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Bloomberg campaign event overshadowed by protest signs

YOUNGSTOWN — A news conference with the mayor of Louisville, Ky., and local supporters of Mike Bloomberg for president was overshadowed by protest signs criticizing the former New York City mayor, and by yellow tape in trees outside his downtown campaign headquarters.

Sometime early Friday, wooden signs with the words “oligarch” and “stop and frisk” spray-painted on them were left in front of the office at 237 E. Front St. with yellow caution tape placed in nearby trees. The campaign took the two signs, turned them around and left them in a corner at the front of the building.

When asked about the signs and tape, Greg Fischer, Louisville mayor and a Bloomberg national co-chairman, said: “From a campaign perspective, we’re making a lot of progress. People see we’re on a push to victory and so if they have opposition to us they’re getting more and more desperate to what they’re doing.”

He added: “We need to get back to a place of civility where we can openly disagree, but not come in the middle of the night and put a sign up.”

Bloomberg’s campaign opened the field office Thursday afternoon.

Fischer joined local Bloomberg supporters Friday at the office to tout the presidential candidate and to criticize President Donald Trump, the incumbent Republican.

A similar incident occurred Thursday at Bloomberg’s Toledo field office with banners reading “oligarch” and “broken windows, broken homes” placed on the front windows.

When Bloomberg was New York City mayor, he defended the practice of stop-and-frisk, which allows law enforcement to briefly stop people and search them for weapons. While in Houston on Thursday, Bloomberg said it took him “too long” to stop it “because I didn’t understand then the unintended pain it was causing to young black and brown families and their kids.” “Broken windows” was another controversial law enforcement effort in New York City.

An oligarch is a person who is part of a small group in the government that exercises control — especially for corrupt reasons.

Youngstown City Council President DeMaine Kitchen, a Bloomberg supporter, said the candidate has addressed “stop and frisk.”

“He’s already dealt with it and acknowledged it,” Kitchen said. “He’s apologized and said if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t. He’s already sincerely thought about it. Obviously, there’s no perfect candidate.”

Kitchen said he’s backing Bloomberg after looking at the other Democratic presidential candidates.

There’s “not a lot of hope that is being installed by any of the frontrunners right now,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of faith in the other candidates. Not that I’m putting all my faith in Bloomberg, but I think he’s a better candidate.”

Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, who is also endorsing Bloomberg, said, “He can bring business and politics together. I think he’s the guy.”

When asked about Bloomberg leaving the Democratic Party in 2001 and not returning until 2018, Rimedio-Righetti said: “I’m not concerned about that. I don’t look to that as much. We have Democrats going to the Republican side and running against local Democrats. I don’t think it means anything.”

Fischer criticized Trump for “targeting working-class voters right here in the Valley by promising them (during the 2016 campaign) that he’d revitalize manufacturing in this community and communities like this all over America,” and failed to do so.

He also mentioned Trump’s July 2017 visit to the area in which the president said: “Don’t sell your house” because all the jobs lost over the years are “coming back.”

Fischer was mistaken about the location of the 2017 Trump event. He said it was “just a few miles down the road from here in the Lordstown plant.” The rally was at the Covelli Centre, which could be seen out the window of Bloomberg’s campaign office, where Fischer was standing.

Fischer then spoke of General Motors’ announcement in March 2019 that it was idling its Lordstown assembly plant.

“When you hear a closure announcement like that, especially after all of the promises that came with it from the man running for president of the United States and became president, it’s a gut punch that’s really hard to recover from,” he said.

Fischer said Bloomberg is a proven job creator.

“He is a real businessman; he is the unTrump,” he said.

Bloomberg is the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate with a field office in the Mahoning Valley. It’s among 12 in the state.

Bloomberg, a multibillionaire, has the largest campaign operation of any of the Democratic candidates in Ohio with 91 employees.

The state’s primary is March 17 with early voting starting Wednesday.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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