Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. I met with J.W. Simpson today, curator of the Blanchester (Ohio) Historical Society Museum. He said sparks from a passing locomotive are said to have ignited a livery stable on a windy October day in 1895 here — burning the whole 5-block downtown to the ground. Some 70 years later, a train coming down the same stretch of Blanchester tracks, made a “whistle-stop” with Barry Goldwater (who was running for president at the time). Old time resident, and retired City Department worker Ed Bailey said he lifted the town newspaper photographer “high up” in a heavy equipment bucket so he could take a picture of Goldwater. I told Ed he might not have to lift a photographer up, oh, “as high” at one of our whistle-stop events.
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. I told the Brown County Press today that I’m your typical “average” father of three young children: “I cut my own grass, sit in the ‘cheap seats’ a the ball game and change my kids diapers (not as much as my wife Liz, she’ll tell you, but some).”
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. We did a whistle-stop event on the square in Georgetown, Ohio today at noon. Just as the event started up, a stream of people showed up: for a Sheriff’s Auction. Never one to pass up a campaign opportunity, we passed out literature to the group while they were waiting to bid. I told a reporter for the local News Democrat newspaper that we had a “consistent pro-life” ethic, which meant we were against abortion, but we were also against anything else that can end life prematurely. I said this included things like: poverty, pollution, tobacco… Incidentally, Brown County here is one of the biggest tobacco producing counties in the state and this weekend is the Tobacco Festival in nearby Ripley, Ohio. While I might have lost a few votes here, maybe it got a few parents, tobacco farmers, and so on… to think twice. After the interview, News Democrat publisher Steve Triplett told me he’s heard rumors John Edwards might be coming to Georgetown as part of a southern Ohio swing because Ohio continues to look that important to the outcome of the presidential race. (I couldn’t help but wonder: Is anyone starting to factor our campaign into all of that.) Note: Steve Triplett’s editorial the week before noted singer Linda Rondstadt had endorsed John Kerry during one of her performances and Ricky Scaggs had endorsed George Bush. After hearing this, I thought maybe we could get the accordion player we met in…
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. This morning I met with Bob Olsen who coordinates programs for Presentation Ministries in Peebles, Ohio. He was the “Voice of College Hockey” in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before feeling spiritually led to come to Presentation Ministries. One of Presentations main goals is to help establish “home based small communites” of Christians meeting weekly for prayer, meals and to share the stuff of life. Each community, and there are many throughout the country, also pick a social justice cause of some sort (pro-life efforts, helping the poor…) to rally around. On site in Peebles, Presentations also does weekend retreats on a variety of topics and has a radio program that is broadcast on some 40 stations around the country. (For more on the ministry, see: www.presentationsministries.com)
Average Joe Buckey Blitz cont. I met with William Smalley in Mineral Springs, Ohio today. He is the president of the Adams County Board of Health. He said schools are often “incubators for disease.” For instance, during flu season the school system here experiences a consistent 12% (or sometimes higher) absentee rate. What’s more, he said studies show one square inch of your average desk top contains 20,000 germs. To combat all this, Smalley said the Adams County School System is going to a vigorous Hand and Desk Washing Program this year, with the hopes of cutting down on medical costs for families (Adams County is one of the poorest counties in the state) and less missed class days for students. I told Smalley our platform leans heavily toward prevention when it comes to Health Care and we would talk about the program around the country, with the hopes other school systems pick up on it.
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. (Saturday afternoon). Up the road from where we’re staying in Peebles, Ohio, the Powered Parachute Wing Association was having a fly-in. Frank Parman from London, Kentucky, told me these ultra-light airplanes — with a multi-colored parachute wing above the craft — cost, on average, $15,000. After watching a few of these take off and land, we took the kids up the road to the Davis Memorial Nature Preserve here with John Brockhoeft and his family. Upon arriving, three families from Wilmington, Ohio, simultaneously emerged from a nature walk. They asked about my platform, and I launched into a ‘stump speech’ of sort (with actual trees around, the whole thing). One of the family members was Steve Gonzales, who is the pastor of the relatively new Covenant Presbyterian Church (“Transforming People and Communities Through Christ.”) And I told the group that was there what we were about. That is, helping transform communities with many more ‘people-helping-people’ projects… “with the sense of community being more like it was in the old days,” I said. After passing out a few buttons, we embarked on a good hour and a half hike along the American Discovery Trail, which intersects with the Buckeye Trail. The Disocovery Tail, I learned, is the only coast to coast, non-motorized recreational trail in the country. According to a website about the Trail, it links communities, cities, parks and wilderness… allowing people to hike, bike or ride horses for an afternoon, or a cross country adventure. (We decided on the afternoon, our Joseph is only six.) But what a fascinating, nature filled afternoon it was seeing the ferns, white cedar trees, wild mushrooms… The kids had a wonderful time. And as I walked along, I couldn’t help but think what a much more educational, wholesome and cost effective way to spend the afternoon, then, say: flying $15,000 aircraft around. Especially when the $15,000 might be much better spent on little kids growing up in the inner cities here, or on kids starving in the Third World…
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. We traveled to West Union, Ohio today where Fr. Ted Kossee of Holy Trinity Church here said he wondered about an American society, with a tremendous nuclear weapons stock pile, that is telling other countries they can’t have the same weapons. (Just prior to the Iraq War last year, I said to an ABC reporter from Toledo: “What if the weapons inspectors were let into, say, Montana? What would they find?”) At the square in West Union, I passed out some flyers and talked to Daniel Williams who said one of his biggest issues is: “…so many of the jobs going overseas.” (Adams County here is one of the poorest counties in the state.) After having our picture taken by the editor of the People’s Defender newspaper here in the shadows of the Court House, we headed to Peebles, Ohio. There a woman said to me that she is adamantly “against abortion.” What’s more, she noted there are some 4,400 abortions a day in the U.S. She said, in reality, this is no different than if people with guns entered four fairly large schools and killed all the students — every day. Given that, she wonders why there isn’t more of an outcry. I wonder that too.
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. We did a whistle-stop event in Chillicothe, Ohio today. I told Chillicothe Gazette City Editor Lori McNelly that: “I’m an average American citizen who’s decided to run for president.” She asked me what I would propose for an economically depressed Ross County. I said Atwood, Kansas has a citizen’s benevolent fund to help neighbors in need, city projects short on tax money, schools that need additional money… Atwood has 1,500 people and the fund is currently at a phenomenal $1 million. I would also look to more local church initiatives to help the disadvantaged, as they have in nearby Bourneville (pop. 300). At another whistle-stop today there, I noticed a sign at a street corner: Food Pantry: If in need, call… Christian Union Church. From Bourneville we went to Bainbridge, Ohio, home of the nation’s first “Dental Museum.” It is at the site of the late John Harris M.D.D.D.S., who had the first American School of Instruction on Dental Surgery, circa 1825. Liz and the kids posed for a picture outside, with tooth brushes in hand and over-exaggerated smiles. Note: A sign in the window of a crafts store in downtown Bainbridge read: “I don’t suffer from insanity — I enjoy every minute.” I told Liz I thought that might be a good motto for the campaign. She smiled, even more exaggeratedly.
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz (cont.) At a whistle-stop event in Lancaster, Ohio (near Columbus), today, I told a reporter from NBC News that we didn’t “pander to anyone.” Then, looking straight into the camera, I winked: “However, I just wanted the people in the Columbus area to know that when I do get to D.C., the first thing I’m going to do is put a big buckeye on the top of the Capitol Building.” A reporter from a Christian radio station also interviewed me on the street today, asking how I’d characterize our platform. I said we look at each issue with a “What Would Jesus Do” mind set. Note: I interviewed Vietnam Veteran Bob Sherman here today as well. He said he contracted diabetes as a result of being exposed to “agent orange.” While he’s been medically covered since 2002 (when the govt. ok’d covering agent covering orange cases, he said), he’s spent almost $60,000 on the condition since the mid-70s. I said as president I’d fight for that money to be compensated him.
Average Joe Buckeye Blitz cont. Just before a whistle-stop event we had planned for Mt. Vernon, Ohio today, Walter O’Dell pulled up in his GEM mini-electric pick up truck. He said since he’s bought one (for $9,500), four other people in town have bought them as well in the past four months. What’s more, his first 800 miles has cost him a mere $11 in additional electricity costs. I told a reporter from Mt. Vernon’s newspaper that we would spread the word about Mr. O’Dell’s electric vehicle purchase across the country — so even more people would buy them, and in turn, the air might become a bit less polluted for everyone. (It is my opinion Mr. O’Dell didn’t just make a socially responsible decision, he made a moral one as well, because we are called to be good stewards of the environment.)