerit's profits
Akron teen says he cooperated in Craigslist killings out of fear
COHEN: Early voting grows, again

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Ohio remains presidential politics central
The day after the last presidential debate, Ohio is once again ground zero for visits by the presidential candidates and their surrogates. Democrats, especially, are really ratcheting it up this week.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are meeting up in Dayton for a rare joint appearance, the day after Biden stumped in Northeast Ohio. And Mr. Obama plans to wrap up a two-day swing state blitz on Thursday evening with a rally at Burke Lakefront airport in Cleveland.

Mitt Romney will be in Cincinnati and Defiance Thursday and his oldest son, Matt, is in southeast and south central Ohio today.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Democrats are shifting money to the Buckeye state. Romney is expected to easily win Kentucky, while Ohio remains a swing state leaning slighting President Obama’s way. Both parties often shift funds in the final days of a campaign from states where they often have big leads or big deficits.

And conservative advocacy groups co-founded by Karl Rove are making their biggest buy yet in this year's Senate elections. Crossroads GPS says it's spending $5.8 million this week in Ohio and five other states.

Early voting growns in Ohio
The number of Ohioans taking advantage of early voting continues to grow. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen has this update.

COHEN: Early voting grows, again
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Federal prosecutor assigned to voter intimidation/fraud
The Justice Department is assigning a team to handle complaints of voter intimidation and voter fraud on election day in Ohio.

Ann Rowland will lead the Northern Ohio team. She was the lead prosecutor in corruption case against former Cuyahoga  County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

In announcing her appointment today, U.S. Attorney  Steven Dettelbach said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud.”

Rowland  will be on duty all 13 hours the polls are open on Nov. 6, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The FBI also will have special agents in field office nationwide to investigate claims of abuses.

  • Rowland can be reached by the public at 216-622-3847.  
  • The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 216-522-1400.
  • Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767.  
Ohio Historical Society and Smithsonian ink a deal
The Ohio Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution are now formally affiliated.

The two have signed an agreement that gives the Ohio society access to the largest museum collection in the world and to training by the Smithsonian.  It’s also expected to give a higher profile to Ohio-related exhibits on the national and global stage. The Smithsonian runs 19 museums and the National Zoo, as well as research facilities.

CLARIFICATION: FirstMerit took over two Chicago-area banks during the recession; each had multiple branches.
FirstMerit's profits
Akron-based FirstMerit has once again announced a jump in profits, following cuts of nearly 300 jobs from a year ago.

The bank’s third-quarter report shows profits up 9 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

FirstMerit has reported quarterly profits for more than 13 years -- even during the great recession, and it was tapped by the feds to take over dozens of failing banks in the Chicago area. T

The company has also announced it is buying Citizens Republic Bancorp of Michigan. That will give FirstMerit branches in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

 Akron teen says he cooperated in Craigslist killings out of fear
The Akron teen suspected in the slayings of three men lured by phony Craigslist job offers says he went along only because he feared the triggerman would kill him, too.

Soft-spoken 17-year-old Brandon Rafferty testified Tuesday at his trial in Akron. He says he was stunned by the first killing as the victim interviewed for a southeast Ohio farm job.

Rafferty's co-defendant is a self-styled street chaplain Richard Beasley. He’s pleaded not guilty and will be tried later.

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