Why Obama needs to visit the Tri-State

Published 10:41 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

We’ve seen Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen.

We’ve seen Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

We’ve seen U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson.

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We’ve seen various supporters who run the gamut of the political landscape.

Who we have not seen is Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the person all of those other people tell us is the right man for the job when voters go to the polls in a little more than a month.

It isn’t that a candidate’s supporters cannot carry weight. They can.

And, in particular, that can occur when it comes to Strickland, who sells here better than a lemonade stand on a 100-degree day.

But to date, Obama’s appearances in Appalachian Ohio have been rare and he has yet to visit the Tri-State area.

Of course, presidential candidates cannot visit every community in America on their path to the presidency.

But for Obama, there has to be a realization for his campaign that his opponent — GOP nominee John McCain — has had more of a presence in this key region of the state.

We understand that a certain percentage of voters in this region will not vote for Obama for no other reason than the color of his skin.

We understand this is a demographic that might not be in his corner.

But he should come here anyway.

I certainly don’t pretend to know what’s best for the Obama campaign in the context of winning the election.

But what can be said is that it is important for the people of this region to have faith that they would not be forgotten by this candidate, or any candidate for that matter.

McCain recognized there is value to coming to this area, if for no other reason than to hit talking points and stay on the party platform in front of people who are already decided they’re going to vote for him.

It’s important because it shows those people who are on the fence that the candidate has them on their radar. How that equates into whether they are the best candidate for their individual interests is another story, but for a region that has in many ways been left behind by the federal government, it says something when a political figure of the highest stature comes to their backyard.

This is neither an endorsement nor a knock on the junior senator from Illinois, but rather an observation on how his campaign is handling this region of Ohio and the Tri-State area.

Phil Bredesen did it. Ted Strickland did it. Charlie Wilson did it. Countless others did it.

They came here to sing the praises of this man they say is a better choice for the people here.

But if there is any gain to be made from all those efforts in this neck of the woods, Obama will have to come here and do it himself.