Valley's Democratic delegates expect motivational speech

By David Skolnick

Members of the Mahoning Valley delegation to the Democratic National Convention expect President Barack Obama to not only discuss his accomplishments, but his plans for the future during his acceptance speech tonight.

“I want to hear him go into detail on his plans for the future and remind people what’s transpired over the past four years,” said Timothy Callion of Champion, a delegate and business agent for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396.

“Health care is No. 1” on Obama’s list of accomplishments, Callion said. “There’s also the economy. He’ll explain that it is better to build the country from the middle [class] out than the alternative. We tried that before and it didn’t work.”

Obama’s acceptance speech will close out the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Callion was at Obama’s Aug. 28, 2008, convention acceptance speech in Denver that packed 84,000 people into Invesco Field.

“It’s hard to top that,” Callion said.

Others at this convention who were in Denver in 2008 don’t expect Obama’s speech tonight to be as historic as that of four years ago.

But they expect the president’s speech to be compelling, and to help motivate the delegates to return home and work to get him re-elected in the fall.

Obama was going to speak tonight at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium with more than 65,000 expected. But because of the chance of heavy rain, it’s being moved inside to the Time Warner Cable Arena, which holds about 20,000.

State Rep. Tom Letson of Warren, D-64th, and a delegate, said Obama will talk about “how he has led us from the edge of fiscal disaster and how he and Congress together have reeled in Wall Street and big banks.”

Also, Letson said, “He’ll also talk about how he saved the American auto industry, the vindication of the health-care law with the Supreme Court ruling, and energy independence.”

Letson also wants Obama to spend time discussing apprenticeships and retraining workers at adult career centers to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, but doesn’t expect that to be in the speech.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngs-town, D-60th and a delegate, said, “I want to hear him connect the dots between his administration’s policies and how he has helped the middle class.”

Hagan expects the president to discuss the accomplishments of his first term as president as well as his plans for a second four-year term.

Obama will discuss the “damage” an administration run by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney “will have on the middle class and communities like Youngstown,” Hagan said.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, attending his first Democratic convention, said Obama will discuss the “stark contrast of his vision for America and Mitt Romney’s vision for America. Barack Obama wants to move us forward and Mitt Romney wants to move us back.”

The Mahoning Valley is seeing results from Obama’s first term as president, Betras said.

That includes the American auto bailout that has helped increase employment at the General Motors complex in Lordstown, the regional tech center being headquartered in Youngs- town, and a drop in the area’s unemployment rate Betras said.

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