Ted Strickland, the former congressman, former Ohio governor and current Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, brought his “Ohio is Not For Sale” campaign to Hillsboro Sunday evening, telling a roomful of supporters at the local Democratic Party headquarters that he appreciates Highland County, which he represented during the early part of his years in Congress.
Dinah Phillips, the local Democratic Party chair, introduced Strickland, calling him a friend to Highland County and noting several of Strickland’s accomplishments, including his years in Congress, where he served from 1993-1995 and again from 1997-2007.
“I’ve never forgotten where I came from,’ said the Scioto County native.
Strickland joked about a greased pig contest in which he took part at the Highland County fair years ago which sent him tumbling, which led Tara Campbell, the Democratic candidate for Highland County Commissioner, to remark that she won the pig scramble in 1994.
More than 30 supporters crowded into the headquarters on late notice Sunday evening to greet Strickland, who noted that on his way to Hillsboro, “We passed about a thousand Trump signs.”
He said supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are “very enthusiastic,” adding that the support was “puzzling to me.”
Strickland said he has tried to step back from his partisan Democratic thinking to ask himself what someone would find appealing about Trump.
“I can’t think of anything,” he said to laughter.
He said he was particularly disturbed by what he described as Trump’s “mocking of the disabled.” He said trusting Trump with the nuclear codes is dangerous, and criticized Trump’s comments about John McCain, the Arizona senator and former POW, which he said also insulted other veterans.
Strickland described his Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, as “not a bad human being,” but said Portman is out of touch with the common person because “he’s a multi-millionaire.”
“I’m in touch with real people in a way that Rob Portman is not,” said Strickland. He spelled out differences he has with Portman on a variety of issues, including Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage and trade. He criticized Portman for supporting Trump until Trump’s controversial comments on an “Access Hollywood” tape became public.
Portman visited Highland County on Sept. 24 during a campaign swing, touting his success in passing legislation through Congress and discussing his efforts on the fight against illegal drugs.
On Sunday, Strickland defended his record as Ohio governor from 2007-2011, a time during which his opponents have blamed him for the loss of more than 300,000 jobs.
“I lost 300,000 jobs, but America lost over 8 million jobs” during those years, said Strickland, pointing to the economic downturn that he said nearly became a major depression. He said not using the Rainy Day Fund to help the state would have been irresponsible, and added that unlike his successor, Gov. John Kasich, he did not cut the Local Government Fund to balance the budget.
Strickland said that $60 million has been spent against him during the campaign, and criticized outside money sources with no connection to Ohio.
Strickland spent more than an hour at the headquarters, talking individually with supporters and posing for numerous pictures.
“I’m behind,” he said. “But I’m enjoying the process. I’ll be OK win or lose.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.