Martins Ferry, Ohio _ It’s not about black and white. It’s not even about black and gold.
The only color that should matter in this election is green.
That was the message Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, USW International President Leo W. Gerard, Pittsburgh Steelers Owner Dan Rooney and retired Steeler Edmond Nelson sent loud and clear on the first stop of the “Steel Blitz for Barack” bus tour Saturday morning.
“Color does matter in this election,” Gerard said to a cheering crowd. “And you know what color matters? Green. Because working people have had their futures robbed and it’s time to get back on track with Barack Obama as president.”
The USW Local 1238 union hall decorated with black and gold “Steel Blitz for Barack” signs was overflowing with USW members and others who heard that the qualifications and proposals from Obama make him the best choice Nov. 4.
“Barack Obama is a person who has lived our life – a person who has fought for a better America,” Gerard said. “This is our obligation to our kids and grandkids to win this battle.”
Strickland reminded the audience of the millions of lost jobs, lost health care, the economic crisis and other woes suffered under the Bush administration. He compared the plight of working Americans to a person who is drowning in a river.
The governor told the crowd that if someone were drowning, they wouldn’t care about the race of the man who was trying to rescue them. “Too many people feel like they’re drowning and Barack Obama is the rope,” Strickland said to loud applause.
Strickland also compared Obama’s candidacy to that of John F. Kennedy’s, the country’s first Roman Catholic president. He reminded folks that many argued wrongly that Kennedy should not be elected because of his religion.
“We broke that barrier and America became a better country because of that. This year, we have another barrier to break and that is the barrier of race,” Strickland said. “We will break that barrier and that will make us a better country because of it.”
In Martins Ferry and in Steubenville at USW Local 1190, Dan Rooney reiterated the message that voters should focus on Obama’s character and proposals – a life lesson Rooney said he learned from his father, Art Rooney.
“One thing my father told me was, ‘It’s not all about the money. It’s about treating people right, treating people fair. It’s about treating people with dignity,” he said. “And this is why I think we win and have a winning team.”
Rooney told USW members that there are only 17 days before the election: “Get to work.”
And that’s exactly what dozens of Steelworkers did by signing up to block walk and phone bank as they waited in line to get autographs from Rooney and Nelson.
Conway also fired up the troops, telling them: “This is the most important work we have to do. Don’t be afraid.”
Nelson said he took his entire Saturday to participate in the Steelworker bus tour because the election is so important. He pointed out that McCain doesn’t remember how many houses he owns and supports policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy.
“This election is close to my heart. We need a person who is responsible, who worried about doing the right thing for all Americans,” the former defensive end said. “You think about who Barack Obama is and who John McCain is and who they really identify with. Barack Obama is the best thing that’s happened to this country in decades.”
The Steel Blitz for Barack bus tour continues through Nov. 1. Stops are planned Thursday in Johnstown and Altoona, next Saturday in Western Pennsylvania and Nov. 1 at USW headquarters.