Clevelanders drove through a snowstorm to see Hillary Clinton, braced themselves against lakefront winds to make it into Barack Obama’s rally, stood in line on a below-freezing morning to ask John McCain questions.
“I’m so cold! I’m so cold! I’m so cold!” chirped McCain’s 23-year-old daughter Meghan, bouncing, jittering, almost dancing in the InterContinental Hotel’s lobby later that day as a friend filmed footage for her campaign Web site, www.mccainblogette.com.
Face it, Cleveland voters are tough. In the lead up to the March 4 primary (and the heavily hyped MSNBC Democratic debate at Cleveland State University on Feb. 26), we made our rounds to learn what the candidates to become our 44th president told us they intended to do for Ohio, this fall’s ultimate swing state.
||Admiral King High School in Lorain
||Rocky River Civic Center
||Cleveland Public Hall
|Nods to Ohio
||Clinton focused her entire talk on Ohio’s economic troubles: jobs, health care and the foreclosure crisis. She also flattered her host town: “Lorain helped to build America, and helped to win two world wars, and helped us become the strong nation that we are.”
||“You’re going to get sick and tired of me, because I’m going to be back and back,” McCain said. He noted the state’s economic struggles. “I’ve got to give you a little straight talk, my friends: Some of those manufacturing jobs are not coming back.” Instead, he promised federal investment in green energy to generate new jobs.
||Obama proposed a $10 billion fund for homeowners in danger of foreclosure, retold Youngstown workers’ stories of watching equipment being unbolted from their plant and sent to China, and talked about “saving some of those young people on the streets of Cleveland” by funding new schools and summer-school programs.
|Warm Up Act
||Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko. “We need a leader with the experience, the knowledge, the grit to come in and do the job on Day One,” said Krasienko.
||Cuyahoga County Republican chairman Rob Frost. “Your reward will be in heaven, not here on Earth,” McCain told him (a joke about Frost’s tough job running the GOP in a Democrat-heavy county).
||Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. “He is the only candidate who is capable of bridging those things that divide us,” Jackson said — hinting at how Clinton polarizes voters and also at Obama’s multiracial background.
||“The wealthy and well connected have had a president. It’s time the middle class had a president who will stand up for you and fight for you.”
||McCain on al-Qaida: “They will do anything to destroy us. So this is a transcendent challenge. And we will never surrender.”
||“No matter what happens, the name George W. Bush won’t be on the ballot.”