Campbell is waiting for his ship to come in — which it just might. He is from Carroll County, Ohio, where one of the country’s biggest gas finds has just been announced. Within just a few years, Ohio could be the new Texas, and hardworking men like Campbell could become wealthy overnight. Quite a change from painting polka dots on the walls of Victoria Secret stores.
“They just sank 44 new wells," he said. “That’s 44 new millionaires. There’s another 136 coming.”
Campbell hopes to benefit from the boon, but his land holdings are pretty small.
“Things are pretty rough here in Ohio,” he said. “There’s lots of people out of work. If they don’t have jobs, they can’t buy my stuff.”
Ohio is actually doing relatively well. The state has a 7.3 percent unemployment rate, as opposed to 8.1 for the country overall. It is also the quintessential swing state — no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. This has made candidate-sightings a regular occurrence here in the Midwest, something that has these down-to-earth folk a bit mystified.
“I am not even sure if I’m going to vote,” said Edy Kwitowski, whose small stand seemed to lean toward china statues of Disney characters. She sits on the tailgate of her truck and cradles her miniature Chihuahua, Spike.
“I think Obama’s going to win,” she said. “I don’t particularly like him, but of the two, he’s the best.”
Asked what it was about Romney that did not appeal, she was categorical.
“I just don’t like him,” she said. “I don’t like the way he walks, I don’t like the way he talks.”
The now infamous “47 percent” video, in which Romney appears to dismiss almost half the country as irresponsible moochers, did not influence her much, she said.
“I didn’t like him before that, either," she said.
Down the way from Edy was John Myers, who carves lawn ornaments from wood, using a chain saw. His owls, mushrooms, bears and other artworks are prominently displayed.
Myers has one main issue on his mind.
My son was in Afghanistan,” he said. “I could not trust the government to keep my only child safe.”
His son has since come back, safe and sound, but Myers is a bit bitter.
“Every time the phone rang my heart just stopped,” he said. He thinks that the president is prepared to gut the military, and Myers is not a fan of his politics.
“Obama is a socialist,” he said adamantly. “I don’t like big government, and I don’t want it in my life.”
“I hate Obamacare,” he said, referring to the Affordable Care Act, which the president hails as one of his signature achievements in office. According to Myers, it is going to put the United States on a par with Canada — a dismal prospect, in his view.
“Just go to Cleveland,” he said. “It is full of Canadians who come here to get health care.”
But Myers is not convinced that Romney is the answer.
“Maybe he would do some better things for the economy, and he is stronger on the military,” said Myers. “But he sure is not a people person.”
A man selling lock picks, who would not give his name, agreed.
“I wish the Republicans had come out with a stronger candidate,” he said. “I can’t understand why [John] McCain did not win last time. He should have run again, with the campaign slogan, ‘I told you so.’ I liked Sarah Palin, too. She seemed pretty smart.”
Former Alaska Gov. Palin, McCain’s running mate in 2008, is widely seen as having contributed to McCain’s loss. Her flashy style and intemperate comments, combined with an almost total lack of federal or international experience, made her something of a laughingstock. She is still popular here in Ohio, though.
Close by sat a man who specialized in guns and knives. He had everything from a .22-caliber pistol that could fit easily into the smallest purse to a rather hefty .45.
His name was Lloyd Breeden, and he was decked out in a shirt that proclaimed, “The only answer to a BAD man with a gun is a GOOD man with a gun.”
His views, however, were a bit of surprise.
“I voted for Hillary in 2008,” he said, referring to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Obama for the Democratic nomination in the last election.
Breeden is not crazy about the president, who lacked experience when he came into office, he said.
“I haven’t seen Obama do much in four years,” he said. “But Romney is just too rich. He is not going to do much for the middle class.”
Breeden’s choice, if he had his way?
“I’d vote for Sarah Palin if she were running,” he said. “She’s down to earth, she knows a lot about government, and she can gut a moose. I think she might be pretty good.”
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