TORONTO - Former Pittsburgh Steelers great Franco Harris would have preferred a different name for the tour to support the re-election of President Barack Obama.
"As you may know, I have never been a big fan of the defense," he said while pointing to former Steelers Edmund Nelson and Greg Bingham.
"But we are here as a team. And one thing about this team is we are all in this together to support President Obama," Harris told a crowd of approximately 100 people Friday night gathered at the Karaffa Elementary School.
STEEL BLITZ — Participants in the 2012 Steel Blitz tour kicked off their support for President Barack Obama Friday night at the Karaffa Elementary School in Toronto. Joining together to campaign for Obama’s re-election were, from, former Pittsburgh Steeler Edmund Nelson, Steeler President Art Rooney’s son Jim Rooney, United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard, former Steelers Greg Bingham and Franco Harris along with USW International Political Director Tim Waters. -- Dave Gossett
A BIG BIRD FAN — Carolyn Redish and her granddaughter, Nina Geddis, share a private laugh with Big Bird Friday night during the 2012 Steel Blitz kick off at the Karaffa Elementary School in Toronto. -- Dave Gossett
"I came to Pittsburgh 40 years ago. And I have a lot of memories from those 40 years. I have had a chance to meet presidents and steelworkers. And I can tell you it will be a great morning when we wake up on Nov. 7 and know we helped re-elect President Obama to another four years in office," said Harris.
The three retired professional football players were joined by Jim Rooney, son of current Steelers President and team co-owner Art Rooney Jr. and United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard for the start of the 2012 Steel Blitz Ohio tour for the re-election of President Barack Obama.
The tour continues today in Canton and Warren where Gerard said Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown will join the tour.
"The game is on the line right now. And the most important thing is how we finish. I have had teammates who had to pull together to pull it out in the fourth quarter. But because of all of you here tonight, we are going to win this election," forecasted Harris.
"And it will also be very important that we send Gov. Romney a message at the end of this campaign. And that message is we are going to keep jobs in America. Gov. Romney hasn't figured out yet the winning formula in life is about team and bring us all together. And because it is all about us as a team, we need everyone here to go out knocking on doors and putting up campaign signs," Harris declared.
"My name is Jim Rooney and I come from a union family," called out the grandson of Art Rooney and the son of Art Rooney Jr.
"Mr. Romney has the right to make as much money as he can in the United States. But he was part of the Bain Company that took over struggling companies and made money by cutting jobs and shipping those jobs overseas. Bain Capital was all about putting money into the pockets of the investors. And Mr. Romney has no experience in creating jobs," said Rooney.
"My father has made plenty of mistakes during his tenure with the Steelers. But he always believed in treating the players, the coaches and the staff the right way. Four years ago my father found a man who believes in the right way. Barack Obama is a man of conviction," concluded Rooney.
And Gerard brought the crowd to its feet when he said he has, "seen the pain when no one would stand up for our families but ourselves."
"How can we not vote for this president? More than 350,000 members of the steelworkers union makes something that goes into cars. In 2009, we couldn't get enough money to buy a new car much less a car company. Home foreclosures were on the rise. But President Obama has turned the economy around. Think about waking up the morning after the election and Ohio has put Romney over the top. You in Toronto and Ohio can determine the future of this country," proclaimed Gerard.
"I need you to pledge to us tonight that you will spend every waking moment until the election working on the phone bank and knocking on doors for Barack Obama. This is the most dishonest race for president I have ever seen. If we don't hold the opposition to task, this will be the new model for presidents in the future," noted Gerard.
"Our union endorsed Barack Obama for president four years ago, and after that endorsement I got the most hate mail in my office I have ever received. There are still people who don't want a black man in the White House. But I am here to tell you I am comfortable with a black man in the White House and I am more comfortable with the most qualified man in the White House," concluded Gerard.
Gerard invited the crowd to stand in line for an autograph from Harris, Nelson and Bingham.
"But its not going to be free. The cost of an autograph is your promise to go out and work for President Obama and his re-election campaign. You can tell your kids and your grandkids that you helped President Obama win Ohio for Barack Obama," he said.