Grammy-award winning singer John Legend grew up in Springfield, where his father worked in an auto plant, experiencing plant shutdowns, layoffs and tough shift work.
"I understand what it is like to be in a situation where your livelihood depends on whether or not the industry is doing OK," Legend said while campaigning for President Barack Obama in Lima Thursday.
"We need someone in the White House that is an advocate for the working class and for the middle class, and cares about their concerns and is in office to help extend the American dream to everyone."
Following a stop in Toledo, Legend dropped by the Obama headquarters in downtown Lima to thank about 40 volunteers phoning voters. Greeted with cheers, handshakes and hugs, Legend, who next headed to Dayton and Cincinnati, urged the volunteers to work hard registering voters and getting the Obama message out.
"We still have to keep working and keep fighting so that all the progress we have made over the last few years doesn't get reversed and repealed and taken away," he said.
Volunteers across Ohio will kick off the 2012 grass roots canvasses this weekend, with one of the central locations being Lima. Families are expected to hit 34,000 doors across the state. Trainings to canvass will be held at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday at the headquarters, 226 N. Main St.
Legend said Obama came into office at the worst possible time during the country's financial and housing crisis, but immediately started fighting for people. Legend cited financial reform that brought 28 straight months of private sector job growth, the automobile bailout and enacting affordable health care for all.
"That is a monumental thing, something that was already the case in every other developed country around the world," he said. "But we still didn't have that in America but now we do because of President Obama."
Much still needs to be done, he said, citing an 8 percent unemployment rate and people who have given up trying to find work.
"The question is are we going to move forward and continue making progress or are we going to go back to the policies that got us in this mess in the first place," he said.
Legend campaigned for Obama in 2008 and performed for the campaign at several Ohio stops and with will.i.am at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He will perform at an event surrounding this year's convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Volunteers at the headquarters were excited about Legend's visit, saying it was a great way to kick off this weekend's work, many citing the 2008 campaign stop by Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.
"Everybody is enthusiastic and pumped up, ready to go," Kenny Williams said.
"I am very excited because people are pumped up and motivated," said Gloria Thompson, who knows Legend's family but hadn't met him before. "We want to give this man four more years to keep up the economic growth, do what he started to do and finish it."
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