EUCLID, Ohio - When it came to backdrops to celebrate the defeat of Ohio's Issue 2, the Obama 2012 campaign staff went with the obvious call – public safety. So to a Euclid fire house, Vice President Joe Biden came Tuesday to kick off the battle for Ohio.
"You fired the first shot," Biden told the crowd made up heavily of firefighters. The impact on police, fire and public safety played heavily in the "We Are Ohio" effort to overhaul Senate Bill 5, the state's new collective bargaining law.
No one knows whether Issue 2 would have passed, failed or even been a referendum if police and fire had been removed from the reforms, as was done in Wisconsin. But what is clear is the nearly year-long battle has taken its toll on those who found themselves fighting it.
"I used to be a Republican mostly," said David Magura, a firefighter who drove in from Youngstown for the Biden rally. "Never again, never again."
Cleveland Fire Fighters Association Secretary Mike Norman agreed.
"I probably represent more Republicans than Democrats in my union and I think it was a political awakening for our guys," he said.
On the floor of the state senate in March, minutes before SB-5 was passed to the house, then-State Senator Tim Grendell -- a Chesterland Republican -- stood up to say that he had never been considered pro-union, his constituents were for the most part not pro-union, but at the same time they never voted down a police or fire levy and this measure would not go over with them.
By the slimmest of margins he was right, with Geauga County voting no on Issue 2 by 17,875 to 17,726 margin.
Biden told reporters on Tuesday that the defeat of Issue 2 on the very day Issue 3, which would block the Obama health care plan, passed, is an indication that the voters gave the measure much thought.
"This wasn't a Democratic, you know just union all of a sudden groundswell," said Biden. "If that were the case they wouldn't have voted down the mandatory provision in the health care bill so that's what makes this such a powerful statement that was made here. It was Independents and Republicans."
Biden's rally comes as a Quinnipiac University poll taken after last week's election showed the state leaning slightly more Democratic looking ahead to next year than neighboring Pennsylvania, which has not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988.
That's not necessarily all good news for the Obama team. Ohio voters disapprove 50-44 percent of the job President Obama is doing but they still give him a lead over all Republican hopefuls, the poll found.
The poll also found Ohio voters chose Obama 45 to 42 percent over Mitt Romney, 48 to 38 percent over Herman Cain and 48 to 36 percent over Rick Perry.
Biden, however, told the crowd their victory last week was their's alone.
"Folks, it's not about Barack Obama, it's not about Joe Biden, it's about whether or not middle class people are going to get put back in the saddle again because they're the ones that make this country move," said Biden.