The Blog

How to Win Ohio

Start with a Democratic mayor.

11:00 PM, Aug 31, 2004 • By CLAUDIA WINKLER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

On the convention floor in New York, the Ohio delegation has been given the pride of place directly in front of the speakers' podium. And at the Tuesday breakfast for Ohio delegates, the featured speaker after Mayor McKelvey and state treasurer Joseph Deters was a nationally prominent Democrat for Bush-the man who will deliver the keynote address Wednesday night, Georgia senator Zell Miller.

"Let's give a warm Buckeye welcome to the Georgia Bulldog," said Deters as he yielded the floor. Miller effortlessly picked up the down-home values theme right where the Ohioans left off. "I may be dropped from Barbra Streisand's guest list," he said, "but I'm still on Loretta Lynn's."

The Kerry campaign, of course, isn't taking any of this lying down. Within hours of George Bush's acceptance speech, the Democratic candidate will kick off a tour of gritty Ohio towns-Newark, Akron, Steubenville-with a rally in Springfield. Will Ohioans buy it?
"Kerry is a Chablis and Brie sort of fellow," says Blackwell, who grew up in inner city Cincinnati. "Bush is more comfortable with a slab of ribs and a non-alcoholic beer."

Blackwell may have a point. It was hard not to notice that the announcement of Kerry's upcoming Ohio tour carried as its dateline one of the swankiest resorts on the East Coast: Nantucket, Mass. When it comes to hinterland America-places like "Ohio, the Heart of it All," as a state promotional slogan puts it-John Kerry seems to be afflicted with a tin ear.

Claudia Winkler is a managing editor at The Weekly Standard.