By TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
It was definitely a pro-Barack Obama crowd that convened at the southwest Toledo home of Barbara and Eddie Rome Tuesday night to hear the President’s fourth State of the Union Address.
And at the end of the night they were all still onboard.
As the President moved through his themes of green energy, crackdowns on greedy banks, “smart regulations,” and making those who can afford it pay their share of taxes, as well as his more unifying subjects of patriotism and industrial productivity, the reaction of the Obama group in the Rome home were positive.
“He did not leave any stone unturned,” said Ann Smith, 76, of Toledo, a homemaker. “I think he was trying to accomplish unity. I think he’s a sincere guy. That’s why I voted for him. He has a real heart for the people.”
Mrs. Smith was one of about a dozen people who attended the local “Watch Party,” one of about 150 organized by the Obama re-election campaign in Ohio alone, and a claimed 2,500 nationwide.
Some of the people who came to the Romes’ house knew each other before Tuesday night. They were either invited by the local Democratic Party or the Obama re-election campaign, or just found it by checking the Obama re-election Web site to find some way to support Mr. Obama’s re-election bid.
Unlike the Obama speech, the Republican rebuttal of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was met mostly with respectful silence in the Romes’ house. Until the end. "Sit down!" was called out as Mr. Daniels neared the end of his rebuttal.
Mrs. Rome said she agreed to host the party after she attended a meeting of Obama supporters in June.
“I like his issues, I like what he stands for,” said Mrs. Rome, 66, a local federal government employee. She said she feels worried about her economic status and isn’t so sure she’s even a member of the middle-class anymore because her home has declined so far in value that she can’t refinance it.
Parked in the deep sofa in the living room, Mr. Rome, 69, a retired factory technician, cheered frequently when the President made his various assertions.
Others, including Bob and Carol Falke, Phyllis Wallace, Beatrice Gracie, and Vernell Readus, all of Toledo, sat in chairs or at the dining room table.
Downstairs, Carol Brown, Brenda Lewis, and Keith Bernhard of Toledo, and Pat Ball of Maumee, watched the same show, amid Mr. Rome’s collections of sports memorabilia and lighthouse models.
Ms. Brown, 67, a retired city utilities foreman, clapped and said ”yes” when the President said he would “fight obstruction by action.”
And she guessed it was Mitt Romney, a Republican candidate for president, to whom Mr. Obama was referring when he noted, “some said we should let [the auto industry] die.” Mr. Romney wrote a newspaper column in 2008 opposing the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts headlined, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
Ms. Lewis, 48, of Toledo, agreed with the President’s commitment to go after Chinese manufacturers who ‘‘dump’’ products on America.
“We’re getting a lot of products that are substandard, and I don’t think people are aware of that,” Ms. Lewis said.
“It drives down the profits of businesses in this country. She’s hoping to open a discount store, “but not products from China,” she said.
Cheers went up when the screen showed U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) clapping at the reference about leveling the international trade playing field, a favorite Kaptur topic.
There was also local pride when Mr. Obama mentioned Toledo as one of the cities pumping out new cars.
On the subject of energy, the President chided the oil industry and vowed a commitment to green-energy solutions.
“I’m in, I’m in,” said Bob Falke, when the President said the country has subsidized the oil industry for a century. “Is that divisive? No it’s not,” said Mr. Falke, responding to claims he has heard from Republicans that the President is divisive.
Ms. Wallace, 68, liked the President’s emphasis on education. “That’s right,” she said repeatedly when Mr. Obama said “stop teaching to the test,” and went on to propose that students be prohibited from dropping out until they’re age 18.
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