By DAVID SKOLNICK
The day after Mitt Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination, Vice President Joe Biden visited the Mahoning Valley — including a stump speech in Lordstown, a bite to eat at a Warren restaurant and a visit to the Canfield Fair.
Biden, a Democrat, spent a little more than an hour Friday at the fair, talking with those attending the event as well as with vendors, firefighters and other safety personnel.
The visit wasn’t unexpected but wasn’t announced to the media or the public beforehand.
As he made his way toward the Mahoning County Democratic Party tent, he paused to speak with 8-year-old Dylan Greenwood of Struthers, who has a large cast on his left leg.
Dylan had broken his leg playing football and Biden offered him some words of encouragement. Dylan, his 13-year-old sister Kayla and their dad, Ray Greenwood, all shook the vice president’s hand.
“I was shocked that he came up to us,” Ray Greenwood said, after he explained to his son who had just spoken to him.
Just outside the tent, Biden stopped to talk with Austintown Trustee Jim Davis and his 2-year-old daughter Gabriella.
“She told the vice president good luck and that she loved him,” Davis said.
And what’s a visit to the Canfield Fair without food?
Biden took a few bites of Antone’s loaded fried cheese and pasta dish.
Brittany Peters, who works at the Antone’s booth, said Biden asked how they were doing and told them the food looked “amazing.”
“He said she came here just for the pasta,” she said. “He handed us a $20, and told us to keep the change.”
Walking around the fair wasn’t easy.
“You couldn’t move because he attracted a huge crowd,” said Atty. Dave Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman. “The Secret Service kept telling me to move him along, and he kept wanting to slow down and talk with people. There was a throng of people. It was so surreal.”
Biden began his Friday visit to the Valley arriving about an hour late for a rally at the United Auto Workers Local 1714 union hall in Lordstown. About 250 people attended the event.
Biden spoke for about 22 minutes, devoting much of his speech talking about the differences between the Democratic ticket of President Barack Obama and himself, and the Republican nominees — Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice-presidential nominee.
A key point was the $82 billion federal government auto bailout in 2009 of General Motors and Chrysler.
“The 200,000 auto workers who’ve been added to the employment rolls would not be working” without the bailout, Biden said. “And a million jobs would have been lost.”
Biden mentioned last week’s announcement by GM that it was investing $200 million in the nearby Lordstown complex, where the Chevrolet Cruze is assembled.
Biden also criticized Ryan for blaming the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., on Obama. It shut down before Obama was president.
“It was devastating for the community and those people,” Biden said Friday. “But what [Ryan] didn’t tell you was that plant in Janesville actually closed when President [George W.] Bush was still in office.”
Biden said “much of what [those at the Republican convention] did say wasn’t on the level.”
Strickland was more direct.
“They’re crazy,” the former governor said. “They lie. Their strategy for winning the big election is to tell the big lie.”
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama campaigned at the Janesville GM plant saying, “I believe that if our government is there to support you and give you the assistance you need to retool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another 100 years.”
“That plant didn’t last another year,” Ryan said Wednesday at the Republican National Convention.
“Vice President Biden can’t answer for the Obama administration’s unfulfilled promises and failed record,” said Chris Maloney, a Romney campaign spokesman. “The president inherited a troubled economy, but he’s not made it better — he’s made it worse, with fewer jobs and lower incomes for middle-class families.”
David Green, president of UAW Local 1714, introduced Biden at the rally and spoke with the vice president before the stump speech.
“We talked about the auto industry, and I thanked him for the support,” Green said. “The Valley is coming back, but we can’t do it alone. He’ll continue fighting for us.”
Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, a Republican, was at the UAW hall for the Biden rally even though he supports Romney.
“I am showing respect for the office of vice president,” Hill said. “How can the mayor ignore the vice president when he is in my town? If there was a little more civility, the world would be a better place.
“But I think it is going to get nasty,” he added.
If Romney and Ryan are elected, they’ll tax the middle-class and give “outrageously ridiculous tax cuts for the wealthy,” Biden said.
Biden said he is “absolutely certain” that he and Obama are making progress needed to rebuild the middle class to be better than it was before the economic collapse of a few years ago.
After the speech at the UAW hall and before going to the fair, Biden stopped at the Mocha House in Warren, working the crowded restaurant and leaving with a cup of rice pudding.
Maloney dismissed Biden’s visit.
“These days, Vice President Biden’s routine swings through the Buckeye State have come to be defined by his gaffes, persistent mudslinging and an apparent lack of media accessibility more than anything else,” he said.
Biden refused to be interviewed by members of the local media during his visit.
Vindicator records searched through 1912 do not indicate that another sitting vice president has visited the fair.
Contributor: Elise Franco, Vindicator staff writer.