Strickland, Plouffe Say Dem Enthusiasm Is Growing

Strickland, Plouffe Say Dem Enthusiasm Is Growing

By Scott Conroy - September 28, 2010

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As he embarked on a bus tour on the first day of early voting in Ohio, Governor Ted Strickland fired up a union crowd in downtown Cleveland, asking rhetorically as he took the stage to chants of his name, "What enthusiasm gap?"

As the crowd of about 250 looked on, the incumbent Democrat defined his race against former Republican Congressman John Kasich as a "choice between Wall Street values and Ohio values."

"John Kasich would like to make this election a choice between me and the economy, but it's really a choice between two people," Strickland said. "I believe someone in public office should see themselves as a servant to the people, and I believe that as a congressman and as a Wall Street managing director of Lehman Brothers, John Kasich has demonstrated that his primary concern is for the wealthy, the well to do."

Following the Cleveland appearance, Strickland headed to a fundraiser at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before hitting the road for afternoon rallies in Akron and Columbus.

President Obama's 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe joined Strickland on Tuesday's tour of northeast and central Ohio. Plouffe's remarks at the Cleveland rally were much more low-key than Strickland's, but the self-described "numbers guy" told reporters that he was beginning to see signs of greater Democratic enthusiasm.

"In terms of Democrats saying they're likely to vote, that's starting to look better for us," Plouffe said. "And the volunteer numbers here in Ohio, they're remarkable. This past weekend, we had tens of thousands of door knocks, over 2 million voter contacts, so volunteerism leads to better turnout."

Strickland and Plouffe made their case that the voter enthusiasm gap against Republicans was closing after a new Fox News poll released on Tuesday showed Strickland trailing Kasich by just two points among likely voters, after having been behind by double-digits in polls conducted earlier this month.

Strickland's running mate -- lieutenant governor candidate and former judge Yvette McGee Brown -- told the Cleveland crowd, "Considering it's Fox News, we're really winning."

Brown also echoed Strickland and Plouffe's suggestions that Democratic voters would come out in larger than expected numbers in November, especially in Ohio.

"When the national media says that young people aren't inspired to vote -- they think they elected a president in 2008 and their work is done -- I don't believe that," Brown said. "They're going to come back out in 2010 because just like they even said, they know if our president is going to be there in 2012, he needs Ted in the statehouse in 2010."

Strickland cited Kasich's support of NAFTA and Most Favored Nation trading status for China in describing the Republican as a "cheerleader for outsourcing jobs in Ohio" and said that the GOP had "peaked too early" this election cycle.

"Nationally and in Ohio, they may have won this election in August, but we're going to win it on November 2," Strickland said. "I predict within another week, we'll be up."

Mark Thomas, a Labor Union Local 310 member who is set to retire in two years, said that he "loved" what he saw from Strickland.

"He's touching bases on critical issues," Thomas said. "With Republicans, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Either you have it or you don't - there's no such thing as middle class."

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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