LISBON - With 80 days until the presidential election, area Democrats pushed for more support for the president's re-election campaign Thursday at the new Obama-Biden field office on state Route 45.
Campaign workers previously did volunteer work out of the Democratic headquarters downtown, or each others' homes, but the field office is now their local hub.
Janice Rogers of Columbiana helped open the field office and said it has been needed in the area. She explained the office provides a place for volunteers to organize campaign efforts specifically for the presidential election.
Other field offices in the surrounding area are located in Youngstown, Warren, Niles and Boardman. It is the 56th field office in the state. A 57th office also opened Thursday evening in another part of the state, state campaign director Greg Schultz said.
Schultz was the featured speaker for the grand opening event and stressed the importance of local campaigns and the difference Ohio can make in the presidential election.
"This election matters more than any other area," he said, noting that winning the presidency is difficult without winning Ohio.
Like other volunteers there, Schultz stressed the importance of health insurance and supporting the middle class, as well as women's rights.
He said that after his mother was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer she worried about the coverage she wasn't sure she would receive.
He received two phone calls immediately after Obamacare was approved, he said. The first was from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. The second was from his mother, a retired teacher worried about lifetime caps.
"She said, 'Does this mean I don't have to worry about lifetime caps anymore?'" he said.
Schultz told volunteers that working on the campaign could literally save someone's life, since insurance under Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wouldn't be the same.
Jeff Martin, of East Liverpool, and his wife Nancy were also at the event, and said they are worried about whether he will have insurance coverage after his retirement.
Jeff Martin has spent the last 30 years working for ATI, formerly Crucible Steel, in Midland, Pa., and is scheduled to retire in one year.
"My biggest fear is will my insurance be there through retirement?" he said.
Nancy Martin struggled to keep her composure and teared up slightly while addressing the crowd of their fears.
"We are worried rising health care costs will ruin our (retirement) plans," she said. "The middle class needs this president. Our president needs all the help we can give him."
Supporting the middle class was also a theme of Schultz' speech. He said the president's approach is expanding the middle class while his opponent's is the trickle-down effect, beginning at the top.
Rogers said Obama understands what "common, ordinary people need. We need a president that has heart. I really believe he has heart."
Lisbon resident and Baldwin Wallace University sophomore Bruce Stacey said he was motivated to volunteer on the campaign because of student loans.
"I was concerned about increased interest rates. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders" when the student loan bill was passed, he said.
It is Stacey's first time working on a campaign and he said local response has been "surprising."
"I've heard a lot of negative about Obama but in canvassing I talked to people and was able to change some people's minds," he said.
He added that people shouldn't "go off what they hear" regarding a candidate, but research and learn the truth.
Calcutta resident and Beaver Local High School graduate Emily Householder said the state "can't let Romney win" and encouraged people to join the campaign and "change minds."
She is the field director for Columbiana County.