Many credit Strickland's support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's, D-NY, during Ohio's March primary elections as a large factor in her win. Ohio is said to be a key battleground state in any election, and was the deciding player in the 2004 presidential race. Come November, Strickland hopes to recapture that magic and deliver the state for Obama and Biden over their Republican rivals Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"As I told Sen. Obama last night, I think it's going to be a very hotly contested state. I think it's very close right now, perhaps nearly even. I also told him we're not going to know who the next president is until the Ohio votes are counted," he said.
One of the biggest issues of the election always has been, and certainly now more than ever, the economy. Strickland called the recent downturn of the stock market evidence George Bush and the Republican party have failed the economy.
"I think John McCain has basically told us he's going to keep doing what George Bush is doing. I don't think the people of Ohio, or the people of this country, want another four years of this kind of leadership," he said. "If you listen to Sen. McCain on energy policy, on tax policy, on health care policy, on economics in general, he's pledging to do basically what the Bush administration is doing, and it's pulling us down and destroying opportunities."
On Thursday, McCain said he would fire Securities and Exchange Chairman Christopher Cox if he were president, accusing the former GOP congressman of betraying the public's trust.
Strickland blamed McCain and congressional Republicans for pushing deregulation he said led the country where the market is today.
"It's difficult for me to take John McCain seriously when he talks about getting tough with Wall Street and with the federal regulators when he has spent so much of the last eight or 10 years trying to reduce regulations and consumer protections. It just doesn't ring true to me that he would at this late date suddenly have a change of heart," he said.
Strickland remembers serving with Cox in congress, and on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
"He was the darling of the Bush administration, and to my knowledge, Sen. McCain never opened his mouth to criticize anything Chris Cox had done," he said. "Anybody could look back now and, given the circumstances we face, say this shouldn't have happened."
Strickland also addressed Palin's role in the election, saying she certainly added energy to the McCain campaign, but ultimately poses little threat to the Obama/Biden campaign.
"I believe (Gov.) Palin and the interest she initially sparked is sort of fading out. The real contest is not between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, it's between Barack Obama and John McCain," he said.
But Palin still may leave a lasting effect on Obama's campaign, as seen by his drop among women voters since Palin was announced as McCain's vice president-running mate. On Wednesday, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, A top fund raiser for former democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, threw her support behind McCain saying he will lead the country in a centrist fashion and accusing the Democrats of becoming too extreme. Rothschild is also a member of the Democratic National Committee's Plat-form Committee.
"Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton are very different people in their positions and their backgrounds," Strickland said.
On Thursday, the governor spent the day with Biden touring the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and then together again in Akron. Afterward, he traveled back to his home to Columbus.
"Power came on at the governor's residence at 6:15 this morning. I was shaving with a flashlight when the lights came on," he said, slightly laughing at the thought.
Utility crews still battled the dark on Thursday, in an effort to restore power to all Ohio residents, and some students went back to school for the first time since the remnants of Hurricane Ike hit the Midwest region on Sunday.
Just before dawn Thursday, a 10-mile drive up I-71 from downtown Columbus to the city's northern sections revealed several neighborhoods and large apartment complexes still in darkness. American Electric Power reported on its Web site outages continued to affect more than a quarter of its 506,000 customers in Franklin County, which includes Columbus.
"Some of the food pantries are experiencing a shortage of food as a result. A lot of small businesses were seriously injured as a result of the power loss. We're just trying to cope with those things as best we can right now," Strickland said. "Hopefully most of this will be taken care of, certainly before the weekend's out."
He said he's aware of people's frustration, but assures them the utilities are working as quickly and safely possible to restore power. Additional utility workers have been brought in from Michigan, New York, New Jersey and the Carolinas.
"I know it's frustrating. It was frustrating for me, too. But people in Texas and along the Gulf Coast have experienced much greater destruction. So I would just urge people to keep things in perspective and be patient," Strickland said.
On Saturday, Strickland plans to attend events in Circleville, Chillicothe, Wav-erly and Jackson, and then his birthday celebration at the Scioto County Fairgrounds in Lucasville. The governor's birthday actually is Aug. 4 - the same as Obama's birthday - but he said they always celebrate it at the fairgrounds in the fall to avoid the flies from the livestock shelters.
"These are nice activities that give me a chance to reconnect with people that maybe I haven't seen for a while," he said.
He said he had asked Obama on Wednesday night to tour southern Ohio with him, and said the senator said he would like to make that possible. No plans, however, have yet been announced.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235. The Associated Press contributed to this story.