COLUMBUS, Ohio — Before providing the usual statistics, data and facts about the novel coronavirus in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine took time at the beginning of his Thursday briefing to give his thoughts about the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, hate in America and groups that seek political ends through violence, and the integrity and security of the election in Ohio on November 3.
The first presidential debate
DeWine said he was proud that our state hosted the debate, but it was “certainly not our country’s finest hour or our country’s finest 90 minutes.”
“I hope that the next debate will focus on the future,” DeWine said, “on the vital issues — vital issues — on the decisions that the next president of the United States will have to make, on the substantive issues that this country faces. This is a very important election.”
DeWine said that he supports President Trump, his choices so far for federal, district and circuit courts, and his choices for Supreme Court, including Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who Trump announced he was nominating to fill the vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
DeWine said that he has known Joe Biden for many years, having served with him in the U.S. Senate, and while they have disagreed on policy issues, DeWine knows that Biden also wants what’s best for our country.
“The name-calling by both candidates is simply not helpful,” DeWine said. “The name-calling by both candidates is not productive. Now, each of us saw this debate through our own eyes, our own lens, through the prism of our own beliefs and the candidate that we support.”
The governor then said what he hopes to see in the candidates' next meeting, a town-hall-style debate set to take place in Miami on Oct. 15.
“What is needed in the next debate is a robust energetic debate on the challenges that the next president will face,” DeWine said. “And as in presidential debates of the past, each candidate has an obligation to articulate a vision for the future of this country, to articulate what kind of a country that candidate believes we should be leaving to our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.”
Hate in America
DeWine went on to talk about hate in America, something that he said deeply concerns him.
“There are fringe groups and individuals in this country, both the right and the left, who simply do not share our common values, who do not share the great values of this country,” DeWine said. “There are haters. There are people who hate Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, and we could go on and on. There is no place in America, no place in this great country for that.”
DeWine said there are people who believe violence is the only way to achieve political ends.
“That is not right, and I want again to speak out against that. White supremacists know only hate. Anti-Semites know only hate. And we could go on and on,” DeWine said. "It sickens me that there are people in our country who perpetrate this hate, violence and work to divide us. We cannot let these fringe groups, either the right or left, divide us. We cannot let them into that system when they preach violence when they preach hate. As I said at the end of May, following the death of George Floyd, we have a responsibility to each other. We have a responsibility to our country. In all aspects of our lives, we simply must not allow hate to prevail over love, over kindness, over compassion. Especially in these times of uncertainty, fear, division. Because to paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: ‘Hate is too great a burden for this country.'”
Election integrity in Ohio
DeWine said our state has a long history of running fair and transparent elections thanks to laws passed by the General Assembly, past Republican and Democratic secretaries of state and both parties working together at the county and precinct levels.
“And because of this history and because of what we've done in the past and what we're going to continue to do, Ohioans can be assured of a fair, orderly election this November,” DeWine said. “As our history proves, our election process in Ohio is orderly, it is transparent, it is bipartisan. Ohioans can and should expect the will of the people in November will be respected. In Ohio, and in this country, elections are sacred. There is a sanctity to our election process. We give them proper respect.”
DeWine said the flags outside polling places in the United States signal to voters that this is a special place where they and their vote are safe.
“We will not tolerate any interference in this sacred process,” DeWine said. “We will, as we have done in the past, protect each citizen's right to vote and to have their vote counted. The system, this bipartisan system, has worked in the past, it will work again.”
DeWine reminded Ohioans that the deadline to register to vote is this Monday, Oct. 5, and of the multiple options voters have to cast their ballot, whether early in-person, by mail or on election day.
DeWine then spoke about what he expects to happen after the election.
“Whatever the situation since the beginning of this country, however hotly-contested these races have been, however riled up people get, however partisan it gets, however emotional people get, when the results are in — when they're in — people will accept it. Might not like it. But we're Americans. We accept it,” he said.
DeWine closed his discussion on election integrity with a quote from author Theodore White speaking about a previous presidential election:
“All of this is invisible. For it is the essence of the act that as it happens it is a mystery in which millions of people each fit one fragment of a total secret together, none of them knowing the shape of the whole. What results from the fitting together these secrets, is, of course, the most awesome transfer of power in the world. The power to marshal and mobilize power to send men to kill or be killed. The power to tax and destroy. The power to create and the responsibility to do so. The power to guide and the responsibility to heal. All committed into the hands of one individual. Heroes and philosophers, brave men and vile, have since Rome and Athens tried to make this particular manner of transfer of power work effectively. No people — no people have succeeded at it better over a longer period of time than the Americans. As the transfer of this power takes place, there's nothing to be seen except an occasional line outside church or school, or file of people fidgeting in the rain, waiting to enter the booths. No bands play on Election Day, no troops march, no guns are ready, no conspirators gather in secret headquarters. The noise and the blare, the bands, the screaming, pageantry, oratory, the long fall campaign fade on Election Day. All the planning is over. All effort spent. Now the candidates simply must wait.”
“That's what we do,” DeWine said after reading White’s quote. “We are Americans. We do it very, very well, and we will do it this year as well.”