Clinton Promotes Obama in Akron
AKRON, Ohio — Hundreds packed an auditorium at the John S. Knight Center on Thursday as former President Bill Clinton rallied on behalf of President Barack Obama.
The rally comes one day after President Obama was expected to bring his re-election campaign to Akron but had to cancel because of Hurricane Sandy.
President Obama and former President Clinton had to cancel a joint appearance in Youngstown earlier in the week because of the storm.
With just days left until the election, the former President has shouldered the weight of the Obama campaign in this important swing state.
Some of the 1,850 people who came to the Thursday rally say they had tickets to President Obama’s rally, and although they were disappointed to not hear from the President himself, they were pleased the campaign is continuing its focus on getting Democratic voters to the polls.
Among those who were there were volunteers who have come from Buffalo, New York; San Jose, California; and Portland, Oregon.
John Opalka of Buffalo New York says he voted absentee in his home state then headed for Ohio because he knows how important the state is to the outcome of the presidential election.
“Ohio needs a little help and I’m here to nudge it in the right direction,” said Opalka, adding that “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.”
With the national polls showing President Obama and Mitt Romney in a virtual dead heat leading up to the election, Christman Bowers, a field organizer for the President’s re-election efforts in Ohio, encouraged supporters to vote early, telling the crowd that the campaign actually has buses waiting to take people to a local polling site.
“We need every single one of you now more than ever,” said democratic Congressman Tim Ryan, reminding the crowd of how close the election was in 2000, when the results came down to a tedious manual count in another swing state, Florida.
Among those in the Akron crowd were very few undecided voters.
The former President apologized as he took the stage for having lost his voice during his campaign appearances.
“It’s OK with me that you get to decide this election,” said President Clinton.
The Obama campaign hopes to capitalize in Ohio on efforts the President has taken to help keep the auto industry from going into bankruptcy. President Clinton said he does not like calling the government’s help a ‘bailout.’
“Mitt Romney was against it,” President Clinton reminded the crowd.
“You look at this auto thing, this is how America is supposed to work. If GM went down, the parts manufacturers would have went with them and that would have killed Ohio,” said President Clinton, who took credit for helping a Jeep plant come to Toledo in 1997.
Reading from newspaper headlines, President Clinton noted that General Motors’ profits have exceeded expectations and he told the crowd that on Friday they will read that Chrysler’s sales have reached a five-year high.
The former President also showed the audience a photo of President Clinton alongside Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surveying damage from Hurricane Sandy as an example of how President Obama can work with his political opponents.
“Who is more likely to restore the middle class?” asked President Clinton. “Who is more likely to invest in jobs of the 21st century that will grow in big numbers?”
President Clinton referred to a non-political study that he says determined 12 million new jobs will be created if nothing changes from the measures that President Obama has already started.
He told the crowd that Romney is poised to take credit for jobs that President Obama has “already set the stage for.”
“We got two guys running for president. One says, ‘Hey I’m a businessman, I don’t have to tell you anything.’ The other guy gives you a budget. I’m for the guy who gives you a budget,” said President Clinton.
Democrats attending the rally hope that the message will resonate across the state where the expectation is that the results of the election will be close, and will determine who will be the next president.