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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

McCain out of touch, says struggling Toledo homeowner

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Cindy Rybak, left, with her daughter, Alicia, works two jobs to pay the mortgage on the home they share in West Toledo. Cindy Rybak, left, with her daughter, Alicia, works two jobs to pay the mortgage on the home they share in West Toledo.
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Cindy Rybak, 45, is struggling to pay the $515 monthly mortgage on her home in the Reynolds Corners area of Toledo while working two jobs, so she was kind of shocked to hear U.S. Sen. John McCain (R., Arizona) say he doesn't know how many houses he owns.

"If you have a staff that has to tell you where you own your homes at and how much they're worth and stuff, then you have no flippin' clue," Ms. Rybak said.

Ms. Rybak, the divorced mother of a 16-year-old girl who lives with her, was part of a campaign event yesterday organized by supporters of Democratic presumed presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.).

Mr. McCain's remark has provided his political enemies with fresh ammunition to win over independent and blue-collar voters in battleground states like Ohio that narrowly voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004.

In an interview with the Politico newspaper Wednesday, the apparent GOP presidential nominee was unable to say how many houses he owned with his wife, Cindy, a wealthy heiress to a beer distributorship.

The media have found at least seven.

Local and statewide, Republicans say Mr. Obama is an elitist, and raised questions about his own expensive house in a Chicago suburb where Chicago businessman Tony Rezko, a former fund-raiser for Mr. Obama, helped him buy the adjoining lot.

Rezko was convicted in June of fraud, attempted bribery, and money laundering in a corruption case that did not involve Mr. Obama.

"For a guy who enjoys holding campaign events in front of thousands in Berlin and who just returned from a Hawaiian vacation, it's pretty hard to make the argument that you are 'in touch' with regular Americans," Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook said.

Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the McCain campaign in Ohio, recalled Mr. Obama's comment that some Americans 'cling' to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship" as evidence of being out of touch.

Ms. Rybak, a registered Democrat who has lived in the house on Golden Road for 17 years, was asked to talk about her situation by Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, who said her name came up as someone who had come to the attention of a housing foreclosure crisis task force he co-chairs.

Ms. Rybak said she works a full-time job in a surgery center and a new part-time job in a deli, and spends little money on extras.

She said she has no cell phone, flat-screen TV, or Nintendo Wii.

Ms. Rybak got help in April from Neighborhood Housing Services when she started to fall behind in her mortgage payments.

She said she's asked her daughter, Alicia, to trim some of her volunteer activities and get a job to help her pay the bills.

Lucas County has seen rising foreclosure filings over the last three years, from 2,492 in 2005 to 3,285 in 2006 and 3,486 in 2007.

As of Aug. 12, there have been 2,563 foreclosures filed in 2008, according to the Lucas County treasurer's office.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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