Romney campaigns in Indiana

Caption
(AP photo)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns Saturday at Stepto's BBQ Shack in Evansville, Ind.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Mitt Romney attacked what he calls “an extraordinary series of policy failures” from President Barack Obama, but said Saturday that America is “poised to take off economically.”

The Republican presidential contender briefly met with Indiana voters, seizing on the latest jobs report as evidence that his Democratic opponent’s economic policies aren’t working.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the American economy added 163,000 jobs in July, the best pace of hiring in five months. The jobless rate ticked up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 in June.

“These are real families having real hard times,” Romney told dozens of supporters gathered in Stepto’s BBQ Shack in Evansville. “This has been an extraordinary series of policy failures on behalf of the president.”

Romney spoke for about 10 minutes before heading to a series of private fundraisers. He took a pulled-chicken sandwich to go.

Obama narrowly won Indiana four years ago, becoming the first Democrat to carry the state in more than 40 years. But recent polls suggest that Romney has the edge with Election Day three months away.

Obama celebrated his 51st birthday Saturday and offered no public comments. His campaign released a new television ad that targets Romney’s opposition to abortion rights and funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Romney campaign, meanwhile, dismissed the ad as a distraction from the previous day’s jobs numbers.

“One day after the unemployment rate increased and we reached 42 consecutive months with a jobless rate greater than 8 percent, it is not surprising that the Obama campaign would release a false ad in an attempt to distract from the effects of the President’s failed policies,” Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said.

At the same time, each side went after the other in a dispute over military voting rights in Ohio. Romney accused the Obama administration of trying to limit early voting privileges of servicemen, while the Obama campaign accused his Republican rival of intentionally distorting the facts.

Obama’s campaign and Democrats filed the lawsuit last month against Ohio’s top elections official in a dispute over the battleground state’s law that restricts early, in-person voting during the final three days before Election Day.

Romney did not address the issue in Indiana, but released a statement calling the lawsuit “an outrage.”

Obama’s campaign says the lawsuit is intended “to make sure every Ohioan, including military members and their families, has early voting rights over the last weekend prior to the election.”

Romney is set to hold a series of private fundraisers in Indiana before heading to his New Hampshire vacation home for two days of private meetings as speculation swirls over the selection of his running mate.

The decision could come any day.

___

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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