Marchae Grair

KENT: Former Gov. Ted. Strickland no longer is the state’s top executive, but he remains significantly active in Ohio politics, especially in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Strickland recently wrapped up a three-day bus tour of Ohio and said he expects to carry that momentum into next week’s Democratic National Convention as one of the event’s speakers.

“I think it was important, especially this week, while the Republicans are in Tampa, to continue to hold out for the people of Ohio the stark differences between the Romney/Ryan ticket and the Obama/Biden ticket in terms of the policies they will pursue that would have a direct impact upon the middle class,” Strickland said in a recent phone interview.

Strickland, a co-chair for the Obama/Biden national campaign, plans to share his knowledge about Ohio and its constituents at the convention next week in Charlotte. He is scheduled for a prime-time address.

“I’m going to be stressing the fact that Ohio’s economy is improving, and it is not improving because of Ted Strickland or [Gov.] John Kasich,” Strickland said.

He continually credits President Obama with policies, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the auto bailouts, that helped his and Kasich’s administrations improve the state’s ailing economy.

As Strickland’s eyes shift to Charlotte, he keeps the youth of Ohio in his mind for inspiration.

The bus tour targeted all middle-class Ohioans, but Strickland was especially ecstatic about the enthusiasm of young people in the area.

“We very much enjoyed our stop at Kent and have been talking since about the young, student leaders that we met there,” Strickland said. “Very impressive. Very, very engaged younger people who are, quite frankly, the future of our party and the future of our state and country.

“Young people who obviously are bright and highly motivated. And young people who are equally concerned about the country they’re going to be living in, and in a few years, be responsible for leading.”

His tour stops in Kent and at Ohio University in Athens aimed to reach families affected by the rising cost of education, and the Republican party’s budget plans regarding higher learning.

“You will see that [the Republican] budget calls for very dramatic cuts in the Pell grant program, which is so vital to working-class young people being able to afford a college education,” Strickland said. “You’ll see that there are cuts in work study programs.

“We believe it’s important to reach out obviously to senior citizens and to people who are part of the working middle class. But we think it’s especially important to reach out to places like Kent State University, Ohio University, and other university communities across Ohio and let the student population and their families know what a Romney/Ryan administration would be to them and to the students of Ohio.”

Marchae Grair can be emailed at mgrair1@kent.edu.