Crowd shows enthusiasm despite Obama’s absence

By Ashley Luthern


Although President Barack Obama canceled his Youngstown trip, 4,800 people still enthusiastically packed the Covelli Centre Monday and cheered for Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton.

People in the crowd said they were disappointed not to see President Barack Obama, who cut short campaigning to monitor Hurricane Sandy, but all said they understood why he wasn’t there.

“I understand that he had to do the job of the president and take care of those people in that part of the country,” said Natalie Grant of Youngstown.

Grant described the opportunity to see the sitting vice president and a former president as “life-changing.”

When Biden and Clinton talked about “children with special needs and single moms, I thought, ‘That’s me right there,’” Grant said.

Her 14-year-old daughter was born with cerebral palsy.

“I was always nervous to change jobs because I worried that a new insurance provider would deny my daughter coverage because she has a pre-existing condition,” Grant said. “Thanks to the president, that’s not a problem. Before, she would be dropped off my health-insurance when she turned 18; now she can stay on my insurance until she’s over the age of 21. That’s fabulous.”

Vincent DeAscentis of Boardman also was disappointed that the president canceled, but said the president had “better things to do.”

“I thought Biden did a good job of telling how it is with [Republican candidate Mitt] Romney. ... [Romney] just never seems to be straight with anyone. I don’t think he really has a plan,” DeAscentis said.

Biden didn’t mince words when it came to his opponents, attacking Romney’s budget plan by saying it “isn’t sketchy. It’s Etch-a-Sketchy” and that Romney “pirouettes more than a ballerina.”

The vice president also criticized the Romney/Ryan ticket for its stance on women’s issues, saying: “These guys are stuck in the ’50s on women’s issues” — which resonated with Anna De-Ascentis, Vincent DeAscentis’ daughter.

“Women’s wages, equal pay, health care and our right to decide. Women’s issues are a big thing and as Hillary [Clinton] says we can’t go backwards,” she said.

Maggie Wellington, a retired teacher, and Kim Noday, a retired auto worker, both attended the rally.

“It’s history,” said Noday, who said she pulled her son, Anthony Noday, out of his grade-school classes early Monday to attend for that reason.

Wellington said she appreciated Biden’s focus on the positive, including what has been achieved during the president’s first term.

“I’m so sick and tired of these negative ads,” she said. “... Today, I remembered that I am an optimist.”

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