**Correction: In the video piece above, it is stated twice that the launch event took place on Thursday night. It actually took place on Wednesday night.
Ohio -- Before a crowd of over 300 gathered inside a retail supply company in Brunswick, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) kicked off a listening tour on Wednesday night as he considers running for president.
“Workers are producing more — more productive than ever before. And wages are flat,” Brown told the crowd.
Hoisted between two forklifts behind Brown was a banner that read his signature phrase, “Dignity of Work.”
Ohio’s senior U.S. senator will travel to Iowa this weekend, and then to New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in the coming weeks, to help decide if he wants to jump into the 2020 Democratic primary.
“Donald Trump has used his phony populism to divide Americans and to demonize immigrants,” Brown said during his speech. “He uses phony populism to distract from the fact that he has used the White House to enrich billionaires like himself.”
Wednesday night’s speech sounded like one of a presidential candidate.
And despite wading through the crowd like one and snapping selfies afterward, Brown and wife Connie Schultz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, insist they haven’t decided whether to run yet.
“They both care deeply about the things that affect everyday people,” said Linda Romans-Hnath, who lives in Broadview Heights and attended Wednesday’s event.
That’s the message stated over and over again from Brown’s supporters, who braved wind chill temperatures of -25 to come out on Wednesday.
“I think, in Ohio, there’s a growing consensus among young people that Sherrod Brown is the candidate,” said Philipp Corfman, a college student from West Chester. “Outside of Ohio? Not so much.”
If Brown can gain ground beyond the Buckeye state and run and win the presidency, most of the people at Wednesday’s rally said they wouldn’t mind losing their only statewide-elected Democrat to the Oval Office.
“I think that it would be worth it, to lose him as a senator if he was the president,” said Nadia Pryor, a college student from Canton. “I think it would be an ok tradeoff.”
James Evanoff, a fourth generation steelworker from Brunswick, said Brown’s pro-union and pro-worker strategy can pay off — if he can sell it on the national level.
“It’s all about resonating that message about what he is going to do differently to help working people,” Evanoff said. “I think that’ll be his key if he decides he wants to run.”
Wednesday’s crowd was a friendly one, filled with supporters and longtime friends who offered Brown encouraging messages.
Brown ended his speech by saying he will “take that fight on the road.”
The question is: Outside of Ohio, how will his “Dignity of Work” message be received?