The recipe for a win in Ohio? Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown thinks it's a populist economic message (Sherrod Brown on How to Win in Ohio, Editor's Cut, Feb 11). Brown, a strong critic of trade policy, was elected in 2006:
I won by well into double-digits, in a slightly Republican state, against an incumbent with this [a populist - Ben] message. Granted, it was a good year, and the Republican Party's in trouble, but that was big part of the reason. My numbers compared to Kerry [in his 2004 campaign - Ben] were not a whole lot better in the big Metropolitan counties… but in the small counties I ran ahead of him by 10-15 points. Just looking at that, there has to be a reason, and the reason was a populist economic message.
That message will win the Ohio primary and, in November, the country:
It does two things, the Patriot Corporation Act and better trade policy: it helps win Ohio and helps them govern in the right way. I think you can really take the country in a very different direction building a progressive message around that kind of economic issue – the Patriot Corporation Act and trade.
The Patriot Corporation Act:
...basically it says that if you play by the rules, if you pay decent wages, health benefits, pension; do your production here; don't resist unionization on neutral card check, then you will be designated a "Patriot Corporation" and you will get tax advantages and some [preference] on government contracts.
Brown thinks that the populist rhetoric Obama and Clinton are using is sincere, and expects to see them move further in that direction as they contest the mid-west:
...Hillary's clearly moved way away from the old Clinton [administration] position, but the newspapers want to slap her every time she speaks out about that. Because they think it's all for political reasons. I really don't. I think that both of them genuinely see the problems of globalization. I think they understand that, I don't think their solutions are quite strong enough yet – either of them. But I think they're on the way and they're getting close, and I think we'll see more of that kind of growth as they focus on these kinds of issues in the Midwest now.
Brown would like to see Obama and Clinton talk more about certain topics. He thinks...
...They should certainly talk about the Patriot Corporation Act. I think they should strongly speak out against the Columbian Trade Deal. And they should call for a time out – as Hillary has, perhaps Barack has, I haven't heard – call for a time-out on trade agreements.
Amy Chozick and Nick Timiraos reported on the Clinton-Obama fight over Ohio in today's Wall Street Journal: Democratic Rivals Hear Ohio's Ills, Set Out Plans for Mortgages, Jobs (Feb 25).
With a little more than a week before Ohio holds its primary contests, the two Democratic candidates are debating what has hurt the economically distressed state more: free-trade pacts or the housing crisis.
While Sen. Barack Obama focuses his economic talks on criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement, implemented during the presidency of Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Clinton is struggling to stay in the race by presenting herself as the candidate who can solve the housing crisis.
Both issues run deep in Ohio, which has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000 and saw 150,000 homes go into foreclosure last year, one of the highest rates in the country...
Clinton and Obama are in slightly different positions relative to NAFTA. Clinton is widely seen as having to win both Texas and Ohio to stay in the race. Obama only has to deny her Ohio to become the nominee. I understand NAFTA is seen somewhat more positively in Texas. So Obama can hammer on NAFTA in Ohio, while Clinton might need to take a more nuanced position. I wonder if that explains her relatively greater emphasis on housing?