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Published: Tuesday, 7/3/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Obama campaign stop proves to be hot ticket

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Carol Clark, center, smiles as she receives her tickets to Obama's upcoming visit to Maumee. Carol Clark, center, smiles as she receives her tickets to Obama's upcoming visit to Maumee.
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The Obama for President campaign may be counting on absorbing some of Ohio's pioneer and entrepreneurial spirit Thursday when President Obama comes to Maumee to kick off a two-day bus trip.

The President will be stumping at the Wolcott House Museum at 1031 River Road in Maumee, an early 19th Century estate, as he ramps up his campaign against likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The Obama campaign began distributing free tickets to the event Monday on a first come, first serve basis at Obama campaign offices in downtown Toledo, Sylvania, and Bowling Green.

At the Toledo office, a line of a few hundred residents snaked around the building and the adjacent parking lot well before 5 p.m., the announced time for ticket distribution. Lori Proctor, Obama campaign team leader for the Old Orchard neighborhood said the office only found out about Obama's impending visit Monday morning, and their excitement was growing.

"The President has done so much to improve our northwestern Ohio," she said. "He has invested in middle class families, rescued the auto industry... He is supporting and growing manufacturing. We need him to continue that."

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Campaign volunteers walked up and down the line passing out cups of water and numbered slips of paper in order to ease the distribution process. They also attempted to calm those waiting in line who grew hot and restless as 5 p.m. neared.

Joy Youster of Toledo heard news of Obama's visit a little before 4 p.m., and she immediately drove to the office to wait for tickets.

"I've never seen a president before," Ms. Youster said. "I'm always too busy so I thought, 'I'm going to take the time and go see him this time.'"

Tickets were distributed one per person, and each person was required to print his or her name on the ticket immediately after receiving it.

At Thursday's event, tickets will be required for every individual, including newborns and toddlers, and each person must present an ID that matches the name on his or her ticket. Ticketholders will be allowed to enter at 9:15 a.m.

Obama's two-day tour to celebrate the American worker fits perfectly with Toledo, Ms. Youster said.

"Toledo is definitely a blue-collar town, which is probably why he's starting here," she said.

Details of the rest of the trip were still being withheld Monday by the Obama campaign. The President was expected to make at least one more stop in Ohio on Thursday -- James Day Park in Parma -- and then make a bus stop in Pennsylvania Friday.

The Wolcott House is the centerpiece of a complex with several historic buildings. The house and grounds are owned by the city of Maumee and maintained by the Maumee Valley Historical Society, which owns the contents and runs the programs.

The house, a blend of federal and classic architecture, was built by entrepreneur James Wolcott and his wife Mary who moved to what was then the frontier in 1827 to establish a business. Mr. Wolcott built wharves and warehouses and two steamships for his retail and wholesale activities, which grew with the construction of the Wabash and Erie Canals.

Mr. Wolcott was also a wool mill owner, steamboat owner, real estate magnate, farmer, banker, and judge.

Jack Hiles, executive director of the estate, said volunteers have been at work sprucing up the complex.

"It's not an opportunity you get every day so we want to put our best foot forward for the city of Maumee," Mr. Hiles said. He said he understands several other venues were considered.

"They haven't really told us too much about it," he said. "It's very historic here and we have some nice buildings on the property. It's a nice setting."

According to the Democratic campaign, President Obama will highlight "how Ohio's economy is back on the right track thanks to his policies that put the middle class first, such as rescuing the American auto industry, investing in manufacturing, and aiding companies that create jobs here in America."

Ms. Proctor, who was forced to sell her insurance company because of the economic downturn, said these policies, particularly the rescue of the auto industry, saved Toledo from a much worse fate.

"Without his rescue plan we would have a much lower than average employment than the rest of the country," she said. "I can't fathom what would happen to Toledo if the rescue plan didn't go through."

The President will also discuss "how Governor Mitt Romney turned his back on the middle class -- outsourcing American jobs as a corporate buyout specialist at Bain Capital and urging that we 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,' a move that would have devastated the American auto industry and the one in eight Ohio jobs that depend on it."

Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook said the President's policies have not been successful. He said that while the Lucas County unemployment rate has begun to fall it is still too high. He said the 2009 "stimulus" was a failure and his signature legislation, Obamacare, was rejected by Ohio voters in 2011.

Voters in all 88 counties supported a constitutional amendment that allows the state to opt out of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

"The President says the private sector's doing fine, it's obvious we're not doing fine. I think he should be ashamed he wants to come up and grandstand when thinks have been that bad," Mr. Stainbrook said.

President Obama has been in Ohio an average of once a month in 2012. His other Ohio trips have been to Shaker Heights, Elyria, Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus.

Mr. Romney has also been in Ohio multiple times, with nine stops in the state, including one in Toledo in February and a bus tour through central Ohio last month.

Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener said the Obama campaign was interested in an historical venue.

"I think he wanted a small venue, and a more intimate kind of thing," Mr. Wagener said. "I think it's just going to be a really wonderful event for the city of Maumee and all of the citizens."

He said the Obama campaign is paying a standard fee to rent the entire 10-acre complex, $500.

President Obama's last trip to Toledo was in June, 2011, to highlight the success of the auto industry bailout at the Chrysler Group LLC Jeep factory in North Toledo.

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



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