There are only a few more weeks of political commercials, ads, promises and accusations flooding the TV and radio before the Nov. 6 presidential election. While many Americans are tired of political campaigning, Ohio — the most important swing state in the United States — has been showing a great response toward the campaign as it nears its end.
On Thursday, 4,000 people lined up outside of Jet Machine in Bond Hill to hear Republican candidate Mitt Romney speak at 11 a.m.
After flying in to Lunken Airport on Wednesday night, Romney had breakfast at First Watch in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday morning before proceeding to the rally in Bond Hill.
His visit in Cincinnati was the first of a three-stop bus tour in Ohio — along with Worthington and Defiance, Ohio later that afternoon.
At the Jet Machine warehouse, Romney criticized Barack Obama's campaign, foreign policies and plans for America's future.
"The Obama campaign is slipping because he keeps talking about smaller and smaller things when America has such big problems," Romney said.
Romney cheered on small businesses and promised that his businesses experience will help turn the economy around.
In a response to the Cincinnati rally, the Obama campaign explained that Romney's visit was just another attempt to try and convince Ohio workers that he is on their side and will stand up to China, when in fact it's the opposite.
"As a corporate buyout specialist, Romney invested in companies that pioneered the practice of shipping jobs to places like China, shutting down American plants and firing workers — all while he walked away with a profit," Jessica Kershaw, Obama for America — Ohio press secretary, explained.
"These jobs are likely to come at the expense of American workers in cities like Cincinnati, and that’s why the people of Ohio will not be supporting Mitt Romney this November.”
Romney ended the rally encouraging the Buckeye state to go to the polls and vote early.
"We need to make sure Ohio is able to send a message loud and clear: We want real change. We want big change," Romney encouraged.In an attempt to secure Ohio, President Obama is due in Cincinnati on Halloween. With just two weeks remaining before election day, a new Ohio poll from TIME.com says that Obama is winning 49 percent of Ohio, compared with Romney's 44 percent.
Voter turnout for Tuesday’s Ohio primary was a disappointing 13.9 percent but the turnout among young people — those aged 30 and under — was even lower.
Although the Republican primary in Ohio was highly contested, youth turnout was far below the amount that voted in the 2008 primary. Just 7 percent of Ohio youth turned out Tuesday to vote in the Republican primary, compared to 25 percent four years ago when there was both a contested Democratic and Republican primary.
An analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) found that about 131,000 young people voted Tuesday, with 37 percent choosing Rick Santorum, 28 percent choosing Mitt Romney and 25 percent choosing Ron Paul.
Despite the dismal number, Ohio still was above the overall youth turnout for the 10 contests on Super Tuesday. CIRCLE found that youth turnout was 5 percent in the seven primaries and three caucuses.
Combining the five Super Tuesday states in which exit polls were conducted with adequate youth samples, CIRCLE estimates that 88,000 total youth voted for Paul, with nearly 88,000 who voted for Santorum, about 86,000 for Romney, and about 43,000 for Newt Gingrich.
The candidates performed differently in each state: Paul came in first among youth voters in Virginia; Santorum, in Ohio and Tennessee; Romney, in Massachusetts; and Gingrich, in Georgia.
In all of the primaries and caucuses so far — excluding states where there were no exit or entrance polls about youth vote choice — youth vote tallies stand at approximately 201,000 for Romney, 200,000 for Paul, 162,000 for Santorum, and 87,000 for Gingrich.
By this point in the 2008 primary campaign, Democrat Barack Obama had drawn more than six times as many youth votes as any of the Republican 2012 candidates, with about 1.36 million youth votes, although more primaries were contested on or before Super Tuesday in 2008.
Political observers have theorized there is an “enthusiasm gap” among Republican voters based on lower overall voter turnout in most of the states that have held presidential primaries so far. Turnout has been lower in eight of the 13 states when compared to the 2008 primaries — although Ohio isn’t among them.
Ohio’s overall voter turnout this year was 13.9 percent, higher than the 12.8 percent who voted in 2008, but lower than the 16.8 percent who voted in 2000, according to a review by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
Based on final and official results from the six states whose primaries preceded Super Tuesday and near final and unofficial results from the seven Super Tuesday primaries, 7.85 million people voted out of 68.13 million eligible citizens, or 11.5 percent.
Turnout was 13.2 percent of eligible citizens in 2008, and it was 12.2 percent in 2000.
Founded in 2001, CIRCLE conducts research on young Americans’ voting and political participation, along with other forms of civic engagement. It is based at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, the Bipartisan Policy Center is a think tank that seeks to create policy solutions through “reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue.” It is based in Washington, D.C.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan weighed in on the controversy over replacement National Football League referees in a Tuesday town hall-style meeting in Cincinnati, comparing the Obama administration to the substitute officials who cost his home-state Green Bay Packers a victory with their botched call Monday night.
“Give me a break. It is time to get the real refs,” Ryan said.
“And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy — if you can’t get it right, it’s time to get out. I half think that these refs work part time for the Obama administration in the budget office.”
Ryan was referencing a play that should have been called an interception for the Packers but instead allowed the Seattle Seahawks to score a game-winning touchdown on Monday Night Foodball. Replacement referees — some of whom may have been fired by the Lingerie Football League for incompetence — are filling in for unionized officials who are locked out.
The vice presidential candidate spoke inside a Byer Steel warehouse surrounded by piles of I-beams and rebar. A self-proclaimed Southern gospel rock band played before the event, occasionally pausing to talk up GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s conservative credentials.
Much of Ryan’s prepared speech, as well as questions from participants in the town hall, focused on the economy, the deficit and the need for changes to entitlement programs.
Asked by an audience member how he would limit government and eliminate programs, Ryan said he and Romney would spur economic growth by lessening the tax burdens on small businesses, cut discretionary spending on government agencies and overhaul entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Outside before the rally, protesters called for Ryan — whose House-passed budget made deeps cuts to many welfare and safety-net programs — to have more compassion for the poor.
Meanwhile an airplane sponsored by MoveOn.org carried a banner reading, “Romney: Believe in 55% of America?” referencing comments revealed in a recent video where Romney claimed 47 percent of Americans didn’t pay any income tax and viewed themselves as victims reliant on government so it wasn’t his job to worry about their votes.
“We’re here with several messages, including the immorality of the Ryan budget and how it will impact the vast majority of Americans negatively," said David Little with the liberal advocacy group ProgressOhio. “When a budget protects those with the most and negatively impacts those with the least, I would suggest that is immoral.”
Bentley Davis with the Alliance for Retired Americans said she was concerned about what Romney and Ryan’s plans for Medicare and Social Security would do to retirement security.
Ryan had proposed to keep Medicare the same for anybody already 55 and over, but give younger Americans the choice to get money to spend toward private insurance or stay in a Medicare-like program.
Inside the warehouse was a digital sign that ticked up the national debt, which was at $16 trillion and rising.
“Here is what our government, our Congressional Budget Office, is telling us our debt is in the future if we stay on the path that President Obama has kept us on, has put us on … the debt goes as high as two and a half times the size of our economy by the time my three kids are my age,” Ryan said.
The Obama campaign fired back in an email response, saying Ryan used misleading rhetoric to hide his own record and Republican plans to raise taxes on the middle class to fund tax cuts for wealthier Americans.
“The Romney-Ryan ticket has plenty of questions to answer about a failed record on manufacturing and job creation and their support for policies that will devastate middle class families by raising their taxes and shipping jobs overseas,” Obama for America – Ohio Press Secretary Jessica Kershaw wrote.
“These policies would take the growing manufacturing industry backward, not forward.”
For some in the audience, the economy was also on the forefront.
Steve Teal, 56, of West Chester, said he doesn't like the direction the country is going in.
"Just get the country back to work," Teal said. "I don't trust him (Obama). He doesn't stand up for America. He doesn't stand up for Americans."
CityBeat writer Stefane Kremer contributed to this report.
Ryan went from Cincinnati to an event with Romney in Dayton later on Tuesday.
The personal travails of Sarah Palin’s family life normally wouldn’t be newsworthy if it weren’t for Palin’s sanctimonious public statements and campaigning on issues like teen sex, abortion and so-called “family values.” With that in mind, watching the protracted custody battle between Palin’s daughter, Bristol, and ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston over their daughter holds the same bizarre fascination as driving by a car accident on the highway.
It's gone now, but the buzz about it at City Hall and in political circles still is ongoing.
An e-mail circulated this week — presumably among conservative Republicans — referenced the Wikipedia entry for Cincinnati City Hall, which had been changed to include a lie about Congressman Steve Driehaus, a Democrat, implying he was anti-Christian.
Conservative presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is busy today trying to clarify a comment he made Thursday that indicated reelecting President Barack Obama would be better than electing Santorum’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
Santorum’s comment, made in San Antonio, Texas, at the USAA insurance company, drew criticism from Romney, Newt Gingrich and other Republicans.
"You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there," Santorum said in San Antonio. "If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future."
Romney quickly fired back about Santorum’s comment.
“I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America's promise,” Romney said. “I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America. Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”
Not to be left out, Gingrich took to Twitter to join in the symbolic thrashing.
"Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.” Gingrich tweeted.
This morning Santorum’s campaign released a statement that sought to clarify what the candidate meant. (How many times has that phrase had to be used in relation to Santorum in the past few months?)
"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous,” Santorum said in the prepared statement. “This is just another attempt by the Romney campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's.”
Santorum added, “I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why — Romney has sided with Obama on health-care mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts. Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation. If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation."
Santorum might be correct about the enthusiasm gap over Romney.
A new poll found that more people offer negative than positive assessments of Romney. But, tellingly, this also is the case for Romney’s rivals — Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul.
When Americans were asked what one word comes to mind when thinking about Romney, the top responses were “no” or “no way,” and “rich.” After those, the most frequently used words were “flip-flopper,” “idiot” and “arrogant.”
Roughly twice as many respondents gave negative one-word descriptions of Romney rather than positive terms, 30 percent versus 14 percent; just 29 percent used neutral terms.
The most frequently used terms for Santorum, with the exception of “no,” were “crazy,” “too conservative,” “extreme” and “idiot.”
A mere 13 percent of respondents used positive words for Santorum, while 30 percent used negative words and 22 percent used neutral terms.
Words most frequently offered about Gingrich were “old,” “no,” “no way,” “idiot” and “untrustworthy.”
Thirty-nine percent of respondents used negative terms about Gingrich, compared to 10 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.
The most frequent descriptions used for Paul were slightly better, but not by much: “no,” “old,” “Libertarian,” “honest” and “crazy.”
Twenty-seven percent of respondents used negative terms to describe Paul, compared to 15 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.
The national survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. It surveyed 1,009 adults March 15-18.
Of the respondents, 605 were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 404 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 176 who had no landline telephone.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.
A major effort is underway today to urge Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) to buck his GOP colleagues and vote against repealing the health-care reform law.
A national group, Catholics United, is placing about 6,000 telephone calls to Catholics who live in Ohio's 1st Congressional District, that contains a recorded message asking them to have Chabot vote “no” on repealing health-care reform. The GOP leadership is expected to bring up the repeal bill, H.R. 2, on Wednesday for a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.
City Council took a contentious vote on Thursday to give the city manager a pay raise and a bonus.
Those in favor of the 10 percent raise and $35,000 bonus for Milton Dohoney say he is underpaid, has done a great job for the city and has gone five years without a merit raise. Those opposed say it’s bad timing and sends the wrong message when many city workers have also gone years without a pay increase.
Dohoney was hired in August 2006. He hasn’t received a merit raise since 2007, but has collected bonuses and cost of living adjustments over the years. He currently makes about $232,000 and the raise would bump that up to $255,000. Dohoney made $185,000 when he started the job.
Council approved the raise on a 6-2 vote, with councilmen Christopher Smitherman and Chris Seelbach voting against it.
Before the vote, Mayor Mark Mallory lauded the manager, saying he set high expectations and didn’t expect Dohoney to meet them, but the manager exceeded all of them.
“To do anything other than that (approve the raise) is a backhanded slap in the face and actually a statement that we want the manager gone,” Mallory said. “We are going to give him a raise. And from where I sit we’re not giving him a big enough raise.”
The raise came from a performance review conducted by Democratic council members Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas and sole council Republican Charlie Winburn.
Winburn said the city manager’s financial management system is impeccable, Dohoney has pushed economic development, he has expanded the tax base and made sacrifices by not receiving a raise for the previous five years.
Other members of council pointed out that Dohoney isn’t the only city employee who has gone a while without a raise.
“For me, look, 4 years ago I turned down a job at Google where I’d be making a hell of a lot more money,” Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld told 700WLW radio host Scott Sloan. “This is public service. This is already the city’s highest-paid employee.”
Sittenfeld missed the council meeting Thursday afternoon because he was out of town on a personal matter, according to an aide.
Sittenfeld and others have raised questions over whether it is wise to give Dohoney a raise and bonus when the city faces an estimated $34 million budget deficit. Councilman Wendell Young said the raise would not hurt the budget.
Opponents also argued that it would look bad to give the manager a raise when other city employees are dealing with wage freezes. Police, for instance, agreed during contact negotiations this year to a two-year wage freeze. Though they received a raise in 2009.
Smitherman said city employee unions may keep that in mind during upcoming negotiations.
"Unions are going to remember this council extended a $35,000 bonus to the city manager.”
By no measure can The Wall Street Journal be mistaken for a liberal newspaper, so the findings of its latest poll should greatly disturb Republicans.
A poll released late last week, done in conjunction with NBC News, found that most Americans support collective bargaining rights for workers, want to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and impose a surtax on people making more than $1 million annually, and believe economic growth is a higher priority for government than deficit reduction.