RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
The lights in the Scioto County Democratic Party headquarters were on late Thursday night, as the building filled with supporters to watch President Barack Obama accepted his party’s nomination for re-election. Obama was nominated by his party, and accepted, from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday, while members of the local Democratic Party cheered 360 miles away in Portsmouth.
“People ask, ‘are you better off than you were four years ago?’ People can make their own judgements. The banks failed and we was headed for a great depression. Unemployment started to climb, and (Obama) made all of decisions as president of the United States to make sure we started back in the right direction. Has a lot of people been out of work? Yes, but I’ll guarantee you there’s a lot of people that saved their jobs whenever he stepped up to the plate and saved the auto industry when the other side wanted them to fail,” said Scioto County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Basham.
He said the auto industry bail-out saved 850,000 jobs — including 1 in 8 jobs in the state of Ohio.
Basham also praised ObamaCare, saying it allows children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance and closes the Medicare donut-hole gap.
“Obama has done nothing but turn this country around and is bringing us back forward again,” he said.
Gary Hairston, of Portsmouth, was in the president’s birthstate of Hawaii on the night Obama won the 2008 election. He remembers the excitement he felt as the nation elected its first black president. On Thursday, Hairston was sitting in the party headquarters on Chillicothe Street watching Obama accept the nomination to continue for another term.
“I wanted to be here for the big night,” Hairston said. “You can feel the excitement in the air. It’s something we’re looking forward to. Four years seems like it was just yesterday, but we have to finish what we started.”
Hairston is doing more than just watching from the sidelines, he’s also volunteering at the office — making phone calls, delivering material to local churches, and anything else he can do.
“Everyone has said from the very beginning that this is going to be a very close election, and I believe that is the case. But I believe at the end of the day the right guy is going to win the election, and that’s President Obama,” he said.
Mike Smith and his wife were independents for 30 years until the 2008 election when they officially joined the Democratic Party to vote for Obama. They also came to watch the president’s speech from the local headquarters Thursday night.
“I’ve watched both of them (conventions) and this one seems to really have a lot of energy. I think Bill (Clinton) had a lot to do with that,” Mike Smith said.
Before Obama’s speech at the DNC on Thursday, the crowd heard from Vice President Joe Biden first. Biden will be making a stop in Portsmouth on Sunday to speak at Portsmouth High School.
“The fact that he can come to smalltown USA, that means a lot to me and to the people of this area. I’m sure he’s going to have a positive message, and I hope that we have a very large turnout. I feel comfortable that we will,” Hairston said.
Tickets to the Biden event at Portsmouth High School are available for free at the Scioto County Democratic Party headquarters, located on Chillicothe Street, in Portsmouth. Doors open at the high school at 9 a.m. Sunday, and the vice president is expected to begin speaking at 11:45 a.m.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.