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Published: Monday, 10/4/2004

Conyers has recipe for beating Bush

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rep. John Conyers visits Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, one of seven he spoke at around the area yesterday. Rep. John Conyers visits Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, one of seven he spoke at around the area yesterday.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

U.S. Rep. John Conyers has criticized the policies of President Bush and early last year considered trying to impeach the Republican.

But yesterday morning the Detroit Democrat told African-American voters in Toledo that there is an easier way to "get rid" of the President - cast a ballot for John Kerry on Nov. 2.

Mr. Conyers, a 19-term representative, visited seven primarily black churches, telling their members that their votes will make a difference in this battleground state.

"We want Ohio and Michigan to vote for Kerry on Nov. 2," Mr. Conyers told about 100 people at Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church during a town-hall style meeting, the last stop on yesterday's tour. He was joined by Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), and a number of other Democratic candidates seeking election in Lucas County.

Mr. Conyers told the crowd that constitutional scholars, who noted his role in the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, are now asking, "What are you waiting for on Bush?"

Mr. Conyers, who voted against authorizing military force in Iraq, opted against drafting articles of impeachment against Mr. Bush in the days leading up to the Iraq war.

The longtime civil rights advocate, the leading Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, explained how he had been motivated by working alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1960s.

"It was so inspiring," said Mr. Conyers, who was first elected to Congress in 1964. "He showed me how powerful one person can be."

The message registered with voters like John Savage, a 43-year-old skilled-trades worker from Toledo.

"Martin Luther King was an icon, a legend among people," Mr. Savage said. "For him to say he worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., it makes you feel good that someone from that era is still representing."

Taron Cunningham, 26, of Toledo came out yesterday to encourage others to vote.

"I don't care who people vote for," said Mr. Cunningham, a political director for Project Vote/ACORN. "I want our citizens to understand they have an impact on the process."

He said Mr. Conyers' visit should motivate voters and express the importance of participating in the election.

"Our vote still counts and is a factor in the election," Mr. Cunningham said. "We have to get out the vote in record numbers."

Mayor Jack Ford said the contingent of Democratic hopefuls met with an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 potential voters during their seven church stops yesterday.

"I'm tired," Mr. Ford said. "We've been running all over Toledo."

The mayor reminded the audience that time is running short to register to vote.

The deadline for registering is today in Ohio and Michigan. The Lucas County Elections office, located in Government Center downtown, will stay open until 9 p.m. to take lastminute applications.

Mr. Ford knows these votes could prove crucial in the Nov. 2 presidential race.

"The race is going to be extremely close," he said. "Ohio is going to be a 50-50 state. It is going to turn on turnout and how well we get our vote out.

"I want folks to look at Lucas County and Toledo and say these folks sure do vote," he said.

Robin Gates-Turner, a 42-year-old teacher from Toledo, said she'll be sure to vote - and she's supporting Mr. Kerry. She came out yesterday afternoon to listen to Mr. Conyers.

"They are voicing their opinions and realizing how important it is to cast a vote in this election," she said.

Ms. Gates-Turner knows Toledo voters are especially concerned about health care and the economy, but the war in Iraq will be a deciding factor for voters.

"The war is important because it affects us as a nation," she said. "Health care and jobs affect us locally."

Contact Steve Eder at: seder@theblade.com or 419-724-6728.



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