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

Powered by Blogger

Saturday, March 01, 2008

One Republican NOT running from Cunningham

Committee to Elect Kathy King for Judge announces controversial celebrity endorsement

HAMILTON COUNTY, OHIO – In a heated battle for the only contested Hamilton County Judge race, controversial conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham has endorsed Magistrate Kathy King over Pat DeWine in the race for Judge in the Court of Common Pleas.

"I've known Kathy King for more than 30 years. She's a life-long Republican. She's been a magistrate in the Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations Division for 25 of those years. Kathy King is the only candidate who has spent her entire career preparing to become a judge. As an attorney, I know that in the courtroom, experience and preparation matter most when voting for judge. There's no comparison to Kathy King in this race, so I support Kathy King. It's a no-brainer!" said Cunningham.

Bill Cunningham has been a lightning rod of controversy surrounding his emotional warm-up at a recent Republican rally to support Presidential hopeful, John McCain earlier this week.

Asked how the controversy over Cunningham's remarks would affect her campaign for judge, Magistrate Kathy King replied, "Bill and I have been friends for over three decades. All during that time, I've never known him to back down from speaking his mind, no one can prevent him from speaking the truth, and Bill doesn't cave in to political pressure. He speaks from his heart. Bill Cunningham is truly a great American with a microphone and he isn't afraid to use it. I'm truly honored that Bill Cunningham endorsed me in this very important race for Judge in the Court of Common Pleas."

Bill Cunningham's recorded telephone message endorsing Kathy King for Judge is being placed to thousands of Republican households this weekend. To hear the recording in full, go to www.kathyking2008.org and click on the Bill Cunningham link. The entire script follows:

"Bill Cunningham here: I am a Great American, and I'm asking you as a fellow American, and resident of Hamilton County, to vote for Kathy King, a lifelong Republican, for judge.

Kathy King is running for judge against Pat DeWine because, like me, she knows that in the courtroom, experience matters. Kathy King has been a magistrate in the Common Pleas Court for 25 years. Kathy King has tried dozens of jury trials and hundreds of bench trials.

I've personally known Kathy King for 30 years and I'm asking you to join me and vote "Kathy King" for judge on Tuesday.

Paid for by the Committee to elect Kathy King, James King, treasurer.

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Kathy King, James King, Treasurer
5403 Cleves Warsaw Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45238


Friday, February 29, 2008

Mallory and Cunningham

Mayor Mark Mallory hopes to set the record straight about his on-air talk Tuesday with Willie Cunningham.

In a letter to the Enquirer editor today, the mayor writes, "Let's be clear, I do not support (Cunningham's) statements." He's referring, of course, to the controversial statements Cunningham made Tuesday in introducing presidential candidate Sen. John McCain at a Cincinnati rally. Cunninham repeatedly called Sen. Barack Obama by his full name - Barack Hussein Obama, angering Obama supporters and drawing a repudiation from McCain.

The confusion came when Mallory went on Cunningham's radio show shortly after the McCain rally. A local television Web site reported that the mayor had called in to the show to support Cunningham's statements. Mallory says he was already scheduled to talk to Cunningham that day - about his support for Obama, whom he endorsed.

In the almost 5-minute conversation, sent to us courtesy of 700WLW -- Cincinnati, Cunningham has to explain to Mallory what had happened that day. Mallory wasn't aware yet.

The host presses Mallory about whether he loves him. Mallory responds: "I love you, Willie Cunningham. Are you crazy?"

He also says he'll "stand with" Willie because Willie has stood with him.

Brunch with Madam Secretary

One of the target of Tuesday's Bill Cunningham insult-a-thon is coming to town Sunday to stump for Hillary Clinton.

Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the administration of Bill Clinton, will join local Clinton supporters for brunch at the Parkside Cafe (formerly a Frisch's Big Boy) on E. Millian near Victory Parkway in Walnut Hills. (A few brief scenes from one of Clinton's early Ohio TV ads was shot at the Parkside).

Hamilton County commissioner David Pepper and former congressman Tom Luken are hosting the event, which begins at 10:30 a.m. It's free and open to all, although if you want food, you can order up. The Clinton campaign is asking for RSVPs at swohio4hillary@gmail.com.

Watch For This Ad From Steve Black

Updated: Vic Wulsin's campaign issued this statement about the ad:

Black Lies to Voters

Continues His Negative Campaign Of Smear And “Innuendo”

With one last dying gasp, Steve Black’s campaign, in a desperate effort to mislead the voters, is accusing Vic Wulsin of covering up experiments described in press accounts a full 10 years before her work occurred.

Steve Black’s inability to connect with voters on the issues that matter to the people of Ohio led him to run this baseless and negative ad.

The Cincinnati Enquirer described Black’s attacks as “based more on innuendo than fact,” and the Dayton Daily News said the attacks “don’t wash.” Both papers took Black to task for running a negative campaign against Wulsin.

In his commercial, Steve Black supports his misleading claims with an LA Times article from October 30, 1994.

Medical experiments: "Dangerous" "Scientifically unsound"
Source: Los Angeles Times, 10/30/94

What Steve Black doesn’t tell voters is that Vic Wulsin’s work for the Heimlich Institute was in 2004, a decade after the article was written. How could Dr. Wulsin be responsible for “covering up” experiments described in a newspaper article ten years earlier?

The answer, of course, is that she didn’t cover up anything. Dr. Wulsin, as she has maintained all along, did nothing wrong. She was hired by The Heimlich Institute to perform a literature review and was fired when the Institute realized her report opposed further research without proof of effectiveness and significantly upgraded standards of review.

In fact, Steve Black supported Vic Wulsin in her 2006 run against Jean Schmidt, and the families have known each other for decades. His $1000 donation to her campaign was the largest he's ever given to a Democrat.

With over 270 physicians donating to her campaign and support from the political arms of the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association, Wulsin’s reputation and character should not be in question.

There's a new anti-Victoria Wulsin ad from the Steve Black campaign that essentially accuses Wulsin of covering up controversial experiments with AIDS patients and malaria.

Dan Herkert, Black's campaign manager, said the ad wasn't pulled from Ch. 5, as had been believed by the Wulsin camp. If it ran, Herkert said, it ran too early - it's supposed to air tonight through Monday night.

He wouldn't tell Enquirer reporter Margaret McGurk today how much the campaign spent on the ad or whether it will run on other stations.

Jerry Imsicke, Channel 5's political sales manager, said this afternoon that the ad had already aired several times and would continue to do so. "It's not going to be pulled."

The ad's referring to a complaint against Wulsin from Dr. Robert Baratz, a Massachusetts doctor and long-time critic of Dr. Henry Heimlich. Wulsin once worked for the Heimlich Institute. Baratz's 2006 letter to the Ohio Medical Board accusing Wulsin of unethical behavior has been a source of ammunition for Black. Baratz condemned Wulsin for conducting a literature review of the Heimlich Institute's controversial experiments using malaria on HIV/AIDS patients in China and Ethiopia. The medical board will not release any information about the resulting investigation. Wulsin said she did nothing wrong, and that she was fired when her report to Heimlich outed problems with the experiments.

Here's some of the wording in the ad, courtesy of the Wulsin camp:

It opens with a black and white picture of Black, reviewing papers, and with the standard words: "I'm Steve Black, and I approve this message."

"An institute's unethical experiment, horrifying but true; Deliberately infecting AIDS patients with malaria; Dr. Vic Wulsin could have blown the whistle, but didn't. She took their money and stayed silent."

"Medical experiments: "Dangerous" "scientifically unsound" source: LA Times, 10/30/94. Medical experts call the experiments dangerous and scientifically unsound."

"A council called for an investigation, charging Wulsin with covering up the experiments. Dangerous Experiments. A cover-up. Ohio deserves better than Dr. Vic Wulsin."

Portman: Cunningham crossed the line

Former congressman Rob Portman, who followed radio host Bill Cunningham on stage at the John McCain rally here Tuesday, said that if he could have heard Cunningham's insults from his perch backstage, he might have joined in McCain's on-the-spot repudiation of Cunningham too.

Portman - often mentioned as a potential running mate for McCain, whose candidacy he had endorsed that morning - said he was off-stage at Memorial Hall during Cunningham's 10-minute warm-up act, in which he hurled insults at Obama, the media and Democrats in general.

McCain didn't hear the Cunningham speech either - he was just entering the building as Cunningham spoke. But he was told about it after his speech to the party faithful at Memorial Hall. He marched out to the back of the theater where the local and traveling press were waiting to talk to the candidate.

Without being asked about it, McCain ripped into Cunningham, saying he would not tolerate personal attacks on his opponents. As McCain was talking, Portman was walking up to his side; he had been asked to come before the press to answer any questions about his support for McCain.

"At that point, I still wasn't sure what had been going on,'' Portman said.

Portman said he learned later what Cunningham had said.

"It was not only inappropriate in a presidential campaign; it is the kind of stuff that is not helpful to a presidential campaign,'' Portman said.

"Making fun of someone's name is not right for grade school election, or even a high school election, and certainly not in a presidential campaign,'' Portman said.

Cunningham has served an emcee or a warm-up act at countless republican rallies and fundraisers over the years. But Portman, who may run for Ohio governor in 2010, pointed out that he has never had Cunningham at one of his campaign events.

Happy Randy Jackson Day!

Today is Randy Jackson Day in the City of Cincinnati, declared by Mayor Mark Mallory.

Councilman Jeff Berding presented the proclamation this morning in a brief ceremony in the lobby of City Hall. Jackson, an American Idol judge, was in town to promote awareness of diabetes and heart disease. Berding's grandfather died of complications from diabetes and other family members currently have the disease.

"And," the councilman said, "I have a 9-year-old daughter who's a huge fan of American Idol."

Allie wanted to meet Jackson, but Berding decided she should go to school instead. Jackson agreed that was a wise decision. Allie did urge her dad to greet Jackson by calling him "Dog," which Jackson says all the time on the show.

Fox 19 anchor Sheila Gray's daughter asked to meet Jackson too, but was also told she had to go to school instead.

Absentee voting could top prior high

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said she expects a record number of absentee ballots cast in Tuesday's primary election, while projecting statewide turnout will be about 52 percent of Ohio's 8 million registered voters.

"I think the interest is so great in this election,'' she said at a Columbus news conference.

That's about 19 percent lower than turnout for the 2004 general election, but nearly 20 percent higher than that year's presidential primary.

Brunner said as many as one-fifth of the roughly 4 million voters expected to cast votes in Tuesday's primary will do so by absentee ballot, or at least 800,000 voters. The previous record for absentee ballots cast was 707,856 in the 2006 general election.

Brunner also promised tighter security protocols, and better media access to polling places and county Boards of Elections than in past elections. She was joined by Attorney General Marc Dann who said anyone attacking the integrity of the election through fraud or tampering will be prosecuted. "We will make sure they go to jail," Dann said.

"To tamper with a voting machine is a felony,'' Brunner added.

Brunner said all 88 counties are prepared to provide paper ballots to any voter who does not want to use an electronic touch-screen machine, if machines fail or the wait becomes excessive.


'Get out the Vote' rally at Miami U.

Tonight's hockey game between Miami and Ohio State universities, at Steve Cady Ice Arena in Oxford also will be the site of a "get out the vote rally."

The rally begins at 5:30 p.m. The hockey game starts two hours later.

Erik Smith, a Miami U. graduate working with the Ohio Public Interest Research Group's New Voters Project, said the aim is to mobilize students in advance so politicians "will pay attention to our issues. We really want to break the cycle of neglect."

Smith said youth organizers will be working around the clock in advance of Tuesday's presidential primary election to remind students to cast their votes.

Students leaders from the Miami University Associated Student Government will ask classmates to sign a pledge to vote, "showcasing old fashion grassroots peer-to-peer contact to mobilize students to the polls for the primary and beyond,'' Smith said.


CNN on the Cunningham flap

From Anderson Cooper 360. John King was reporting from Cincinnati Wednesday.

KING: At issue is Cunningham's warm up act at McCain's Tuesday Cincinnati rally.

CUNNINGHAM: Now we have a hack, Chicago-style Daley politician. Maybe start covering Barack Hussein Obama.

KING: Cunningham is a local legend invited by local Republicans who know he's a magnet for controversy.

MAGGIE NAFZINGER, EXEC. DIR., HAMILTON CO. REPUBLICAN PARTY: You're playing with a little bit of fire, but at the same time, I don't think anyone expected the comments.

KING: The media frustration for people like Maggie Nafzinger, headlines about the controversy not about McCain's political message.

The longer term worry is the impact among conservatives who already doubt McCain. Cincinnati is critical to Republican chances in close Ohio campaigns. While on Tuesday, Republicans called Cunningham a critical player, the clear goal Wednesday was to play down the potential damage.

NAFZINGER: I don't think that hurt Senator McCain at all. He is a conservative. He's clearly by far the most conservative in the race. So I don't think Bill Cunningham's comments will hurt Senator McCain at all.

KING: Bill Cunningham thinks his voice does matter.

CUNNINGHAM: McCain should lose this election and then let the Democrat win.

KING: He has 250 days to prove it.

John King, CNN, Cincinnati.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Local company used for Obama Early Vote campaign

Gilda Bailey started her Cincinnati charter bus service in August 2007 never expecting less than a year later she’d be shuttling early voters for the Barack Obama campaign. But that’s exactly what she’s doing.

Remember those buses outside Obama’s rally Monday at the University of Cincinnati? Those were hers. The company is called Cincinnati Specialty Tours.

Bailey said the Obama campaign called her and said it was interested in contracting with her company to get voters to the polls early. Bailey agreed. Her five buses and several vans have picked up folk from just about every neighborhood in the city to get them down to the Hamilton County Board of Elections downtown to vote early. The Obama campaign pays the gas. She donates her time. The cost to the voter: nothing.

And she’s keeping busy. The company’s shuttled hundreds more voters since the rally. “There’s been a steady stream of them,” Bailey said. She’d have more if she worked in Kentucky. She said many Kentucky residents at the Obama rally complained there wasn’t a similar shuttle for them.

The Early Voter service is called “OBAMA ’08 Rides.” She takes groups, or individuals. (And no, Bailey won’t follow you into the Elections Board office to make sure you did, indeed vote for Obama.)

Happy Birthday, John Cranley

Cincinnati Councilman John Cranley turns 34 today. That's 34 - not 24. He just looks 24, Mayor Mark Mallory joked.

Cranley's staff bought him a cake, and his colleagues sang Happy Birthday.

Candidate shoots the breeze, and everything else

Barrett J. Brunsman, the Enquirer’s Clermont County reporter, filed the following from Batavia:

Archie Wilson hopes voters in Tuesday’s Republican primary realize he’s uniquely qualified to unseat Clermont County Commissioner Mary Walker – and the ardent supporter of our constitutional right to keep and bear arms insists he isn’t just popping off.

"I’m a big-game hunter," Wilson says. "That’s my hobby. I’ve killed the big five. I’ve killed the lion, the leopard, the cape buffalo, the rhino and the elephant.

"So I’m not afraid to take on whatever I got to take on in March," says Wilson, 56.

A Batavia Township trustee, Wilson will compete for votes with Walker (a former Union Township trustee) as well as Miami Township Trustee Ed Humphrey and former Bethel Councilman Melvin A. Dean.

What sets Wilson apart, he says, is that voters can depend on him to clean up "the mess" in Clermont County.

That’s not just because of his background as a plumber, Wilson says, but also because he knows how to draw a bead on unethical behavior.

"If we don’t have the right ethics, we have nothing," Wilson says.

All three of the men view Walker as vulnerable because the Ohio Ethics Commission is investigating her in the wake of her vote for a $58,500 county contract for an engineering company run by her son, Mark Walker.

Wilson says nobody would get away with something like that if he were elected to the Board of County Commissioners.

"I know how to pull out a big gun If I have to," Wilson says. "You know what I mean?"

A 1969 graduate of Amelia High School, Wilson has experience managing multimillion-dollar budgets as both a Batavia Township trustee and a partner in Midwestern Plumbing Service.

"I’m still just a common man," Wilson says. "I’m just a poor country boy, (but) I run a tight budget."

However, it will also take courage to remedy what’s wrong with Clermont County, Wilson says.
"I’m about change," Wilson says. "That scares some people.

"I’ve spent time all over the world (hunting dangerous animals), and I’m not afraid," Wilson says.

"That’s my passion – because my heroes were people who hunted in Kentucky, like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, and it’s just my heritage," says Wilson, a native of Harlan County, Ky.

John McCain and the "Patriot Pastor"

Lost in the shuffle of Tuesday's John McCain-Bill Cunningham dust-up was that, at Tuesday's Memorial Hall rally, McCain had at his side the Rev. Rod Parsley, the Columbus mega-church pastor and televangelist who was out touting Ken Blackwell for Ohio governor in 2006.

(Parsley is on McCain's left in this photo; former senator Mike DeWine on his right.)

Parsley formed an organization called Reformation Ohio to get Christian conservatives registered to vote and bring them into the political process. In 2006, Parsley, pastor the World Harvest Church in Columbus, worked hand-in-glove with the Rev. Russell Johnson of Lancaster, who formed the Ohio Restoration Project in order to form a corps of "Patriot Pastors" who would spread the word among their flocks to support candidates like Blackwell.

At Memorial Hall, while McCain gave Cunningham a tongue-lashing for his disparaging remarks about Barack Obama, Parsley stood at the candidate's side, nodding his head in agreement.

McCain's repduation of Cunningham may have set off a wildfire of anti-McCain sentiment among the voters who listen to conservative talk radio, but having an influential evangelical leader like Parsley on his side might help cut McCain's losses.

Cunningham 'not a nuanced fellow'

Hardball's take on the Cunningham flap, from Wednesday:

Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst. And Michael Smerconish is a radio talk show host based in Philadelphia. Pat, what side are you on in this one? You have not just this guy Bill Cunningham. You have the head of the Republican party of Tennessee. You`ve got Rush Limbaugh all sort of taking the side to the right of McCain, if you will. I don`t know if that term applies here, ideological term, in saying, it is OK to basically trash this guy, humiliate him because of his middle name.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, you have to separate this, Chris. Bill Cunningham is not a nuanced fellow. He`s a Cincinnati talk show host, probably really famous in Cincinnati. Anybody who goes through is on the show and it is raw, rough, conservative rhetoric. McCain`s problem is he is using this fellow as a warmup for his own gathering and then when he denounces him, he is a member of the talk show host community, Cunningham is, so Sean Hannity comes to his rescue, Rush does and McCain has himself between a rock and a hard place.

MATTHEWS: You mean those guys are untouchables? You can`t attack them?

BUCHANAN: Well, you can go right ahead in attack them. You`ve got no problem. But that is part of the Republican base.

MATTHEWS: Should he have let it go?

BUCHANAN: I think -- No, here`s the thing, if the press asked him about it, he should have said, look, I don`t agree with those comments at all. Quite obviously, he made them. He is a talk show host. Here is what I believe. But I think he might have gone too far with this. Now he has a huge fight and he is in the middle of it. That thing in Tennessee, Chris, that is more interesting and they are going to -- we can talk about that.

MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you. The Tennessee Republican party today issued a press release, very well written here -- they know what they`re saying -- and it talks about -- it`s concerned about the future of the nation of Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East, if Barack Hussein Obama is elected president.

BUCHANAN: This is more serious stuff. Read through that. The whole effort there is to tie Barack Obama to radical Arabs who are tied to Hamas or Hezbollah and Farrakhan, and to drive a wedge between Obama and the Jewish community, and make him move to denounce Farrakhan or to basically - - well, basically denounce Farrakhan.

MATTHEWS: Well, he did last night.

BUCHANAN: And they are going to keep to driving these wedges to alienate the Jewish community, which likes McCain.

MATTHEWS: So it is partisanship.

BUCHANAN: That is more effective politics than what we have been talking about.

MATTHEWS: Michael, is this partisanship, bigotry, what is it? How do we talk about this issue fairly and honestly in politics? You have to do it on the radio every day.

did the right thing. I disagree with my friend Pat. First of all, relative to Cunningham, you know, you hire a magician for a kid`s party. Don`t be offended when somebody shows up with a rabbit. This is part of his schtick. This is what the guy does.

Where I think he crossed the line was with the reference to the middle name. Because, come on, usually when you referencing the middle name it is John Wayne Gacy, or it`s Mark David Chapman, or it`s Lee Harvey Oswald.

MATTHEWS: It`s a murderer.

SMERCONISH: In this case, what they`re saying -- let`s be clear. They are playing on that urban legend that the guy is a Muslim and he is not. I have no problem with anything that Cunningham said, because that is part of his persona, except for the middle name business, and John McCain should stay far away from it.

Steve Colbert on the McCain/Cunningham flap

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CPS video

Cincinnati school supporters hope this video will pick up steam in the viral video universe.

What Happened to the Pro-CPS Levy Resolution?

When it came time during Wednesday's Cincinnati City Council meeting to discuss Item #56, which was listed on the agenda for passage, Mayor Mark Mallory said instead that the item would be filed without a vote. The item was a resolution from Vice Mayor David Crowley and Councilman Jeff Berding expressing support for the Cincinnati Public Schools' emergency operating levy on the ballot next week.

Mallory's communications director, Jason Barron, said afterward that the mayor filed it because a majority of council members already had expressed their support for the levy - in a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday morning.

Others speculated that Mallory was trying to avoid giving levy opponents a platform to say negative things about the levy. Republicans Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel have said they don't support the levy.

Berding said he was OK with how the situation played out. He said he thinks it's more appropriate for council members to voice their support for such things in public press conferences like the one earlier Wednesday.

Zoo gets nod from chamber, unions and Jack Hanna

World renowned zoologist Jack Hanna and Cincinnati business and labor organizations are endorsing the March 4 levy for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Hanna is director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on the David Letterman show.

“The Cincinnati Zoo is a leader in the world in the conservation and breeding of endangered species and this can only be accomplished with the continued support of the voters of Hamilton County,” Hanna said. “The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium share a common purpose … to make the world a better place. I am proud to lend my support to this great institution and encourage the voters of Hamilton County to do the same.” The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 282 (which represents some Zoo employees) also endorsed the levy.

The zoo is seeking a 0.46-mill renewal levy. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.44 a year, $1.78 more than that owner pays now.

Heimlich foe slams Wulsin, again

Dr. Robert Baratz, a Massachusetts doctor and long-time critic of Dr. Henry Heimlich, called a press conference in Madisonville Wednesday to restate his complaint against 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Victoria Wulsin, who once worked for the Heimlich Institute.

Baratz's 2006 letter to the Ohio Medical Board accusing Wulsin of unethical behavior has been a source of ammunition for her primary opponent, Steve Black. Baratz condemned Wulsin for conducting a literature review of the Heimlich Institute's controversial experiments using malaria on HIV/AIDS patients in China and Ethiopia. The medical board will not release any information about the resulting investigation.

Wulsin said she did nothing wrong, and that she was fired when her report to Heimlich out problems with the experiments.

CPS, endorsers, rally on Issue 10

Backers of the Cincinnati Public Schools tax hike rallied on the indoor steps of City Hall this morning, a few hours before City Council was scheduled to approve a resolution endorsing the levy.

CPS Superintendent Rosa Blackwell promised victory next Tuesday.

"We will win," she said.

If she's right, it would be a remarkable turnaround in public sentiment. Just four months ago, voters defeated the levy by nearly a 3-to-2 margin. But levy supporters are encouraged by a much more active campaign and what they hope will be collateral support brought in by a hotly contested Democratic primary for president.

Included in the roughly 65 supporters on Wednesday were a series of high-profile endorsers of the tax levy, including City Council members David Crowley, Roxanne Qualls, John Cranley and Laketa Cole.

Also present were senior officials from organized labor, religious groups and the Charter Committee, which backed the tax hike last week.

Shortly before the rally began, Mayor Mark Mallory -- who has stayed silent on the CPS levy -- walked through the levy group, heavily populated by his fellow Democrats, on his way to his office. A pro-levy campaign organizer acknowledged his absence didn't look good.

Mallory spokesman Jason Barron said Mallory has a longstanding practice of not attending lunchtime press conferences.

Away from the rally, COAST member Paul Naberhaus responded to Blackwell's promise of victory. "All I can say is, I hope not. I hope that the voters realize that this tax, if it's enacted, is big, and it reduces their property values."

Some quotes from the event:

"Faith only lives in an educated gentry, and that's what we're hoping for." -the Rev. Richard Bollman, the AMOS Project.

"It's a must that this issue passes. There is a lot going on in the world behind me today, and we need our young people to be prepared to participate in the world economy." -- the Rev. James Pankey, president, Baptist Ministers Conference

"The fact is, we cannot grow the city without a top-notch school system." -Cranley

New poll: Fall race too close to call

Howard Wilkinson has the story here.

Read the full poll here

Clinton: 'I got a little hot ... in Cincinnati'

Gannett News Service's Brian Tumulty reported this from Lorain Tuesday:

"I got a little hot over the weekend in Cincinnati,'' Hillary Clinton told an audience of about 500 people who gathered in a high school gymnasium midday today for a town hall style meeting in Lorain, Ohio.

Clinton was referring to her pointed criticism of a mailing by Barack Obama's campaign on her health plan that she considered to be false, misleading and discredited.

"That is not the way to run a campaign to pick the Democratic nominee for president,'' Clinton said.

Clinton reiterated her criticism that Obama's health plan would leave out millions of people, allowing the uninsured to show up at a hospital emergency room and pass along the cost of their treatment as "a hidden tax'' on everyone else.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Republican response time

COLUMBUS - Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine released the following statement regarding the Democrat debate from Cleveland:

"Not surprisingly this debate really offered nothing new. It's the same old argument between a handful of Democrats who believe the answer to every problem is more government. And not surprisingly we as Republicans believe that government is best that governs least.

"We all know that this election is going to be about more than just hope and a few feel-good speeches. It's about leadership, it's about experience and a record of getting things done for Ohio and for this nation.

"Take a look at what has happened here in Ohio. More than a year ago, Ohio elected a Democrat governor who promised to turn our state around. Yet today, unemployment remains high, we lead the nation in home foreclosures and we continue to lose thousands of jobs a year.

"This debate offered nothing more than the same failed policies.

"The people of this state deserve leadership that doesn't increase their obligation to government and extend its control of their lives. And that is the real debate of this election and we look forward to winning that debate this November."

Tax, Spend, Retreat
Nothing new in Democrats' liberal debate
COLUMBUS - Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett today released the following statement in response to the Democrats' debate at Cleveland State between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama:
"There's very little debate on what either Democrat would actually do as president: raise taxes, increase spending, and retreat on national security. While they quibble over who can raise taxes higher and further depress Ohio's economy, Republicans are focused on fiscal responsibility and keeping America safe," said Bennett.
"Senators Clinton and Obama plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new healthcare bureaucracy when government has enough trouble processing our tax returns. They lack any credible plans to pay for these ill-conceived ideas that limit personal choices between patients and doctors.
"Their foolishness on trade is particularly striking because they ignore the fact that repealing NAFTA would drive up prices and cost thousands of jobs right here in Ohio, the fourth largest exporter of goods in the nation.
"Time and again, Senator Obama's grand rhetoric has not matched his meager record. His unwise and ill-considered foreign policy and his contorted positions on trade clearly show he is unprepared to lead this nation."

Who won? Vote in our poll

We've got a poll up: Pick who won the debate, come back and add your comments here.

Mopping up

Note that while TV commentators poke fun at Sen. Clinton for aiming the Saturday Night Live comment against Sen. Obama, the news keeps playing that debate video clip.

Also of note: Will Clinton release her tax returns before the general election as she promised again tonight? And should she?

You may recall Ted Strickland challenging Ken Blackwell to release his during the 2006 Ohio gubernatorial campaign.

And whether you like him or dislike him, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, in post-debate commentary, correctly asked why the nation's home foreclosure crisis wasn't mentioned once by either Democrat, especially since it's rooted in Cleveland and Ohio. "It's a big issue,'' Jackson said. "It's driving the recession."

Ohio GOP wants Butler Co.'s Rogers to quit

GOP release tonight:

Ohio Republican Party Demands Resignation of Butler County Auditor
Rogers Admits Guilt to Federal Charges

Columbus - Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine today released the following statement:

"The Ohio Republican Party has a no tolerance policy for any public official found guilty of corruption or criminal behavior. Kay Rogers must resign immediately."

From Enquirer reporters online and in Wednesday's paper:

Pressure on Rogers to resign continues to mount.

County commissioners called on her to quit shortly after the announcement was made Monday. On Tuesday, Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper said he intends to send a letter today (Wednesday) urging her to step down.

“It doesn’t aid her current predicament to try to hang on,” Piper said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest for her to just go ahead and resign and prevent further disruption.”

As she awaits sentencing, Rogers is forbidden from leaving the federal court’s jurisdiction without prior written permission. That area includes a 52-county region of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Piper’s office is still studying whether Rogers can legally keep her post.

What would they take back?

Asked what they would have done differently, Sen. Clinton said she would take back her vote supporting the war in Iraq. "I've said that many times," she said.

Sen. Obama said he regrets not taking action when he first arrived in the U.S. Senate and Congress got involved in the case about removing feeding tubes from Terry Schiavo in Florida. "That's an example of when inaction can be as costly as action,'' he said.

Campaign handlers busy behind-the-scenes

Within a minute of Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt's email with the youtube video, Isaac Baker of Clinton's campaign emailed news outlets this statement and quotes about NAFTA:

"Hillary has been critical of NAFTA before she started running for President. For example, here's Hillary in March 2000: 'What happened to NAFTA I think was we inherited an agreement that we didn't get everything we should have got out of it in my opinion. I think the NAFTA agreement was flawed. The problem is we have to go back and figure out how we are going to fix that.' [Working Families Party, 3/26/00]

Sen. Obama touts his consistent opposition to NAFTA. But speaking inIllinois in 2004 Obama said the United States "benefited enormously" from exports under NAFTA and talked about the need to continue to pursue trade agreement like NAFTA that support "a system of free trade in this nation that allows us to move our products overs eas."

NBC posts the wrong clip

But it lightens up the debate for a moment, 55 minutes into it where Sen. Clinton poked fun at the sky opening up and Obama's promises of everything.

Wilkinson notes: Both campaigns bought ad time during the commercial break. Obama's spot ran in its entirety; Clinton's got cut off after a few seconds of John Glenn's testimonial. Hope she gets her money back.

New Ohio poll at 9 a.m.

It might be worth noting that the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research will be released an Ohio Poll Wednesday morning.

It will include match-ups between Hillary Clinton and John McCain; and between McCain and Barack Obama. Check here shortly after 9 a.m. tomorrow.

-- Wilkinson

Obama comes out swinging on the war

Barack Obama, still low-key, came out firm in his opposition of the war in Iraq.

"So when I bring this up, it's not to say I told you so,'' Obama said while looking at Clinton. "It's to give you an insight on how I would make decisions. The fact was this was a big strategic blunder. . . Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there are only so many ways we could get out. The question is who was making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch? The fact is (Clinton) was ready to give into George Bush on day one on this critical issue," Obama said. "In fact, she facilitated and enabled this individual to make a decision that has been strategically damaging to the United States of America."

"With respect to Pakistan, I never said I would bomb Pakistan. What I said was that if we have actionable intelligence against Bin Laden or other key Al Qaida officials, and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to strike against them, we should," Obama said.

Rapid response team

At 9:30 p.m., just as the candidates were wrapping up a contentious segment on NAFTA, the Obama campaign sent out a blast e-mail with a YouTube video of Hillary Clinton in 1996, as First Lady, saying that the North American Free Trade Agreement was "proving its worth."

-- Howard Wilkinson

(Will get you the link to YouTube soonest...)

UPDATE: Here's the video.

Promises, promises

Is Sen. Clinton getting more air time than Sen. Obama at this point? We should have timed it. Now she's going on about jobs.

"We can create at least 5 million new jobs," Sen. Clinton reinterated when Tim Russert questioned her about earlier job promises made in Buffalo, but which failed to materialize, during her U.S. Senate campaign.

"What happened in 2000 is I thought Al Gore was going to be president," Clinton said. "When I made the pledge, I was counting on having a Democratic White House, a Democratic president who shared my values about what we needed to do to make the economy work for everyone and to create shared prosperity. As you know, despite the difficulties of the Bush Administration and a Republican Congress for six years of my first term, I have worked very hard to create jobs. Obviously as president I will have a lot more tools at my disposal."

NAFTA talk

What she is referring to is a quote Obama was using earlier in the campaign saying that she had called NAFTA a "boon" for the economy.

We checked this out ourselves and found that it was a Newsday reporter who used the word "boon" in describing Clinton's position on how NAFTA has impacted the economy. It was not a word she used in a direct quote.

Note that, tonight, Obama did not accuse her of calling it a "boon."

-- Howard Wilkinson

Live, it's Saturday Night?

Sixteen minutes into the debate, Brian Williams is having trouble shifting the debate off of health care.

Then bam, Hillary Clinton brings up the Saturday Night Live skit in which anchors coddled a fictional Barack Obama.

"Well, could I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I'll be happy to field them but I do find it curious and if anyone saw Saturday Night Live, you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow,'' Clinton said. "I just find it curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues, but I'm happy to answer it."

"I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning," she said, saying we can renegotiate the agreement within six months. Obama agreed with her.

Upstate New York, Youngstown and Toledo are among parts of the country that have not benefitted from NAFTA, Clinton said. "You don't have all the record."

More negative mailers

Barack Obama's claim that he, too, has been the target of "negative attacks" in mailers by the Clinton campaign is true.

On Saturday -- the day when Hillary Clinton was blasting Obama for mailers she was handed at a Cincinnati State rally -- thousands of Ohioans were finding a mailer in their mail boxes from the Clinton campaign that contained a "False Attack Alert: Don't Be Fooled by Barack Obama." It went on to make the same points that Clinton made that very day at Cincinnati State - that Obama was distorting her positions on health care and free trade.

Today, thousands of Ohio Democrats went to their mailboxes and found another mailer from the Clinton campaign. This one tried to tie Obama's vote in favor of an energy bill that gave billions in subsidies to oil companies to the fact that he has received $650,000 in campaign contributions from "energy company employees."

-- Howard Wilkinson

'It's important you stand up for yourself'

Asked about her cycles of praising Sen. Barack Obama, then cutting him apart this weekend in Cincinnati over his campaign mailings, Sen. Hillary Clinton said, "It's important to stand up for yourself."

Again, she pointed out that Obama's health care plan "would leave 15 million people out."

Referring to a Drudge report photo of Obama in native Kenyan garb, Mrs. Clinton said the email did not originate with her campaign and "that's not the kind of behavior I condone. . . We have no evidence where it came from."

Obama said, "I have a good health care plan. I think mine is better" but 95 percent of their plans "are the same."

Obama said Clinton's health-care plan also may leave 20 percent of the uninsured out.

"Sen. Clinton has, her campaign at least, has constantly sent out negative attacks on us, email, robocalls, fliers, television ads, radio calls and, you know, we haven't whined about it because I understand that is the nature of these campaigns,'' Obama said. "But to suggest somehow that our mailing is somehow different from the kinds of approaches that Sen. Clinton has taken throughout this campaign, I think, is simply not accurate."

Debate here

Watch the debate online and comment.

Testing, one two three. . .

About 90 seconds before the debate, hundreds gave the Democratic candidates a rousing standing ovation at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center.

Brian Williams opened up by mentioning eight U.S. presidents came from Ohio.

Gov. Ted Strickland, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern and Cleveland's mayor strolled across the stage to shake hands with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama before they took their roundtable seats.

Pre-debate streaming live now

We are streaming pre-debate talk ahead of debate, courtesy WKYC-TV in Cleveland.

Watch the debate here.

Cunningham endorses Hillary, again, live on CNN

Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham is burning up national TV time tonight.

In a live appearance just now on CNN, Cunningham endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton, saying, "I've had it up to here with John McCain. He's off the list. I'm joining Ann Coulter in supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Earlier today McCain denied ever meeting Cunningham before, telling reporters, "I will certainly make sure nothing like that happens again."

But Cunningham told CNN he met McCain twice before, including after a special invite with former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine at Kenwood Country Club. "John McCain is developing -- maybe because of his advance in years -- a bad memory,'' Cunningham said.

"They told me to fire up the crowd. You're talking to conservatives," Cunningham said of pre-rally advice from the McCain campaign. "Get them fired up and give them some red meat. And I did. In fact, when I left, John, the crowd was cheering. All was well. No problem whatsoever until about an hour later . . . when John McCain threw me under the bus, under the Straight Talk Express. I got thrown under the bus."

Huckabee keeps crowd laughing and rockin'

While Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama thrills his crowds with eloquent oration, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pleases his supporters with humor and music.

He packed a ballroom at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason Tuesday afternoon. Organizers said they had to expand the room to a 500-person capacity in order to fit the expected crowd.

Huckabee took a bass guitar and jammed with the band to Born to be Wild, then joked that at his age it should be called “Born to be Mild.”

He cracked jokes throughout the rally. At one point he said he’d considered going down the water slides at the indoor water park in his suit. Then the national media can’t pretend he doesn’t exist, he cracked.

He’s way behind the expected GOP nominee, John McCain but said he won’t bow out until McCain seals the nomination. That could happen Tuesday when Ohio and Texas go to the polls.

When Huckabee talked about throwing out the tax code, he put it like this: “We say in the south if we can’t fix it with duct tape and WD-40, it can’t be fixed. Our tax code can’t be fixed,” he said. “I say, let’s get rid of the current tax code and let me be the one that nails the ‘Going out of Business sign on the doors of the IRS.”

He later told the press that getting rid of the tax code is about as realistic as putting a man on the moon or building the atomic bomb. Difficult, but something that can be done if the American people decide that’s what they want to do.

Renee Galvis
, 36, of Sunman, Ind., brought her mother-in-law who is visiting from Columbia and three children ages 2, 3, and 6 to see Huckabee. Son Niko, 6, was on sign duty, holding up a blue and white Huckabee sign.

“I attended the same seminary as he did. His platform, pro-life, is huge. That’s No. 1 for me,” Galvis explained. “The Fair Tax is also huge. Just the fact that people have a choice and we have the opportunity to have our voice heard.”

She was thinking about going up to Columbus, where he held a rally earlier in the day. She was happy when she heard he was coming here.

Barbara Wilson
, 61, of Dayton and Bonnie Grooms, 59, of Springboro, held up “Fair Tax” signs, sported similar hats and T-shirts and buttons that said “I like Mike.”

“(The Fair Tax) is the biggest selling point for me,” Wilson said. Other selling points: “He’s a conservative. He’s the only true conservative running,” she said. She said the Fair Tax has a bad rap because people don’t really understand it. “It’d be the best thing that could happen to the country.”

(For more about the Fair Tax, visit www.fairtax.org.)

If Huckabee drops out, the pair said they’d support McCain over a Democrat.

“As long as it’s not a Democrat," Wilson said.

Hardball needs to spend more time in Ohio

Does Chris Matthews sound naive, or what?

First, he doubts Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern when he insists Ohioans care more about jobs and economic security than the war in Iraq.

Then, the Hardball host rants about the popularity of radio talk show host Bill Cunningham and his presumably tongue-in-cheek endorsement of Hillary Clinton after John McCain "threw me under the bus" for his anti-Obama comments at today's rally.

"Why would anybody listen to that guy?" Matthews said of Cunningham shortly before tonight's 20th Democratic debate.

Matthews and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC Countdown keep saying this "may be the final debate of the campaign."

What do you think?


Come back to discuss tonight's Dem debate

Jon Craig will be blogging/analyzing/fact checking (maybe with some help from Howard Wilkinson) during tonight's Cleveland debate between Clinton & Obama, 9-10:30.

You can watch it on TV on NBC and MSNBC. It will also be streamed live on Cincinnati.com -- thanks to a feed from WKYC-TV in Cleveland -- and msnbc.com.

We hope you'll join us for an online conversation, as we'll be posting your comments live-time during the debate and for a while after.

Back at home:

Clinton's campaign is holding a debate-watching party at Sully's, 700 Race St., Downtown Cincinnati, with folks gathering around 8:30 p.m.

(Let us know if you hear of anything else.)

Inside McCain's BAE event

From reporter Sheila McLaughlin:

BAE Systems in West Chester, one of the nation’s largest defense companies, shut down production lines for more than an hour so workers could hear Arizona Sen. John McCain speak Tuesday afternoon.

“I feel like I’m standing in the path of progress as we shut down the line here,” McCain said. “So I will make my remark relatively brief.”

Jimmy McKinney’s question to McCain brought the longest and loudest round of applause during the Arizona senator’s visit to BAE Systems.

The 52-year-old Hamilton resident wanted to know if McCain planned on returning to Cincinnati on March 31 to see the Cincinnati Reds beat the senator’s home team on opening day. McCain proved he follows something other than politics.

“I think the Diamondbacks may surprise you,” McCain replied. “I think they have a good talented young team, and they have a not-so-young guy named Randy Johnson who says he’s well and fit and ready to pitch another season. So, maybe they will start Randy Johnson when they come to town.”

But at least someone in the McCain family has a place in their heart for the Reds.

Johnny Bench, McCain said, is still his son Andy’s hero.

Huckabee speaks to crowd of 350

Jessica Brown's report on the Mike Huckabee event.

Wulsin, Black debate airs at 7 tonight

You can watch the Democrats vying for the 2nd District Congressional seat debate at 7 p.m. on WCET. It was taped this afternoon.

Boehner back surgery Friday

John Boehner, House Minority Leader and 8th District rep from West Chester, is scheduled for back surgery Friday at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Here's the release:

Congressman Boehner to Undergo Back Surgery Friday Morning

Will Resume Full Work Schedule Next Week

WASHINGTON, DCCongressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) is scheduled to undergo back surgery Friday morning at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Boehner will have an MRI Thursday afternoon to provide the surgical team with the most up-to-date picture of his condition.

Due to the surgery and physical limitations during a brief recovery period, Boehner will be unable to attend the 17th Annual Eighth District Farm Forum on Saturday, March 1. This event will go on as planned.

Boehner expects to resume his full work schedule next week.

Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Darke, Miami and Preble counties, most of Butler and Mercer counties, and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.

CPS campaign hits the airwaves

The improved fundraising for the CPS levy campaign this spring is paying off, at least judging by a large radio buy this week.

Cincinnatians Active to Support Education, the campaign committee for the levy, poured nearly $40,000 into a radio advertising campaign that started Tuesday.

The committee paid for two one-minute spots, one telling voters that CPS has waiting 8 years between tax hikes for day-to-day spending, nearly twice the wait for most Ohio school districts, and another appealing to parents to support Issue 10.

The spots will run in "all prime radio times" on Warm 98, MOJO, The Buzz, Q102, WIZF, WCIN and WGRR said campaign coordinator Jan Leslie.

Here's one of the spots.

What Libertarians think. . .

As we warm up for tonight's Democratic Party debate, here's a news release from the Libertarian Party, lamenting the deteroriation of major party politics:

"Drama steals focus from real issues in race for president"

"While soldiers die and the economy slows, Republicans and Democrats bicker over nonsense"

Quick Quotes:
Shane Cory, Executive Director, Libertarian Party
• "While our soldiers are dying overseas and our economy is grinding to a halt, Republicans and Democrats would rather debate fashion and relationships. Reading the Drudge Report has become like reading a supermarket tabloid."
• "The surge of muckraking in the presidential campaigns of the two major parties is an embarrassment and disservice to our country."

Andrew Davis, National Media Coordinator, Libertarian Party
• "If the Republicans and Democrats won't talk about how to fix this country, then the Libertarian Party will."

Washington, D.C. - The recent explosion of muckraking among Republicans and Democrats in the race for president is a national disgrace, says the Libertarian Party. "The surge of muckraking in the presidential campaigns of the two major parties is an embarrassment and disservice to our country," says Libertarian Party Executive Director Shane Cory.

"While our soldiers are dying overseas and our economy is grinding to a halt, Republicans and Democrats would rather debate fashion and relationships," says Cory. "Reading the Drudge Report has become like reading a supermarket tabloid. Aren't there more important issues to discuss rather than what Obama wears or John McCain's private life? It's time to focus on real issues that impact the everyday lives of Americans, and get over this pathetic locker-room drama."

The Libertarian Party calls for a return back to the political issues, and urges candidates to avoid distractions that do nothing to better the nation. The Party refers to the photos circulated by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign that show rival-candidate Barack Obama dressed in traditional Somali attire during a 2006 visit to Kenya, and the debate over John McCain's alleged relationship with a female lobbyist.

"If the Republicans and Democrats won't talk about how to fix this country, then the Libertarian Party will," says Libertarian Party National Media Coordinator Andrew Davis. "America deserves better than muckraking and personal smear-campaigns. Perhaps if Republicans and Democrats focused on policy and not theatrics, our economy would be booming and our troops would be home from Iraq."

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. More information on the Libertarian Party can be found at www.lp.org.


Mallory: Cincinnati Will Have Streetcars

While members of Cincinnati City Council's finance committee are taking their two weeks before their next meeting to think about the proposed $102 million streetcar plan, Mayor Mark Mallory is confident the streetcars will happen here.

He said at his weekly press briefing Tuesday that he's "always been clear" that the route would go to Uptown once money was raised to pay for it. A city proposal suggests building a loop from downtown through Over-the-Rhine as an initial phase, but a majority of council members last week signed a motion by Roxanne Qualls that says the city shouldn't proceed with construction until it can build the route all the way to Uptown.

Part of the confusion among council members, he said, is that they have conflicting definitions of words like "phase" and "plan."

"We're going to do it," the mayor said. "It's going to take resources. It's going to take commitment. But the energy is there."

McCain not fan of Cunningham's talk

Assume you've all seen Cincinnati in the news again today...

Comment here or on the board at Cincinnati.Com.

The Census Wants To Know You

Are you one of the lucky ones randomly selected to receive one of the American Community Survey's from the U.S. Census Bureau? It's the 28-page booklet that reminds you, in several places, that "your response is required by law."

It says it only takes 38 minutes to complete, but you have to know things like how much you paid for water and sewer last year, how much you think your property would sell for if it were for sale and how much money you made last year in interest, dividends, net rental income, etc. ("Report even small amounts credited to an account.")

It also asks you for your name, address and phone number, to admit if you're in this country illegally, where you work and how you got to work last week.

As for what can happen if you don't respond, here's the legal citation:

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age, refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.

For more info, go here.

Garry: Obama Almost Made Me Cry

Brian Garry likes Barack Obama too.

An unsuccessful candidate for City Council in November as an endorsed Democrat, Garry emailed a press release Tuesday night to announce that he's backing Barack.

He says he's housing the SEIU for Obama campaign in his Vine St. storefront in Over-the-Rhine and helping sponsor Artists for Obama, a sign making event, in conjunction with musical acts Freekbass and the Buffalo Killers Thursday, 6-9 p.m. at his office at 1235 Vine St. www.BrianGarry.com

Here's his release:

"With the Ohio primaries scheduled for March 4th, the close race for the Democratic Presidential candidacy has made Ohio a pivotal state for both candidates.

Taking the importance of this election to heart, Cincinnati City Council candidate, Brian Garry, has joined the ranks of Commissioner Todd Portune, Councilman David Crowley and Mayor Mark Mallory and announced his endorsement for Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama. While Garry considers himself a progressive Democrat, it took a lot of research and introspection to make his final decision. He originally supported Sen. John Edwards.

"Ultimately, my vote for Barack Obama echoes my own personal efforts to create a more equitable and socially just society," says Garry. After hearing Obama speak today Garry said, "Our issues are practically identical. I had to choke back the tears several times as he spoke of the hardships of vets, the working poor and the uninsured. I feel that Barack is indeed sincere, in challenging the status quo.

"I have found an appreciation for the way Obama has run his campaign: utilizing grassroots support, rather than a corporate emphasis," Garry explained. "If he runs this country the way he has run his campaign, then I do think there is a chance for real change."

In state legislative races. . .

The latest campaign finance reports, filed in advance of Tuesday's primary election, show state Rep. Bob Mecklenborg spent the most money among local candidates during the latest reporting period.

Mecklenborg, a Green Township Republican appointed to a vacant House seat in October, spent $117,299. Finance reports show Mecklenborg raised at least $3,960 last year in contributions from himself and other family members.

Dick Hammersmith, Mecklenborg's primary opponent in House District 30, spent $21,060, and reported a healthy campaign balance of $110,261. Mecklenborg's campaign balance was $22,632, according to the latest report filed with the Secretary of State's office.

In the Republican primary for state Rep. Michelle Schneider's District 35 House seat, John Rabenold spent $59,080, according to the latest report. His campaign balance was $151,726.

Rabenold's opponents, Ron Maag and Grace Kendrick spent $7,680 and $6,711, respectively. Maag's campaign balance was $2,572, according to the latest report, while Kendrick's was $1,146. (Schneider's tenure ends Dec. 31 because of term limits. She is a Republican from Madeira.)

In the Republican primary for state Rep. Tom Brinkman's District 34 House seat, Greg Delev led the pack in spending at $57,753. His campaign reported a balance of $11,565.

Delev's opponents, Peter Stautberg and Russ Jackson spent $6,415 and $657, respectively. Stautberg reported the largest unspent campaign balance at $27,950, while Jackson reported a campaign balance of $1,894. (Brinkman, a Republican from Mount Lookout, is running for Congress.)

Additional campaign finance details can be found at the Secretary of State's web site, here:


Monday, February 25, 2008

The Portman, uh, boost

Toda's Quinnipiac poll has some interesting numbers. See question 13:

13. If Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked former cabinet member and U.S. Representative Rob Portman as his running mate would that make you more likely to vote for McCain for president, less likely to vote for McCain for president or wouldn't it make a difference?

Turns out more voters say they'd be less likely to vote for McCain if Portman were his pick.

Even among Southwest Ohioans and Republicans, it makes almost no difference.

Hello who? We're not OU

Barack Obama, normally the smoothest of public speakers, flubbed one line early on in his Monday rally at Fifth Third arena - on the University of Cincinnati campus.

“Hello, Bobcats,’’ he hollered to the crowd – clearly having meant to say “Bearcats,” the UC mascot.

Photographer Michael Keating reports that Obama's sign-off music was "Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours" by Stevie Wonder.

Mallory's statement on Obama

COLUMBUS, OH—Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory announced his endorsement of Barack Obama at today’s “Keeping America’s Promise” Rally at the University of Cincinnati.

Mayor Mallory is a Superdelegate and will cast his vote for Obama at the Democratic Convention in Denver this summer. He joins fellow in Ohio Superdelegates Sonny Nardi and David Wilhelm in supporting Senator Obama.

“Barack Obama is inspiring and exciting people in Cincinnati in way I haven’t seen before, bringing new people into the political process because they believe in his message that when we come together, anything is possible,” Mayor Mallory said. “We know the challenges we face are steep—finally providing a quality education for every child; making sure that every American has health care. But we also know that with the right leadership, we can put the partisanship and the special interests aside and finally make progress again for working people. I’m endorsing Barack Obama today for the same reason that so many Cincinnatians are supporting him: because we know he’s the candidate who can bring about the change we need.”

“Mayor Mallory has seen the kind of impact that Washington’s misguided priorities have had on working people, and he understands that we’re lacking isn’t good ideas—it’s the political will to make them reality,” Senator Obama said. “I’m grateful to have the mayor’s support for this campaign for change as we head into the final week of the campaign in Ohio.”

Following the rally, Obama was to campaign at a “Keeping America’s Promise” Rally at Wright State University in Dayton.

Congress to Blackwell: Get here and testify

Bill Theobald of Gannett News Service reports:

WASHINGTON -- Former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell could be forced to testify before a House committee looking into problems during the 2004 presidential election.

A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will discuss Tuesday issuing a subpoena for the Republican Blackwell. He declined to appear in a politically tinged exchange of letters with the committee’s Democratic leadership.

A Jan. 29 letter from Rep. John Conyers Jr., D- Mich., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., inviting Blackwell states election problems in Ohio in 2004 "affected hundreds of thousands of voters."

Blackwell's response, dated Feb. 5, states that since he is no longer secretary of state he has "not been privileged to information regarding the state's election administration preparation for the upcoming 2008" elections. At the end of his letter Blackwell mentions a report showing Ohio did a better job in 2004 of handling provisional ballots than Michigan, Conyers' home state.

The two Democrats responded Feb. 19 saying that "we believe your prominent role in recent elections ... in which serious questions arose concerning protection of the right to vote gives you a uniquely valuable perspective."

"We are therefore writing to renew our invitation, and to further advise you that your appearance will be required."

"Your cooperation will ensure the committee can obtain the benefit of your testimony without the need to resort to compulsory process," the two wrote.

A hearing on voter suppression is scheduled immediately after the discussion of the subpoena.

Ohio's least busy judge? Not really.

Clermont County reporter Barrett Brunsman reports from Batavia:

A candidate for a seat on the 12th District Court of Appeals doesn’t agree with the verdict of the Cincinnati Business Courier, which labeled him “one of Ohio’s least busy judges.”

The Feb. 15 “special report” focused on whether lengthy civil cases cost businesses money, but Judge Robert P. Ringland of Clermont County Common Pleas Court said he fears the story could cost him votes in the Nov. 4 election.

“This was a violation of Journalism 101,” Ringland said. “The whole report is flawed. I will match my reputation against any other judge in the state of Ohio for work ethic and performance.”

Ringland said he expects Democrats to make a campaign issue of the Business Courier’s comment – even though a computer glitch at the county clerk of court’s office resulted in faulty data about his productivity being sent to the Ohio Supreme Court, from which the newspaper got its statistics.

“There was a glitch,” confirmed Alice Fricke, chief deputy for the Common Pleas clerk of courts. “It was calculating incorrectly.”

The problem was fixed after Judge Victor Haddad noticed it this summer, Fricke said.
However, the correct data for the past several years were never sent to the Supreme Court, said Patricia Schwartz, administrator of Common Pleas Court.

Dan Monk, one of the reporters who wrote the Business Courier story, said such a glitch “would have been a factor” in skewing some of the results of an analysis of the cases of Ringland and the three other Common Pleas judges in Clermont.

Ringland said no reporter called him to check the facts before the ranking of local judges was published. Monk confirmed that.

Last year, court records show, Ringland was assigned 667 new civil cases – and cleared 778. He also cleared 316 criminal cases, including the Liz Carroll murder trial.

Ringland handles some of the most complex and high-profile criminal cases in Clermont. The Ohio Supreme Court requires that criminal cases be given priority over civil cases because an individual’s liberty can be at stake, Ringland said.

He also devotes more time to writing legal opinions than most judges. Ringland has had 91 of his opinions published by the Ohio Supreme Court, more than any other trial judge in the state.

A Republican, Ringland is running against Democrat Bruce Carter in the nonpartisan election for a new seat on the appeals court in Middletown. The 12th District hears cases from Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren counties.


Obama foreign policy team in Cincinnati

From the Obama campaign:

Members of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s foreign policy team, including Dr. Susan Rice, former Navy Sec. Richard Danzig, former Air Force Gen. Scott Gration and Dennis McDonough, will hold a series of town halls meetings Monday and Tuesday where they will discuss Obama's plan to restore American leadership on the world stage and decrease the risk of terrorism by attacking global poverty, upholding the rule of law and rebuilding international cooperation.

A frequent contributor to MSNBC, Rice was the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs for Bill Clinton. Danzig also served in the Clinton administration. He is the Sam Nunn Prize Fellow in International Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is also a consultant to the Department of Defense on terrorism, with a focus on bioterrorism. Danzig served as Secretary of the Navy from 1998 to 2001 and Under Secretary of the Navy from 1993 to 1997.

Gration commanded Task Force West during Operation Iraqi Freedom and flew 274 missions over Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. He was raised in the Congo as the son of missionary parents and speaks Swahili as a first language. Gration accompanied Obama on a tour of Africa last year. McDonough was a foreign policy adviser to former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle.

Tuesday, February 26

When: 10:30 a.m.
Where: University of Cincinnati Zimmerman Hall Zimmerman Auditorium 2600 Clifton Avenue Cincinnati, OH

Here's Something Non-Obama

I know everyone's abuzz this afternoon about the Barack Obama appearance at U.C. But here are a couple things on a different topic - public safety in Cincinnati.

You might remember the fight in December when Police Chief Tom Streicher said he'd return some money to the city that he didn't spend on walking patrols. Council specifically told him they wanted him to spend $2.7 million on targeted overtime in neighborhoods, much of that with officers on foot.

Now, City Manager Milton Dohoney's office has produced a spreadsheet to make sure 2008's spending is better tracked. It should show how many hours officers spend on foot, bikes, horses and Segways. It says among the spots targeted for walking patrols will be the downtown convention center, Fountain Square, the riverfront and various locations in the central business district. It also says the police overtime will be used as part of the city's 90-day focused efforts in three neighborhoods this year.

On to the fire department: Chief Robert Wright will be at council's Law and Public Safety Committee meeting, 2 p.m. Tuesday, to talk about the ongoing shortage of ambulances. Dohoney says in a memo to council that "it has been long recognized and acknowledged that the city of Cincinnati has an insufficient number of EMS transport units for a city of our population and geographic size."

Adding the 51 recommended firefighters to the department - enough to staff four additional ambulances for a total of 14 and hire four more paramedic field supervisors per shift - would cost more than $3.1 million in salaries, training, uniforms, etc., and another $830,000 in vehicles and $775,000 in radios, cell phones, laptops and ambulance supplies.

Obama campaigns in Cincinnati

UPDATED 4 p.m.

Check out the PHOTO GALLERY here

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Cincinnati's only Democratic "super-delegate," Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, ended months of courting by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, by endorsing the Illinois senator just before he came on stage for a rally at the Fifth Third Center.

"I have decided to give my endorsement to Barack Obama,'' Mallory said, calling Obama out on to the stage where nearly 13,000 supporters created a deafening roar.

Mallory and Obama hugged on stage as the crowd stamped, hollered, and cheered, with flashbulbs popping all over. Read Mallory's statement here

Obama, as he began his speech, said he had "some business to take care of."

"Each and every one of you can go down to the Hamilton County Board of Elections - that's 824 Broadway - and vote right now,'' Obama said.

The campaign had buses parked outside Fifth-Third Arena to take people to the board of elections to take advantage of Ohio's early voting system. (The Board is open until 8 p.m. each night this week.)

Obama had a message for Hillary Clinton that he delivered in front of about 13,000 wildly enthusiastic supporters who filled UC's Fifth-Third Arena to the rafters Monday afternoon - don't discount the power of hope.

"Some people think that things can't change; they want you to be cynical," ' the 46-year-old senator said to a crowd that was heavy on college students, but included thousands of Cincinnati supporters of all ages.

"Sen. Clinton and others say, 'that Obama, he's so naive," Obama saidspeaking on a stage on the northeast corner of the basketball arena. "But hope is not blind optimism. Hope is looking at things clear-eyed and saying that, despite the hardship, I am going to try to get things done."

Obama sounded like anything but a candidate who is still trailing in the poll, one week before Ohio's Democratic presidential primary.

He did not light into Clinton or call her out for her campaign criticisms of him, as she did Saturday in Cincinnati, when she angrily denounced Obama mail pieces she said were distorting her positions.

Obama is in the middle of a three-day bus tour of Ohio that will end with Tuesday night's MSNBC debate in Cleveland.

Obama, who leads in the delegate count, sounded at times like a candidate who is close to nailing down the nomination, telling the crowd he plans to run a vigorous campaign against Republican nominee John MCCain.

"Some say the Republicans are going to be tough on Obama,'' the Illinois Democrat said. "Well, I'm going to be just as tough on them."

McCain, Obama said, is somebody "I admire - I revere - for his service to the country," but said he represents "continuing tax cuts for the rich and a war that could last for 100 years."

UPDATED, 1:30 p.m.

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Barack Obama started off his campaign swing through Cincinnati Monday with a roundtable discussion of retirement issues, in which he vowed he would fight to preserve Social Security, protect pensions and give workers more opportunities to save for retirement.

Social Security and private pensions "are a promise that we must keep for American families,'' said Obama, who started the roundtable discussion with five Cincinnati women shortly before 1 p.m. "Washington is not keeping that promise."

In remarks before he began talking to the five women - all of them selected by the Obama campaign for the roundtable discussion - he said he would act to save a Social Security system that is facing strains from aging Baby Boom population.

"We don't need to cut benefits or raise taxes to save Social Security,"' Obama said.

Rather, the Illinois senator said, he would adjust the cap on Social Security "so people like me, who are making more than $97,000 a year, are paying more."

Present rules say that Americans pay Social Security taxes on the first $97,000 they earn each year.

He heard from Lenora Anderson, a Cincinnati woman who said she had to leave her job as a Cincinnti Public School teacher to take care of her aged, ailing mother; and from Martha Tepe, a single mother who has put her children through college, but she is now concerned about whether or not her pension from her employer, Delta Airlines, will still be there when she needs it.

Obama told her that bankruptcy laws must be changed to protect pensions.
"We have to change out bankruptcy laws and make it not so easy for companies to dump their pension plans while corporate executives are getting golden parachutes,'' Obama said.


At noon today, in the private dining room at the Museum Center at Union Terminal, five area women were waiting for the arrival of Barack Obama to talk to him about "retirement security."

The roundtable discussion was a late addition to Obama's three-day tour of Ohio, which will bring him to a rally this afternoon that is expected to fill the Fifth Third Arena on the University of Cincinnati campus. Hundreds of people are already waiting in line there.

The roundtable discussion was slated to begin about 12:30 p.m.

The five women who were invited by the Obama campaign to participate in the roundtable were Eleanor Chesser, Colleen Munninghoff, Karen Roettele, Lenora Anderson, and Martha Tepe.

Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Crowley, an Obama supporter, said two of women - Munninghoff and Roettele - are his nieces.

Munninghoff, who lives in Anderson Township, if the wife of a roofer; she had to quit her job to take care of a disabled child, Crowley said.

Roettele, Crowley said, lives near Loveland and was recently widowed.

While Obama is rallying his supporters at UC's Fifth-Third Center, the Rev. Marcia Dyson - an African-American pastor from Washington, D.C. who has campaigned across the country for HIllary Clinton - will be meeting with students at UC's Tangeman Center.

Two new polls out today

The Ohio Poll is the first of the primary season. It shows Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama by eight percentage points.

Read the full poll here

The Quinnipiac poll shows what other more frequent polls have shown - Clinton is leading, but by less.

Read that poll here

McCain, Huckabee stump in southwest Ohio

John McCain, who has the Republican presidential nomination all but locked up, will campaign in Cincinnati and West Chester Tuesday.

Later in the day, McCain's opponent who won't go away, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, will rally supporters at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason. Huckabee's event begins at 4:30 p.m.

Details on the McCain rallies:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
WHO: John McCain
WHAT: Campaign Rally
WHEN: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Hamilton County Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm StreetCincinnati, Ohio 45202

WHO: John McCain
WHAT: Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 2:45 p.m.
WHERE: BAE/Armor Holdings Company, 8910 LeSaint Drive, West Chester, Ohio

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff