(VANDALIA, Ohio) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joked Tuesday that Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio., plays President Obama so well in their debate prep session that afterwards he wants to “kick him out of the room.”
“He plays Barack Obama, he plays him well, too,” Romney told the crowd gathered for a rally at the Dayton International Airport where Portman appeared with him Tuesday. “After the, you know, hour and a half or so is over, I’m like, I want to kick him out of the room he’s so good.”
Romney insisted that Portman claims that it is actually him who wins their practice debates.
“When he gets finished he said, ‘You beat me again. You beat me again,’” Romney added of Portman, “Well, he likes my arguments, you see. He’s the better debater, but he likes my arguments better. He knows they’re right.”
The first of three presidential debates is Oct. 3 at the University of Denver.
Tuesday’s event, with both Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, served to launch the first event of Romney’s two-day, four-city bus tour throughout Ohio.
Ryan said Portman gave him a lucky Buckeye to help them in the crucial swing state.
“It means we are going to win Ohio,” Ryan said. “I will tell you the other reason we are going to win Ohio. We are going to give you, our fellow citizens, a clear choice.”
The “clear choice” is the catchphrase of the so-called reset of the Romney campaigning this week as they launch into the final six weeks of election. Romney advisers indicate the candidates will be offering a starker — clearer — comparison of the candidates on the days ahead.
The candidates added a bit of gusto to their economic message, expanding their arguments Tuesday. While arguing that China has “cheated,” as he often does on the campaign trail, Romney used an example of a counterfeit Apple store in China.
“They got a store, an Apple store, selling Apple, you know, iPads and iPhones, except it’s not an Apple store, it’s all counterfeit,” he exclaimed. “This cannot be allowed. We cannot compete with people who don’t play fair and I won’t let that go on, I will stop it in its tracks.”
Absentee ballot applications were at the event site Tuesday, and Portman noted that early votes are important to the campaign.
“The best thing we can do right now is bank votes,” Portman said, “So vote absentee, take advantage of it and be sure you’re getting the word out to your friends, your neighbors, folks you go to church with, people you are seeing in your neighborhood who may or may not even want to vote. Tell them we need their vote and we need it now.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Heather Long, CNN
Allie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN