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Candidates need visibility

Now that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, there is a reality for him to face in the state of Ohio.

He’s in trouble here.

It is unclear if Ohio will play as pivotal a role in the 2008 election as it did in 2004. However, there is no denying that a Republican has never taken the White House without the state of Ohio.

So at the very least, Ohio will play a big role and maybe the biggest role in who the next president will be.

And for that reason, Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain, need to familiarize themselves with the state’s Appalachian region.

As Gov. Ted Strickland has shown with startling clarity, the state is not won in Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati. In fact, despite the fact the population numbers rest with the Big Six, a candidate’s political fortune rests in the 29-county Appalachian region.

Neither Obama nor McCain had a strong presence in this region during their respective primaries.

And to suggest their platforms and plans for farmers and rural development play here is simply false. Both candidates need to recognize that this region of the country has very specific problems that require very specific initiatives.

From education, to infrastructure, to technology, to health care, this region needs investment if our problems are going to be addressed with any sort of efficiency.

With Obama being soundly defeated in this region by Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primary (about a 4-to-1 margin), the burden is on him to make his presence felt in the Appalachian region.

And, considering the importance this region has in the overall scheme of things, there is one thing for certain for both candidates.

We’ll be listening.