Three Meals in Ohio: Voters sound off on socialism, the economy and health care

Ohioans anticipate battleground primary
Ohioans anticipate battleground primary 06:11

Our series Three Meals reveals what is on voters' minds across the country. In this installment, CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz visited one small town, one suburb and one city in Ohio to talk with voters over breakfast, lunch and dinner.


In the battleground state of Ohio, voters' opinions on the issues driving the 2020 presidential election vary widely. CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz traveled across the state to share three meals with Ohioans, discussing socialism, the economy and health care along the way.

Breakfast: West Union, Ohio

On the edge of Appalachia, Diaz got breakfast at Mikey's Family Restaurant in West Union, Ohio. The small town is in one of the poorest counties in Ohio, where unemployment is 6.6 percent — compared to the national rate of 3.6 percent.
 
Retired business owner Kenny Moles has been voting Republican since Richard Nixon.

"I'm thinking the Democrats don't have a chance," he told Diaz.

"We're capitalists. They're socialists. And this is not a socialist country."

Across the room, Diaz spoke to cousins Dennis and Terry Grooms, who say they were lifelong Democrats until they voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

"The more we followed him, the more we liked what we heard… he has delivered on his promises," Dennis Grooms said.

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Dennis Grooms at Mikey's Family Restaurant in West Union, Ohio. CBS News

Terry Grooms, a recovering opioid addict, said his life is better under the Trump administration. He said before Trump took office he had to be on food stamps, but after Trump he was able to get a job.

Lunch: Centerville, Ohio

Diaz then got lunch in Centerville, Ohio, a more populated city with a fitting name. The Dayton suburb is politically in the center. In 2008 and 2012, voters in Centerville leaned ever so slightly for Obama — but in 2016, President Trump won by .7 percent.
 
At the Famous Restaurant, things still appear to be split down the middle. Small business owner Debbie Miller credits President Trump for a strong economy.
 
"You've got to admit, the jobs have come back," she said.

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Debbie Miller and Samantha Dains at the Famous Restaurant in Centerville, Ohio. CBS News

But her niece, Samantha Dains, who also voted for President Trump, no longer thinks he's fit to be president.
 
"It doesn't even matter about the economy. I feel like he's gonna put us in a world war," Dains said.
  
Entrepreneur Dave Paprocki also said the economy shouldn't be the only metric of success. 
 
"There are still other issues that need to be solved. And the important thing is that we have someone … reaching across the aisle and thinking about, like, how are we actually gonna get there?" he said.

Dinner: Columbus, Ohio

The county that contains the state's capital and most populous city has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee since 1996. Columbus is known as "America's test city" because its demographic makeup makes it ideal for companies to test out new products.

The happy hour crowd at Bakersfield Short North in Columbus were more critical of the country's current state of affairs.

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Medic Isaiah Taylor at Bakersfield Short North in Columbus.  CBS News

Medic Isaiah Taylor told Diaz he hasn't seen the economic benefits of the Trump administration.
 
"All I've seen is just, you know, bills get higher — taxes get raised a little bit more, and that's more money out of my pocket," he said.
 
His dinner mate Renee Holton, a college graduate with a masters degree, is looking for a candidate with plans to tackle student debt.
 
"I have debt that I don't — I mean, I make my payments, but it's just, the interest rates are so high on it," she said.
 
At the same restaurant, a group of co-workers were talking about healthcare bills before Diaz even approached.
 
Sara Matre said she and her coworker Jackie Lloyd both have "strong, corporate jobs," but medical bills still concern them.
 
Without health insurance, Lloyd said a minor medical event would have bankrupted her.
 
"I think it was just very eye opening for me to see what a minor medical event can cost you if you don't have insurance," she said. 
 
"I spent several thousand dollars out of pocket with great health insurance. So it was kind of — it was a scary wake-up call."

As for socialism, Lloyd had this to say, "I don't want socialism either. I don't want socialism or, god forbid, communism. But I also don't want fascism. Which is what I think we are tiptoeing ever closer to. I want more affordable healthcare. I want someone that I respect as my president. I want someone who can get things done., but I just don't know which candidate that is for me yet."