MARTINS FERRY - Many of the 450 people who listened to Vice President Joe Biden speak about the Obama administration's track record and its plans for the future at Staffilino Chevrolet on Thursday liked what they heard.
Many registered Democrats across Belmont County received phone calls prior to the event inviting them to attend. Biden's visit was not open to the general public.
The Rev. Lee Eilert of St. Clairsville thought Biden's message was a positive one. Eilert said he believes the administration's policies will help the nation move in the right direction. Biden's speech was "realistic, compassionate and makes sense," Eilert said, adding he has not seen those same qualities in comments made by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Vice President Joe Biden takes a moment to have his picture taken with Justinia Martin of Martins Ferry.
"I think we're on the right track with this administration," Eilert said of the Democrats who are seeking re-election in November.
Dominic DeFelice, owner of DeFelice Bros. Pizza Inc., agreed that Biden touched on a number of issues important to Ohio Valley residents. In particular, he liked Biden's suggestion that improvements to the Ohio Valley's infrastructure would put residents to work and increase opportunities for local businesses.
"He was right on the money," DeFelice said. "I like that he focused on helping the middle class. I started out in my pizza business ... with nothing really, with a $10,000 investment that I had to borrow. So I think he has the correct view, even though it may not always be the most popular one, I think it is the right one."
Hank Martin, who operates Shadyside-based Martel Investigative Services, believes Biden was correct in saying one of the most important things the federal government can do for the future of the nation is to help reduce unemployment. One way Biden said he and President Barack Obama have done this is by directing federal loans to the automotive industry.
"He's right that we have to start with the middle class and get people to work," Martin said, citing the poverty and desperation he has seen among his neighbors in the region. "You have to have a tax base and jobs to make things work. I have confidence in him."
World War II veteran and Woodsfield resident Herman Zerger is Ohio's oldest and longest-serving county Democrat party chairman and said he strongly supports the current administration.
"He told it exactly as it was," he said, noting the vice president had thanked him for his military service while talking with guests after his speech.