In Ohio and beyond, Clinton must excite voters

Published 9:44 am Monday, March 14, 2016

CLEVELAND — When it comes to Hillary Clinton, some Ohio voters admit to feeling more lukewarm than fired up.

Coming off of a surprise loss in Michigan, Clinton is looking ahead to primaries Tuesday in this Rust Belt state and others rich in delegates: Florida, Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina.

The Michigan setback has exposed her struggles to energize voters against Bernie Sanders, who’s riding a wave of populist zeal, even as Clinton remains the favorite to win the nomination.

Email newsletter signup

Those challenges are evident in Ohio, a pivotal general election state where Democratic voters offered mixed feelings about Clinton and her ability to defeat the Republican candidate should she become the nominee.

“The fear I have is that people are confusing reality TV with reality,” said Bob Lanning, 62, of Bay Village, a Clintonsupporter who worries about Republican Donald Trump’s appeal. “I hope Democrats get out and vote.”

Lee Apple, 68, of Shaker Heights, who has cast a ballot for Clinton in early voting, expressed disappointment she had no choices to get more excited about, though she described Clinton as “the best option” and said she will volunteer for her.

“She’s kind of old news,” Apple said. “She’s been around for years. She’s not fresh, she’s not young.”

Clinton is favored in Ohio in polling, has offices around the state and has racked up endorsements. Strong support from older voters and African-Americans may help her in Ohio as it has in earlier contests. Her experience counts to many Democrats.

“Probably in my lifetime there has been no other candidate who has the skill set she has,” said Anna Schmidt, 62, of Waterville, another early Clinton voter.

But in Michigan, where polling also pointed to a Clinton victory, Sanders managed to energize younger people and liberals and woo working-class white voters with his argument that U.S. trade deals have cost manufacturing jobs.

That pitch may prove effective in Ohio with voters such as Jan Jones, 68, a retiree from Cleveland Heights deciding between Clinton and Sanders, who said: “A year or so ago she seemed like a shoo-in and all this other stuff came up. I like what he says about the poor versus the rich.”

Pushing back, Clinton is stressing job creation and manufacturing at events in Ohio and the other states voting Tuesday.