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Toledo autoworker, Kenyetta Jones Toledo autoworker, Kenyetta Jones.
Toledo autoworker, Kenyetta Jones. Enlarge
Published: Wednesday, 9/5/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Democrats put Ohio on national stage

Toledo woman aided by auto bailout figures into today's plans


CHARLOTTE — In her own words and via video, a Toledo woman will become the latest Ohioan showcased before a national audience at the Democratic National Convention.

Kenyetta Jones, a 27-year General Motors Powertrain employee, today will help the three-day celebration of President Obama put another face on the taxpayer-fueled, auto-industry bailout that the campaign hopes will put him over the top in battleground Ohio. The mother of two is back on the job after being laid off for 13 months more than three years ago.

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"It's a good thing that they are focusing on the real people related to the auto industry," she said Wednesday shortly before boarding a flight for Charlotte. "We have to understand that if the auto industry had not been saved, America would be at a standstill. The focus on Ohio is proper for this election."

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.

Seemingly on the first night of the convention Tuesday, someone from the battleground state of Ohio was either on the stage or being talked about every few minutes.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

"Why do you think that is?" asked Jim Messina, manager of President Obama's re-election campaign, with a smile.

Several Ohioans, including former Gov. Ted Strickland, have delivered speeches at the convention, while a number of others were frequently cited as beneficiaries of Mr. Obama's policies on health care, the auto industry, affordable college education, and Planned Parenthood.

Ms. Jones' speaking skills impressed the President when she introduced him during his Labor Day stop in Toledo. She'd been recommended for that speaking slot by Ray Wood, president of United Auto Workers Local 14.

She's not expected to repeat that role at the convention. Her husband, Darryl, will be with her at the Time Warner Arena in Charlotte.

When asked if Ohio received preferential treatment in its seating on the convention floor just to the left of the speakers, Mr. Messina again smiled and said, "I don't know what you're talking about," after speaking to the Ohio delegation.

Other than his home state of Montana, Mr. Messina has spoken to one other state delegation while in Charlotte — Colorado, another swing state. "I think there's a crystal-clear choice for Ohio voters, and Governor Strickland's amazing speech last night laid out that choice as crystal clear as you could see it," he said. "That choice is something that the President and the vice president are talking about every single day."

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), locked in a race for re-election against Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel, said it's no accident tons of money are being poured into Ohio in both his and Mr. Obama's races.

"If President Obama wins Ohio, which he will, and I'm re-elected, which I will be, it will mean that Obama will win the election and we'll keep the Senate," he said.

Meanwhile, Democrats paid for breakfast at its delegates' meeting Wednesday, but Republicans offered the dessert.

Catherine Gatewood — spokesman for Mitt Romney's campaign, the Ohio Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee — had a cake delivered to the delegation breakfast. The lettered icing read: "It's irresponsible … It's unpatriotic. We're not better off."

"I sent it because I thought that as our national debt surpassed $16 trillion last night, $5 trillion of that added by President Obama, the Democrats could use a reminder that just four years ago, then-candidate Obama said that adding $4 trillion to the national debt was irresponsible and unpatriotic," she said.

The cake was promptly stowed out of sight under a table, but Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said he may have a slice — if it's chocolate.

"It's something ironic, the party of John Kasich sending cake," he said. "It reminds me of Marie Antoinette. … It did get under my skin, quite frankly."

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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