- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Obama courts favor in Ohio, a key voter state
Seeks new economic trends there
He may have passed over Cleveland as the site of next year’s Democratic National Convention, but President Obama continues to pay extraordinary attention to the lakeside city, making his sixth trip in two years there Tuesday and his 13th overall to Ohio, a key state in recent presidential elections.
This time around the president was courting small businesses, while in the past he has used the Buckeye State to push for his health care law and tout the results of his $814 billion stimulus program.
“It is wonderful to be back in Ohio,” Mr. Obama told an audience at Cleveland State University, showing off his local bona fides with a joke about the city’s former basketball superstar LeBron James and giving a quick shoutout to Bubba’s BBQ in nearby Avon, Ohio.
The president’s fondness for Ohio is not surprising. Even though it will drop from 20 to 18 electoral votes as a result of last year’s census, the state continues to be the gatekeeper for presidents, and particularly for any Republicans who want to unseat Mr. Obama.
“Republicans have never won the White House without carrying Ohio and that’s very much on the minds of Democrats,” said Alexander Lamis, a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who noted that recent signs don’t bode well for Mr. Obama.
Riding tea party discontent and fears of continued economic doldrums, Republicans captured the governorship, the state house and five congressional seats in November — a sweep that occurred despite a pair of high-profile political rallies in the state hosted by Mr. Obama on the eve of the vote. And polls now show the president, who won the state by 4 percentage points in 2008, holds only a narrow lead over some potential Republican challengers.
Tuesday’s forum on small business at Cleveland State marked Mr. Obama’s first trip of the year to Ohio, and he brought a group of high-ranking administration officials with him to tout his administration’s policies, such as tax credits and loan assistance to firms that are struggling to expand.
Asked during one of the breakout sessions why he keeps coming back to Cleveland, the president said it’s because the city is the focal point for the kind of economic experimentation that will determine whether cities that depended on manufacturing can thrive in new economic conditions.
“As the economy changed, a lot of people wrote off Cleveland as a shell of its former self. But you, all of you in the audience, you knew differently,” the president said. “You’ve been working to reinvent the Rust Belt as the Tech Belt.”
For their part, Republicans have criticized the White House for undermining small businesses with burdensome rules and regulatory uncertainty. Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, echoed that theme in a statement on Mr. Obama’s visit to his home state.
“Overly burdensome regulations, a health care law that makes it harder to create jobs, and the uncertainty caused by the administration’s tax and budget policies are all stifling job growth in the private sector and making it harder for Ohio to dig out,” Mr. Portman said. “I hope the president uses this trip to Ohio to say that he will get the spending under control, put forward a serious budget and join with Republicans and Democrats alike to foster an environment that will lead to private-sector job growth.”
Polls show both Mr. Obama and Ohio’s other senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, are favored to win here next year but the numbers indicate the races could be tough.
A January Quinnipiac University survey of Ohio voters revealed that less than 50 percent say they would re-elect Mr. Brown, a troubling number for an incumbent in a state where the GOP has a deep bench of potential challengers. Meanwhile, the same poll shows 48 percent of voters think Mr. Obama deserves a second term compared with 44 percent who disagree.
A recent Public Policy Polling survey of matchups between Mr. Obama and four possible Republican challengers in Ohio had the president beating all of them, but two matches were close.
The firm showed Mr. Obama defeating former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by just 1 percentage point and 2 points, respectively, while he topped former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by at least 6 points.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Kara Rowland, White House reporter for The Washington Times, is a D.C.-area native. She graduated from the University of Virginia, where she studied American government and spent nearly all her waking hours working as managing editor of the Cavalier Daily, UVa.’s student newspaper.
Her interest in political reporting was piqued by an internship at Roll Call the summer before her ...
- London Olympics not everyone's cup of tea
- Obama hits road to push jobs plan
- Obama calls for the end of 'political circus' on economy, seeks stimulus plan for jobs
- Brennan: Al Qaeda is 'organization in distress'
- Hoffa's words about labor's importance brushed off
Latest Blog Entries
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow