McCain, Palin Woo Crowd in Strongsville, Ohio

Oct 14th, 2008 | By ffolwell | Category: Latest News

Photos by Hua Qi (Sara)

October 9, 2008

By Jed Layton

Strongsville, Ohio—The high school marching band blasting Ohio State University fight songs from the corner of the gym set the tone for John McCain’s stump speech: he was ready to do battle.

Speaking to 3,000 ardent supporters packed onto the hot, crowded Strongsville recreation center, McCain showed his campaign strategy of attacking the policies and character of Barack Obama had not changed following the second presidential debate.

Although McCain did not mention Obama for the first five minutes of his speech, the Democratic candidate received a great share of negative attention in the remaining time.  McCain began his speech explaining his plan to solve the mortgage crisis.  He would give home owners more flexibility with their mortgages by having the government purchase them from lenders and renegotiate payment options.  He also skimmed over his policies on taxes, health care and the job market.

The rest of his speech was devoted to lampooning and criticizing Obama.  Supporters and students from around Ohio cheered continually through the speech to show their approval.  They also booed loudly each time Obama was mentioned by name.

Sally Fields, a sophomore at Cleveland State University, skipped class to attend the rally.  She wore a T-shirt saying, “Obama plus Fannie Mae equals crisis” encircled in a broken heart.  She said Strongsville and other Cleveland suburbs are typically Democratic and that McCain needed to be critical to win over more voters. 

“This area is following the media in blaming the economic crisis on the Republicans,” she said.  “They are wrong, but stubborn.  McCain is going after Obama’s character because it is a weak point that is important for voters to hear about.”

“Who is the real Senator Obama?” asked McCain.  “Is he the candidate who promises to cut middle-class taxes, or the politician who voted to raise middle-class taxes?  Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch?”

McCain’s criticisms were occasionally interrupted by people in the crowd yelling out, “liar,” “socialist” or “terrorist” about Obama.

Bo Turner, a recent graduate from Ohio State in English, was among the catcallers.  He said McCain’s strategy was good because it turns the fault of the economy from President Bush and the Republicans to Obama and the Democrats.

“When you look at it this crisis started under a Democratic President and is ending under a Democratic Congress,” he said.  “It is their fault more than anyone.  McCain needs to capitalize on that and take the advantage away from Obama.”

During the rally McCain said Obama had ignored the financial situation and even encouraged the practices that led to the crisis.  “He was dead silent. Zip. Zero. Nada,” McCain said.  “His Democratic allies in Congress opposed every effort to rein them in.  There’s absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did anything.”

June McCraven, a senior in administration management at Franklin University, said polls indicating Obama leading in Ohio required McCain to be a little more aggressive. 

While she did not fully believe the national polls showing McCain down from three to eight points in Ohio, McCraven said, “Obama has the attention and the focus, and a lot of it is hype and exaggeration.  McCain is giving Obama the negative attention he deserves.”

A CNN poll conducted on October 8, the day of the rally in Strongsville, said Obama led McCain by five percentage points in Ohio.  Both candidates are spending a considerable amount of time in Ohio with Obama holding rallies in Dayton, Cincinnati and Chillicothe and Palin going to Wilmington.

Tim Brickton, a graduate student in business at John Carroll University, attended the rally and felt criticism was simply a part of the election process.  He expects the examination of Obama’s character and past was only going to get worse – or better depending on perspective.

“We need to know the background of our presidential candidates.  I am glad McCain is criticizing Obama’s character, we should know everything about him,” he said. “Obama’s free to look into the background of McCain but he isn’t going to find anything worth criticizing.”

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