Mitt Romney, President Obama campaigns project confidence in deadlocked Ohio

Mitt Romney’s campaign on Sunday trumpeted a new poll that shows the Republican nominee tied with President Obama in the critical battleground state of Ohio, and Romney surrogates expressed growing optimism that he will win the Buckeye State.

An Ohio Newspaper Organization survey released late Saturday showed Romney and Obama in a dead heat, each with 49-percent support. One month ago, the president led the same poll by 5 percentage points.

Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Romney’s performance in the debates, particularly the first one, made Ohio voters think, “you know, maybe he does get me.” The Obama campaign has cast Romney as out of touch with middle-class voters.

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“That was an important part of why there’s such momentum in the state of Ohio right now,” Kasich said. “Look, it’s very close, but I believe right now we are currently ahead. Internals show us currently ahead. I honestly think that Romney’s going to carry Ohio and, you know, I haven’t been saying this. I now believe it’s going to happen.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said he feels “like the momentum is on our side,” adding that “energy and enthusiasm is with us this year.”

The Obama campaign also projected confidence on Sunday.

“As you look at these battleground states, we are even or ahead in virtually all of them, in these critical states like Ohio,” Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We maintain a consistent lead.”

Many political analysts believe Ohio is the most critical of the tossup states. The candidates have visited the state more than any other. Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, were scheduled to hold three events in Ohio on Sunday as part of a bus tour through the state.

Obama planned to return to Ohio on Monday evening, after campaigning in Florida with Bill Clinton.