Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Wednesday, May 17

Gov: Strickland (D) Warmly Received at Cleveland Campaign Stop

A mostly African-American crowd of at least 150 roared their approval yesterday at the Harvard Community Services Center in Cleveland's southeastern 1st Ward as gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) promised a state government that is inclusive and committed to an "urban agenda" of improving economic opportunity, safety, and schools.

City Councilwoman Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) fired up the listeners with a rousing introduction. Opening with a theme of "carpe diem," she called on voters to "seize this time" and accept the "challenge of turning Ohio around" by using the "tool in your toolbox" of voting for the Strickland/Fisher ticket. Speaking specifically to her "African-American brothers and sisters," Turner warned:
"The other side is going to run a race about race -- but this race should be about the quality of services, about education, and about jobs. This race is about electing someone who genuinely cares about your family and it's future.
Turner also linked the race to 2008, igniting the audience by declaring that "we can pick a Governor who will serve the state, but more importantly, we're on the way to the White House." Reviewing Strickland's background as a teacher and his humble beginnings as the son of a steelmill worker, Turner asserted that his rural experience puts him in touch with the urban experience. She said that Strickland came and said that he might not understand the urban agenda, but that he sought the help he needed to understand and improve urban conditions.

Handed an energized crowd, Strickland responded with equal enthusiasm. After praising and thanking Turner, he joked that he was late because he had been meeting with "a bunch of ministers," and one "can't tell when they will stop talking." (I overheard someone saying later that the meeting featured 52 ministers.) He then said that the meeting with ministers included Strickland, running mate Lee Fisher (D-Cleveland), and "the Congresswoman" (presumably Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland)), and that the pastors "put their hands on us and blessed us," which had Strickland feeling "I can do anything today!" I took this to mean that Strickland and Tubbs Jones have resolved their differences and have publicly signalled their intention to work together, particularly since an AP reporter later mentioned that he had attended the meeting. If my understanding is correct, this is very welcome news.

"Ohio needs a brighter future," Strickland proclaimed, because jobs are leaving the state, too many young people who are incarcerated have no jobs when they come out (tremendous applause), and young people are neglected. The only way to solve these problems, he said, is to "join together, to bring heads and hearts together." He decried the prevailing "individualistic" attitude of expecting each person to fend for him or herself, pointing out how "none of us get through this world alone," using examples of how we all "depend on our fellow man" throughout our lives. "We're in this together," he asserted, echoing the campaign theme of U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), "and we need to get back to where we cared about each other." Bringing up the politically charged idea of "values" as a campaign issue, Strickland tied his theme to the Golden Rule: "We need to treat others the way we'd like to be treated." In Ohio, he said, "some are doing really well, but the middle class and those struggling to get by aren't doing well at all." (Loud cheering and applause). Pointing out that millions in funds available for social programs remain unspent by the state, Strickland said that "the kind of administration we want is about people caring about each other."

Saying "we're in trouble in America," Strickland turned briefly to national issues: the tragedy of Iraq casualties and of veterans who return to face cuts in veterans benefits, the cutting of Medicare and Medicaid benefits, federal borrowing from China to pay for the deficit, and "union and non-union workers" who can't depend on their pension benefits. "Things are bad in America, but they are worse in Ohio," he continued, zeroing in on the sorry condition of school funding in this state. Probably the loudest applause of the afternoon, however, greeting his next few points:
"People are losing confidence that when they go to the polling place, they'll be able to vote, and their vote will be accurately counted."
This is a government characterized by incompetence and corruption, he continued:
"People in Ohio are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they're ready for a change. Lee and I have a plan to start turning Ohio around. We want to include everybody, regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or their religious belief. We want a government that is inclusive. We want a government that has African-Americans in the cabinet [and on boards and commissions]. We want to include everyone."
When the wild cheering subsided, Strickland turned to urban conditions, saying "we can't have a healthy state unless we have healthy cities," and further that we won't have healthy cities without economic opportunity, personal safety, and better schools. He announced his determination to have an administration "that is committed to working for you, and for people in communities like this one all over Ohio."

Strickland concluded by linking the 2006 election in Ohio to the presidency. "We're fighting for the presidency in 2008," he said, and "we're running against the man who went to Florida in 2000" to help Katherine Harris give that election to George W. Bush. "I don't need to remind you" what that opponent did in 2004 to put Bush back in the Oval Office, he continued, and even the election two weeks ago "had problems." Continuing, he said "we're going to put in a fair apparatus" for the election in 2008.

Running mate Lee Fisher, the former attorney general, echoed Strickland's themes. He praised Strickland as a tireless worker who will be a "24/7 Governor." Recalling the advice of Ruby McCullough, former director of the Harvard Community Services Center, that "when things are going tough, follow your heart," Fisher proclaimed that Strickland lives this credo. "Yes, we have a plan, but what we want most is a leader who speaks what he believes, not what he thinks people want to hear." Saying that Strickland took his impoverished upbringing as an "opportunity" to spend his life "lifting others up" as a minister, teacher, psychologist and Congressman, Fisher contrasted that with their opponent, whom Fisher described as having "spent his entire career turning people against each other." Their opponent "believes that if he can divide people, enough will vote for him out of fear." Strickland, on the other hand, says "No - we don't divide, we bring people together." Strickland will "hang up a sign saying 'Everyone is Welcome Here.'" Fisher concluded with a stirring refrain, to resounding applause: "The stakes could not be higher, the choice could not be clearer, and the candidate could not be better!"

This was a rousing and successful campaign stop. Strickland was obviously comfortable with his message and very personal and genuine in delivering it. It seemed to me that Strickland had a tremendous rapport with the crowd, and that his speech sounded themes that resonated very well. This was not a merely polite reception, or an audience applauding out of a sense of duty, but an audience that really loved the speech and was ready to embrace the speaker.

UPDATE: Moments after posting this account I spoke to Strickland's communications director Jess Goode, who confirmed that the meeting with pastors was "very positive," but indicated that they had no public announcement to make, and referred me to Tubbs Jones on the matter of her willingness to make an endorsement. He also referred me to an entry today on the Plain Dealer "blog" Openers, which provides more detail on the pastors meeting:
"A group of Cleveland's influential black clergy interviewed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland today for about 60 minutes, asking him several questions about how he will help blacks as governor.

United Pastors in Mission, which represents more than 50 Cleveland-area churches, wanted to size up Strickland before the group endorses a candidate in the fall. The group interviewed Republican candidate Ken Blackwell in March. ...

[T]he group asked Strickland, among other questions, how he will improve school funding and access to health care and help blacks find jobs after prison [and] about its feeling that the Democratic Party has shut out black leaders.

The meeting was closed to reporters but [Rev. C. Jay] Matthews and others said Strickland responded candidly and offered specific plans.

Asked for his impression of Strickland’s performance, Matthews said: “Great response. Good response. Well-ordered response. Addressed the concerns head on. A good meeting.” ...

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a powerful black official and fellow Democrat who has refused to endorse Strickland thus far, spoke to the group before Strickland. ...

Tubbs Jones said that Strickland has apologized on behalf of his supporters and that she is comfortable with his attempts to mend fences. But she did not say when and whether she will endorse his campaign."

7 Comments:

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Moses Cleaveland said...

Great descriptions of local political events like the above are why I read your blog. Thank you and please keep it up.

 
At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Earl from ohio said...

YSD,

Another great report.

Most of the time, the much vaunted "net roots" in Ohio are just completely disconnected from reality. Your site is a breath of fresh air. Please keep up the good work.

 
At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This report was great, your site is great. Head and sholders above most other blogs. Keep it up!

 
At 3:58 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Thanks, Jeff. Excellent review, especially for a non-attendee.

Do you ever do any of your own exit polls when you leave these events, to see how the crowd feels before and after? WOuldn't that be interesting?

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger abdirissa said...

Top notch blog here, unlike 2 or 3 other sensationalistic Ohio psycho blabber zones.

The below is good and I believe there are some first-time statements for Strickland?

"Probably the loudest applause of the afternoon, however, greeting (Strickland's) next few points

'People are losing confidence that when they go to the polling place, they'll be able to vote, and their vote will be accurately counted.'

(addenddum) http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/ohio/

Reporter:
"African-American crowd of at least 150 roared their approval ... Ted Strickland promised a state government that is inclusive and committed to an 'urban agenda'..."

"...meeting with ministers included Strickland ... Lee Fisher ... Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones ... pastors 'put their hands on us and blessed us,' which had Strickland feeling ... 'I can do anything today!'

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger redhorse said...

Even though I couldn't make it, I knew I could count on you for a good wrap. Thanks.

 
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