TOLEDO, Ohio (Ma'an) – Amidst the roar of about 2,000 enthusiastic supporters of the Democratic party at this Ohio college, former US President Bill Clinton delivered a long address Thursday defending Barack Obama and slamming his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
At the rally in Owens Community College in Toledo, Clinton focused more in his 37-minute address on the “burning issue in Toledo about Jeep moving its production to China,” as State Rep. Matthew Szollosi of Oregon, Ohio, the no. 2 Democrat in the Ohio House, put it.
As he approached the auditorium and started to talk, his voice was hoarse, seemingly from the many rallies as part of Obama's campaign. Clinton even mistakenly said “It is an honor to be here in Pennsylvania” instead of Ohio. The crowds shouted “Ohio! Ohio!” before he corrected himself.
Before Szollosi introduced him, he recalled the economic boom during the Clinton administration, as well as other accomplishments highlighting that Obama has put the country on the right track to restoring those good times.
Szollosi left little for Clinton to say to urge the supporters to head to early voting centers, but the latter found enough words to talk for 37 minutes about good reasons to vote Obama. Clinton said the administration had the best professionals “including the secretary of state,” his wife Hillary.
The former president refuted Romney's claims in his ads that “Jeep is moving jobs to China, thanks to Obama.” Jeep, he added, “went ballistic over Romney's claim that Jeep could move all its production to China.”
He added: "You know what Romney people did when Jeep (corrected) them, they upped their money on a false ad.”
What caught my attention was the lack of African-Americans in the crowd, despite seeing large numbers in downtown Toledo. New York Times reporter Rich Oppel, who sat next to me, said it did not indicate a decrease in African-American support for Obama. He said it was because of the demographics of the neighborhood.
Looking for Arab-Americans after the crowd dispersed, I found only Fatima, in her 20s and of Sudanese origin. She said “Arab-Americans do not care much about casting their votes because they know that it is not the elected president who rules.”
She added: “What controls things here is interest groups and different lobbyists.”
Asked if Arab communities could affect the election, she said it could be possible if they voted for one candidate. But they are not united and they have different interests.
Fatima's remarks echoed those of Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, days earlier in Washington, DC.
Both Keeter and Julia Clark, Vice President of Ipsos Public Affairs' Polling and Public Sector, agreed that “Arab-Americans are more tilting to the Democrats for ideological reasons.”
However, added Clark, many are conservative and they have problems with the Democratic stance toward social issues such as same-sex marriage and others.