MARIETTA - Politicians are not underestimating the importance of Ohio's smaller towns in the upcoming election.
Already a popular stop for this year's campaigning politicians, Marietta will welcome Tagg Romney today at a rally to begin at 1:45 p.m. near the Washington County Courthouse.
The eldest son of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Tagg is expected to bolster his father's policies and urge Ohioans to vote early. Today's event is open to the public, and will hopefully be well attended, said Washington County Republican Party Chair Leslie Haas.
"The energy here in Washington County and the effort that we are making are encouraging them to come here. They see we are committed to a Romney-Ryan win," said Haas.
Around 6,300 people have voted early in Washington County. This puts this year's early voting numbers slightly ahead of where they were at this time in 2008, said Peggy Byers, deputy director and trainer for the Washington County Board of Elections.
"This is a visit to get people excited about early voting. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and election day. The earlier people vote, the better chance we have of winning this election," said Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who is running to reclaim his seat.
* Commit to Mitt Early Vote Express Bus Tour.
* Featuring Tagg Romney, Mitt Romney's eldest son; Josh Mandel, U.S. Senate candidate; Congressman Bill Johnson; and Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson.
* Starts at 1:45 p.m. today at 205 Putnam St., Marietta.
* The public will be able to meet and discuss issues afterward with Mandel, Johnson and Thompson.
Johnson will be speaking at today's rally. He said he plans on thanking people for their hard work on behalf of the Republican party.
"The momentum that has been building in Ohio is exceptional. And Washington County has led the way more than once in the ground game this year," he added.
U.S Senate candidate and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, will also be on hand for the event. Mandel, who is challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown's seat in the U.S. Senate, will be fresh off the heels of his second debate with Brown. The debate was held Thursday in Columbus.
"Josh is going to talk about his jobs plan for Ohio, specifically the need for domestic energy production in oil, coal and natural gas," said Mandel's campaign communication director Travis Considine.
Tagg Romney has been hitting the campaign trail earlier this week as well. Wednesday he stumped for his father at North Carolina's Wake Forest University, a day before early voting began in the state. The visit is part of the Commit to Mitt Early Vote Express Bus Tour.
The rally today will be Tagg's first scheduled stop for the day. Mandel was scheduled for earlier stops in St. Clairesville, Caldwell and McConnelsville. Johnson was also slated for the Caldwell stop.
Johnson, Mandel and Thompson will be on hand to meet voters and discuss state and national issues following the formal speaking event.
After the rally in Marietta, the bus tour will travel to Cambridge for its final appearance of the day.