Steel workers could sway Democratic Ohio town to the right

Ohio steel town voters
Ohio steel town voters 04:51

LORAIN, Ohio -- It is not likely Donald Trump or any Republican can win the presidency without winning Ohio. That's why the Republican National Convention is there.

CBS News traveled to Lorain, Ohio, which used to be called Steel City. Generations there were forged in blast furnaces and union halls. But in March, after 125 years, the last furnace went cold. Most mills closed largely because of cheap foreign imports.

In presidential elections, Lorain has been reliably Democratic. That could change this election year.

Scott Pelley spoke with six steel workers -- Nelson Fontanez, Nancy Tolliver, Carlos Hernandez, Joe Rice, Jessica Rucker, and Julio Mendiola -- about what may be swaying them one way or the other.

Top row, from left to right: Nelson Fontanez, Jessica Rucker, Joe Rice. Bottom row, from left to right: Carlos Hernandez, Julio Mendiola, Nancy Tolliver. CBS News

TOLLIVER: The last day we worked like nothing was going on, believe it or not. Driving to the gate was like a funeral procession. They shook your hand, took your badge and that was it. It was over.

PELLEY: What's this year been like?

Key Ohio voters 03:43

RUCKER: It's been hard. It's cutting back, scrimping, saving -- just had to refinance my house so that way we could keep it.

The number one issue for all of the panelists is the economy. Four of them are undecided.

PELLEY: Help me understand something, this county is a reliable Democratic county, votes for the Democratic candidate in every election. How is it that four of you are undecided?

FONTANEZ: You really don't have a strong candidate one way or the other now. You know, it's a matter of just waiting and seeing. Trump's saying what people wanna hear or what people have thought but wouldn't say it out loud. Right now, you gotta pick the lesser of the two evils.

Undecided voters frustrated 06:52

PELLEY: You are not yet convinced by Donald Trump. But I'm curious why do you hesitate about Hillary Clinton?

RICE: I haven't heard enough from her. I haven't heard enough that she's gonna do the things that I think she needs to do to bring our industry back. Because our industry's gone here.

PELLEY: If the two candidates were sitting here instead of me, what would you say?

MENDIOLA: I'd have nothing to say to Donald Trump, but Hillary Clinton -- let's rebuild the middle class. Let's give some of that tax money back to America so we can rebuild this country.

PELLEY: What do you want to hear from the presidential candidates?

RUCKER: That businesses are gonna come back. That we're gonna bring more jobs to the state, to our city. That people are gonna have hope again.