Notes from the Strickland speech:

Before the speech began, the crowd was fired up to the subtle as a trainwreck song choice of “Fortunate Son.”  Then, Strickland and Brown enter to “Won’t Back Down.”

Strickland begins by talking about how there are people who believe what they see apply to Wall Street, applies to everything else in life.  That they start to believe that they can bend reality to their will.

“Congressman Kasich’s Wall Street isn’t winner take all, it’s loser take all.  When Lehman Bros. plunged into the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Kasich continued to live off the fruits of the bankruptcy as those who lost their retirement savings took the rind.”

“Our state pension funds lost hundreds of millions due to Lehman Bros.  Gone to greed.  Lehman Bros. wasn’t the victim of a shady economy, they were the architects.”  Strickland the pivots to how Kasich has been scrubbing his own eight-year history with Lehman.  “Congressman Kasich used to brag about being an investment banker on Wall Street, but he’s since erased it. The Internet never forgets who you are or what you’ve done, neither will the people of Ohio.”

One of the best line Strickland had was: “Going to John Kasich for lessons on good banking is like going to Dick Cheney for lessons on safe hunting.”

John Kasich is Wall Street to the core.  “A man becomes his attentions.”  Strickland mentions how John Kasich has always been about Wall Street values, even before he worked for Lehman Bros.  When Wall Street want Most Favored Nation status with China, John Kasich supported it.  When Wall Street wanted NAFTA approved and expanded, Kasich supported it.  Wall Street and Kasich proposed ending federal trade assistance training program for people who have lost their jobs to imports.

His votes are his values.  “If he wants to sell himself to special interest, that’s his business, but if he wants to sell the State of Ohio to special interest, and that’s our business.”

The speech then pivoted into a comparison of the two candidates framed as:

Wall Street values  v. Ohio “Duck Run” values

This is actually when the speech started to come together as being more than just using Lehman Bros. as a guilty by economic association.  And Strickland talked about how his record as Governor reflected Ohio values as compared to Kasich’s Wall Street first ideology:

Wall Street sees winners and losers.  Ohioans see the common good, neighbors and communities.  In Ohio, we look out for each other.  We value our children.  We now have comprehensive education reform.  The Education Commission of the States called us the most innovated State in the nation. 

Committed to our public schools as we need an outstanding school system for our economy.  We need a strong middle class.  More Ohioans are enrolled in higher education than when Strickland took office.  Targeted investments in energy, logistics, and infrastructure.

Strickland talks about his record of cutting taxes keeping affordable college.  Kasich voted against raising the minimum wage.

This is but a part of an overall campaign communication strategy that is designed to put Kasich on the defensive.  The fact is that as the Strickland campaign website shows, Strickland does have a good record to run on.  However, right now any attempt to talk about that record would fall on deaf ears and be portrayed as just responding on Kasich’s terms of the campaign.  This speech signals that the Strickland campaign is willing to bet that as Ohioans get to know more about Kasich’s record in Congress it will then soften them up to be more receptive to hearing about Strickland’s record as well, too.

Kasich’s campaign will scream bloody murder about the speech, about how unfair it is for Strickland to talk about Kasich’s records, as if there’s some political rule that only challengers can talk about incumbent records this far out to an election.  But the fact of the matter is that since 2007, John Kasich has been running a negative campaign about Ted Strickland while going out of his way to avoid informing Ohioans about his record for good reason.

We’ll see in the next month if the Strickland’s campaign attempt to define Kasich has an effect on the polls.  But I’ve got to think this is wise strategy on their part to soften Kasich up a little bit before you enter the summer months.  It’s probably the only move they really could make right now that had any real chance of working.  They’ll be time to talk about how Strickland’s record has positioned Ohio to recover from this recession better than it was before it.  But it’s better to enter into that discussion on the campaign’s terms while putting the Kasich campaign on the defensive.

In the end, the speech reminded me of one of my most favorable movie moments of all time.

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