Will Obama’s visit energize Dems?

On the side

Gubernatorial bid: For those who just can’t get enough of politics, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a potential 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will speak at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 14 at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman. The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s government affairs council is sponsoring the event.

The lunch, eight days after the Nov. 6 election, is open to the public. Tickets are $20 each. Registration is required by contacting Jennifer Mascardine at 330-744-2131 extension 12 by phone, jennifer@regionchamber.com by email or by clicking on upcoming events on the chamber’s website — regionalchamber.com

FitzGerald was elected county executive in 2010, a year after Cuyahoga County voters approved a home-rule style of government during a county public corruption probe. The chamber has supported a similar change in the Mahoning Valley.

To paraphrase The Rock, “Finally, Barack has come back ... to Youngstown.”

After about two months of bringing in largely second-tier surrogates and counting on local Democrats and union officials to get the message out, the president’s campaign may have finally realized that’s not enough.

Ohio will likely determine whether President Barack Obama gets another term in the White House or more time to work on his golf swing.

In 2008, Obama won or at least stayed competitive in a number of Republican-leaning counties winning Ohio by 4.59 percentage points over Republican John McCain.

It’s going to be considerably closer this time and the Obama campaign can’t possibly believe he will do as well this time around as he did four years ago in those Republican-leaning counties.

What should Obama’s campaign do?

They should be hitting the Democratic strongholds hard to shore up the base.

That’s happening in Cuyahoga County and its surrounding areas. Obama has spent a lot of time there and the campaign has top surrogates including former President Bill Clinton — and even Bruce Springsteen — in that region.

It makes perfect sense. It’s a population center and Cleveland is heavily Democratic even though the turnout percentage in Cuyahoga was the second lowest of Ohio’s 88 counties in 2008.

So you can’t be critical of the campaign’s decisions to focus on Cleveland and Columbus, another population center.

I’m not arguing that Obama needs to come to the Mahoning Valley over and over again. (His only Valley visit in this campaign was July 6 in a small elementary school in Poland.)

But Vicki Kennedy, Ted Kennedy Jr. and a bus of mayors doesn’t excite the base.

No offense to anyone, but having local elected and union officials at press conferences criticizing Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, doesn’t get the job done either.

Obama’s campaign has spent millions of dollars on local TV and radio commercials in the Valley, but it becomes white noise or background music at this point.

Yes, Valley Democrats are going to support Obama and he’ll get about 60 percent of the vote.

But he needs to do better in places like this area than he did in 2008 because his support will be less in swing counties this time around.

Romney and Paul Ryan, his vice-presidential running mate, are working Ohio as hard as Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Even though Republicans will lose Mahoning and Trumbull counties, the party’s campaign isn’t ignoring this area.

Ryan was here on Oct. 13 — though he got significantly more (and negative) coverage for his quick visit to the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s dining hall in Youngstown.

Surrogates such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have campaigned here.

Yeah, some aren’t household names, but the Obama campaign hasn’t had a single Democratic governor or U.S. senator come to this area on the president’s behalf.

Also, don’t be surprised if Romney comes to the area before the election.

Perhaps Monday’s campaign visit by Obama and Clinton, the first time the two have campaigned together since the Democratic National Convention, and Sunday’s event with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are signs that the campaign realizes it needs votes here.

With a little more than a week before the election, will it be enough?

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