On Tuesday, former President Clinton brought his substance and style to about 2,000 enthusiastic Ted Strickland supporters in Columbus. His appearance was at a Democratic rally prior to the much anticipated debate between Governor Ted Strickland and his GOP opponent John Kasich.
As someone who "sweated" out his first presidential campaign in Ohio in the basement of the governor's mansion, he knows full well the national political importance of Ohio. But he didn't come to Ohio to share history. He came here instead for two things.
The first was to show his support for the man he called "a friend and fine statesmen", Governor Ted Strickland. But also, he highlighted the importance of Democrats extending their hands to Republicans and the importance of honesty. He said that he too felt that there were overwhelming choices to make and that Democrats had to realize that not all things can be done politically -- but that it didn't mean we shouldn't invest in common sense ideas like education, and green manufacturing, and infrastructure.
After discussing the newly passed healthcare bill, Clinton touted education as a large tonic for what ails us and the economy and noted that Ohio was first in the nation in maintaining low cost public education by holding tuition freezes across the state for several years running. He mentioned a little heralded statistic he had just seen about there being more job openings for skilled positions than applicants due to a lack of qualified workers -- a statistic that surprised him because it was the first time since WWII that he had seen that number.
Clinton also touched on the gubernatorial race. He disputed a claim by the Kasich campaign that while head of the House Budget Committee in the Early 90's, Kasich led the battle to balance the budget, which led to some well publicized showdowns with the Clinton Administration and which eventually did shut down the federal government. Clinton pointed out that Kasich had initially brought a far different looking Republican budget to the table -- one that had called for deep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and cuts that Clinton said he would not let see the light of day.