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WASHINGTON — Terry Hutcherson of Toledo was in the nation’s capital four years ago to see President Obama sworn in the first time, and he came back to see it happen a second time today.
This time, Mr. Hutcherson, 72, observes the oath-taking after having had a small part in the campaign to get President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden re-elected.
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“I drove one of the vans in the vice president’s motorcade from Cleveland to the Toledo Hilton,” Mr. Hutcherson said as he had a snack at the bar of P.J. Clarke’s on Connecticut Avenue in Washington on Sunday. Mr. Hutcherson said the motorcade also took Mr. Biden to Schmucker’s Restaurant in Toledo and then drove him to Toledo Express Airport.
“That was the thrill of my life,” said Mr. Hutcherson, a retired tool-and-die maker with Imco Carbide Tool Co. Inc. in Perrysburg.
Mr. Hutcherson arrived in Washington after an all-night Amtrak ride from Toledo with girlfriend Ruth Reams, who lives on Moorish Avenue in Toledo, and her twin sister, Naomi Stewart, who lives on Tecumseh Street. Ms. Reams and Ms. Stewart are retired Toledo schoolteachers.
Though they gave little sign of it, the three were tired both from the all-night train ride, which included about 40 other people from Toledo, during which no one slept because “most of them talked all night,” according to Ms. Stewart, and from the eight-block walk to P.J. Clarke’s from their hotel.
They were among throngs that were filling the capital and planning to attend the inauguration this morning. Officials are predicting an audience of about 800,000 when Mr. Obama stands on the platform on the west side of the Capitol to take the ceremonial oath. Four years ago, some 1.8 million people came.
State Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo), who was also at P.J. Clarke’s for the party sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party and the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus, admitted the second go-round is not as thrilling for her as the first one.
“It’s not the same kind of excitement as four years ago. It’s kind of ‘been there, done that,’” Ms. Brown said. “I’m very, very excited about the fact that President Obama was re-elected. I was nervous that he would be a one-term president and that would not carry as much weight in the history books as him being re-elected.”
The crowd in P.J. Clarke’s got to rub shoulders with Ed Schultz, star of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, who was invited to the private party by state Sen. Nina Turner (D., Cleveland), a regular on Mr. Schultz’s show. Mr. Schultz spent most of his time signing autographs and having his picture taken with Ohio Dems.
Senator Turner said she invited Mr. Schultz because of the intense interest he showed in Ohio politics during the campaign. “Ohio really loves him and appreciates the way he uses his stage to push progressive issues,” she said. Mr. Schultz staged one of his 2011 programs from Toledo during the battle over Issue 2, a measure that would have curtailed public employee union bargaining rights if it had passed.
Also with Mr. Schultz was John Nichols, political writer for The Nation magazine and a former reporter and associate editor for The Blade.
Ohio’s U.S. senators and representatives have provided tickets to the inauguration for constituents interested in attending.
Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building — the same office occupied by Mr. Obama when he was a U.S. senator from Illinois — was filled as staffers handed reserved tickets to citizens arriving from Ohio. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), though of the opposite political party, distributed some 177 tickets and is expecting to be on hand today for the 57th presidential inauguration. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) will hold an open house in her office after the swearing-in.
Also on hand and continuing to represent Toledo is Kenyetta Jones, 48, of Toledo, a General Motors Powertrain employee who was picked as one of eight “Citizen Co-Chairs” by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Mrs. Jones introduced President Obama at a Labor Day campaign event in Toledo on Sept. 3, where she told her story of being laid off in 2009 and then being called back 13 months later after GM received assistance from the government.
On Friday, she and her husband, Darryl Jones, were greeted by the President in the Oval Office.
“That was quite nice. He showed his appreciation, said why we were chosen, and he said he appreciated our help and to keep on doing what we were doing,” Mrs. Jones said Sunday.
On Saturday, the Joneses joined the National Day of Service, a new endeavor started by President Obama, by painting walls and bookshelves in a District of Columbia elementary school. The President and First Lady also took part in the work. On Sunday, the Jones family toured the Holocaust Museum and also planned to get some rest because they were going to be picked up to be taken to their spots on the inaugural platform at 5 a.m. Mrs. Jones doesn’t use Twitter, but has been sending news out via Facebook, she said.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.