YOUNGSTOWN - A Mitt Romney presidency would have ''disastrous consequences'' on the American middle class, said former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and other Democrats stumping for President Barack Obama's re-election here Monday.
Obama's Ohio campaign on the first stop of a three-day Buckeye State bus tour at the Golden Dawn Diner on Youngstown's North Side kept up its attacks on the Republican Romney, saying his economic policy would raise taxes on middle class families while cutting them for the rich, cut college tuition - Pell grant - funding and radically alter Medicare and Social Security.
Romney and GOP vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, want to take the U.S. ''back to the same failed economic policies that got us into this economic mess in the first place,'' said Strickland, one of Obama's national campaign co-chairs.
''It didn't work then and it won't work now,'' Strickland said.
Republicans fired back, attacking Obama's policies and Strickland as a surrogate.
''Under Ted Strickland's watch Ohioans were forced to endure ballooning budget deficits, higher taxes and a loss of nearly 400,000 jobs,'' Romney's Ohio campaign spokesman Christopher Maloney said. ''After three and a half years of failed policies from the Obama administration, it's not shocking Strickland's dismal economic record qualifies him as an acceptable surrogate for the Obama campaign.''
Buses supporting opposing presidential candidates dueled in Youngstown Monday. An event planned for the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, was interrupted when a bus for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pulled up blowing its horn. The GOP bus drove around the block twice, honking as it passed each time. Tribune Chronicle / Ron Selak Jr.
Maloney countered that the cuts to Pell Grants funding is a myth, that the U.S. House Republican budget maintains the $5,500 maximum grant award. Modernizing Social Security would guarantee is future vitality and Romney's Medicare plan puts the program on a ''sustainable path, protecting the program for today's seniors and strengthening it for future generations,'' Maloney said.
During Monday's Democratic event, a Romney-Ryan bus parked in a nearby lot and began honking its horn. Afterward, it drove around the block twice, steadily blowing its horn as it drove past.
The GOP bus made stops in Niles and Boardman Monday to highlight Romney's ''plan to strengthen the middle class,'' according to a GOP campaign news release.
At the Niles stop, small business owner David Gray was doing some volunteer phone banking.
"This is a crucial election and we have had 3 1/2 years of President Obama, and we know what he is all about," said Gray, a partner with Key Relevant Business Solutions, a hospital management website design, fraud prevention group. "We know the president's vision of America, and we just want something different, something better for all of our children."
Democrats continued their steady effort to key in on Obama's decision to rescue the automobile industry, a point they say is expressly important due to the industry's large presence in the Mahoning Valley and Ohio.
It was because of the president's leadership in that arena, said Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman David Betras, that General Motors can dedicate about $200 million toward building the next generation Chevrolet Cruze at its Lordstown complex.
Romney/Ryan, Betras said, would never invest in the middle class or Mahoning Valley and in fact, ''would kick us to the curb.''
''That's why we are going to be fighting hard to make sure that, President Obama had our back, and we are going to invest and make sure that we have his,'' Betras said.
The Obama bus tour continued Monday with stops at Kent State University, Parma Heights and Lorain.