“At the same time that voters are exhibiting personal responsibility at their kitchen table or their voting booth, the President of the United States … refused to concede to one of our most cherished norms of the United States,” he said.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t participate in a virtual presidential debate with Mr. Biden after organizers announced the next debate would be held virtually due to coronavirus safety concerns. The President tested positive for the virus three days after the first presidential debate in Cleveland.
Asked about Operation Grant, Ohio Republican Party spokesman Evan Machan said, “No one cares about these former Republicans. Ohio stands firmly behind President Trump.”
There are signs, however, that Ohio is slipping from Mr. Trump’s grip after a commanding win in 2016. Polls are showing a toss-up race as Election Day nears.
Operation Grant’s message, delivered Thursday outside the downtown library, landed with at least one voter.
“I think it was really informative for the simple fact that instead of just voting for your party, vote for you who think is right for the job,” said Robert Highsmith, a 55-year-old who happened to be sitting in the plaza during the news conference.
He plans to vote for “the lesser evil,” he said.
As a Vietnam veteran, Saxbe says he’s distressed to hear Trump’s reported comments calling American war dead “losers” and “suckers”.
“I think you saw in the debate a real distinction between two men, one who was a gentleman and the other who was a thug. It was embarrassing as an American to see our president conduct himself that way,” says Saxbe, who last October held a fundraiser for Biden – long before he won the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.
“[Biden] needs to not lose Ohio’s rural and small-town areas by as much as [Hillary] Clinton did,” says Kondik. “For all of the talk of Black turnout and suburban erosion, there are still a lot of Ohio voters who live in small towns and rural areas. Trump crushed Clinton in these places, and Biden has to make up ground to win the state overall.”
Pandemic-enforced measures have resulted in election rallies and gatherings being restricted across the country, affecting Biden’s campaign in particular, although Trump’s own Covid-19 diagnosis has stalled his campaign events too.
As a consequence, last Tuesday’s chaotic and intemperate presidential debate may turn out to be one of the few occasions that voters will have had a chance to weigh up the candidates against each other.
For Montgomery County Republicans such as Margaret Wilkes, Trump “was himself” during the raucous debate. “I think he scored some good points,” she says. “I think for [Biden] to stand there and refuse to say, ‘I am for law and order’ is very disturbing.”
Centred on the city of Dayton and its sprawling, overwhelmingly white suburbs, Montgomery County is crucial to both Trump and Biden taking Ohio. A plurality of voters backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before pivoting to Trump in 2016, who defeated Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton here by less than one per cent.
Wilkes says that the United States was better off until the pandemic set in, but she’s confident things will improve. “We are resilient, we are Americans,” she says. “We will make it.”
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