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Government & Politics

Trump and Biden Battle for Voters Through Their Approaches to Ohio's Economy

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at the first presidential debate Sept. 29 in Cleveland.
President Donald Trump (left) and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (right) participate in the first presidential debate Sept. 29 in Cleveland. Both are trying to reach and win over voters in Ohio this election cycle with their differing views on the economy.

Polls are showing a very tight race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio, and both campaigns see the economy as an important issue with voters. The presidential candidates are taking different approaches in discussing the economy in Ohio.

Rebecca Sommer is the owner of Sommer House Gallery in Grove City, a suburb in central Ohio, where she's been custom framing pictures for 30 years. From nailing to mounting, Sommer meticulously goes through every step of the process, even using an air compressor for the finishing touches.

"And we're blowing all the lint out from in between the artwork and inside the glass," Sommer said.

Rebecca and her business partner Thomas Chanine are worried about recovery of their business after a statewide business shutdown. If people are worried about going into the shop, it doesn’t bode well for business. And this is just one reason they are backing Joe Biden for President.

Thomas says he’s the best choice for the economy because he'll take a holistic approach, with a plan that focuses not just on businesses but on public health and social services as well.

"If we are not healthy, we are not productive," Thomas said. "And if we're not productive, we are not getting an income from our work. And if we're not getting an income, we are unable to consume any products, meaning we can't stimulate our economy."

It's not a view shared by Mike Kovach, owner of City Machine Technologies in Northeast Ohio, which provides repair services to large industrial companies. Despite being from the Mahoning Valley, a region with a long history of voting Democrats, Donald Trump’s populism message appealed to business owners and workers, flipping several counties in the Northeast Ohio area in 2016. Kovach says Trump is the businessman Ohio needs.

"He gets things done," Kovach said. "And he's making a difference, and he's made a difference in our business. We had we really turned around in the first three years of his administration."

Trump's campaign has touted the first three years of his term as a booming economy with increasing wages, a spike in stock markets, and an unemployment rate that hit a 50-year low. Chris Walker, the Trump Victory campaign's regional communications director, says the president accomplished this by cutting taxes, creating a deregulatory environment, and connecting with everyday people.

"This is a president who has a true relationship with the voters and the people," Walker said. "Again, he came in from the outside because voters have been fed up with decades of a Washington establishment."

But critics argue Trump inherited a thriving economy from the Obama/Biden administration and say the 2020 economy is a different story. Biden supporters say the economy tanked because Trump played down the severity of COVID-19 and failed to deliver a unified nationwide strategy. Aside from the coronavirus, Democratic U.S. Senator from Ohio Sherrod Brown says Trump spent his years in office placating to large corporations. Brown says those tax cuts benefited the wealthy, leaving the labor force that helped him get elected in Ohio, behind.

"Workers have seen Trump break his promises towards workers, betraying them with this phony populism," Brown said. "And I think Election Day is going to show a lot of people who voted for Trump have been unhappy with this, with how he's governed and always siding with corporate interests over workers."

Biden supporters Sommer and Chahine and Trump supporter Mike Kovach all say the economy will play a pivotal role in the election, claiming whoever is in the White House next year will set the tone for the country as it attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession left in its wake.