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Biden’s schedule should have included Salem’s mayor

May 19, 2012
Morning Journal News

Wednesday's visit to Salem by Vice President Joe Biden helped draw Columbiana County into the national spotlight and we're grateful for that, but we can't help but feel that the campaign's snub of Salem Mayor John Berlin was deliberate and showed partisan politics at its worst.

Biden, a Democrat, swung through our county after a campaign stop at the M7 Technologies plant in Youngstown. He stopped at Salem's fire station to pay tribute to firefighters because Biden credits firefighters with saving the lives of himself and family members during at least three life-threatening situations.

Biden's visit was made to the fire station only, and the visit was arranged by the International Association of Firefighters, which reportedly limited those allowed in the station to Local 283 Firefighters.

Mayor Berlin, who is a Republican, took the high road when he was told he could not meet with the VP, and gave a gold city lapel pin and a business card to a Secret Service agent to be presented to Biden.

"He's the second-most powerful man in the world," Berlin said. "We may differ on the issues but this is our government in action. In our world you have to put these things aside when he comes to your town."

We wish whoever was involved in scheduling the fire station visit would have felt the same.

We understand that his reason for visiting the fire station was to laud those involved in the occupation that has meant so much to him. We also understand that the Secret Service also strictly limits who can be near the VP. We also know that Biden's time was limited. But has our politics become so divisive that Biden could not even meet with the mayor of the town he was visiting, whose town he was disrupting for the day, so Berlin could officially welcome the VP to Salem? We doubt the same thing would have happened if Salem's mayor was a Democrat.

Taking five seconds to acknowledge and shake hands with the mayor and accept his gifts should have fit into Biden's tight schedule and would not have threatened security. This simple gesture would have meant a lot.



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