LIMA, Ohio (CNN) - Facing questions about his role in a deal that established a DHL shipping hub in Wilmington, Ohio, John McCain has scheduled a meeting on Thursday afternoon with residents of the town to discuss a proposal by the company to shut the air park - a move that would cost Wilmington over 8,000 jobs.
In 2003, McCain and his campaign manager Rick Davis, then a lobbyist, helped push through the senate a merger between foreign-owned DHL and a domestic company that brought the hub, and its many jobs, to Wilmington, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
But now that the company may close the air park as a cost-saving measure, Democrats are calling on McCain to use his past links to the company to help save the thousands of jobs at stake. McCain will undoubtedly try to alleviate those concerns at today’s meeting.
It’s not the first time McCain has faced questions about the air park on the campaign trail. On July 9, at a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, Ohio, a Wilmington resident named Mary Houghtaling asked McCain to investigate the park closing.
“I have been briefed and read about the situation and the enormous dislocation, I believe its 8,600 jobs,” McCain told her. “This is a terrible blow.”
But McCain wasn’t optimistic the air park could be saved, and took several minutes to promote his plans for job re-training programs.
“I got to look you in the eye and give you straight talk,” he said. “I don’t know if I can stop it or not. Or if it will be stopped, so I have to tell you that. It’s some straight talk. In fact, some more straight talk: I doubt it. Okay? But I am for a thorough examination of this situation, and I will do everything I can to see that that’s conducted.”
The Ohio Democratic Party launched a web ad Thursday highlighting those comments. The spot accuses McCain and Davis of having “played roles in the fate of DHL Express and its Ohio air park as far back as 2003.”