Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) speaks during the Republican National Convention on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. - 

Tonight Mitt Romney will face President Obama in the first debate of the 2012 race for the White House and people will be watching closely in Ohio. It's a state that could determine the outcome of the election. Today we spoke with current Governor John Kasich, a republican, and former Governor Ted Strickland, a democrat to get their views on Ohio and how it fits in to the national election.

"If you were to shrink America, you would end up with Ohio," says Strickland, "we are a very diverse state, and I think because of that, no politician, no political party, can ever take Ohio for granted." Strickland, who served as Governor from 2007 to 2011 during dismal economic times in Ohio, credits Obama's policies for jump starting job growth in the state.

Governor Kasich says his plan for Ohio is to develop diversified industries, "we are located within 600 miles of 60 percent of the country, we are very big in financial services, we are on the cusp of real significant gains in the area of energy, the medical corridor...we don't want to put our eggs all in one basket."

Kasich tells us that despite recent polling data, the election is going to very close in his state. He says that in tonight's debate, Mitt Romney "needs to show people that he's just not a smart guy that has had a great track record, but that he truly understands what their difficulties are."

Former democratic Ohio Governor Ted Strickland shares what he thinks resonates with voters in the state and why he's fighting for a second Obama term, "we want shared prosperity, we want fairness in our tax system, we want the middle class and people who are trying to get into the middle class to have a fair shot."

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson