POLITICS: White House

Blue-collar Buckeye State voters reluctant to abandon Obama

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Politics,White House,Hayley Peterson

Cincinnati -- Despite a weak economic recovery during President Obama's first term, some blue-collar voters in the Buckeye State still find it easier to embrace his message than that of his GOP challenger, who has yet to convince many that he cares for the working class.

"I still believe that Obama's doing a good job on the economy," said Maurice Stamps, a retired truck driver and registered Democrat who voted for Obama in 2008. "He told us what was ailing the economy was not going to be fixed in four years."

Stamps, 70, said he wouldn't consider voting for Republican nominee Mitt Romney because Romney is out of touch with people like him. "I believe in broadening the middle class and making the billionaires and millionaires pay their fair share of taxes," Stamps said.

The national unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 8.1 percent, and the most recent economic data show no signs of a robust recovery in sight. In Ohio, the unemployment rate is slightly lower, at 7.2 percent.

That would seem to offer an opening for Romney. But so far he hasn't taken advantage of it, in the eyes of some voters here.

Fifty-three-year-old trucking company executive Lenny Weinstein said Romney has an impressive business career, but that's not enough to be president.

"The economy is the only reason he's even in the same ballpark as Obama," Weinstein said. "Obama has the right worldview of what has to be done," he added, while Romney's policies "are against the middle class and the poor."

Cincinnati has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, a place where the GOP must roll up big voter margins to offset the urban and union voters in Cleveland, Akron and other Ohio cities north of here.

And many here have been turned off by Obama.

"[Obama] really hit a nerve when he said 'you didn't build that business,' " said Daniel Sehlhorst, of Reading, a Cincinnati suburb. "Let me tell you something: I have fought for everything I've got, and then I had to fight to keep it. And what has he done? All he has done is organize a neighborhood. He is so counterproductive to small business, it's unreal."

Still, Obama is leading Romney in Ohio, with 50 percent of support to Romney's 45 percent, according to the most recent survey from Public Policy Polling.

The president's campaign aides credit the auto bailout for part of that lead. Obama and his surrogates have been emphasizing that decision in recent trips to the state. Romney opposed the bailout.

"Do the folks in Ohio really think that Gov. Romney, with his views on outsourcing, with his views on General Motors and Chrysler and beyond that, do they honestly believe that if he had been president the last four years that today, that there would be today 115,000 auto jobs in Ohio?" Vice President Biden said at a rally in Zanesville, Ohio, this week.

The auto bailout goes a long way in Ohio, which is deeply dependent on the auto manufacturing industry and has a large population of union workers, said Weinstein.

"I'm not a big union guy -- as a trucking executive I've been butting heads with unions for 30 years -- but people need basic collective bargaining rights," he said.

hpeterson@washingtonexaminer.com

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Hayley Peterson

Staff writer - White House/campaign and Maryland politics
The Washington Examiner