Ohioans Take Interest in GOP Convention

David C. Barnett- Cordell Edge has something she wants to show us.

Cordell Edge- This is my latest project...

DCB- She walks down the driveway of her home on a cozy little street in the Glenville neighborhood. She unlocks the gate to the backyard and walks us up to her pride and joy.

CE- I bought the lumber when Forest City went out of business and built it myself...

DCB- She's created a wooden deck in the middle of a garden that she also landscaped herself. The themes of self-sufficiency and working hard run deep in the life of Cordell Edge. She earned the money to put her kids into the Catholic school system and up through college. At the age of 54, she went back to school herself, got a degree in physics and opened her own optical company. And now she's working to elect George W. Bush as the next President of the United States.

CE- I'm excited. This is my first convention. I believe Bush will follow through. I like his record in Texas and his stands on tax reduction, less government, and the schools.

DCB- Edge is a member of an African-American political group from the 11th Congressional District called the Frontier Republicans. She loves politics and was a longtime Democrat, but then she had a changed of heart.

CE- I was a Democrat from the time I was very young in the 1960s. It was the time of the civil rights movement and I was very optimistic about change. But, by 1996, I felt that the goals weren't accomplished, so I switched parties.

DCB- Ohio Republican Chair Robert Bennett says he'd like to have more people with Cordell Edge's enthusiasm. He realizes that the political convention process has gotten a little predictable in recent years, with candidates decided on ahead of time. There's not as much drama as in days of old.

Robert Bennett- I remember when I was a kid and used to watch these conventions on TV and they were so interesting. But by the 1970s, we had increases in the influence of caucuses and primaries. The candidates are chosen out on the grassroots level. So the convention now is less exciting - more of a staged event.

DCB- The major television networks have indicated that they aren't excited about such staged events either. The old days of gavel-to-gavel coverage are long gone, except on specialized cable networks such as C-SPAN. More and more that message is a hard sell, due to a major increase in voter apathy - especially among young voters.

RB- I think we as a party have contributed to that, because we have been so contentious. We've let the extreme voices take over the debate. And that turns people off. Also, there's no anger in the electorate. The economy is relatively good. And you've got to realize that the right to vote includes the right not to vote.

Jeremy Galen- It does bother me when I see young people actively apathetic.

DCB- As a young person enthusiastic about politics, Jeremy Galen realizes that he's in the minority. A 17-year-old high school senior, Galen has is traveling with the Ohio College Republicans to the Philadelphia convention.

JG- My largest complaint about Clinton is the same as a lot of young people - the dishonesty and lack of integrity. But overall, I have no complaints about the country right now. I'm benefiting from the good economy. Politically, there isn't that much difference between the two parties, so that's my main complaint.

DCB- If the outcome of the conventions is already known, one might wonder why even stage them? State GOP Chair Robert Bennett says these party gatherings still have a useful function.

RB- Because it gets everyone together. Gives them a chance to meet the candidate and agree on the message. And then take that message out across the country.

DCB- And starting tonight, Clevelanders like Cordell Edge and Jeremy Galen will be sitting in a Philadelphia convention hall, taking notes on the campaign that they'll bring back home. In Cleveland, I'm David C. Barnett, 90.3 WCPN, 90.3 FM.

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