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Published: Monday, 10/12/2009

Obama arrives in Toledo

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
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Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama arrived in arrived in Toledo Sunday for the start of three days of intensive preparation for Wednesday s final presidential debate, and made an unscheduled stop in a Springfield Township neighborhood to canvass for votes.

And Mr. Obama agreed in principle with the idea that every American has the right to a job, an idea put to him in a page-one open letter to the candidate from Blade Co-Publisher and Editor in Chief John Robinson Block.

Senator Obama s motorcade stopped for about 45 minutes in the Lincoln Green neighborhood off McCord Road this afternoon where he went door to door and asked people to support him.

The white, working-class neighborhood is the type of community that Mr. Obama hopes to swing firmly to his side in the competition with Republican Sen. John McCain for Ohio s 20 electoral votes.

Rachel Jesko, 28, a teacher, was dropping off her friend when she saw the motorcade in the neighborhood. She started crying as he walked toward her, and then followed him up the street.

I love him. I think he s going to bring the change we need, Ms. Jesko said.

Tom Puhl, 63, a retired electrical designer, said he had made up his mind for Senator Obama early. He said the neighborhood is a working class community with a lot of empty, foreclosed-on homes.

He came off completely genuine and that s what impresses me, Mr. Puhl said.

Mr. Obama talked sports with several young men, discussed the price of gas and milk, described Congress s $700 billion economic rescue, and shook many hands.

His longest conversation was with a man who said afterward that he likes Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president. Joe Wurzelbacher, 34, who is buying a plumbing business, debated with Senator Obama about his tax plan, suggesting it would discourage entrepreneurship.

Mr. Obama tried to convince him that his plans to give a tax cut to 95 percent of Americans and to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 would ultimately be good for the plumbing business by helping get the economy righted.

Another uncommited voter, Mary Colledge, 64, told Mr. Obama she wanted to pray for him.

No matter who gets in they re going to need God s blessing, Ms. Colledge said, who came away with his autograph.

The Obama campaign plane, with Change We Can Believe In on the fusilage and the circular logo emblazoned on the tail, landed just before 3 p.m. at Toledo Express Airport. On hand were Lucas County sheriff s deputies and Ohio state troopers, as well as campaign and airport staff, and media.

Much of Mr. Obama s time will be spent sequestered with his advisors at Maumee Bay State Park lodge where he will review policy issues and rehearse for the third and final presidential debate against Republican Senator John McCain. That debate will be at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Long Island.

People lined State Route 2 to wave to the motorcade as it went past about 5 p.m. The parking lot at Maumee Bay State Park lodge in Oregon was full and several hundred people waved as Mr. Obama arrived for his several days of study.

This is Mr. Obama s third stop in Toledo this year.

Mr. Obama will appear at a rally Monday at SeaGate Convention Centre. No more tickets are available for the event.

In a called-out question to Mr. Obama whether he supports the right of every American to have a job, the candidate said as he entered the lodge at Maume Bay State Park, I agree that everyone who is willing and able to work should be able to find a job that pays a living wage.

The Blade today ran an unusual page-one open letter to Mr. Obama from the newspaper's publisher and editor-in-chief, John Robinson Block, asking him if he agrees that all Americans who want to work have the right to a job where they live.

The idea was laid out in a speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944.

Contact Tom Troy at 419-724-6058 or tomtroy@theblade.com.












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