Wearing both a shirt and leather jacket resembling the American flag was Gary Glatz, a 62-year-old small businessman. Among his companies has been one to help older workers train on computers. “I’m not seeing the jobs this country needs,” Glatz said. “I’ve been at big companies like IBM, I walked high steel on the 60th story of the Sears tower in the summer when I was young. I’ve seen business from every angle and we need someone like Romney to get us going again.”
Richard Anderson, 68, an evangelical minister from Plymouth says his son, who has spent nearly 20 years in the military has told him, “There is not a clear sense of leadership at the helm. My son says he wants to know why he’s being shipped to wherever. That knowledge is lacking.”
Obama won Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in 2008. But with Wisconsin Republican congressman Paul Ryan running for vice president, Real Clear Politics average of the most recent state polls has Obama up by a mere four percentage points. Romney was as close as two points in mid-October.
On Saturday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in the recall announced to a loud cheer that early voting broke 2008’s record. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 36,578 ballots were returned, compared to 31,200 four years ago. Statewide, the Obama campaign claims of the 361,736 early ballots being cast, nearly three-fourths were cast in counties won by Obama in 2008.
Barrett roared that the total was achieved even though Republicans in the state curtailed the period from three weeks to 10 days. “They tried to stop us and they failed!” Barrett shouted.
After the Milwaukee event, Tim Storm and Kathleen Braatz Storm of Beloit said they believed the Romney campaign hurt its appeal in these final days in the Midwest by wrongly stating in an ad that Chrysler was sending American jobs to China. Despite the fact that Tim was a highly successful entrepreneur as the founder and former CEO of the Internet bargain shopping site FatWallet, and despite the fact that Kathleen trumpeted small business as the former executive director of the Downtown Beloit Association, they both said that Romney’s pro-business plans were far too short-sighted.
“There’s no question Romney’s policies and low taxes would be better for me personally,” Tim Storm said. “But do you vote personally or for the country? There are so many things that need to be funded. We’re voting for the country.”
Kathleen added, “When I look at downtowns, and the mom and pop businesses, preserving them and the general vitality of downtown activity takes many public-private partnerships. Constant public cuts makes the job really hard.”
Saying they were feeling the threat of cuts were Green Bay area public schoolteachers Jamie and Allison Averbeck. They are one of the families I’ve been in touch with along Morris Avenue, a political swing street a couple blocks from Lambeau Field. The front of their house has a life-sized “farmer” statue in a Green Bay Packer football jersey with a banner saying, “Obama then! Obama now!”
“I’m worried,” said Allison, 36. “A lot of the wind was taken out of our sails when Walker won again. I know I didn’t make as many phone calls for Obama as I did for the recall My mother (a retired teacher) is making lots of calls for Obama but says she feels bad because she knows people are tired of the calls.”
Up the street, the Nikolai family, whom I first met in 2007, were split. Ron, 42, a salesman for a trucking parts supplier, is voting for Romney, while wife Kelly, 43, a dairy company customer service representative, is voting for Obama. Holding a pregame tailgate party in the driveway, Ron said, “I think Obama will get walked on. People voted for his change but it didn’t happen. I actually think he’ll win Wisconsin pretty good. I really didn’t like the vice presidential debate where (Vice President Joe) Biden was so smug. A lot of people didn’t like that.”
Kelly disagreed, saying Obama “needs more time. He has to have more than four years after inheriting such a mess.”
In Wisconsin, the acrimony left over from the Walker recall attempt, persistent intimations that Obama is not a real American, plus turnout for a hotly contested US Senate race between former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson and Democrat US Representative Tammy Baldwin are wild cards. On the freeway from Milwaukee to Green Bay a huge billboard looms over a cornfield, saying, “We the people built this country, don’t let Obama destroy it.” Continued...