Clinton campaign officials visit Sandusky

SANDUSKY For years, residents of upstate New York -- the western portion of the state, far away from
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



For years, residents of upstate New York -- the western portion of the state, far away from New York City -- chafed over being ignored by the state's twoU.S. senators.

Three residents of upstate New York campaigning in Sandusky on Monday say the region's feeling of isolation changed after Hillary Clinton moved to New York and was elected to theU.S. Senate.

"Oftentimes, upstate is overlooked. The power of New York City is pretty significant," said Christine Pambianchi, vice president for human resources at Corning Inc. in Corning, N.Y., and alifelong New York resident.

Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce president Garry Douglas, a longtime Republican, said he was "very skeptical" about getting much help from Clinton when she was elected senator in 2000.

The two, and union official Ed Abounader, said they became Hillary Clinton converts and are taking vacation time to campaign for Hillary Clinton this week in Ohio. The three visited the Register on Monday, accompanied by Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Kris Balderston.

Their candidate is scheduled to debate Barack Obama at 9 p.m. tonight at Cleveland State University. The debate will be broadcast on national television.

Ohio Democrats will chose between the two in the March 4 primary.

"They should look to folks like us and see what kind of senator she has been," Douglas said.

He said when Wyeth Pharmaceuticals announced it was shutting down a plant in Rouses Point, N.Y., "Hillary called us the minute that announcement came out."

She found a group of investors who kept the plant open, saving 800 jobs, he said.

Pambianchi said her plant was able to add hundreds of jobs because Clinton helped push through a law to improve air pollution emissions from diesel engines. Her company makes a product that cleans up the air pollution, she said.

Abounader, president of an American Federation of Government Employees local in Rome, said the Defense Finance and Accounting Center office that employs his workers was supposed to be shut down in the latest round of base closings.

"343 jobs would have went down the tank," he said.

Instead, Clinton was able to prove the office was cost-effective, and it became one of five regional DFAS offices. The number of employees has grown to 888 and is scheduled to grow to 1,060, said Abounader, who said his union told him to campaign for Clinton in Ohio even if he had to walk there.

Balderston said Clinton is an underdog at this point but could rebound if she wins Ohio decisively.

"You could pick the next Democratic nominee," he said.

Balderston termed Obama a "great guy" and said he'll return to Sandusky in October to campaign for Obama if he wins the nomination, but said voters deserve to know Clinton gets things done.

"At the end of the day, you have to pick the person who is going to be the best president," he said.

Balderston, asked if his boss is a workaholic, said Clinton is a "hard worker," but said she has a fun-loving side that seldom shows up in press coverage.

She always carries a bottle of hot sauce with her to spice up her meals on the campaign trail, Balderston revealed.

"She likes her food hot," he said.