Here in America’s true battleground, where topics to be avoided at formal gatherings include politics, religion and Ohio State and Michigan football, I suspect a presidential election will eventually be decided by our area's pigskin sensibilities.
Recall in 2004 when Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry memorably stayed true — sort of — to his pandering scarlet-colored spiel in … Michigan. After telling a crowd in Bowling Green how much he enjoyed OSU football, a drained Kerry hewed to the same message later that night at an event in Taylor, Mich.
“I just go for Buckeye football,” he said. “That’s where I'm coming from.”
The crowd booed, triggering in Kerry the realization he just might have said the one thing that could have lost him the tradtionally blue state in the '04 election. Kerry awkwardly reversed field and carried Michigan, though of course he lost Ohio and the election to George W. Bush.
Eight years later, this different sort of political football continues. President Obama is leaving nothing to chance in Ohio as he seeks re-election. Beyond making this battleground state a veritable second home, he knows to exploit the Buckeyes' grip on Ohio. Obama recently appeared on a Columbus sports drive-time radio show -- "What do you guys think of coach Meyer?" he asked the hosts -- and put the "I" in "O-H-I-O" during a visit to OSU this week.
Will Obama stay consistent with this message in Michigan? Will he spell out "0-H-I-O" with his staff at a rally in Ann Arbor? Voters will forgive a politician for flip-flopping on economic policy, social issues and pretty much everything else. But foreign policy when it comes to Ohio State and Michigan? No chance.
(Photo from Twitter via @MicahKamrass)
It's your move, Mr. Romney.