- 8,000 of 60,000 still sleeping behind the wheel of Obama’s “Car” as he tries to convince them that the other 52,000 people are Trick-or-Treating. Now that is SCARY!!
By Nia-Malika Henderson Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 1, 2010; 1:46 AM
CLEVELAND - President Obama‘s last midterm campaign appearance Sunday summed up the plight of his party – he spoke in a half-full arena, in a deep blue part of a GOP trending swing state, where a governor is locked in a tight contest, and a Democratic Senate candidate has been given up for dead.
Two years ago, Obama drew a crowd of 60,000 in this same city two days before Election Day. On Sunday, about 8,000 showed up to see the president and Vice President Biden – maybe church service and trick-or-treating kept people from coming out, aides and supporters said.
Still, the enthusiasm gap, not just between Obama 2008 and Obama 2010 but also between Obama and top Democrats, in this all-important presidential campaign state, was on full display at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Arena.
Here’s how Democrat Chris Landers, a die-hard voter, explained it. “Of course you want to vote Democratic, and everybody has their own individual aura, but there is something special about him,” she said of Obama. “Once he walks into a room it just lights up. There was no applause like the one he got.”
Landers was among the rally-goers who shouted “Yes we can. Yes we can” as hecklers interrupted Obama’s standard stump speech, which laid out the case for his agenda and cast Republicans as obstructionists.
“Cleveland, imagine the Republicans were driving the economy like a car, and they drove it into the ditch. And this is a very deep, steep ditch. And Joe and I and Ted, we had to put on our boots, we had to rappel down,” he said. “And it’s muddy down there and dusty and hot. Somehow the Republicans, they fled the scene. And now they’re up on the street and they’re looking down, and we call them down to help and they say, no, that’s all right.”
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who won in a blowout in 2006, is fighting for his political life in a race against Republican John Kasich, and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) is down by double digits in his race against Rob Portman, who is generating 2012 vice presidential talk.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), who blamed the media and the Democrats’ ineffective messaging for his party’s predicted poor showing, said Obama’s visit “will help the whole ticket.”
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said. “The president’s visit will help get out thousand of voters in Northeast Ohio and help everybody.”
Obama, who ended his whirlwind campaign schedule with a four-state weekend swing through urban areas in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois and his 12th visit to Ohio, offered a glimpse of the soaring rhetoric of 2008, invoking history and quoting the founding documents.
“Don’t let them tell you that change isn’t possible. Because here’s what I know. It’s always been hard to bring about change in America. Think about it. This country was founded on hard,” he said. “We started off as 13 colonies having to battle the most powerful empire on earth. . . . Over the decades, they had to make that ideal real, had to abolish slavery, had to win the right to vote, had to win workers the right to organize.”
That riff led to some amens from the audience.
Landers, who appeared six hours before the rally started and held up Democratic National Committee-issued campaign signs as Obama spoke, summed up the sort of trickle-down love that Democrats are pinning this election on.
“I like Strickland anyway without anything the president says, but I’m not a real big Fisher fan,” she said. “I want somebody to get in there and be for the people, and I know Obama is for that. So if he believes Fisher, because I believe in him, then I’m going to vote for Fisher. “