— In the small town of West Union, Ohio, on the edge of Appalachia, Mike’s Family Restaurant serves up breakfast to a staple of loyal customers.
CBS News’ Adriana Diaz spent a couple of days last week in Ohio traveling to three different communities to three different restaurants talking to local folks about life.
The day started with manners and a morning prayer, but the conversation quickly turned to politics.
Kenny Moles, who is a retired business owner, said, “I’m thinking the Democrats don’t have a chance.” “Why is that?” Diaz asked.
Moles said, “They don’t have – well, they’re going in the wrong direction, for one thing. We’re capitalists and they’re socialists. And this is not a socialist country.”
Moles has been voting Republican since Richard Nixon was in office.
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Across the room, cousins Dennis and Terry Grooms were lifelong Democrats until 2016. “The more we followed him, the more we liked what we heard. He has delivered on his promises, referring to President Trump.”
They said the president has boosted morale for the American worker, which is a big selling point here in one of Ohio’s poorest counties, where both unemployment and opioid addiction are high.
Terry Grooms said, “First, they’d give me Vicodin, then they moved it to Percocet then they moved it to OxyContin. Next thing you know I was a drug addict.” Terry said he has been clean for over six years. But he said his life is better now under the Trump Administration.
“Before Trump, you know, I’m not ashamed of it. I had to get food stamps and stuff, And after, you know, I got a job,” Terry Grooms said.Diaz asked, “Do you credit the president for the fact that you were able to find work?” Terry Grooms said, “yeah, he kind of motivated me”
So, Diaz and her crew left West Union and headed toward the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. The suburb that was chosen was Centerville, Ohio, fitting because it’s actual county is politically in the center.
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In 2008 and 2012, voters in Montgomery County leaned ever so slightly for Obama, but in 2016, President Trump won by 7 percent.
At Famous Restaurant, boy was it 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.
However, Miller’s 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 going to put us in a world war,” Dains said.
Entrepreneur Dave Paprocki agrees the economy shouldn’t be the only metric of success. He’s still undecided.
“There’s still other issues that need to be solved. And, the important thing is that we have someone who is reaching across the aisle and thinking about, like, how we are actually going to get there,” Paprocki said,
From Centerville, Diaz and her crew head to Columbus. Folks in this county have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee.
Columbus is the state’s capital and most populous city. It’s actually known as America’s test city because a lot of companies choose Columbus to test out their products because of the city’s demographic makeup.
CBS’ Diaz caught up with the happy hour crowd at Bakersfield Short North.
Medic Isaiah Taylor said, “Me, personally, I haven’t seen nothing.” He said he hasn’t felt the strong economy personally.
“And, 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,” Taylor said.
Renee Holton, who’s still paying off her bachelor’s and master’s degrees wants a candidate with a plant 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,” Holton said.
There were several co-workers talking about health care bills before Diaz and her crew even approached them.
Jackie Lloyd said, “It was just very eye-opening for me to see what a minor medical event can cost you if you don’t have insurance, let alone, I mean, I spent several thousand dollars out of pocket with great health insurance. So, it was kind of a scary wake-up call.”