Why Cleveland's not for closers in 2020

Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 18:24:42-04

CLEVLEAND — In past presidential election years, the final days leading up to the election have been a celebration of Cleveland. This was the spot that Democratic hopefuls, in particular, came in the final hours of their campaigns to make their closing arguments.

Those trips were usually with friends like Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joe Walsh at the Wolstein Center for the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1996 and Bruce Springsteen on Mall C in 2004 for John Kerry, using their musical celebrity in an attempt to swing this swing state.

"I've been writing about America for 30 years,” Springsteen told the late-night crown in 2004. “Who we are, what we stand for, what we fight for, and these ideas are what's at stake tomorrow."

It's a role he would reprise on the mall in 2008 campaigning on the Sunday before the election that year for Barack Obama.

"All of you can give this country the change we need,” then Sen. Obama said. “And it starts right here in Ohio, it starts right here in Cleveland."

And four years ago, Jay-Z co-hosted a concert at The Q for Hillary Clinton with the then reigning king of the arena LeBron James.

"Get your family out there and vote because this is the most important day of our lives,” said James.

This year, though, there is nothing in the pipeline, in part because of COVID, but in larger part because the 2020 electoral map is a lot wider, says ABC News political director Rick Klein.

Instead of focusing as they have in past cycles on Ohio and Florida, the candidates have more of a whack-a-mole approach across the country with our neighbors to the east in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enjoying the spotlight that once was ours.

"Now there are other paths a Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, even Texas, Iowa, Ohio -- all of them are potential opportunities for Joe Biden on different ways to stitch together that coalition, but if you're just looking at one state, I still want to know what's going to happen in Pennsylvania,” said Klein.

The flip side of this lack of attention is the fact that the celebrity appearances were about generating excitement and enthusiasm on both sides strong enough to motivate people to get out and vote, something that the daily lines at BOEs across the state and the record early vote show us is not lacking in 2020.

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