Speaking Tuesday afternoon to a friendly audience in a familiar union hall location, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland talked about his big race to unseat first-term Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Mr. Strickland, who lost a narrow election to John Kasich in 2010, said electing Republicans this fall, especially a GOP president, would “put everything we care about at risk.” What the former congressman who represented a district [OH-6] that ran from northeast Ohio to southeast Ohio cares about is keeping a Democrat in the White House, gaining control again of the U.S. Senate and installing a progressive judge on the Supreme Court.

Two other programs Strickland cares about deeply are maintaining Social Security and Medicare in their currents forms. He called Social Security the greatest program ever in the history of the world. What he said he would not do, which Sen. Portman said he will do, is turn them into voucher programs that would make it harder for retiring seniors to afford.

As part of his “Ohio Families First” program that ensures retirement security, Ohio’s former governor from 2006-2010, said he would launch a designated advocacy program specifically for senior issues. “This program will help seniors and their families secure the benefits they’ve earned, report fraudulent activity, and address any negative consequences they may have experienced,” he said in prepared remarks.

“For Ohioans who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, working a job that doesn’t pay a fair wage, or facing crippling student debt, saving for retirement can seem like a fantasy — and that’s one of the reasons why our middle class is feeling squeezed,” Strickland said.

Given that his talk today was before the Alliance for Retired Americans Convention, held at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall near The Ohio State University, Strickland reminded his audience of the “dark days” that followed Gov. Kasich’s push to pass Senate Bill 5, which would have aimed to gut public union workers’ collective bargaining rights. But the 1.3 million signatures Strickland pointed to on petitions to overturn the bill through a statewide referendum proved to be successful.

Mr. Strickland, who at age 74 looked fit and healthy, took time to recall that the history of labor, a part of history young voters have little to no knowledge of, was born of from blood shed to help coal miners and steel workers organize while also outlawing child labor.

In his criticism of Sen. Portman, who was elected in 2010 after stints as budget director then trade representative for President George W. Bush and who Strickland called China’s best friend, he said senator’s like Portman “with baby-butt soft hands” have little clue of the plight of working men and women since they’ve never done that kind of hard work in their lives. Strickland contrasted Portman’s easy life with the hardscrabble lives of his family, many of who have been working with concrete all their lives.

Adding to Strickland’s bashing of Portman today, the Ohio Democratic Party provided link after link on Portman’s record for good measure.

Strickland On Video

Mr. Strickland followed his presentation by answering questions on Social Security, voter enthusiasm among Democrats in the General Election, who will becoming to campaign with him, whether Sen. Portman contributed to John Kasich’s so-called “Ohio Miracle” and a new report showing that more than 190,000 Ohioans are living on $2 a day with 800,000 living in deep poverty.