Strickland stumps locally for Obama-Biden ticket

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland was the featured speaker at a short campaign stop of the Obama-Biden Heartland Tour 2012 on Monday afternoon near the Belmont County Courthouse.

Strickland, who was joined by Ohio State Sen. Lou Gentile and former Governor’s Office of Appalachia colleague Fred Deel, talked about Ohio’s economy, the auto industry and jobs.

But primarily, Strickland was on hand to talk up the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“When the president made his acceptance speech, he looked into the camera and said to the people ‘I need your vote and I need your help.”’ Strickland said in his opening in front of about 40 or so Obama supporters. “And that’s our message.

“The fact is, Ohio is the battleground state. I believe it will determine the winner of the presidential election. A poll came out today that has the president up five points. There is a reason for that.

“This president has been good to and for Ohio.”

Public Policy Polling’s first post-convention poll for Ohio has Obama up five points against Republican presidentail nominee Mitt Romney, 50-45. This is a slight increase from the 48-45 edge for the president in August.

Strickland pointed to Ohio’s economic recovery as a sign that Obama’s policies are working for the people of the Buckeye state.

“There is some debate as to why Ohio’s economy is experiencing an ecoomic comeback,” Strickland said. “Ohio’s unemployment rate is lower than the national rate, which is unsual for a manufacturing state like Ohio.

“Governor (John) Kasich would like ot take credit for it. But who deserves the credit is Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Strickland cited the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as the government bailout of the auto industry as two key factors.

The Associated Press released a story Monday detailing a look at a number of economic figures for Ohio and how each category faired during the last four years.

According to the report, here’s a look at key shifts in the unemployment rate since 2006.

  • Nov. 2006 (Strickland elected): 5.4 percent
  • Nov. 2008 (Obama elected): 7.6 percent
  • July 2009 (height of recession): 10.6 percent
  • Nov. 2010 (Kasich elected): 9.4 percent
  • July 2012: 7.2 percent

In Belmont County, the unemployment rate has declined steadily since July 2010, when it was at 8.5 percent, to 6.9 percent in July of 2012.

Nealry $44.4 million was received by Belmont County through the ARRA.

“The auto industry related to 1 in 8 jobs in Ohio,” Strickland said. “There have been investments made in Toledo and Youngstown, Cleveland and elsewhere. But the supply chain touches 80 of the 88 counties.”

While Strickland didn’t touch on the president’s coal policies specifically, Gentile did.

Gentile explained this part of Ohio is blessed to have an abundance of coal, oil and gas and that the Obama campaign supports the responsible development of those resources.

“We support those natural resources and so does President Obama,” Gentile said. “He believes with the responsible development of oil, gas and coal, we can create sustainable, living wage jobs and that’s what he’s done.”

Figures circulated by the Obama campaign detail that:

  • Employment in the mining industry in Ohio has incraesed 10 percent since Obama took office. Ohio’s coal production has increased seven percent since 2008?
  • Figures from the Mine Safety and Health Administration state that there were 2,824 employees in underground mines, surface mines, prep plants and coal mills in Ohio. There were 3,120 during the first quarter of 2012.

These figures are aimed at countering criticism of the campaign that Obama and Biden are out to do in the coal industry.

Romney, during his Aug. visit to the Century Mine outside of Beallsville, touched on that subject.

“He says we’re adding jobs in the coal industry. How can you go out and tell things that aren’t true,” Romney said. “If you don’t believe in coal and energy independence, then say it.”

Representatives from the Romney campaign reitereated that stance Monday, stating that because of the increased EPA regulations regarding coal-fired power plants, the ‘War on Coal’ is a reality.

The bus tour contiued on througout Eastern Ohio on Monday, making at stop in Steubenville.

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