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The campaign is getting testy (and a little squirrelly)

By David Skolnick (Contact)

Published October 21, 2008

Gov. Ted Strickland lashed out at Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign Monday, calling repeated claims of ties between Democrat Barack Obama and terrorists despicable, unfounded and inappropriate.

“This is the time in out state’s and in our nation’s history when people are really hurting, losing jobs, losing health care, losing homes,” the Democratic governor said today. “And we’re talking about a campaign for the presidency of the United States of America, and the McCain campaign is focusing on these superficial, irrelevant matters.”

Strickland, a former minister, added, “I don’t give a damn about Bill Ayers, but I do care about the people of Ohio and the people who need a leadership that will be concerned about them and their problems.”

The Republicans quickly responded, urging Strickland to “spend less time on the campaign trail and more time dealing with Ohio’s highest unemployment rate in nearly 20 years.”

In a statement, Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine said, “The governor had a chance to be a statesman in this debate and work toward common ground in addressing the concerns of everyone involved, but he can’t tear himself away from the worn-out Democrat talking points that have about as much validity as an ACORN registration.”

Strickland joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman at a press conference to speak out about McCain ads, automated calls and other campaign rhetoric calling Obama a socialist and drawing alleged links between the Democratic presidential hopeful and terrorists.

At the press conference was someone dressed in an orange rodent costume, holding a sign that read, “Don’t Make the Buckeye State the Acorn State” and “Don’t let Obama+Acorn Steal Ohio.”

The sign is in reference to ACORN, a political organization accused of submitting phony voter registration documents.

“They even resort to things like sending squirrels to press conferences,” Coleman said. “...(They) have nothing else to talk about. ... Stop being squirrelly and start being straight with the voters.”

The squirrel, who was eventually forced from Statehouse property by the State Highway Patrol, later declined comment to reporters.

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