About 2,500 Democrats throughout Ohio gathered in Columbus over the weekend for a dinner with former President Bill Clinton. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles was there for Clinton’s speech and files this report.
While chicken was the main dish on the menu, former President Bill Clinton wasted no time throwing red meat to the crowd who gathered to see him.
"Everybody deserve a chance to make it," Clinton said. "That why we exist in the Democratic Party."
Clinton said Gov. John Kasich and Republicans have not helped middle and poorer Ohioans. Clinton told Democrats they should look at the qualifications of the candidates running for office and figure out whose policies would best represent them.
"This is, after all, a job," he said. "Every one of these jobs – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, you name it – they are jobs. And elections are the world’s greatest job interviews."
Clinton told the group that they need to work to get the Democrats who vote in presidential elections to come out to cast ballots in this midterm contest.
"This is not about something little. This is something big," he said. "And all eyes will be on you. Because people really do believe that if you want to find a place in America that represents everybody and everything, a place where the largest, most geographically distributed group of big cities and a massive agricultural economy and lots of small towns with every kind of economic activity, you can go to Ohio. We are looking. We are listening. And I am pleading with you to make us proud."
Ohio Republican Party Spokesman Chris Schrimpf said Clinton’s purpose in coming had little to do with the candidates on the ballot this fall.
"He barely even talks about any of the Democrats until the very end of his speech," Schrimpf said. "Some of his former adversaries and former employees got talked about a lot more than any Ohio Democrat. And I think that’s probably because Bill Clinton knows nothing about these guys running for office because they’ve accomplished nothing."
Schrimpf said Clinton is here to gear up for 2016, when Hillary Clinton might run for office. Schrimpf thinks if Ohioans look at which candidate is best for everyone in Ohio, they will re-elect Kasich this fall.
"We’ve seen 250,000 jobs created," he said. "We’ve seen the middle class get stronger. Incomes have gone up. Poverty has gone down since Gov. Kasich has taken office, and that’s because of his economic policies that are benefiting everybody across the state."
The Democrats stand to raise thousands of dollars from the state dinner featuring Former President Clinton. The average ticket was $150 each. Add to that the money raised through passing the basket and sponsorships.
But the party’s gubernatorial candidate will need some more help from the party. Ed FitzGerald’s war chest is trailing Kasich's right now by more than $7 million.