At Cleveland airport, it’s air and presidential traffic control

CLEVELAND – First, they came for the airwaves, flooding Ohio with political ads. Now, the presidential candidates are taking over the air.

Jets carrying Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan landed at Cleveland’s airport within 45 minutes of each other Tuesday morning, creating an unusual only-in-Ohio spectacle as the candidates made their final frantic dash for votes in the critical Buckeye State.

Romney flew to Ohio to thank campaign volunteers after he voted in Belmont, Mass. His plane arrived first, pulling into an isolated corner of the tarmac. (another aircraft carrying Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and aides wearing “Teamsters for Obama’’ jackets rolled past him.)


Biden arrived about 20 minutes later, at 11:35 a.m., in his US government jet, which parked several hundred feet away. The vice president’s visit had not been previously announced, leading to puzzlement when the plane landed. A Secret Service agent, when asked who was aboard the airplane with a large American flag on it, helpfully confirmed that it was “someone from the US.’’

Both men stayed on their aircraft while black Chevy Suburbans and nondescript white vans formed into motorcades. A third jet, carrying Representative Ryan, landed at 11:52 a.m. For a brief moment, three-fourths of the candidates on the major-party tickets were all stalled on the tarmac, like travelers waiting for the baggage carousel to start.

President Obama stayed in his home state of Illinois.

Biden’s motorcade departed first, for a restaurant and a campaign stop. Ryan exited his plane a few moments later, walking up the stairs to Romney’s plane and spending a few minutes on the governor’s aircraft before both men emerged.

At 12:12, they stepped into a black SUV, and the GOP motorcade sped off.

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