Clinton Fans in Akron Celebrate Her Ohio Victory Hillary Clinton's presidential primary victories in Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas came with support from older women, blue collar workers and white men — a group Clinton has been unable to garner much support from in recent weeks. On primary night in Ohio, some of the folks who threw their support behind Clinton explain why.
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Clinton Fans in Akron Celebrate Her Ohio Victory

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Clinton Fans in Akron Celebrate Her Ohio Victory

Clinton Fans in Akron Celebrate Her Ohio Victory

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Hillary Clinton won in Ohio last night after a week of getting tough with her opponent in TV ads and in campaign appearances. And it was a convincing victory. She won the state with women, especially older women, blue-collar voters, and even white men, a group where she's lagged in several recent primaries.

While Barack Obama carried Cuyahoga County where Cleveland is, almost all the rest of the state went for Clinton, including rural areas and blue-collar towns like Canton and Akron.

NPR's Linda Wertheimer was in Akron on primary night talking to some of the working men and women who threw their weight behind Clinton in Ohio.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Clinton's campaign workers were gathered in the backroom of the downtown bar called The Barley House when they heard that news organizations were calling Ohio for their candidate.

(Soundbite of cheers)

Unidentified Man #1: All right.

Unidentified Man #2: Hillary.

Unidentified Group: Hillary. Hillary.

WERTHEIMER: Frank Sklenar, a retired autoworker, was like a lot of older blue-collar workers, happy with the win but a little surprised to find himself part of that celebration.

Mr. FRANK SKLENAR (Resident; Retired Autoworker): Well, I'll tell you what, ever since I've been a little boy, I said I'd never vote for a woman. Never. Now I'm eating my words, because she's a fighter. I think she knows what she's doing. She's been in politics a long time and I think she'll lead us out of this trouble we're in.

WERTHEIMER: Clinton had the help of lots of voters like Sklenar, older, blue-collar men who've seen Ohio's economy sink as manufacturing jobs moved away. She also had the help of women like Ann Heflin(ph), who lives in Firestone Park, a community originally built by the tire company for its rubber workers. Small houses, she says, but very well kept-up.

Ms. ANN HEFLIN (Resident, Firestone Park): You know, I'm 69 years old and I want to see a woman in the White House and clean up the mess, sweep out the dark corners, calm things down.

WERTHEIMER: Heflin also told us she believes Clinton when she says she'll start bringing troops home from Iraq. Heflin's stepson is headed for his second tour of duty there.

Nancy Ulrich(ph) is a retired nurse. Elated by Clinton's victory, she proposed last night that Obama should be vice president. He's not ready to be president, she said, he needs to raise his children first.

Ms. NANCY ULRICH (Retired Nurse): Yes! Then be the president. Hillary's ready to go. You know, my dream is 16 years, eight with Hillary and Obama, and then he can have eight years being the president. And 16 years, they will clean up this country, and be happy to live here.

WERTHEIMER: Earlier in the day, we went down to Mogadore near the Goodyear plant, which is still here. The trademark blimps were made here, Goodyear and Seiberling are the names of streets.

Unidentified Woman: Would you like a cup of coffee?

WERTHEIMER: At the Donut Depot, where they're serving glazed donuts in the shape of shamrocks, we talked issues with early morning coffee drinkers. Larry Barnow(ph), who's a retired rubber worker, brought up the Democrats' tussle over trade and NAFTA.

Mr. LARRY BARNOW (Retired Rubber Worker): You know, they want to blame NAFTA on Hillary, but Hillary was never president. Why would you want to blame her for something she never did? Think about it. And that's the biggest issue that Obama's pushing. And what the people need to do is see through some of the twisted messages that come out.

WERTHEIMER: Larry Pettit(ph) is a mostly retired plumber. He likes Hillary because he says she's older, smarter and more experienced than the young fellow.

Mr. LARRY PETTIT (Retired Plumber): He's dreaming. Because I know - I'm 73 years old and things haven't changed, you know, from president to president.

WERTHEIMER: So you figured that hope is not necessarily a big message for you, hope and change?

Mr. PETTIT: I've learned a long time, well, you don't hope for anything, you go get it. Hope does not bring you a nickel.

WERTHEIMER: Dusty Walker(ph) supported Clinton because she felt Obama was trying to turn Ohio's primary into a popularity contest. For Walker, it's about jobs and the economy. As jobs left and the economy sagged, her job as a property manager was affected.

Ms. DUSTY WALKER (Property Manager): My husband and I both worked for the same company in '06 and we both lost our jobs when the properties were sold. So it's pretty tough when two people on the same household are totally unemployed especially later in life because we were older at the time.

WERTHEIMER: Voters in Summit County, Ohio whose doubts about Obama have given new life to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Linda Wertheimer, NPR News, Akron.

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