While President Barack Obama was in Ohio for the ninth time Wednesday, Washington County voters are hoping both the Democrat and Republican candidates for president will soon put in an appearance in the southeastern part of the state.
"Historically, we have had a presidential or vice presidential candidate here," said Leslie Haas, chair of the Washington County Republican Party's Executive Committee. "(A visit from Mitt Romney) has been requested and I fully expect to see someone before the election."
In fact, Romney's campaign confirmed Wednesday that his bus tour will be making a stop in Ohio next week, to include southeast Ohio. More specific information is not yet available.
The Associated Press
President Barack Obama greets supporters at a campaign event at the John S. Knight Center, Wednesday, in Akron. The president also spoke in Mansfield earlier in the day.
There was no word on whether the president planned to include southeast Ohio in his campaign tour but an Obama campaign official in Ohio who declined to be identified didn't rule out the possibility.
"The president knows that every part of Ohio is important-all 88 counties- whether it is an urban center, rural area or small town," she said. "But what's clear is that the president understands the needs of rural and Appalachian Ohio."
Joan Dearth, 73, of Devola, said she would definitely like to see the president come to the area, especially to discuss jobs and the economy.
"He has already been to so many other locations in Ohio...I think southeast Ohio would be a draw from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky," she said. "For him to visit would indicate that we are not forgotten."
Visits to the Mid-Ohio Valley in the recent past have included former president George W. Bush, who made two stops in Wood County in 2004; Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards in 2004; Bill Clinton campaigning for wife Hillary in 2008; Hillary Clinton, who made a stop in Belpre in 2008; vice president Joe Biden in 2008, as part of his first election campaign on the Obama-Biden ticket; and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who stopped in Marietta twice in 2008.
Palin's first visit to Marietta, though brief, included a stop at L.E. Huck and Sons market on Ohio 60.
"It was probably no more than 15 minutes but we didn't know they were coming. It was kind of overwhelming," said Huck's owner Mike Huck, 58.
Overwhelming, maybe, but Huck admitted the visit was good for his business.
"There were a lot of people here then and afterwards who wanted to be where Sarah Palin had been," he said.
Huck, a Washington County voter, didn't divulge which candidate he favors but said he would appreciate a visit from either politician.
"I think it would be nice. They always seem to leave southeast Ohio out or don't get here quite as much," he said.
Obama was visiting Mansfield and Akron on Wednesday while Romney's Ohio stops have included Troy, near Dayton, and Newark, near Columbus.
Molly Varner, chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, said she hasn't heard if the president's recurring stops in Ohio will eventually include this area.
"I want everyone to come here-the president, I want Joe Biden to come again, Sherrod Brown -I even want Republicans to come, to see what kind of personal impression (the candidates) have on people," she said.
Ohio, typically a Republican state, helped to put Obama in the White House in 2008. Analysts are again keeping an eye on Ohio, often referred to as a swing state.
"There is the perception that southeast Ohio gets forgotten a lot in Columbus and in Washington D.C.," said Haas. "But our electorate is a good representation of voters across the country."
Haas added that Ohio and specifically southeast Ohio are often pivotal in national political races. In 2008, Washington County backed John McCain for president, despite Obama defeating McCain statewide.
In a random telephone poll conducted July 24-30 by Quinnipiac University, the president currently leads his GOP challenger by a margin of 50 to 44 percent in Ohio.
The Associated Press contributed.