BRILLIANT - Urging voters to look past election rhetoric , U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was back in Jefferson County Sunday morning stumping for a second term in Washington for himself and President Barack Obama.
With the 2012 campaign in its final hours, Brown, accompanied by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, was in Brilliant to talk jobs, the economy and the future to several dozen union workers who ignored the cold temperatures to rally in front of AEP's Cardinal Plant at the intersection of Salt Run Road and Wells Township Road 157.
Brown pointed out that over the last decade America lost 5 million manufacturing jobs.
VISIT PLANT — Several dozen union workers gathered Sunday morning in front of AEP’s Cardinal plant in Brilliant to hear former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, left, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, second from left, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, center, talk about jobs, the economy and the future. Brown, D-Ohio, is seeking a second term in Washington. - Linda Harris
"Sixty-thousand plants closed, a whole lot of them in places like Weirton and Steubenville, Columbiana County, Youngstown and ... Mansfield," he said. "Because of the auto rescue, because of trade enforcement, because of working in Clean Coal Technology, there are 500,000 more manufacturing jobs in this country today than there were two years ago. That's not good enough, there are far too many people who can't find jobs, but we've grown 500,000 jobs and the unemployment rate on this side of the river has gone from over 10.5 percent in 2010 to 7 percent. It's not good enough but we've made good progress and you don't want to go back."
Brown told the workers the election "is about two visions" for America's future.
"What Romney and my opponent want is more tax cuts for the rich and hope it trickles down to the middle class, but it never works that way," he said. "Or you can focus on the middle class and the working families and you grow the economy out from there."
He said the focus should be on "giving breaks to small companies that can create jobs."
Strickland, meanwhile, said special interests "have been lying to the people who live along this river." Rather than sounding a death knell for the coal industry, he said under Obama more coal miners are on the job, more coal is being produced and more is being exported.
Strickland said the "proof is in the pudding."
"The truth is, President Barack Obama has invested $5 billion into Clean Coal Technology research," he said. "If coal is going to have a long future ... it will be the result of him putting resources into the kind of research that can make coal competitive for years to come."
Trumka told the workers America's future lies in the hands of its voters.
"This election matters, politics matters," he said. "This election, more than any other, is going to determine the direction this country goes."
Trumka, a third generation coal miner, said government can't protect worker health and safety by cutting funding to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration or the Mine Safety & Health Administration.
"If there's a war on coal, Mitt Romney started it," Trumka said. "And you're going to end it."