Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Friday, February 24, 2006

DeWine says he'll wait and see on port deal

A day after President Bush flew to Cincinnati to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Republican spoke out Friday on the government-owned company from the United Arab Emirates that’s in line to take over operations at six major U.S. shipping hubs.

Here’s what he had to say: "We have to take a good look at this thing."

The company – Dubai Ports World – agreed on Thursday to a postpone the takeover of the U.S. ports while Congress investigates the company’s $6.8 billion purchase of London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

DeWine: "I'm glad that there’s been a delay in the implementation. … This is going to give time for Congress and for all of us to take a hard look at this."

The White House has stood by the deal, and President Bush has said he would veto any legislation that would block the U.S. contract.

DeWine: "It's certainly a concern to all of us, what we are hearing, but I want to get all the facts before we move ahead, and now we have the time to do that."

Asked why his comments – which neither support or oppose the administration – came a day after the Bush fundraiser and not earlier in the week, despite at least two interview requests (read our first story here and our second story here), DeWine said: "I don't see what difference it would make."

He added: "I was out of town for a couple of days."

Congress, which was on President's Day recess all week was scheduled to return to work in Washington on Tuesdsay.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Cleveland, also has not said whether he supports or opposes the deal. Spokeswoman Marcie Ridgway said he’s researching the deal.

However, several Ohio lawmakers, including House Majority Leader John Boehner of West Chester, and Reps. Steve Chabot, Mike Turner and Jean Schmidt, all R-Ohio, have spoken out against the deal.

No dollars for Daddy

While Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine loves and supports his father, the son wasn't one of those contributing to Republican Sen. Mike DeWine's campaign coffers Thursday at a fundraiser where President George Bush made an appearance.

Commissioner DeWine, an attorney, attended the Indian Hill fundraiser but admitted he got in free. He also was unable to collect the coin -- $10,000 -- it took to have his picture taken with Bush.

That, the commissioner said, shouldn't be taken as a sign he is unhappy with the current representation of a certain Ohio U.S. Senator.

"I do want him to get re-elected," Pat DeWine said. "I just don't have $10,000 laying around."

Final score: Dann 67, Chandra 22

Some Ohio Democrats may be uneasy about having State Sen. Marc Dann of Youngstown as their candidate for Ohio attorney general this fall, but you couldn't tell it from the endorsement vote Dann got from the Ohio Democratic Party's executive committee Wednesday night.

In a vote by 80 executive committee members, Dann took 67 votes to 22 for Subodh Chandra, who was law director for the city of Cleveland under former mayor Jane Campbell.

Dann made a name for himself last year by dogging the administration of Gov. Bob Taft for its ethical lapses, but the Youngstown Democrat, it seems, has had a few problems of his own along those lines - principly, a reprimand from the Ohio Supreme Court for misconduct as an attorney.

Last summer, Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett gleefully pointed out that Dann, who had been all over Taft about failing to report gifts on financial disclosure forms, had to go back and amend his own financial disclosure report to show the gift of a $168 jacket and a $14 free meal.

Bennett and company, who have had little to crow about on the ethics front for the past year or so, have been licking their chops over the process of the Democrats choosing Dann as their attorney general candidate.

Tim Burke, the Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman, was among the 80 executive committee members who met Wednesday at the Fawcett Center on the OSU campus in Columbus. He has also been one of those Ohio Democrats disturbed by the idea of having to campaign for Dann this fall.

So, Wednesday, Burke joined in an effort to convince the committtee to give an endorsement to both Dann and Chandra, since it was clear that Dann was going to make the 60 percent threshold for an endorsement.

Each Democrat running for statewide office was given three minutes to address the committee, followed by an endorsement vote on each candidate. Those who won 60 percent or more of the committee vote got an endorsement. That process, said Ohio Democratic Party communications director Brian Rothenberg, created the possibility of there being more than one party-endorsed candidate in a race.

But Chandra, new to elective politics, could muster only 22 votes among the 80 committee members.

So, no endorsement for Chandra, making his uphill battle suddenly an even more steep climb. The only good news for Chandra was that he won the endorsement of former Gov. Dick Celeste - and that came about mostly because one of Celeste's sons was Chandra's college buddy.

"It's too bad Subodh couldn't be endorsed, too,'' Burke said. "He is an electrifying speaker. He is highly intelligent, extremely competent.''

Maybe if he had spent more time selling raffle tickets at the Cuyahoga County Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, he would have done better.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Kind of like Christmas"

The president was only visible to the public at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for about five minutes.

Yet that five minutes the president was visible before leaving in the presidential motorcade created enough excitement from the spectators.

A contingent of more than 50 local residents behind barricades at the airport waived enthusiastically and raised their cameras and children into the air to view Bush exit the plane at 4 p.m.

"There’s the president, Tyler," said Dawn McKenna, of Lebanon, to her 17-month-old grandson she held in her arms. "Look."

For about five minutes at the airport, Bush met with local Republican U.S. Reps. Jean Schmidt and Steve Chabot as well as local Republican leaders and DeWine supporters.
Most of the spectators at the airport received special invitations from airport employees or secret service staff.

Evan Martin skipped class from Scott High School in Taylor Mill to see the president fly into Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Martin, 16, a self-described Bush fan, said he watches the president’s speeches and actions every night on Fox News.

"I am a big fan of his," Martin beamed. "I have been watching him on television everyday. I watch Fox News a lot. I’m just excited to be here."

Dan Henson, of Milford, said didn’t pass up the invitation from an airport employee to see the president land in Air Force One. Thursday marked his second time seeing Bush in person. The first time was at a campaign stop on Halloween in Great American Ballpark.

Presidential visits have the atmosphere of a holiday, he said.

"It is several hours of waiting and anticipation and then it seems really brief," Henson said. "It is kind of like Christmas. You hurry up and wait and then it happens."

Justin Scher, and employee at the airport and Florence resident, had his camera ready to capture an image of Bush. The highest official in the country he had ever seen prior to Thursday was former Vice President Dan Quayle.

"It is pretty exciting," Scher said. "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

The last pool report

Pool report #4
Indian hill to Andrews
Feb. 23

No news. No color.
Depart hauser home 6:15. Same small crowds enroute.
Arrive airport 6:49
Wheels up 6:57
Arr adw 7:46

Jim Gerstenzang
L.A. Times

"This is history"

The 32-vehicle motorcade consisted of nine motorcycles, five Cincinnati Police cruisers, a Hamilton County Sheriff's deputy, a Kentucky State Patrol car, an ambulance and the "package" -- 15 Secret Service vehicles, support vans and the presidential limousine.

It sped out of Indian Hill as quickly as it came, greeted by somewhat smaller crowd.

Tammy Barnes, a stay-at-home mom from Montgomery, brought her two children to catch a glimpse of the president at the Madeira-Sycamore Township line.

"They don't know history, but this is history," she said, as 8-year-old daughter Maria struggled to wave a flagpole as tall as she was. "We're at war, and people need to support him and support our troops."

The final minutes

The Kentucky Enquirer's Scott Wartman reports from CVG:

Mercer Reynolds, the Indian Hill man who served as Bush's chief fund-raiser in the 2004 election, accompanied the president back to the airport in the limousine.

Bush departed with even less fanfare than his arrival, walking up the stairs, making a perfunctory wave in a single motion. Ten minutes later -- at about 7 p.m. -- it was wheels up for Air Force One.

That puts the total time on the ground at just over three hours.

The president has left the region

Wheels up at 7 p.m.

Motorcade update

Presidential motorcade just passed Enquirer building downtown, heading back to CVG.

If you're counting....or stuck in traffic...

There are 32 vehicles in the presidential motorcade, Greg Korte reports. It's heading down I-71 south now.

Prez leaves early

The president’s motorcade left Deer Crossing Lane at 6:15 p.m., 25 minutes ahead of the official schedule for the trip back to the airport.

What White House reporters read:

Addition to pool report #3: According to today's Cincinnati Enquirer, the hosts are Mark Hauser, 45, the CEO of the Hauser Group, an insurance company, and his wife Margie Hauser, 43.

Jim Gerstenzang
Los Angeles Times

And ... Who pays for Air Force One?

According to White House spokesman Allen Abney, taxpayer dollars are NOT used for Air Force One to fly the president to campaign events.

So today’s jaunt to South Bend, Ind., for a campaign event for Rep. Chris Chocola, and to Cincinnati for tonight’s Sen. Mike DeWine fundraiser, will be paid for by the two campaigns, Abney said.

Abney did not provide an estimate of the cost, but said it would cover the cost of fuel needed for the flight and the salary of the pilots who fly Air Force One. It would not cover the salaries of the White House staff who accompanied the president on the trip, he said.

Abney noted that if the president were to hold an official event at the same time that he does a campaign event -- as he did frequently during his re-election campaign -- a formula would be used to calculate what the White House pays for and what the Bush campaign pays for.

That was the case back in June 2004 when Bush flew into Cincinnati to hold an official event at the Talbert House, followed by a campaign fundraiser at the Indian Hill home of Bill DeWitt.

The White House traveling "pool report"

These are filed by a reporter assigned to a small "pool" that travels with the president. That report files a report that can be used by other reporters when they file stories.

Pool Report #3
Mishawaka, Ind. to Indian Hill, Ohio
February 23, 2006

No news. No words.

President spent his downtime at the South Bend Marriott, as far as your pool can tell. We did not see him enter or depart the building. Headed to the airport about a half-hour ahead of schedule, and remained ahead of schedule up to this point (now at the Hauser home in Indian Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati). The fundraiser is a $1-million affair, for DeWine et al. The venue is a large two-story, wood-frame house with stone chimney; it would not have been out of place in Potomac or Great Falls about 30 years ago. The lane is called "Deer Crossing."

Motorcades thus far uneventful. Clusters of the curious gathered occasionally over the final mile or two. At one intersection there was a crowd of perhaps 50-100 people, some with U.S. flags, one "Oust DeWine" sign and one sign reading "Stop Spying."

Arrived at the Hauser home at 4:32 p.m.

Jim Gerstenzang
Los Angeles Times

What Bush did at CVG

Kentucky Enquirer reporter Scott Wartman reports from CVG:

On his arrival at the airport Thursday afternoon, president Bush thanked a small group of Ohio supporters for helping him win Ohio’s electoral votes in the 2004 election.

“It is humbling that he remembered us and thanked us,’’ said Warren county commissioner Dave Young, who was among the small group of Ohio Republicans who greeted the president when he arrived for the DeWine fundraiser.

“It was so inspiring,’’ Young said. “Not just that it was george Bush, but that it was the president of the United States.’’

Two area members of Congress – Steve Chabot and Jean Schmidt – were on the tarmac at the airport to greet as Bush, as were two of his biggest financial supporters in the area – former ambassador Mercer Reynolds and Chad Wick, president and CEO of KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

Also on hand were Scott Lepsky, chairman of the DeWine campaign in Butler County, and Michael Newman, the Hamilton County DeWine chairman.

"G. W. is my homeboi"

At 4:30 p.m., the leading edge of the motorcade, travelling at about 35 mph, passed the hundreds-strong crowd at Miami and Euclid avenues in Madeira -- but by that time there seemed to be as many supporters as protesters.

The difference: Many of the supporters seemed to have just happened upon the roadblock, while the protesters had been camped out for hours.

Tony Gallenstein, a 17-year-old senior at Madeira High School, said he would have been there earlier -- except that he had an appointment with a Navy recruiter.

Fellow student Alex Shaw, 17, the junior class presiden, held an impromptu cardboard sign that said, "G.W. is my homeboi."

"I support a lot of the things he's doing," he said, wearing a short-sleeved shirt in . "My brother is in Iraq, so I think it's important to support the troops and support the president."

Jeff Sinnard, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the second district, held this sign: "Dear Mr. President: I do not support your warrantless spying on Americans." He then put his cell phone number on the sign and invited the president to eavesdrop.

He said he doubted the president would see his sign, but showed up to show the world that "there's a voice here that's different from what you typically hear in this area."

Bush at Hausers'

The Bush motorcade arrived at the Hausers’ home on Deer Crossing Lane at 4:34 p.m., after passing through downtown Madeira, where dozens of prostesters and supporters waived competing signs.

A tent was set up on the side of the Hausers’ home so the president could go directly from his limousine into the home, where about 150 supporters of Sen. Mike DeWine had been waiting for the past two hours.

Motorcade update

The presidential motorcade just passed Miami Avenue on Euclid.

Motorcade update

Air Force One’s wheels touched the tarmac at the airport at 3:55 p.m. After a brief greeting with a small group of Republicans there to greet him, the presidential motorcade left the airport and headed out on to Interstate 275 to Interstates 75/71. Northbound traffic was shut down in a rolling roadblock as the motorcade passed; southbound lanes remained open.

The motorcade crossed theBrent Spence Bridge into Ohio at 4:18 p.m. and turned on to Fort Washington Way a minute later.

The Democratic National Committee weighs in

This release came from the Democratic National Committee

DeWine Ducks Bush, But Takes Campaign Cash

Washington, DC - One week after refusing to stand with President Bush during a major policy speech in Ohio, Republican Senator Mike DeWine today is more than willing to accept campaign cash from the President's special interest friends. Of course, DeWine's attempts to keep President Bush at arms length might have something to do with the President's paltry 38 percent approval rating in Ohio. [New York Times, 2/16/06]

President Bush has earned his dismal approval ratings. Because of President Bush's misplaced priorities and budget cuts supported by Republicans like DeWine, Ohio has lost 186,400 jobs since 2000, 34,000 more Ohioans lack health insurance, and 52,362 Ohio schoolchildren have gone without after-school programs.

"President Bush's policies may be political poison for Mike DeWine, but apparently his money is still good as gold," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera. "As much as DeWine tries to distance himself from the Republican record of corruption, cronyism and incompetence, Ohio voters know that Senator DeWine has consistently joined President Bush and the Republicans in Washington in putting special interests ahead of Ohio's working families.

"Ohio voters deserve strong Democratic leaders like Sherrod Brown, who they can count on to fight the Republican culture of corruption, refocus our government on creating jobs that stay in Ohio, improve access to affordable health care, and promote a strong public education system that restores opportunity and optimism for everyone."

The motorcade has left CVG

Air Force One landed about 3:50 p.m. President Bush got out exactly at 4 p.m., and waved from the door of the plane.

Report from Madeira protests

Reporter Greg Korte reports from Madeira:

By 2:30 p.m., about 30 protesters had taken up positions at the corner of Miami and Euclid avenues in Madeira. Most held anti-war signs, but others complained about the economy, social issues, the domestic spying program and Washington lobbyist scandals. A half-hour later, the crowd had doubled.

Most doubted that the president would drive by. But they said their goal was just to show that it's acceptable to protest -- even in this predominately Republican part of town.

"I want people to see that we're not happy with the direction the president is taking us. And I want people to see that it's O.K. to oppose that," said Linda Perrone, a 44-year-old homemaker from Sharonville. As she spoke, passing drivers honked, cheered -- and sometimes jeered -- the protesters.

"They just assume we're all Democrats," she said.

But there was at least one Republican in the crowd.

Patty Thomas, a 59-year-old school health aide from West Chester, said she campaigned for U.S. Rep. John Boehner and believes in the GOP platform.

She said she resented that the president was mingling with Cincinnati's upper crust when he should be attending to Iraq and hurricane relief efforts.

"That's the biggest problem I have with Bush. He doesn't live in the real world," said Thomas. "His presence in Indian Hill today just shows that. He's had a padded ride with everything he does."

Guess who else got a free ticket?

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters confirmed to the Enquirer this afternoon that he got two free tickets to Sen. Mike DeWine’s fundraiser with President Bush at a private Indian Hill home today.

Deters, who spoke on his cell phone as he was entering the event site, said he took WLW 700 talk show host Bill Cunningham as his guest.

“It’s always a good time to see the president,” Deters said.

We already know that Republican Reps. Steve Chabot of Westwood and Jean Schmidt of Miami Township, who will be meeting Bush at the airport and riding in his motorcade to the event, got free tickets to the fundraiser (even though Schmidt also donated the required $4,200 to DeWine's campaign).

But what about DeWine’s son, Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine, who came in a distant fourth to Schmidt in last year’s special election primary for the 2nd District?

“I think it’s safe to assume that family members will be allowed in free of charge,” DeWine campaign manager Brian Seitchik said.

Air Force One has landed!

Reporter Scott Wartman reports from CVG that Air Force One has landed.

Madeira protests

By 2:30 p.m., about 30 protesters had taken up positions at the corner of Miami and Euclid avenues in Madeira.

Most held anti-war signs, but others complained about the economy, social issues, the domestic spying program and Washington lobbyist scandals.

Can Indian Hill top these gifts?

When President Bush was in South Bend today for an appearance with an Indiana congressman, Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis presented him with two jerseys, both Notre Dame home blue, numbered 43 for himself and 41 for his father.

"G. W. Nixon"

Shortly after 2 p.m. - hours before Air Force One was scheduled to arrive at the airport - about a dozen Democratic activists from a variety of organizations gathered with protest signs at the corner of Montgomery and Cooper roads in downtown Montgomery, about one mile from the Indian Hill home where the president was to attend a fundraiser for Sen. Mike DeWine.

The protestors - most of them from Democracy For Cincinnati and Ohio Young Democrats - struggled in a brisk wind to hang onto their homemade, hand-lettered signs with a variety of anti-Bush messages - "Got Jobs?, "G.W. Nixon,'' and one that urged less money for DeWine and more for body armor for american troops.

Marilyn Daimoff of Springfield Township waved her "Got Jobs'' at passing traffic until it blew out of her hands and straight across Montgomery road.

Her friend, Carol Danko of Springfield Township, said they came out to show the public - and hopefully, the president, if his motorcade were to pass by - "that not everybody in Cincinnati is a right-wing Republican."

"We want him to know there are plenty of us here who are against his policies, whether it is turning the ports over to Arabs, Medicaid cuts, global warminig, the tragedy in Darfur - there's no end to the issues we disagree with this administration on,'' Danko said.

A loose coalition of Democratic and left-wing organization had a second demonstration going on at the corner of Euclid and Miami avenues in Madeira, in case the motorcade passed that way.

John who?

A new poll out today from National Journal’s “The Hotline” found that the overwhelming majority of Americans – 72 percent – have never heard of new House Majority Leader John Boehner, a West Chester Republican.

By comparison, only 24 percent had not heard of Boehner’s predecessor in the job, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

The poll found that when people were asked to name who replaced DeLay, only 9 percent named Boehner. Two percent named someone else and a whopping 87 percent had no idea. Among Republican voters only, 12 percent were able to name Boehner but 3 percent got the question wrong and 83 percent still were without a clue.

The poll, conducted by Financial Dynamics, was done Feb. 16-19 and included a survey of 807 registered voters, 37 percent Democrats, 36 percent Republicans and 20 percent independents. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Click here to read the questions asked in the poll.

President Bush protests

Democrats are planning Bush protests this afternoon in Montgomery and Madeira. Updates coming.

DeWine's opponent weighs in on Bush visit

Rep. Sherrod Brown, the leading Democrat running against Sen. Mike DeWine, issued this statement Thursday about President Bush's visit to Indian Hill today for a DeWine fundraiser:

“President Bush is in Ohio tonight to thank Mike DeWine for his vote on the Medicare privatization bill written by the drug companies, his vote on the energy bill written by the oil companies, and his support for privatizing Social Security,” said Brown.

“But when I travel across the state, Ohioans thank me for fighting on the other side of every one of those issues.”Brown is returning home to Lorain County today after a statewide tour earlier this week. He met with senior citizens, students, teachers, workers, and labor and community leaders. "2006 is a year for change," Brown said.

"For too long our government has been used by Republican leadership as a pay-to-play profit center." On Wednesday, Brown toured a factory in Putnam County that produces armor plating for U.S. Military vehicles in Iraq. Some of the plant’s operations are slated to be moved to Mexico. Earlier in the week, he met with seniors devastated by the Medicare Part D program and with students who have seen student loan programs drastically cut.

“I’m sure President Bush appreciates Mike DeWine’s help with job-killing trade agreements like CAFTA, but the people of Ohio don’t feel the same way,” said Brown.

“Maybe that’s why DeWine doesn’t want to be seen with President Bush in public.” DeWine failed to appear at health care event last week with the president at the Wendy’s Headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. Tonight's fundraiser is reported to include a photo opportunity with the president for $10,000 a photo.

The President will not be appearing in public during his visit to Ohio today.

Aboard Air Force One

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One at 10:47 a.m. this morning in route to South Bend, Ind., where the President Bush will headline a fundraiser for Congressman Chris Chocola, R-Ind., before flying to Cincinnati for an evening fundraiser for Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio.

During the press conference, Perino was asked whether Republicans who oppose the president's plan to turn over the operation of six major U.S. ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirites still want the president to campaign for them.

Here is an excerpt from the press conference transcript:
Q: Given the Republican complaints about this ports deal, is the president still getting a lot of invites to attend fundraisers like this today?

MS. PERINO: I checked on that this morning. In fact, we are getting daily requests for the president to participate in campaign events. In fact, the supply is not keeping up with demand. You also heard from the President in his press conference on January 26th, in which he said that he wants to be out there campaigning, so I can expect you'll see him out on the road supporting Republican candidates.

Q: Can you quantify that a little bit? You said you checked into it. How many pending requests are there?

MS. PERINO: I'll see if there's anything I can add. I don't know.
It should be noted that DeWine's office has been asked by the Enquirer several times this week what his stance is on the port deal, but he has declined to comment on it. Could it be that he doesn't want to oppose Bush when Bush is coming to his aid?

(Photo from Boeing.)

Bush headed to Midwest

President Bush has left Washington - though not for Cincinnati yet.

He was near South Bend, Ind. this afternoon - actually, Mishawaka - for a fundraiser and speech on behalf of Rep. Chris Chocola, R-Ind.

The president will be heading here later this afternoon for a Sen. Mike DeWine fundraiser in Indian Hill. You can follow his visit here at the blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Schmidt, Chabot, DeWine meeting Bush at airport

President Bush will be in Ohio tomorrow to headline a campaign fundraiser with Sen. Mike DeWine of Cedarville. The event is being held at a private home in Indian Hill. Be sure to check out Thursday's Enquirer for more details about the event and the significance of Bush's visit.

In the meantime, here are some things we found out about the event...

DeWine and Republican Reps. Steve Chabot and Jean Schmidt are all planning to meet President Bush at the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport and ride with the president’s motorcade to the Indian Hill home where the fundraiser is being held, according to White House spokesman Allen Abney.

Abney couldn't say, however, whether the lawmakers would ride in the same car as the president, or in another car that is a part of the motorcade.

As we reported earlier, the fundraiser costs between $4,200 and $10,000 to attend. But neither Schmidt nor Chabot were required to purchase a ticket to the event, DeWine campaign spokesman Brian Seitchik said. In other words, they were invited by the senator to attend free of charge.

Still, Schmidt, whose southern Ohio district includes Indian Hill, planned to donate $2,100 from her campaign fund to DeWine’s re-election, which comes on top of $2,100 she’s already given the senator.

Chabot wasn’t planning to pay to attend the fundraiser, his office said.

Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Hebron, Ky., also doesn’t plan to meet the president at the airport, which is in his district, or attend the fundraiser.

"Congressman Davis was not contacted by the White House or invited to participate," spokesman Justin Brasell said. "It’s an event in Ohio, why would we go?"

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader John Boehner of West Chester and Republican Sens. George Voinovich of Cleveland and Jim Bunning of Southgate, Ky., won’t be in the area and don’t plan to attend DeWine’s event, their offices said. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville also is not attending DeWine's event, his office said.

In case you are wondering, former Rep. Bob McEwen, who is challenging Schmidt in the GOP primary May 2, had considered attending the fundraiser but decided instead to keep his previously scheduled commitments, spokesman Michael Harlow said.

While DeWine, Chabot and Schmidt rub elbows with the chief executive, Harlow will be chatting up would-be voters at a Blue Chip Young Republicans’ happy hour in Mt. Adams while McEwen hits the Sharonville Republican Club’s monthly meeting and a Clermont 20/20 event.

*Note schedule correction: Harlow will be attending BCYR event, not McEwen.*

(Photo, courtesy of the White House, shows Bush congratulating DeWine after signing in 2003 the senator's bill to require drugs to be tested for children.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hackett: Brown campaign spread rumors

Read the story in today's Enquirer about Hackett's claims made on MSNBC's Hardball here.

Also, seems at least one publication is already pushing Hackett to run for president.

Hackett on Hardball - Transcripts

Here's the transcript from Paul Hackett's appearance on MSNBC's Hardball last night, courtesy of MSNBC:

SECAUCUS, NJ - February 20, 2006 - In his first television interview since withdrawing from the Ohio Senate primary race, Paul Hackett talked to Chris Matthews tonight on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" (5 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET). Hackett was seeking the Democratic Party's nomination in a race that will challenge Republican incumbent Mike DeWine. Last year, Hackett narrowly lost to Republican Jean Schmidt in the Ohio congressional race. Hackett's interview aired live at 5 p.m. (ET) and will repeat at 7 p.m. (ET).
Below is the entire transcript from tonight's interview.
"Hardball telecasts Monday through Friday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. (ET). Tammy Haddad is executive producer.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: Joining me now is Paul Hackett in his first television interview since ending his run for the U.S. Senate in Ohio.
Major Hackett, thank you for joining us.
HACKETT: Sir, thanks for having me on.
MATTHEWS: You know, I, as a journalist and as a person who loves to watch big debates in this country, was hoping that your race would be one of the races in that country we could all watch this November and say now there's a guy who thinks the war in Iraq is wrong, the wrong policy. He's taken on the policy. The voters are going to get to vote on this war.
Now they don't get that chance, do they, because you pulled out?
HACKETT: That's true I suspect. I think obviously the voice I would have brought to it would have been unique, and it certainly would have been exciting. And the reality though is I had to make a tough decision based on the amount of money it would take to close the race in the ensuing three months.
MATTHEWS: Why didn't you go down shooting? Why didn't you just run and even if you risk losing, everybody risks losing, why didn't you?
HACKETT: Well, I have to ask myself what does that achieve in the end, what does it achieve for my party, the Democratic Party, which I me to be successful in November. And I have to ask what it achieves for my staff and for my family personally. And, you know, I didn't see anything positive coming out of that.
MATTHEWS: Did you see yourself losing?
HACKETT: What we found was if we were able to raise the money, we would have been successful in the primary, but that's $3 million.
MATTHEWS: To win the primary?
MATTHEWS: Over the general question to win.
HACKETT: Total of $15 million is what I am told.
MATTHEWS: And if you hadn't had that money, you wouldn't have been able to win?
HACKETT: No, I wouldn't have been able to get my message out. I would have been responding to somebody else's message, and I didn't relish the idea of being on the receiving end of somebody else's attack without being able to swing back.
MATTHEWS: OK. So you pulled out of the race under pressure from the Democratic leaders.
Say it your way.
HACKETT: Yes, sure. I was encouraged to get into this race, and I answered that call. And I was asked to step aside in this race, and I answered that call too. It doesn't make me happy, but in the final analysis, I pride myself in being a team player. But, you know, there are times when you get asked to sit down and you're not necessarily happy about that.
MATTHEWS: You know, I've watched politics for 30 some years now and I have never heard of a candidate being urged by party leaders to run and then told not to run once they told him to run. What happened here? Tell me the sequence. When did you get to asked to run for the United States Senate?
HACKETT: Shortly after the congressional race. I was called by Senator Schumer. I was called by...
MATTHEWS: Chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
HACKETT: Yes. And I was called by Senator Reid and...
MATTHEWS: The leading Democrat.
HACKETT: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: And they both said...
HACKETT: They called my wife too.
MATTHEWS: And they said Paul Hackett, run for the Senate in Ohio.
HACKETT: Yes, you know, they actually -- you know what they said is they said your country needs you, and for a guy like me with my military background, you know, that's like waving drugs in front of an addict.
MATTHEWS: Sure. Did both the Democratic leaders that called you, Chuck Schumer of New York, the chairman of the campaign committee, and Harry Reid, the minority leader of the Senate -- did both say they would back you? Did you hear those words?
HACKETT: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Financially and otherwise.
MATTHEWS: And how many months later did you get the notion that they weren't backing you?
HACKETT: Well, it became pretty clear shortly after Sherrod Brown announced that he was getting into the race. The phone calls stopped coming, and at that point, you know, there was...
MATTHEWS: Did you call home and say are you guys still with me?
MATTHEWS: And what did they say?
HACKETT: And the response was we're going to be neutral in a primary.
MATTHEWS: So they went from endorsement to neutrality.
HACKETT: They went from endorsement to neutrality to eventually pecking sides, which, you know, that's politics.
MATTHEWS: But why did they do that? You're talking about the leadership of the Democratic Party nationally. Did you have the support of Howard Dean, the chairman of the party?
HACKETT: He was always very supportive.
MATTHEWS: Is he supportive of you now?
HACKETT: In the sense that yes, I mean, he...
MATTHEWS: But did he pull the rug out from under you like the other guys did?
HACKETT: No, my take on it is I don't think he really had the ability to influence the...
MATTHEWS: So he's a figure head?
HACKETT: I didn't say that.
MATTHEWS: Well what is he if he's the chairman of the party and he can't endorse a candidate? What is he?
HACKETT: I think he's a voice of the party. I think he is an important fund-raising element in the party. But I don't necessarily think that he is able to control elected officials.
MATTHEWS: When you look around the country, Major Hackett, do you see any other people on the Democratic side or on the Republican side making an issue of the war in Iraq as a campaign issue for the American people to address this fall?
HACKETT: I think most of the veterans who have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan are making that an issue. At this point, they don't have the same notoriety if you will, or infamy.
MATTHEWS: No it's not -- you had a lot of people out there on the people who don't think this policy is good for America and didn't think so from the beginning, but there are very few clear candidates out there that said, "No, this war has been wrong from the beginning. I didn't vote to authorize the war. I don't think it's good U.S. policy, I'm a patriot. This is not helping our position in the world."
The country, I think, needs a kind of debate like that. I would argue because we didn't have one before we went to war. It's healthy to debate and it's especially necessary to debate war and peace, I think. Do you agree?
HACKETT: Obviously.
MATTHEWS: Well then why did you quit the race?
HACKETT: Three million bucks, $3 million. I mean, that is the ugly reality -- it's the ugly...
MATTHEWS: ... You can't get on the -- in other words, you can't win.
MATTHEWS: Because the other side can waste you.
HACKETT: Exactly. I mean, to put it in military terms, I can't shape the battlefield.
MATTHEWS: Schwarzkopf's words.
MATTHEWS: Because the other side can waste you and then you have to spend money to defend your good name.
MATTHEWS: We'll come back and talk about that. I want you to give us a lesson in civics here, for the people watching on President's Day. It's a good patriotic holiday, and they may have not agree with you on the war. Half the country agrees with you, half doesn't. But I think they ought to hear about how politics works and you ought to give them your benefit -- by the way, you still probably should run for office somewhere. More with Paul Hackett after the break.
And later on in the program, I'll talk to a former CIA intelligence officer who says the Bush administration cherry-picked information to make its case for war in Iraq. You're watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, more with Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett in his first national interview since quitting that Ohio Senate race, when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: We're back with Iraq war veteran and former Senate candidate Paul Hackett. Major Hackett, let me ask you about the decision to pull out of this race. You went in with the endorsement of the chairman of the Senate Democratic campaign committee, Charles Schumer of New York. It's his job to recruit candidates like you, he recruited you, right?
MATTHEWS: And then recruited by Harry Reid, the party leader.
MATTHEWS: So you were a recruit going into a new mission, you thought.
MATTHEWS: I'm serious, you were called into the mission by the top guys, you wouldn't have done it without their call, right?
HACKETT: Absolutely correct.
MATTHEWS: So you were recruited, you were a volunteer in this army of the Democratic Party against the war? Right? You're smiling, but it's what happened. You're taking this too easy.
HACKETT: Like a good attorney, I'm trying to see where we're going here.
MATTHEWS: Where we're going is why you think they buckled. Did you make too many comments that were hard for them to defend? Was anything you did after the recruitment of you that justified their loss of faith?
HACKETT: Not from my perspective, but I'm sure that my outspokenness on the war issue and many other issues that I believe in made them nervous.
MATTHEWS: Did you call Bush a coke head before or after they endorsed you?
HACKETT: That's a good question. I don't remember. Actually, it was before, but it was -- it was published subsequently, but you know back then -- he hasn't denied it.
MATTHEWS: Don't get into that. I will not do that on this show. I have no evidence the president has ever used coke. He's admitted having an alcohol problem, I used to have one, I admit it. Don't get into this if you can't prove it.
HACKETT: Right, got it.
MATTHEWS: Accept that as a condition?
HACKETT: All right, yes, yes.
MATTHEWS: Three months in the stockade. OK, let's talk about this here. When they told you to get out, because they never answered your calls, what was the final straw you decided, "I cannot wage an anti-war candidacy in a middle of the road state like Ohio, I can't wage one," because I'm curious why we're not really going to see one this year in this country.
HACKETT: Well I don't agree with the premise that -- first of all, that I was waging solely an anti-war campaign. I mean, I was talking about a lot of important issues, not the least of which is the economy.
And I think that the anti-war campaign if you will, can be effective if articulated correctly and accurately. And obviously I think that somebody who had served as I have in Iraq has the ability to have that discussion, and have a little bit of insulation against the Karl Rove attack, which is going to come obviously against all Democrats running in 2006.
I mean, he made no secret of it that he will attack Democrats in 2006 for being unpatriotic, for being weak on defense and national security. I actually think that my service in Iraq insulates me from that because there aren't...
MATTHEWS: ... They weren't going to swift boat you?
HACKETT: Well, with the Republicans, I anticipated the Republicans why going to swift boat me. I didn't anticipate that the Democrats were going to swift boat me and that was the surprise.
MATTHEWS: Who was doing that on the Democratic side?
HACKETT: You know, the word came from many Democratic chairs in the state of Ohio that my primary opponent was spreading rumors about my service in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: What was he saying?
HACKETT: I don't know. He never said them to me, but I would hear back from Democratic chairs that I had...
MATTHEWS: ... What are these photographs they're talking about? What do they have of you doing?
HACKETT: I have no idea. I can only tell you that I served my country honorably.
MATTHEWS: But there's no such thing as photographs out there showing you playing around with parts, human body parts.
HACKETT: Absolutely preposterous.
MATTHEWS: But you've heard these stories.
HACKETT: I have heard those stories and they're absolutely preposterous. I invite anybody who wants to make those allegations to come onto your show. I'll meet them here.
MATTHEWS: Did Sherrod Brown make those accusations?
HACKETT: That's what I'm told by make county chairs.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe it?
HACKETT: It came from...
MATTHEWS: ... Based upon the people you heard it from, do you believe that Sherrod Brown, the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate in Ohio, attacked -- was whispering about an opponent in the -- potential opponent, in fact, at the time, an opponent -- was an Iraq war veteran who was behaving in a dastardly way with a victim of the war?
HACKETT: Do I believe that it came from his campaign? Yes, I do believe it came from his campaign.
MATTHEWS: And you have reason for believing that?
HACKETT: My reason for believing it?
HACKETT: From the multiple different sources throughout Ohio, all consistently pointing in that direction.
MATTHEWS: Have any of those sources gone on the record with newspapers or T.V. or anywhere?
HACKETT: Some of them have been interviewed by "The New York Times" and some other sources.
MATTHEWS: And they haven't been pick up then, that they haven't been trusted, or what?
HACKETT: I think that they have not specifically said to them what they specifically said to me.
MATTHEWS: Would you swear on a stack of bibles right now that Sherrod Brown has told untrue things about your war service?
HACKETT: Well I would swear that many people have come to me and said that, because that is a fact.
MATTHEWS: Have you ever asked him?
HACKETT: No, I have not spoken to him or anybody on his staff literally in months.
MATTHEWS: Well, when you do, let us know.
HACKETT: I will, indeed.
MATTHEWS: Major Paul Hackett is not running for the Senate -- will you ever run for office again?
HACKETT: Probably not. I want to be a part of politics as you may know, I've joined the IAVA, the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America.
MATTHEWS: Are they anti-war?
HACKETT: Yes, in the sense that they want to bring a swift and quick conclusion to the war on Iraq.
MATTHEWS: I'm sorry, Major -- who do we have -- who do you have out there that you have faith in as an anti-war critic, a critic of the war who's running for office this November?
HACKETT: I think all the IVA's. Andy Horn down in Kentucky, there are a number of others around. Eric Massa up in New York. There are a number of candidates around who have served their country in combat and in other conflicts, who have the same belief that I do, that the military was misused in Iraq. And that's really what -- that's what the conclusion is. The military was misused in Iraq by this administration.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for playing out here in Washington and happy President's Day.
HACKETT: We didn't even talk about civics.
MATTHEWS: It wasn't George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but we still know who we're really talking about, those two guys. Thank you, Paul Hackett.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Latest poll: Strickland opens lead on Blackwell

U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Democrat from Lisbon, has widened his lead over potential Republican opponents in the Ohio governor's race, according to the latest independent poll.

Strickland leads Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell of Cincinnati, 47 percent to 35 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports.

The results released Sunday indicate a gain of 8 percentage points for Strickland over Blackwell since Rasmussen's last matchup released in January.

Strickland also leads Attorney General Jim Petro 44 percent to 37 percent, according to the monthly poll. That marks a slight gain since the previous Rasmussen poll.

Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery was the weakest candidate in the poll, but has since pulled out of the governor's race.

In a separate poll, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican, has opened a 9 percentage point lead over U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, leading 46 percent to 37 percent in the Senate campaign, according to Rasmussen.

A month ago, DeWine led Brown by five percentage points.

Rasmussen said Gov. Bob Taft "remains a drag on his party with a job approval rating of just 16 percent."

For more details, go to: http://www.tedstrickland.com/page/m/xsjrfqgrj6m/mG1zwk

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