Musical group R.E.M. introduced Michael Moore Oct. 27 at the University of Cincinnati, where nearly 2,000 boisterous admirers gathered to hear the filmmaker push "lazy college students" to vote. He began by wallowing in the boos coming from a cluster of Republicans.
"Republicans, it's rough being in the minority, isn't it?" he said. "Almost two-thirds of America doesn't look like me and it doesn't look like you. It looks like Oprah. The chicks and faggots are taking over."
Moore, throwing packets of Ramen noodles and underwear, encouraged the crowd to get out of bed and vote. He said Ramen noodles, underwear and voting are college staples.
At one point Moore got angry. Hecklers started chanting "Bullshit" when Moore said Bush should apologize to troops in Iraq.
"Let them say 'bullshit' to our brave young men and women," Moore said.
Then he started waving enlistment forms for the Army.
"I got something for ya," Moore said. "If you want war so much, what are you doing here in Cincinnati?"
It was an effort to discourage voting, especially by African Americans, that brought concerned Cincinnatians together at City Hall Oct. 29 with activists from America Coming Together (ACT) and city council members David Crowley and Christopher Smitherman.
Make no mistake about it, Smitherman said. "This is a conspiracy to specifically suppress the African-American vote."
It might be unbelievable but for reports the GOP planned to station challengers in 251 local precincts — 250 of which are predominantly black.
"That's 99.75 percent of every African-American precinct in Hamilton County," Smitherman said.
Crowley said he could envision an elderly African American tottering into a polling place and finding a challenger barring the way.
"It might just scare the hell out of them," he said.
Crowley, a former social worker in Bosnia, said he never expected such tactics in this country. Echoing his concern was Atia Huff, who grew up in Czechoslovakia and trusted in America's basic freedom of voting.
"I never thought I would come down here to protest," she said.
Crowley called the carefully placed challengers part of an "organized, well-thought-out, well-planned strategy" led by the very man entrusted with ensuring fair elections, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Crowley is one of many who consider Blackwell's role as Ohio chair of the Bush campaign a conflict of interest.
Huff said she'd received that same morning a prerecorded call from Blackwell encouraging her to vote.
"And I felt outraged," she said. "How does he dare?"
Some voters registered by the Kerry campaign, NAACP and ACT received calls saying their registrations were invalid. New voter Paul Taylor, 19, of Pleasant Ridge got a call saying he wasn't actually registered to vote and shouldn't bother going to the polls on Election Day.
People have also taken unsuspecting voters' absentee ballots. Theresa Remke of Green Township said a couple arrived at her door and demanded her parents' ballots.
Give Light, and the Editor Will Block It
Newspapers across the country were as divided as the electorate over choosing Bush or Kerry. The editorial board of The Cleveland Plain Dealer called it a draw and endorsed neither. The Cincinnati Post wrote a lukewarm editorial endorsing Bush that surprised many readers and angered some Post staffers.
Turns out that most of The Post's editorial board, usually an informal and basically agreeable bunch, wanted to endorse Kerry, but Editor Mike Philipps called trump.
"Unlike the news stories, the editorials present only the point of view of the paper's management," he says. "That would be me. I don't want to minimize (the editorial board's) input, but this was a decision that was mine. I'm only going to get to endorse one president probably in my career, and I just decided it's gonna be the one I thought on that given day would do the best job."
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