PDT Staff Writer
As Alaskan Governor and republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin spoke to the people in Chillicothe on Wednesday, the Scioto County Democratic Party dismissed her ability to sway the polls this close to the election.
Chair of the Scioto County Democrat Party, Randy Basham, said Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) "broke the ice" with voters when he visited Portsmouth on Oct. 9, but doubts Palin can have the same effect.
"I think her visit is too late in this campaign. I think the mind set of people, a majority of them are set now on what they want to do," Basham said, alluding to national polls that show Obama with a strong lead over Republican candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
While Obama maintains the lead in Ohio according to nearly every poll, the depth of his lead varies greatly between them.
In the most recent Associated Press-GfK Poll, released Wednesday, Obama held a slight edge in Ohio, with 48 percent of likely voters favoringd Obama compared to 41 percent for McCain. Other polls, however, suggest Obama's lead may not be as wide as it once was. According to a poll among registered voters in Ohio conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, Obama's lead has shrunk in the Buckeye State from an 8-point lead in Ohio two weeks ago, to only a 3-point lead this week.
Basham accused the McCain campaign of abandoning its talk about the issues, and instead using fear tactics to scare voters into siding with them.
"Both candidates have stated their case addressing their issues, and the people have clearly understood John McCain one week saying the economy was fundamentally OK and then he changed his position a week later after the banks were in trouble and the stock market falling and people's 401k's were being devastated," Basham said. "Sarah Palin has taken the stump in her speeches, resorting to socialism and communism and all that stuff. They're staying away from the topics now and trying to go with the fear-factor."
He said the people see through those tactics and he insists if Obama keeps pushing McCain on the issues, voters will respond by voting Democrat on Tuesday.
Also hoping to distract attention away from Palin's visit in Chillicothe, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher spent Wednesday canvassing southern Ohio, going door-to-door personally in Chillicothe, Portsmouth and Ironton.
"The governor's office is 100 percent behind Barack Obama and Joe Biden for presidency. They're putting their neck on the line for re-election two years from now," Basham said.
The Obama campaign on Wednesday said they were excited to have Fisher joining its grassroots effort to help reach voters. Olivia Alair, spokesperson for the campaign, said Fisher will go door-to-door telling them why he feels an Obama-Biden ticket is the best ticket to bring change to Washington and rebuild the economy.
"It's important we turn out every last supporter, and knock on as many doors as possible right up to election day," Alair said.
She said Fisher's tour through southern Ohio was not intentionally scheduled as a response to Plain's visit, saying their campaign is touring all over Ohio and it's inevitable that their paths would eventually cross.
On Friday, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will return to southern Ohio to participate in a Change We Need rally in Ironton.
"I think she got a great vote in the primary, and the fact that she's coming back here to stump for Obama shows she's supporting him and her supporters should support him as well," said Ohio Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Todd Book, D-McDermott (89th District).
Details were not fully available on Wednesday evening, but Book said Clinton will probably be speaking Friday at 12:30 p.m., at either Ironton Senior High School or Ohio University Southern Campus.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.