\The Democratic candidates for president are gathered here in Westerville, Ohio, a small suburb of Columbus. This city went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but traditionally had been solidly Republican. It’s the home of former Ohio Governor John Kasich (R-Westerville). The event is being held at Otterbein University, a small liberal arts college in the center of town.
The city is buzzing with excitement and onlookers. Westerville resident Becky Mallott came down to the event to see what was happening.
“I think much of Westerville thinks it is a fine civic thing to do – to host. And I know it has been taxing on the city, though. I hope it doesn’t cost us much. I don’t know if we get reimbursed for all of the city utility work and what not that had to go on so that concerns me,” Mallott said.
Mallott doesn’t have tickets to the event. Neither does her friend, Janet Barker-Stonerook. But if she did, she’d have a question for former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I’d ask him how he would see our system of government, the system of checks and balancing, working under his administration because it is not working under Trump. Where has checks and balances gone?” Barker Stonerook asked.
Alec Heflin, a senior and member of the Otterbein University football team, says he likes President Trump. The house he and some friends live in has a big Trump banner over the front porch. He says he realizes some of his fellow students like progressive Democrats who have plans to make college more affordable and eliminate college debt but he’s not attracted by it.
“No that doesn’t appeal to me because if college was free, everyone would get a degree and it wouldn’t be as sought after. Everybody would have it. And also, I made the decision to join the Army to get my college paid for. I joined the Army for four years after going to school. I’m going to school for free but I did something for it. I didn’t just get it for free," Heflin said.
The Democratic National Committee debate, sponsored by CNN and the New York Times starts tonight at 8 p.m on CNN. Twelve candidates will be on the stage. They include Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julia’n Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.