STEUBENVILLE - Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland made at stop in Steubenville Monday at the Obama/Biden re-election headquarters to make his case for the president's re-election.
Strickland, who also is serving as President Barack Obama's national campaign co-chairman, made the stop Monday afternoon, along with Fred Deel, former director of the Office of Appalachia. During the stop, Strickland made an impassioned case for re-electing Obama over Republican rival Mitt Romney and why that would be good for Ohio and Jefferson County.
"Ohio is at the center of this election," said Strickland. "No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. That's why this is so important."
ON THE STUMP — Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland — also national Obama co-chair — speaks Monday to a gathering at the Obama/Biden headquarters in Steubenville. Strickland made his case for the re-election of President Barack Obama over his Republican rival Mitt Romney during the stop, which was part of the campaign’s Heartland Tour 2012: Moving the Middle Class Forward tour. - Mark Miller
Strickland said Obama and Vice president Joe Biden would be making numerous stops in the state between now and election day. He also said Obama currently has a 5-point lead in state polls after the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week, adding Obama deserves re-election for "keeping Ohio out of an economic depression."
The state has been able to keep state workers and continue infrastructure projects because of the president's stimulus bill, passed in 2009, said Strickland.
"Who is responsible for Ohio's economic improvement?" Strickland asked. "It wasn't because of me, and it wasn't because of the current (state) governor. It was because of President Obama."
Strickland said the president was responsible for saving thousand of Ohio jobs tied to the auto industry because of the bailouts. He added the Obama administration also closed the "doughnut hole" for prescription drug coverage for senior citizens, and 1,883 people in Jefferson County were now eligible for a 50 percent discount on some prescriptions.
"Mitt Romney is a man of great wealth," said Strickland, adding "Romney's never had to worry about health care. If Romney does away with Obamacare. more than 30 million Americans will again be without health insurance. He would also kill Medicare as we know it."
Strickland said Romney's running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, has devised a voucher system that seniors would use instead of Medicare, resulting in seniors paying $6,400 more per year "just to get the coverage they have now. " Strickland also criticized Ryan's budget cuts for Medicaid and Pell grants for students, adding "Medicaid pays for health care for our kids.
"These and other programs are slashed by the Paul Ryan budget so they could give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires," continued Strickland, adding future cuts to the federal budget needed to be better targeted to not harm the middle class. "We're not just talking someone who has made $1 million - we're talking about multiple millionaires and billionaires."
Strickland also said gas and oil drilling have increased during Obama's term.
"There's a big lie about coal in this area," said Strickland. "There is no war against coal."
Strickland said despite what some in the coal industry say, coal production has increased 7 percent since Obama took office, while employment in the coal industry has increased 10 percent.
"Now, (while governor of Massachusetts) Romney was anti-coal," said Strickland, adding Romney flip-flopped on the issue since his days as governor. "He's changed his song now. Now he comes to Ohio and pretends to be a friend of coal. He's like a well-oiled weathervane."
Strickland said the Obama administration has invested billions into clean coal research and was for using coal in "an environmentally acceptable manner," adding the president was a friend to coal miners. Strickland also criticized some coal operators who allegedly were making employees attend pro-Romney rallies and events.
"If that's true, it's terrible, and it's also probably illegal as well," said the former governor.
Strickland also said Romney insulted the nation's military forces engaged in wars overseas "by not once thanking our veterans during his (Republican nomination) acceptance speech. When he was asked about it, he said there were other things important to talk about. Nothing is more important than our veterans. The Paul Ryan budget isn't good for veterans, either."
Deel said the average, middle-class voter would pay up to $2,000 more annually in federal income taxes under a Romney/Ryan administration.
He also said cuts made in a Romney administration would affect the middle class more than most people realize. Deel echoed Strickland's comments concerning coal and natural gas production, adding that "President Obama wants to produce (natural gas) but in a way that wouldn't hurt the environment and in a safe, responsible way.
"I think the election is a clear choice - do we want to help the middle class or the wealthiest 1 percent?" asked Deel.