Ohio Leaders Say Jobs Key In Presidential Election

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The November election is now less than six months away and the attention turns to Ohio. 

The Buckeye state is known for being a key battleground for presidential hopefuls. 

When it comes to winning Ohio voters, those who have already done it say it comes down to one thing.  

"Jobs and jobs and jobs.  That's what we need.  That's what we need in America," says Ohio's Governor John Kasich.

Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown agrees.  

"I think people are gonna look, they're gonna look at the President and see we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, three and a half years ago when he took office," said Brown.

Brown's fellow Ohio senator, Republican Rob Portman, says the country's economic climate enforces that idea.  

"This economy and our deficit and debt are the real problems facing our country.  And Ohioans get it.  I mean, if you talk to Ohioans, in fact not just Republicans and Independents but a lot of Democrats, too, they're really worried about the direction of our country right now.  And that's gonna be what this campaign is about," said Portman.

That Presidential campaign is just beginning, but one question remains unanswered: who will be the Republican to challenge President Obama?  

Kasich says certain qualities will make that person appealing to Ohio voters. 

"As long as he can focus on his, his experience, I think he'll do real well, and I think he can win Ohio.  It's really all that people are thinking about.  They're wondering 'Am I gonna keep my job?' " says Kasich, talking about Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and likely Republican presidential nominee.  

Governor Kasich announced his support for Romney back in April. He says he has the confidence the republican can take Ohio.  

"I do expect it'll be a close race.  It always is close in Ohio.  But no, I believe he can win.  No question in my mind about it," said Kasich. 

Other Ohio Republican leaders agree.  

"He's got experience in the private sector and as governor and saving the olympics of doing it, and he's got the policies to do it, you know?  He's laying out a pro-growth agenda that people are interested in," says Portman.

But democrats say Romney and his future running mate may have trouble arguing their stances on big issues.  

"I wouldn't want to be in the position to come to Columbus and Newark and London, Ohio and Delaware and argue those positions that Governor Romney has been so out of touch with the middle class," said Brown.

Former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy argues Romney's past is an issue, too: "It's really a two man race…Mitt Romney against himself, because he's got two different records.  And we don't know which is the real Mitt Romney."

Both parties do seem to agree on one thing: unity and cooperation between the aisles are key.  

"We're got to get a plan together that's Republican and Democrat.  I mean, it's impossible to get a plan together unless you have a president who's willing to lead," said Portman. 

"I think we need to celebrate more of what we have in common than what divides us and unfortunately politics today, politics has become too divisive and the middle gets missed and the national interest gets missed," said Kennedy.

And for those undecided voters, Democrats say their support may come with one question: "Well, I think some people that have traded in this will continue to play to people's fears, but I think that undecided voters, in the end are gonna look at candidates and say 'Whose side are you on?' " said Brown.

No presidential candidate has won the White House without winning Ohio as well.

The Republican Convention that will officially announce the presidential nominee will be held in Florida at the end of August.

Alyssa Hansen is a fellow with Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism's Statehouse Bureau. Visit