CHARLOTTE — Seemingly on the first night of the Democratic National Convention Tuesday, an Ohioan was either on the stage or being talked about every few minutes.
“Why do you think that is?” asked Jim Messina, manager of President Obama’s re-election campaign, with a smile.
Three Ohioans, including former Gov. Ted Strickland, delivered speeches at the convention, while a number of others were frequently cited as the faces of Mr. Obama’s policies on health care, the auto industry, and an affordable college education.
It will continue on the final night of the convention Thursday when Kenyetta Jones, a 27-year General Motors Powertrain employee from Toledo, tells her story in her own words and via a video to a national audience as the focus on the taxpayer-fueled auto industry bailout continues. She’s back on the job after being laid off for 13 months three and a half years ago. Her husband, Darryl, will be with her at the Time Warner Arena in Charlotte.
Her 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.
“It’s a good thing that they are focusing on the real people related to the auto industry," she said today 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.’’
A Youngstown area woman is expected to introduce the President on Thursday when he accepts his party’s nomination and attempts to rekindle the enthusiasm that carried him into office in 2008. Fears over the weather have forced Mr. Obama’s speech back into the Time Warner Cable Arena where the first two days of the convention are being held instead of the nearby open-air Bank of America Stadium.
Other than his home state of Montana, Mr. Messina has spoken to just two state delegations while in Charlotte — Ohio and Colorado, both battleground states.
“I think there’s a crystal clear choice for Ohio voters, and Gov. 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."
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."
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), locked in an extremely tight race for re-election against Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel, said it’s not accident that tons of money is 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.
Democrats paid for the breakfast today, but Republicans offered the dessert.
A cake, sent by Romney campaign spokesman Catherine Gatewood, was 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."
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,’’ said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. “It reminds me of Marie Antoinette. … It did get under my skin quite frankly.’’
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.