Youngstown, Ohio (CNN) — Closing in on another hard-fought battle with Rick Santorum, on Monday Mitt Romney drilled down on his economic message in the battleground state of Ohio.
“If you think this campaign against President Obama is going to be about the economy, and jobs, and government being too big, then I’m the guy you need to nominate,” Romney told an audience at a Canton guard rail factory the day before the state’s primary.
Ohio offers 63 delegates and a huge symbolic victory for any candidate.
Romney supporters have rumbled into industrial lots at a string of factory across the state, where they gathered on concrete floors to listen to the candidate amid the buzz of machinery.
The message they’ve heard is almost solely economy-based. The former Massachusetts governor focused has pared back his stump speech, cutting an ode to America’s hymns and the forays into social issues such as abortion rights he has occasionally made in the past.
“I look at this campaign right now and I see a lot of folks all talking about a lot of things, but what we need to talk about to defeat Barack Obama is getting good jobs and scaling back the size of government and that’s what I do,” Romney, who was battling a cold, said in Canton. “What I know is the economy.”
Later, in Youngstown, Romney made the case for Ohio voters to coalesce around his candidacy and propel him to a win in the closely-watched state.
“I believe if I do, I’ll get the nomination,” he said. “And then we can start organizing our effort to make sure that we replace President Obama.”
He warned: “The process may be long. It may be slow. But he’s raising millions of dollars every month. And has an organization, I’m told — someone told me yesterday — that he has 491 members of his staff, in his campaign staff. This is a huge juggernaut effort.”
In comparison Romney aides have painted their effort as a more streamlined, underdog effort against the president. A Romney advisor said their campaign employed 100 staffers.