TAMPA, Fla. -- Ohio Republicans stressed the primacy of their state's role in deciding elections, underscoring for them the importance of working to elect Mitt Romney this fall.
Josh Romney, son of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, along with with Ari Fleischer, former presss secretary to President George W. Bush, addressed the Ohio delegation at a breakfast held here on the day the convention was set to begin, and then quickly recess. The message was clear: Ohio holds the key to Republicans winning back the White House.
"It is a thrill for me to be here with the most important delegation, in the most important state, in the most country in the world," said Fleischer. He later added, "You have a profoundly important job ahead of you, and boy do you know how to do it in Ohio. We need you to deliver the Buckeye State for Mitt Romney."
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Pat Tiberi were also on hand to deliver a similar message. Buckeye State politicians will be well represented on the convention stage this week with Portman, Gov. John Kasich and House Speaker John Boehner all speaking. It is their responsibility, Portman said, to introduce voters in their state to Romney, which has been inundated with negative political ads from both sides.
"If you're an Ohio citizen, what have you heard about Mitt Romney? Mostly attack ads from Barack Obama...We need to explain to people who they are and why they're doing this," Portman said of the Republican ticket.
The freshman senator was quick to voice his praise for the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee. Portman was on the shortlist and was largely thought to be a top contender for the job, but on Monday he said Mitt Romney made a "terrific" choice.
"He's an ideas guy, he's got a reformer's heart. He's in this for all the right reasons. It's not about him, it's not about ego, it's not about partisanship, it's about helping America," he said of Ryan.
And while there were plenty of kind words for Ryan, Fleischer also gave praise to the currently elected vice president.
"Right after this convention, of course, the Democrats have their convention, where I plan to go to Charlotte because I want to put the name of Joe Biden in nomination to be vice president of the United States," Fleischer joked. "We have a ticket that keeps giving us gifts on the other side. Joe Biden doesn't know what state he's in, Joe Biden doesn't know what century it is."
Josh Romney's presence at the breakfast was also a sign of the importance his father places on Ohio. He stressed his dad's emphasis on family, calling him a hero. And while Mitt Romney's speech on Thursday is thought to be in part an introduction of himself on a personal level, Josh Romney said the address will largely focus on the thing he entire campaign has been based around -- the economy.
"He knows what it's going to take to get this economy back and going again and that's what his speech will be about it. And that's really what he knows, that is what he is very good at is understanding how the economy works, understanding how to create jobs. That's what he's done all his life," said Josh Romney.