Obama#8217;s rural strategy explained

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2008

COLUMBUS — Ohio farmers were on the agenda Wednesday morning as former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former president of the Ohio Farmer’s Union Joe Logan pushed Barack Obama’s agricultural initiative.

The pair outlined Obama’s stand for rural America in a conference call in which The Ironton Tribune participated with the Columbus Dispatch and the Dayton Daily News.

“Barack understands the importance of rural America,” Daschle said. “He appreciates the magnitude of trade issues … that young family farmers have a chance to compete. Farmers are being increasingly important in the fuel industry as well.”

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However, Lawrence County is not exclusively rural and unemployed factory workers may seem out of the loop with an agriculture agenda.

Yet Daschle contended new jobs could come out of a rural economy.

“The rural economy depends on the ability to create new jobs … new energy sources would be a tremendous opportunity for rural Ohio,” the former senator said. “Barack believes we have to put a lot more emphasis on education to prepare for the new economy.”

Logan said a major goal of Obama’s initiative is to connect rural America.

“The rural parts of southern Ohio have been a forgotten stepchild,” Logan said. “Barack Obama understands the essential nature of getting rural Ohio reconnected.”

Developing alternative fuels was also pushed hard during the conference call.

“Barack is the original author of low carbon fuel standards that require any new alternative fuel be produced from low carbon sources,” Daschle said.

Almost a year ago, Obama

— with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkins and Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin — introduced the National Low Carbon Fuel Standard Act of 2007 that would lower the carbon content of fuels by 10 percent by 2020. It is still in committee.

However, the men were asked how Obama’s proposal differs from Clinton.

“Clinton has talked about it in a passive way,” Daschle said. “Barack has made this a central part of the agenda.”

As the Obama camp pushed the rural agenda with the Ohio press, the Clinton campaign conducted

an Economic Solutions Summit at the Ohio University Zanesville campus. Joining Clinton were former Sen. John Glenn, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Gov. John Corzine of New Jersey, Gov. John Baldacci of Maine and Lt. Gov. David Patterson of New York.

Strickland, Corzine and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer held a conference call

press conference on Tuesday about the summit.

“I think it is appropriate it is taking place in Ohio,” Strickland said. “Ohio is experiencing challenges that is making it difficult to maintain a balanced budget and continue to provide services.”

Corzine applauded Clinton’s approach to economic issues.

“She listens to a lot of people and draws out the best ideas and ends up in making a real difference,” he said.