CANTON, Ohio — A Democratic rally featuring former president Bill Clinton was held at noon Saturday at Tozzi’s on 12th restaurant. The event was free to everyone. The crown braved 50 degree temperature and windy conditions, no doubt to see Clinton speak. The crowds started gathering from around 9.30am. Clinton was late by more than an hour and the crowds were kept entertained by a live band.
President Clinton started with a strong defense of the Democratic policies in Washington over the past two years. He highlighted the stimulus, health care bill and the Wall Street reform. He added that only under Democratic control can this country be on the right path to recovery.
Clinton said, “We are coming back. You do not want to put us at risk. You gave 8 years to dig the hole. Now give us four years to prove we can take you where America needs to go.”
Clinton humored the crowd in between: “These folks spent 140 hours investigating my Christmas card list.”
The former president, who spoke to an estimated crowd of 1,100 for nearly 47 minutes, encouraged the crowd to get their friends and neighbors to the polls on Tuesday.
“This is your life, man,” Clinton said. “This is the whole future of America.”
This was the 120th campaign stop Clinton has made for Democrats this election, a number he told the crowd he never thought to reach. “I just planned to make a few stops for the people who worked hard for Hillary last time,” Clinton added.
According to polls the Republicans are ahead in Ohio for Tuesday elections, with Rep. Portman ahead of Democrat Fisher in the race to fill the seat of retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Also former Rep. John Kasich leads Strickland in the race for governor.
Democrats are worried about this perennial battleground state in the final days before Tuesday’s elections. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will rally with Strickland on Sunday in Cleveland and Clinton campaigned throughout the state Saturday.
Tozzi’s, which is at 4210 12th St. NW in Canton Township is often used as a venue for Democratic events.
The event was earlier planned to be held at Paul Brown Stadium in Massillon before the Massillon/McKinley football game on Saturday. But Massillon Mayor Francis Cicchinelli expressed concerns about traffic and security. This forced the event to move.
On Tuesday, Perry Local Superintendent John Richard indicated that Democrats might be able to hold the rally at Paul Pfeiffer Middle School. But Perry school board members objected.
There were a few light moments at the rally:
– Boccieri left in the middle of Clinton’s speech. Just nine minutes after Clinton started his speech, he (Boccieri) received word that his wife was in labor and headed to the hospital. When Clinton heard the news, he announced excitedly “The baby’s now being born.” Then he continued, “We have both sets of parents here, the grandparents. You’d be amazed how many times I would take a picture with a very pregnant woman and then she immediately gives birth. I really want some credit for your fifth grandchild being born into this world. We got another Democrat. I wish we could register that baby before it’s too late.”
– The Strickland Banner blew over in the wind and hit Strickland at least twice. Clinton was also hit once and he just laughed it off.