LIMA — The buzzer has rung. The journey has concluded and the final countdown is officially at zero. Monday wrapped up local campaigning in Lima and its surrounding areas and both parties squeezed in last-minute events in a final attempt to rally for votes.
With both presidential campaigns making stops in Columbus on Monday to seek the swing state’s 18 electoral votes, its clear Ohio will play a key role in who is going to take the Oval Office on Tuesday for the next four years.
One of the greatest golfers in American history and Ohio native, Jack Nicklaus, appeared in Lima on Monday, along with his wife, Barbara, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, and U.S. Olympian, Scott Hamilton, all expressing their support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
The group was welcomed by a standing ovation and overwhelming support at the Republican Victory Center on North Cable Road around noon Tuesday. Jack Nicklaus kicked off his speech with an “O-H-I-O” chant and explained he decided to campaign for Romney becauseof the 1976 election.
“A great friend of mine was president of the United States at the time — Gerald Ford, even though he was a Michigan fan. But he said, ‘Jack, I need some help in the state of Ohio for the election,’ and I said, ‘Mr. President, I’ve never gotten myself involved in politics and I really don’t think I should,’” he said to the crowd of nearly 100 people. “And he said ‘OK, I respect that. That’s not a problem.’ And he ended up losing the election. He lost Ohio by less than 5,000 votes and if he would have won Ohio, he would have won the election. I’ve kicked myself ever since.”
Hamilton, who was born in Bowling Green, said Romney’s work with the Olympics shows he can handle the presidency.
“It just was going to be a complete humiliation to the United States and they were desperate. And they asked Mitt Romney to come in and just do whatever he could to try and turn this thing around. And he came in and he completely, instantly changed the culture,” Hamilton said. “And I was watching him speak at the closing ceremony, I sat there thinking, ‘Why can’t we have someone like this as president of this country? Why can’t this happen?’ He’s so unique and he’s so spectacular.”
Taylor talked about how she and Ohio Gov.John Kasich worked to bring Ohio out of $8 billion of debt when the team was elected in 2006 and connecting it with how Romney can do that nationally.
“We got Ohio back on track, we balanced our budget, we closed the $8 billion budget hole,” she said. “We didn’t raise taxes. We cut taxes and that’s how we begin to revive an economy — lower taxes for the people that are trying to create jobs and get rid of regulations that are standing in their way. We need to happen in Washington exactly what’s happened here in Ohio. And the only way that’s going to happen is to change who sits in the Oval Office.”
But not too far away, a Democratic candidate stumped for votes across the congressional district she’s running for. Angela Zimmann is running for the 5th Congressional District seat,which includes Hancock, Putnam and Van Wert counties. She toured eight counties Tuesday, beginning her day at 5:30 a.m. in Findlay and ending at 4:30 p.m. in Bowling Green.
“I’m getting a very positive reaction. This would be typical if I’m elected,” Zimmann said during her stop at Kohl’s Market in Ottawa. “I want to be out with the people.”
Zimmann said the biggest concerns she hears and sees from residents are with jobs and the economy, both locally and nationally.
“It is giving me an opportunity to tell people about my plan to strengthen the economy,” Zimmann said. “Many people have told me the location of this district with the waterways, railroads and highways should make this area just booming. That is what I want to see.”
Her tour, called “Fighting for the Fifth: On the Road to Victory,” began in Findlay, where she had coffee and donuts with workers during a shift change at Cooper Tire. From there, she had a breakfast meet and greet with residents at Henry’s Restaurant in Ottawa and did a Main Street small-business walk there, where she stopped at Kohl’s Market.
The tour was focused mainly on small businesses, something she believes are also very important to her district and its economic growth, she said.
“Small-business owners are so important to northwest Ohio communities like Ottawa and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to meet these men and women,” she said. “We need to do all we can in Congress to make sure our small-business owners can work in an environment that promotes growth and innovation.”
From there, she went to Thomas Edison Center and toured the school, then went to Paulding, Defiance and Napoleon, and Bowling Green to finish out the day.
Election polls will open at 6:30 a.m. today in Ohio and will be closing at 7:30 p.m.