Though a "little thing like the budget" awaited the return of Gov. Ted Strickland to Columbus,
he took time to join the candidates’ debate at Monday’s American Legion Buckeye Boys State and field
questions from the media.
Before the debate opened, the governor spoke briefly to all the delegates about their right and
responsibility to vote.
"This is a right you should treasure because no one else has that right. I do not have it – and I’m
the governor. You have that right because you are part of this Boys State gathering."
He then sat in the audience with the BBS band and listened to the candidates for the top seven state
offices, from both the Nationalist and Federalist parties, answer questions on such issues as Ohio’s
economy, the death penalty, education, same-sex marriage, youth crime and apathy in voting, plus the
"I’m glad none of these young men are old enough to run for governor of the great state of
Ohio," Strickland said as he retook the stage. "I can say to them, when I was their age, your
age, I could not have done what these young men have done today. I did not have the confidence or
courage they have displayed as they stood before you and expressed their views about Boys State and the
state of Ohio."
He shared how the issues with which the candidates grappled are the same ones dealt with in Columbus, as
well as nationally and locally.
Afterwards, outside of Anderson Arena with members of the media, he was asked about the event. "They
were tough questions. I felt like these young people handled them with grace. This is a great program
here, Buckeye Boys State. It does give them the opportunity to gain the kind of experience, and become
more engaged, with the processes fundamental to our democracy."
Asked if he would put into practice any of the suggestions offered by the candidates, Strickland
described them as "charming."
"It should take two things to get elected to public office: good ideas (with) passion, interpersonal
skills that enable people to vote for you. As you watch these young people, some seem fairly natural to
appeal to the crowd."
Strickland was asked why he chuckled during the debate when the two candidates for attorney general
answered their question whether Ohio should make same-sex marriages legal. He described them as
"clever responses" to a controversial question.
The governor recalled one teen said it wasn’t his decision to make, but that of the delegates. His
opposing candidate (Tyler Carson of rural Bowling Green) "very explicitly told his position. That’s
the way it is in public office. You continually confront questions and think on your feet; answer
truthfully, but not give your opponent a sound-bite to use in a 30-second commercial."
Asked what kind of world the delegates will face as adults, Strickland answered, "It all depends on
what we do in the near-term. The decisions we make in this recession determine the future Ohio has.
"One of Ohio’s major problems is that we have had years and years and years of political leadership
with no vision for the future. We are facing hundreds of million of dollars of deferred maintenance at
our parks," which he noted were neglected even when the economy was better. "If you have
leadership without long-range plans, you end up with the circumstances we have today.
… With education I’m trying to lay out a long-term vision to make sure Ohio benefits from our kids. …
I want innovation. I want experimentation."
As to whether universal health care would benefit Ohio, Strickland said it would help the state "a
great deal." He explained the cost to the state is huge, second only to its spending on education.
He does not support the current effort to get an expansion of gambling in Ohio on the November ballot
because it writes it into the state’s constitution. The current wording gives permission to some
communities to have casinos and eliminates others.