FIVE QUESTIONS: Gov. Strickland says Obama will break barriers for Ohio

SANDUSKY On the same day that thousands flocked to Sandusky to see Sen. John McCain speak, the Ohio governor's office
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010



On the same day that thousands flocked to Sandusky to see Sen. John McCain speak, the Ohio governor's office was busy granting interviews with one of several Sen. Barack Obama surrogates.

The Register spoke with Gov. Ted Strickland Thursday afternoon to find out more about what a Barack Obama presidency might mean for Ohio.

Q: There's been a lot of interest in Secretary of State Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama. What do you think that says about Obama that hasn't been said before?

A: I think the fact that Colin Powell -- who is deeply respected by people of both parties and has distinguished himself as military leader, a Republican, (and someone who) has served both Bush presidents -- for him to endorse Obama sort of is a seal of approval for Barack's fitness to be commander-in- chief and provide for the security of our nation. It's giving people a sense of confidence and reassuring people that if Colin, with his vast experience, is comfortable endorsing him, that should undermine any concerns of his fitness and his ability to serve as commander-in-chief.

Q: Powell described Obama as a transformational figure. Do you agree? If so, what do you believe that will mean over the next four years if he is elected?

A: I've been comparing Barack with John Kennedy in this way. John F. Kennedy was a bright, well-educated young senator who was eloquent and effective in his ability to inspire people, especially young people. But he had to break a barrier -- the fact that we'd never had a Catholic as president before. (People worried) whether he'd feel compelled to follow direction from the Pope, and that was the result of a prejudice that existed at that time. America broke that barrier, and John F. Kennedy became president. The barrier Obama must break is the barrier of race ... and I believe just as America did in 1960, they will also break this barrier ... that Barack, because of his skill, eloquence, and ability to inspire people across generations, that he will be able to call our country to once again return to greatness -- to work in common purpose for the common good of our country.

Q: What do you believe is Obama's greatest weakness? How do you believe he is or will be overcoming that?

A: The fact that he is a fairly young man with limited national experience, having been in the Senate just a couple years. I do think if there is something I'd like to change about his resume, I would have preferred that he had a longer experience in federal office. (But) he's dealing with that very appropriately -- choosing Sen. (Joe) Biden as his running mate, who has perhaps more foreign policy experience than most senators. He also is surrounding himself with very, very bright people with superb credentials ... unlike what I perceive McCain is doing by picking (Gov. Sarah) Palin, who does not add anything in strengthening his ticket, in my opinion. The people who seem to be advising McCain are the Bush people, who have gotten us into the mess we're in right now.

Q: Obama has been criticized for "spreading the wealth" with tax cuts directed at the middle class and tax increases for those who earn more than $250,000. How do you respond to that?

A: I think people like Sen. George Voinovich really should be ashamed to engage in the kind of name-calling they're engaged in, using words like "socialist" and "Marxist."

They made the same accusations against (Franklin D.) Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. The fact is that Obama will give tax cuts to the working middle class. When Sen. McCain says Obama is giving a tax cut to people who don't pay taxes, he's simply not telling the truth. Those people may not pay income taxes, but they pay property taxes, excise taxes ... George Bush's policies, with McCain's help, have been for the last eight years income re-distributors. They've been spreading money from the working middle class to the super rich.

What Obama wants to do is give a tax cut to the working people, and I believe that's what most Americans want.

Q: What do you think an Obama administration will mean for Ohio?

A: I think for Ohio and the country, it will mean an end to the Bush regime -- which has resulted in our jobs being shipped offshore, a tax policy that places an increasing burden on the working folks, a lack of an economic plan to move the state forward. What I hope we'll see is an investment in America. I believe Obama is serious about creating a health care plan that will make health care affordable and accessible.

He's helping communities with infrastructure, thereby creating jobs and building infrastructure that will benefit generations to come ... and he's proposing a $3,000 (employer) tax credit for every employee that an employer will add to their payrolls. These are things that will encourage job creation in our country.

And he's investing $15 billion a year, for 10 years, for the purpose of encouraging renewable energy and the use of advanced technology. In short, an Obama presidency will mean more opportunities for jobs for Ohioans, better health care, and an economic plan that will expand opportunities for the people of our state.