VP Joe Biden stops in Stark County to encourage Canton residents to vote

Erika Kerr & Walter Doerschuk

A large crowd was “fired up” and “ready to go” for Vice President Joe Biden Monday morning in Canton.

A crowd of 854 packed into the J. Babe Stearn Community Center’s gymnasium to hear from Biden several hours before Barack Obama and Mitt Romney square off in their final presidential debate.

All morning, crowd members continued to chant “fired up — ready to go” and “OH-IO”.

After brief speeches by former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Biden’s daughter Ashley, Biden moved to the podium and received a warm welcome.

The crowd turned to chants of, “Fired up, ready for Joe!”

Biden started his address by urging the Democratic supporters to get to the polls early.

“The sooner you vote, the better the momentum,” he said.

He spoke for about 40 minutes addressing hot topic issues such as health care, the economy and energy.

Biden said education is the “foundation upon which we remain the dominant power.”

“We must be number one in the world,” he said.

The vice president presented messages of confidence in President Barack Obama.

“I’m telling you, my guy’s got character,” Biden said. “He’s got steel in his spine.”

He also wasn’t afraid to take a few shots at Mitt Romney.

“This guy is out of touch on the fundamental issues,” Biden said. “When Romney was asked about equal pay for women, he started talking about binders.”

Women’s rights were an important topic for many of Biden’s audience members.

Shannon Rinehart, 39, of Massillon, said she was hoping Biden would address women’s rights and Planned Parenthood in his speech.

“I turned to Planned Parenthood when I was younger, and I think it should always be there for women who need it,” Rinehart said.

For 39-year-old Jennifer Jacobs of Canton, the most important issue was immigration. Her boyfriend is from Mexico and is staying in the United States on a work visa.

“I’m voting for Obama. I think Romney is a scary person with scary policies,” Jacobs said. “My daughter is 13, and she said if Romney gets elected, she’s moving to Canada.”

Biden left Canton with a few words of encouragement.

“The American people only know one way: Forward!”

Contact Erika Kerr at [email protected] and Walter Doerschuk at [email protected].