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Published: Monday, 10/25/2010

Biden plans a return to Toledo

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

CINCINNATI - Gov. Ted Strickland's campaign announced Sunday night that Vice President Joe Biden will pay another campaign visit to the Toledo-area Sunday.

Mr. Biden, who has been in Toledo twice to help Mr. Strickland's re-election effort, will headline a rally sometime in the early evening Sunday after the vice president and President Obama rally for Mr. Strickland in Cleveland.

The public will be invited, said Lis Smith, communications director for the Strickland campaign.

The frequent visits by the President and vice president suggest the importance of having a Democratic governor in battleground Ohio when Mr. Obama faces re-election in two years.

Ms. Smith said Mr. Biden will talk about "how Ted has worked with the White House to create good jobs here in Ohio, including in northwest Ohio." She said the visit underscores the importance of Toledo and northwest Ohio in the election.

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich did not have any public campaign events Sunday. His spokesman, Rob Nichols, declined to comment about Mr. Biden's visit.

Mr. Strickland made one public appearance Sunday, at a party call center to thank the volunteers whose calls and door-knocking he hopes will win him a come-from-behind victory next week on Election Day.

With most of the issues hashed out, the campaigns are turning to what they call their "ground game."

"The Republican Party has nothing to compare with you. It's going to make the difference," Mr. Strickland said to the small group of volunteers at a Democratic phone bank operation in a Cincinnati shopping center.

He made similar expressions of appreciation to volunteers in southeast Ohio the two previous days.

Mr. Strickland trails his Republican opponent, John Kasich, by 2 percentage points, 49-47 percent, according to a poll conducted by the University of Cincinnati for the Ohio Newspaper Organization, of which The Blade is a member.

Mr. Strickland contends his internal polls put him as much as 3 points ahead.

The Ohio Democratic Party's operation includes about 101 call centers around the state.

The operations are both high-tech and labor-intensive, using headsets and automatic dialing to save callers' energy and time.

"These call centers make a great deal of difference," said state Sen. Eric Kearney (D., Cincinnati), who joined Governor Strickland for his event. "This is new and it started with President Obama," he said, referring to the organization Democrats built to identify supporters and get them to vote.

One volunteer, Jacqueline Chapman, 58, of West Chester, said she spends three of her weekly volunteer days calling and visiting fellow members of the Service Employees International Union and the other days reaching outside the union to likely Strickland voters.

Ms. Chapman, who said her son, Lawrence Tribble, 38, lives in Toledo, said she typically makes 78 to 90 calls in a three-hour shift.

"Most are saying they're still supporting the Democratic ticket," said Ms. Chapman.

Jason Mauk, executive director of the Republican Party, said the Democrats' claims of a great ground game is partly spin.

"We hit 27,000 doors statewide yesterday," Mr. Mauk said, referring to the Republicans Saturday door-to-door effort. "We made 150,000 phone calls. We're very confident in our ground game. They're trying to conjure up some excitement. They think they have this miraculous ground that our side does not have."

Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said the Democratic organization is outpolling Republicans in the early vote, which he said counters the widespread impression of an enthusiasm gap in favor of the GOP.

He said registered Democrats account for 45 percent of the early vote, compared with 36 percent for registered Republicans.

"Without a good get-out-the-vote effort, you're just left with a lot of television ads," Mr. Redfern said. "A solid get-out-the-vote effort is typically good for two to three percentage points. It's a tight race, and we're down to the final days of a campaign that could be decided by hundreds of votes."

Mr. Strickland is scheduled to continue his meet-and-thank-you tour at 10 a.m. today at 101 Main St. in East Toledo and in Elyria and Cleveland.

Mr. Kasich is also on a tour of Republican volunteer groups starting this morning in Westerville. The tour, to include other members of the Republican ticket, will arrive in Toledo Monday for a 6:30 p.m. rally at the Erie Street Market.

Contact Tom Troy at:

419-724-6058, or

tomtroy@theblade.com.



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