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Monday, March 03, 2008

Cincinnati media watch

From the Associated Press

The eyes of Texas are upon them and the eyes of Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Presidential candidates know the importance of the remaining primary states, and those four are the next on the calendar, casting ballots Tuesday. As the hopefuls try hard to introduce themselves, folks in the Lone Star, Buckeye, Green Mountain and Ocean states work to make known their own distinctiveness.

So, what then makes these states tick what kind of people are the voters there, what's the place really like, what must the candidates absolutely not overlook? Here are four sketches.

OHIO, by Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus

Welcome to Ohio, presidential hopefuls. Stay as long as you'd like we need people. One newspaper called us the "incredible shrinking state" thanks to Census predictions showing a population drop by 2030.

We're also losing manufacturing jobs hundreds of thousands in the last decade. We never fully recovered from the last recession. Our unemployment rate is stuck at 1 percentage point above the national rate. Two of our big cities, Cleveland and Cincinnati, are on a list of the country's top five poorest urban areas.

But enough gloom and doom. We've got plenty going for us.

Our gross domestic product is $440 billion. If we were a country, we'd have the world's 25th biggest economy. And how about this favorite stat for state deal makers: Ohio companies are within 600 miles of 60 percent of the country's population.

Here are a few other essentials you should know.

Eight in 10 of us 11.5 million Ohioans are white, with the remainder mostly black along with a growing Hispanic population. We're a Great Lakes state up north, Appalachia down south and farm country in between.

We love football (even if our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are 1 for 3 in national championship games) and we love our special foods. Eat some pierogi in Cleveland, some chili in Cincinnati, and don't even think about hitting Toledo without a stop for Tony Packo's Hungarian hot dogs.

We're a political tossed salad: We re-elected President Bush in 2004 and two years later dumped almost all Republican statewide officeholders.

Ride a jet ski along the Ohio River near Cincinnati and your wake will hit docks in Hamilton County, one of the most conservative parts of the state, more likely to send convicts to death row than other Ohioans are.

Don a wet suit 248 miles to the north and surf Lake Erie some winter plenty of hearty souls do and your board will come to rest on the liberal shores of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, where U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich remember him from your early candidate debates? promotes a Department of Peace when he's not eyeing aliens with Shirley MacLaine.

Democrats hold all major Ohio cities, Republicans flourish in the 'burbs and exurbs.
Why is it so important to know who we are and what we like?

Well, without winning Ohio, no Republican has won the White House in more than a century, and only two Democrats have done so. So there.

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