CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday night that President Obama's last-minute focus on Ohio has little to do with Tuesday's midterm elections.
At a campaign rally with GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich and congressional hopeful Bob Gibbs, Boehner told voters they not only have a chance to help oust the Democratic majority in Congress on Tuesday, but can seriously damage Obama's reelection prospects, too.
"They've been coming here for months," Boehner said of the president and vice president, who held their final rally before Election Day in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon. "What he's really coming here for is to help himself, because he knows that come 2012, if he doesn't have [Democratic Gov.] Ted Strickland in office, his reelection chances are seriously damaged."
While other GOP challengers in Ohio are well ahead leading up to Tuesday — a new poll out Monday in the Senate race shows former Rep. Rob Portman (R) 19 points ahead of Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) — the race between Kasich and Strickland is still tight.
And unlike most embattled Democrats in 2010, the governor has embraced President Obama, campaigning alongside the president Sunday in Cleveland.
"A few hours before this critical election, the vice president and the president of the United States have come to Cleveland, to Ohio, and we are grateful," Strickland said at Sunday's rally.
The governor's mansion in Ohio is undoubtedly vital for the White House in 2012. With Strickland in office, Democrats would have an organizing edge in what is always a key presidential battleground state.
"Vote for Kasich to send Obama a message," Boehner concluded Sunday night, recalling the president's words at a seven-hour healthcare summit he held in Washington along with congressional Republicans last year.
At the time, Obama said that if lawmakers couldn't find common ground on healthcare reform, Democrats would have to press forward without Republican support.
"He said, 'That's what elections are for,' " recalled Boehner. "And boy, was he right."