Flanked by American flags and a sign proclaiming “Victory in Ohio,” Republican state officials spoke to a crowd who later greeted presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin with thunderous applause.
Yesterday’s Road to Victory Rally took place in Capital University’s Capital Center in the city of Bexley, located about four miles east of downtown Columbus.
Doors to the Capital Center opened at 9 a.m., with a line that stretched around the block.
Col. Tom Moe of Dayton, a prisoner of war who was imprisoned with McCain in Vietnam, said while he had differences of opinion with the Arizona senator on some political matters, he felt sure McCain’s practicality and experience were the best choice for America’s future. He said he knew McCain wasn’t the most glamorous candidate, but he knew from experience that campaign hype has little to do with a candidate’s success.
“Pretty ain’t gonna get the job done,” Moe said.
State Rep. Jim McGregor took the stage next to remind voters that a vote for the Republican presidential ticket was a vote for increased “green collar” jobs in renewable energy. McGregor said the possibilities for new jobs in Ohio were boundless, from wind farms along Lake Erie to new clean coal plants. He touted the importance of “American energy, American jobs and American growth.”
The candidates arrived just before noon, accompanied by Cindy McCain and 14-year-old Willow Palin, the governor’s second oldest daughter.
Palin said she was looking forward to Thursday’s debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, especially as she had heard about his work in Congress since she “was in second grade.” She also questioned Sen. Barack Obama’s voting record on taxes and spoke of the need for energy independence.
Like McGregor, Palin said Ohio would be key in gaining that independence through the growth of the renewable energy field.
GreenCityBlueLake previously reported that Ohio could expect between 1 and 2 million new jobs in renewable energy under legislation currently under review at both the federal and state levels.
Palin also stated her intent to make funding for “special needs” children a priority, as her youngest son was born with Down syndrome. She said she would be the friend they need in Washington, D.C.
McCain followed his running mate at the podium and was quick to reiterate his reasons for temporarily suspending his campaign last week in the wake of the collapse of several Wall Street firms. He said he knew it was a decision that was misunderstood, but he knew where he was needed.
“I’ll never be a president who sits on the sidelines,” he said.
He repeated earlier promises to end pork barrel spending and vowed to let the public know when he vetoed such bills and who in Congress was responsible for drafting them.
Reactions to the rally were varied. Jeremy Binder, a Columbus area educator and an Independent, attended to see if it was the “2000 McCain” running, not McCain of the last two years. Binder also said he would give Obama the same chance, but he needed to see the candidates in person to see if they seemed sincere.
“You can’t just sit back and see a soundbite,” he said.
Judy Doyle of Columbus left the rally with an even more favorable impression of the Republican ticket. She said she thought Palin was well-spoken and demonstrated a good grasp of the issues, contrary to what’s been popularly presented on sketch comedy TV shows.
A group of pro-Obama protesters was located across from the Capital Center’s main entrance on Mound Street. The protestors held signs that read “Bush McCain More of the Same” and “Polar Bears 4 Obama.”
Joe Crytser, a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said he and a few of his fellow union members were there because of what he described as McCain’s dismissive attitude toward the middle class. Bexley resident Judy Scurci was there to remind the Republican candidates that Sen. John Kerry won Franklin County in 2004.
“McCain needs to know he’s in Democrat country,” she said.
Capital University teacher Jenni Kristoff attended the rally but joined the protest across the street when she left because she said she was disappointed by McCain and Palin’s negativity. Although some had joined and others had tried to start arguments, she said the reaction of most people leaving the rally was to ignore the protesters.
“I like that they give us the finger, and we give them the peace sign,” Kristoff said.
Contact public affairs reporter Brittany Moffat at [email protected]