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Ask Ohio

Candidates who win this state have won the presidency in every election since 1964, but with Election Day around the corner, Scott Pelley finds a state divided

The following is a script from “Ask Ohio” which aired on Oct. 23, 2016. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Henry Schuster, producer.

In these final two weeks, Hillary Clinton is leading in most of the states that will decide the presidential election but in the one state that nearly always gets it right she is in a dead-heat with Donald Trump. We decided to ask Ohio what it thought because Ohio has picked the winner in every election since 1964. And no Republican has ever won without Ohio. All of the issues converge on the Buckeye State, especially foreign trade which is undermining industry. Among the steel mills, suburbs and inner city of Cleveland, we found a political identity crisis as the state that nearly always predicts the president becomes unpredictable.

A job at the mill was a birthright, in Lorain, Ohio, for 121 years. In 1895, the spark of the American century ignited the blast furnace. And the plant, two miles long, forged the rails, the drilling pipe, the weapons and the wonders of the 20th century.

Carlos Hernandez: Oh, my it was wonderful, we were making steel. We were making money.

Making steel was all Carlos Hernandez knew for 28 years. But seven months ago he, and 542 others, punched the clock for the last time as cheap Chinese steel helped silence the furnace in a new century that he fears may not be America’s.

Carlos Hernandez: It was just a funeral procession coming out to the gate knowing that you’re never was coming back. You know, we sacrificed time with our families to try to make this company succeed, you know. And, this is what it’s come to. Just a ghost town. Just a rusted, empty, meaningless place right now

The “meaning” of this election is chewed over at George’s family restaurant where the roof, there, beyond the sign, hyphenates the name of the place into “U-Rant” and do they ever.

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Carlos and Aury Hernandez

CBS News

Aury Hernandez: Trump…I don’t trust him. You imagine if he’s the president of the United States? What he’s gonna do behind closed doors with women, with his secretaries, or his, you know?

Carlos Hernandez: You mean like Bill Clinton did?

Aury Hernandez: It’s done and over with. Why you keep bringing it up?

Carlos, for Trump, and Aury, for Clinton, have been married 36 years. They’re hoping for 37.

Scott Pelley: I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you two sat down together to watch the first debate.

Carlos Hernandez: Oh, we couldn’t sat together.

Aury Hernandez: No he sits in his bedroom--I sit in front of the TV.

Carlos Hernandez: And then we come back and forth and argue-- argue.

Aury Hernandez: I go over there--

Scott Pelley: You couldn’t watch the debate together?

Aury Hernandez: No.

Carlos Hernandez: No.

Aury Hernandez: No.

Carlos and Aury are raising two grandchildren. He’s on unemployment but they’re going broke slowly on her fast food salary.

Carlos: It just shows how we’re losing our jobs. How are things are moving away. You know, everybody’s saying about how illegal aliens are coming in and-- and-- and taking our jobs and stuff like that. Well, the jobs are moving. They don’t need to come here anymore; jobs are going to them.

Scott Pelley: And so when you hear Donald Trump saying the same thing about jobs, what do you think?

Carlos Hernandez:That’s what resonates with me, what he has to say. 

But it doesn’t with Aury.

Aury Hernandez: Uh-uh. No.

Scott Pelley: Why not?

Aury Hernandez: I don’t trust him.

Scott Pelley: He’s talking about bringing the steel industry back, bringing the coal industry back.

Aury Hernandez: Hillary can do that. We can do that.

Scott Pelley: Stop those jobs from going to Mexico.

Aury Hernandez: That’s what he says. I just don’t trust him; I don’t like him. And I don’t believe in him at all.

Scott Pelley: When you hear Donald Trump say those things that he said on that videotape about women, how do you get past that? How can you get past that?

Carlos Hernandez: It’s awful what he said, but I come from a steel industry. We all say things that we wouldn’t be proud of saying in front of other people but he didn’t say it to a-- he-- he was talking with another guy. It was words, it wasn’t action.

Scott Pelley: Aury, do you feel the same way?

Aury Hernandez: No, I do not. Trump is a liar, number one. Number two, he’s constantly on Hillary about Bill Clinton. And Bill Clinton is not running for president. Another thing that we’re past and we should just forget about it is the whole email thing. It’s done and over. She apologized, it’s done. Just move on.

Carlos Hernandez: Yeah, but that …

Aury Hernandez: I let you talk.

Scott Pelley: But the text of the speeches that she gave to Wall Street high rollers. And she said, “Well, you know, in this world you have to have a public position and you have to have a private position.”  That feeds in to that sense that many people have that she’s not trustworthy.

Aury Hernandez:  I believe in her, I do. Compared to him, that he’s so-- such a pig, ‘cause to me he’s a pig.

This is Ohio in a Buckeye shell, the most even split in any state – people divided in their marriages and even within themselves.

Scott Pelley: You are as Republican as they come.

Cyndra Cole: I am.

Scott Pelley: Social conservative. Very religious. You are not with Donald Trump.

Cyndra Cole: I am not.

There’s none of the rust in white clapboard Portage County.

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Cyndra Cole

CBS News

Cyndra Cole, mother of four with one on the way, has managed Republican campaigns.

Scott Pelley: You’re sitting in this interview rooting for your party’s nominee to lose.

Cyndra Cole: Is that bad? Is it’s bad, right?

Scott Pelley: You tell me.

Cyndra Cole: Yeah. 

Even the lawn is divided where her neighbors have made their stand.

Cyndra Cole: The very first time that I very sincerely said, “I will not vote for that man,” was when he mocked the reporter with special needs.

“I think that the Republican Party can survive a Donald Trump candidacy. I have a really hard time believing that the Republican Party can withstand a Donald Trump presidency.” Cyndra Cole

Cyndra Cole: I had a really hard time with that, because as the mother of a child with special needs I know how hard we work every day for her to do things that others take for granted. And for somebody to trample on that I just think that’s inexcusable.

Scott Pelley: And it says what about character?

Cyndra Cole: A lot.

Scott Pelley: In your view, is Donald Trump doing lasting damage to the Republican Party?

Cyndra Cole: I think that the Republican Party can survive a Donald Trump candidacy. I have a really hard time believing that the Republican Party can withstand a Donald Trump presidency.

Scott Pelley: You might vote for Hillary Clinton.

Cyndra Cole: I may

Scott Pelley: Are you voting for Hillary Clinton or against Donald Trump?

Cyndra Cole: You see, that’s where I have a really big problem with this election. I don’t want to be voting against somebody I want to vote for somebody. I want them to tell me; I want Hillary Clinton to tell me what she’s going to do for my daughters. Not just because she’s the first female president of the United States, but because she cares about women in a way that men can’t understand.

Scott Pelley: But you’re listening.

Cyndra Cole:  I’m listening. I’m trying. I’m really trying.

Scott Pelley: You’re trying to get to the place where you can vote for the Democratic candidate?

Cyndra Cole: Yes.

Scott Pelley: And you can’t believe you’re saying that to me.

Cyndra Cole: I cannot believe that I’m saying that.

At Parkside Church, Cyndra Cole and her family run into Republican orthodoxy. Tommie Jo Marsilio was once a county commissioner.

Tommie Jo Marsilio: I trust Donald Trump. I trust him to protect this nation and keep my family safe. And I trust that he will not engage in behaviors that are concerning to me.

Scott Pelley: You have a daughter who’s 15.

Tommie Jo Marsilio: I do.

“I trust Donald Trump. I trust him to protect this nation and keep my family safe. And I trust that he will not engage in behaviors that are concerning to me.” Tommie Jo Marsilio

Scott Pelley: What do you tell her when she hears these things that Donald Trump has said about women?

Tommie Jo Marsilio: Actually, before I had an opportunity to tell her anything, she gave me her opinion which I thought was astute. And she said, “You know, sometimes guys say things that are stupid. And I think that’s an example.” She says, “Mom, don’t you think everybody makes mistakes?” And I said, “Yes. I do.”

Scott Pelley: Why is Hilary Clinton not a more attractive candidate to you?

Tommie Jo Marsilio: I don’t trust her.

Scott Pelley: What has she done that leads you to find her untrustworthy?

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Tommie Jo Marsilio

CBS News

Tommie Jo Marsilio: I think the better question is what has she done to make me trust her? And the answer’s probably nothing. The emails are a problem. And I hate to be so bold about it. But it seems like there’s one cover-up after another. Certainly Benghazi was mishandled so, mishandling a situation to start with is bad enough but when you have a sustained pattern of behavior over a period of years, I just don’t trust anything she says. I don’t believe she’ll keep my family safe.

[Voice: Let us go to the house of the Lord, I will bless the Lord.]

For Clinton to have more than a prayer in Ohio, she needs enthusiasm among African Americans.

Scott Pelley: And you think African Americans in Ohio are gonna go to the polls in the numbers they did for President Obama?

Jawanza Colvin: That’s our job is to make sure that they do.

Pastor Jawanza Colvin spreads the gospel of the ballot around his Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. Hillary Clinton spoke here. Donald Trump was not invited.

Scott Pelley: But isn’t this exactly what Donald Trump is arguing, that the Democrats have let your community down, so why not make a change, take a chance?

Jawanza Colvin: Well, I think the question is, what’s the alternative? I have not heard anything from Mr. Trump, and have not heard anything in terms of his rhetoric that offers anything of promise. Just even the language that he used, “The African Americans,” just the language itself, to me evokes a notion of distance, and disconnect.

Colvin worked the neighborhoods to get out the vote. Lisa Tolbert said, “Count on me.”

Scott Pelley: Do you feel a difference in your enthusiasm in this election as opposed to the last one and the one before that, when Barack Obama was running?

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Lisa Tolbert

CBS News

Lisa Tolbert: That was a historic election. That was, you know, you finally had a good candidate. And he happened to be black. So that gave it an extra excitement. This is a necessity.

Scott Pelley: There was nobody who was gonna keep you outta the polls--

Lisa Tolbert: Right. This is a necessity.

Scott Pelley: Are you enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton? Or are you just voting against Donald Trump?

Lisa Tolbert: I don’t know if I’m very enthusiastic about her. I do think she’s qualified. Looking at her resume, she is qualified.

Scott Pelley: But you’d really like to have another option.

“I don’t know if I’m very enthusiastic about [Clinton]. I do think she’s qualified. Looking at her resume, she is qualified.” Lisa Tolbert

Lisa Tolbert: If there was another option. And I believe she could do the job.

Scott Pelley: When African Americans vote in large numbers in Ohio, Ohio votes Democratic. And when they don’t come to the polls, Ohio votes Republican. What’s gonna happen?

Lisa Tolbert: I’m gonna pray that they come to the polls. I’m gonna--

Scott Pelley: But you’re not feeling that groundswell.

Lisa Tolbert: I’m not hearing it.

Greg Sedar: I think it’s kind of voting this time we’re gonna have to pick one or the other and it’s kind of like picking a seat on the Titanic. I’d rather have other choices.

These men and Lisa Tolbert should have Hillary Clinton in common. This is the United Steel Workers Local 1104 and the only picture of a president on the wall is FDR. At the door, the leadership backs Clinton. But a sign doesn’t paper over jobs lost to trade and the outrage of laid-off men.

Scott Pelley: So show of hands, how many Trump voters do we have? OK. There are three. And Hillary Clinton voters?

Tom Morris: I’m undecided. I’m not sure which one I want to vote for yet.

Carlos Hernandez joined Greg Sedar, Wayne Townsend, Tom Morris and Craig Cooper.

Scott Pelley: Craig, what did you want to hear in the debates?

Craig Cooper: Just basically that-- you know, that-- that they’re starting to watch out for us as Americans. It just seems like they’re so involved with themselves that we as a people don’t matter anymore. We’re just, you know, we’re here as pawns and they want our votes and after they get our votes they’re like, “OK, thank you. See you later. Bye.”

These men are in a college program to retrain workers who lose their jobs due to trade deals. Greg Sedar looked a little lost—like a farmer in the dells.  

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Back row, from left: Carlos Hernandez and Greg Sedar. Front row, from left: Tom Morris, Wayne Townsend and Craig Cooper

CBS News

Greg Sedar: It goes back to the days when Democrats were always for unions and Republicans were against. We’re-- we’re-- need jobs and we’re-- we’re desperate enough we’ll take ‘em whoever is gonna give ‘em.

Wayne Townsend: The idea of getting a good job like we have at a young age and working it for 30 years and getting the American dream of having a house, a car and a child and a family and retiring at a decent age before you’re too old and too crippled to enjoy it, is gone because of trade deals.

Craig Cooper: I’ve said for the last couple months there’s billions of people in the United States and these are the two best people that we can get to lead us? I just find that hard to believe. I really do.

[At the Yum Yum Shop: That one is peanut butter Oreo. What kind do you want buddy?]

Ohio nearly always picks the president because it’s a mix of American ingredients, part North, part South, part farm, part factory. But for those shopping this time, 2016 is like making a choice when they’re fresh out of your favorites.

Scott Pelley: I wonder, on November the 8th is there any chance you’re just gonna say to yourself, “You know what? I’m gonna sit this one out.”

Cyndra Cole: No. I have to at least go to the polls to vote for Rob Portman.

Scott Pelley: The senator of Ohio, the Republican senator of Ohio.

Cyndra Cole: Yes, yeah.

Scott Pelley: You’re interested in the down ballot races.

Cyndra Cole: I’m very interested in the down ballot races. And I think that’s one of the ways that we as Republicans can overcome a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Scott Pelley: So there’s an even chance at least that you’re going to vote for Hillary Clinton and then vote for Rob Portman in hopes that he can stop her policies?

Cyndra Cole: Yes.

Scott Pelley: And that is politics in 2016.

Cyndra Cole: It is. Yes.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"