6:25 AM, Nov 5, 2012
CHILLICOTHE â In addition to being famous athletes and Ohio natives, Jack Nicklaus and Scott Hamilton are supporters of Mitt Romney, and thatâs what brought them to Chillicothe on Sunday.
Nicklaus, a golf legend best known for his record 18 major championships, and Hamilton, a figure skating champion who won gold at the 1984 Winter Olympics, stumped for the Republican presidential candidate before a crowd of about 100 supporters outside the Ross County Service Center on Western Avenue.
Nicklaus and Hamilton were joined by Nicklausâ wife, Barbara, and Jane Portman, wife of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Shortly after stepping off a Romney-Ryan campaign bus, Nicklaus explained how his interest in the election and his support of Romney stems from his concerns about how the countryâs economic direction will affect his children and grandchildren.
âI think that should be your concern, too,â Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus, who hails from Upper Arlington, said he first had the opportunity to support a presidential candidate in 1976 when then-President Gerald Ford, a âdear friendâ and golfing partner, asked him to campaign on his behalf in Ohio. Nicklaus declined the offer and Ford ultimately lost Ohio by a narrow margin.
âI said, âIâm never going to let that happen again.â So when Mitt called me and asked me to get involved, I said âWhen you get yourself nominated, you can count me all in,ââ he said.
Nicklaus said his company, golf course design firm Nicklaus Design, has lost more than 50 percent of its employees during the past four years â a clear condemnation of the economy under President Barack Obama.
âItâs why we got involved. Itâs why we want to help get Mitt elected. ... Letâs get this thing on the road and in a few days, letâs get ourselves a new president,â he said to cheers.
Hamilton, who grew up in Bowling Green, joked about how he has caught some grief from his friends for supporting Romney and then, on a more serious note, lamented how politically divided the nation has become.
âIâve never seen it like this before, where thereâs so much anger and so much hostility towards each other,â he said.
Hamilton said he first met Romney before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which Romney helped organize, and was impressed by his leadership in the wake of a bribery scandal and financial problems that had plagued the games.
âBack then, I thought, âMan! Why canât someone like that run for President of the United States?â Hamilton said. âAnd then he went to Massachusetts (as governor) and got his political chops up and he just gets it. Heâs met payrolls, he understands how to create new opportunities and jobs. Thatâs what he did as an entrepreneur.â
Hamilton said Tuesdayâs election is an opportunity to âright the ship.â
âItâs a real solid opportunity and itâs just a hundred feet away,â he said, pointing to the Ross County Board of Elections office, where dozens of people were inside waiting in line to cast early ballots.