GOP candidates to participate in forum in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, OH (FOX19) - Three Republican presidential candidates have agreed to participate in a forum in Wilmington.

According to a spokesperson with FOX News, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum have all agreed to participate in a candidate forum with FOX News host Mike Huckabee.

Ron Paul has not said whether or not he is planning to attend the forum.

The forum will be held at the former site of the DHL facility in Wilmington. The city of Wilmington lost 8,200 jobs when DHL eliminated the facility there.

The forum will be taped Saturday afternoon and will air on FOX News Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. There will not be an audience, but you can bet the people of Wilmington will be watching to see if any of the three candidates looks like they would truly help places like Wilmington, which still suffers high unemployment.

Rhonda Wheasler just opened her candy shop, The Crave Candy & Nuts, on Main Street on Wednesday.  A former early childhood educator, then R+L Shipping employee, then DHL employee, Rhonda spent the last few years driving to Cincinnati every day to continue working with DHL after they left Wilmington.  But in August, that job disappeared.  So, she decided it was time to fulfill a lifelong dream to own her own business.  As she waited on customers, she smiled at the prospect of being her own boss.  But when asked if she thought help was coming from anyone in Washington to put people in her city back to work, she said no.

Mayor Randy Riley told FOX19 Wednesday, he welcomes the candidates to the city he loves.  He is a Romney supporter, but says all three men seeking the GOP nomination should look at how the city is struggling to recover, several years after the decision by DHL to leave the area.  Riley says his city has among the highest rates of unemployment in the state of Ohio, and that government needs to create an environment supportive of business...and then, get out of the way.

When we asked Mayor Riley if he truly thought any of the candidates could win the White House, and effect serious change in the unemployment rate, he said, "That is what I wake up praying every day."

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