Vice President Joe Biden today officially kicked off the Obama re-election campaign in Ohio, rallying with Cleveland-area firefighters who last week helped to lead a successful repeal of the state’s controversial new collective bargaining rights law.
“Folks, you fired the first shot. It’s not about Barack Obama. It’s not about Joe Biden. It’s about whether middle-class people are going to be put back in the saddle again – because you are the people who make this country move,” Biden told the crowd of 500 in a Euclid firehouse, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Biden appearance, billed as a campaign event, was clearly aimed at harnessing the energy ignited by the pro-union victory and building momentum for Obama in Ohio heading into 2012.
Biden mentioned only one GOP presidential candidate by name, the Plain Dealer noted, subtly referencing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s endorsement of an effort by Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich to curtail bargaining rights in the state. Sixty-one percent of Ohioans ultimately rejected the Kasich-sponsored law in a ballot measure last week.
Kasich “was the only state executive to go after police and firefighters,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who joined Biden at the event. “How dare he.”
The Obama campaign has plans to open several field offices across the Buckeye State in the next few weeks, focusing first on Columbus and areas south and then establishing outposts in the northwestern part of the state, a state Democratic official said.
Since April, when Obama announced his bid for a second term, more than 6,000 Ohio volunteers have enlisted to support Obama, organizing more than 3,700 events across the state, according to the campaign.
In 2008, Obama won Ohio by four points over Republican Sen. John McCain, but the state is expected to be an even more hotly contested battleground in 2012. Obama’s job approval rating stood at 42 percent in a late September Quinnipiac poll, tying his lowest rating since taking office.
”The fact that the White House deems it appropriate to hold a campaign rally in Ohio where more than 530,000 people are out of work, just shows how out-of-touch they are with the hard-working families of Ohio,” said Ohio GOP chairman Kevin DeWine in a statement.
”The location of Joe Biden’s campaign rally is fitting, because just one week ago more than 202,000 Cuyahoga County voters overwhelming rejected Joe Biden and [Democratic Sen.] Sherrod Brown’s support of job-crushing individual healthcare mandates,” he added, referring to a separate ballot measure by which Ohio voters registered their opposition to a key component of Obama’s health care overhaul law.