Romney in Ohio: All Economy, All The Time

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By Rachel Streitfeld, CNN Political Producer

Toledo, Ohio — Crediting his economic know-how with helping sway voters in Michigan and Arizona, Mitt Romney targeted his stump speech Wednesday to Ohio voters by focusing solely on jobs and the economy.

Romney told the audience he was pleased by his pair of Tuesday night primary wins, which he said came in part from voters worried about the economy.

“Interestingly, the people who said that the economy and jobs were their number one issue, they voted for me overwhelmingly,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons I’m running.”

His first appearance following a blockbuster night was hardly a celebratory victory lap, however: an audience of roughly 125 people gave a muted response to the speech, held on a factory floor on a chilly, rainy morning.

During a tour of the steel post factory, the owners of American Posts asked Romney to push a button and start a stamping machine used to make highway signs.

“I’ve got to press a button,” Romney quipped. “Which will be my heavy lift in terms of manufacturing today.”

He continued on an economic tack during his speech, expanding on his criticism of China’s trade policies and congratulating the event site owners for managing to compete successfully.

“My guess is you sell products outside the United States as well. It’s a good thing to be able sell products like from right here around the world,” Romney said. “But now and then people we compete with cheat, and they send products in here. That’s not fair.”

In the audience was a figure from presidential campaigns past: Joe the Plumber, a.k.a. Sam Wurzlebacher, who campaigned with Sen. John McCain in 2008 but said he would not endorse before Ohio’s primary March 6.

Asked by a reporter whether he had any advice for Romney, Wurzlebacher said no, then added one thought.

“The guy’s made it most everywhere he’s ever tried, I don’t think he needs my advice,” Wurzlebacher said. “Maybe hang out with some steelworkers, hang out with some plumbers and carpenters, you know, see what it’s like, these blue collar guys who do it every day in and out.”

He then clarified that advice applied to all the candidates, and not Mitt Romney specifically.