News: Food Fight

Cranley-Chabot race turns nasty

 
Andy Houston


Democratic hopefuls John Cranley (left) and Sherrod Brown spoke Oct. 2 at the AMOS Project's "Candidates Public Meeting on Values."



With just three weeks until Election Day, political campaigns are on overdrive with seemingly non-stop TV commercials and frequent automated telephone calls begging for support from voters.

As races become tighter and candidates become more desperate, the tactics used are getting nastier and sometimes just downright silly.

Campaign staffers for U.S Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) recently issued a five-paragraph press release to the media entitled, "Please pass the tartar sauce." The document's main thesis: "People in this community know that Steve Chabot is a fish stick kind of guy and proud of it."

Although Chabot's press release doesn't specifically mention it, the document is a response to a TV commercial produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that shows a posh Washington cocktail party and tries to peg Chabot as a Beltway insider more interested in the perks of his job than the concerns of his constituents. As the politician in the ad is offered a jumbo shrimp by a waiter, the scene is contrasted with a working class family trying to make ends meet by dining on a meal of fish sticks and pork and beans.

Politicians' gastronomical preferences aside, the exchange shows just how testy many local races have become.

'Chabot has lost touch'
The DCCC is trying to disparage Chabot as a roundabout method of helping his Democratic challenger, Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, who is making his second attempt at winning Ohio's 1st Congressional District seat. Because of the various troubles bedeviling Republicans this year, ranging from the Iraq War quagmire abroad to sex scandals at home, many national political consultants have listed the 1st District race as a toss-up, possibly ending the strong grip that the GOP has held there for the past 12 years.

Trying to paint Chabot as a populist man of the people, his spokeswoman, Jessica Towhey, uses common Republican buzzwords to dismiss the DCCC's ad.

"The liberal elites sure missed the boat on this one," she says. "I guess they don't understand that not everyone acts like them. But people here in Cincinnati know that Steve Chabot would rather be at a local fish fry than one of their swanky Washington soirees. Of course, the DCCC has to resort to this because they know John Cranley would tax a hermit crab out of its shell."

Cranley's campaign quickly counters that Chabot is rarely spotted in his district during years when he isn't seeking re-election. Also, they point to what they call his hypocritical stands on the perks of power, first speaking out against free travel for members of Congress from donors and then accepting $77,000 in trips for him or his staff since 2001.

"It's obvious that Steve Chabot has lost touch with the district," Cranley says. "Over the last five years I rarely have seen Chabot engaged in the issues of the city or the region. In the past few years he spent more in public and privately funded trips than most people who live in his district earn for their families in an entire year. He's done very well in getting the perks that come from being in Congress, but I don't know what he's done for the district."

The silliness in campaigning is bipartisan. Cranley's campaign ran a TV commercial using the voice of a professional President Bush imitator, who makes a telephone call to his pal "Chabby" and praises him for toeing the party line on crucial issues. With Bush's popularity plummeting, Democrats like to stress that Chabot has voted to support the president on issues nearly 92 percent of the time.

The ad ends with pseudo-Bush saying, "And thanks for not asking any pesky questions about Iraq. You're doing a heck of a job, Chabby!"

Cranley plays Twister
Cranley's own stance on the Iraq War — ironically, the single issue that's most giving Democrats a bounce in the polls — is unclear.

In 2003, as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq, Cincinnati City Councilmembers David Crowley and Alicia Reece tried to get support for a resolution opposing the impending war. The pair pulled the resolution after several of their colleagues, including Cranley, refused to sign it.

Now Cranley has told anti-war groups he opposes the Iraq War and supports the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops to begin in 2006, but with no specific end date.

"I would not have a date certain for full withdrawal, although I do believe that we are going to have to announce, at some level, the beginning of our redeployment — a beginning, not an end," Cranley says. "That's the only way we can genuinely convince the Iraqis that we're not going to stay forever. Fundamentally, Bush's Iraq policy is flawed because it's an open-ended military commitment with no end in sight. That's wrong for our troops and wrong for our country. He thinks he can do that because he has a rubber-stamp Congress, like my opponent, who will go along with whatever Bush wants when it comes to war."

Chabot's campaign blasts Cranley for trying to position himself on both sides of the issue.

"John Cranley has taken more positions on Iraq than a game of Twister," Towhey says. "There is no doubt that for more than three years John Cranley has attempted to tailor his position to the political winds."

But Cranley's stance on the war isn't that far apart from Chabot's, at least based on what Chabot has said publicly.

"I believe it is important that we defeat the terrorists in Iraq," Chabot says. "Simply pulling our troops out would be a disaster for our national security and only encourage radical Islamic terrorists to attack the U.S. and American targets around the world.

"As I have said since the beginning of the war on terror, we need to train the Iraqis to take care of security in their own country. The administration has not always moved fast enough to train other countries to handle their own security, and that is a priority so we can bring our troops home."

Cranley's camp counters that, while Chabot professes to want a phased withdrawal, he's done nothing to force Bush's hand on the issue. In the past week alone, the U.S. Army drafted plans on keeping troops in Iraq through 2010 — a full seven years after the invasion. ©



For more election stories, visit

 
Andy Houston


Democratic hopefuls John Cranley (left) and Sherrod Brown spoke Oct. 2 at the AMOS Project's "Candidates Public Meeting on Values."



With just three weeks until Election Day, political campaigns are on overdrive with seemingly non-stop TV commercials and frequent automated telephone calls begging for support from voters.

As races become tighter and candidates become more desperate, the tactics used are getting nastier and sometimes just downright silly.

Campaign staffers for U.S Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) recently issued a five-paragraph press release to the media entitled, "Please pass the tartar sauce." The document's main thesis: "People in this community know that Steve Chabot is a fish stick kind of guy and proud of it."

Although Chabot's press release doesn't specifically mention it, the document is a response to a TV commercial produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that shows a posh Washington cocktail party and tries to peg Chabot as a Beltway insider more interested in the perks of his job than the concerns of his constituents. As the politician in the ad is offered a jumbo shrimp by a waiter, the scene is contrasted with a working class family trying to make ends meet by dining on a meal of fish sticks and pork and beans.

Politicians' gastronomical preferences aside, the exchange shows just how testy many local races have become.

'Chabot has lost touch'
The DCCC is trying to disparage Chabot as a roundabout method of helping his Democratic challenger, Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, who is making his second attempt at winning Ohio's 1st Congressional District seat. Because of the various troubles bedeviling Republicans this year, ranging from the Iraq War quagmire abroad to sex scandals at home, many national political consultants have listed the 1st District race as a toss-up, possibly ending the strong grip that the GOP has held there for the past 12 years.

Trying to paint Chabot as a populist man of the people, his spokeswoman, Jessica Towhey, uses common Republican buzzwords to dismiss the DCCC's ad.

"The liberal elites sure missed the boat on this one," she says. "I guess they don't understand that not everyone acts like them. But people here in Cincinnati know that Steve Chabot would rather be at a local fish fry than one of their swanky Washington soirees. Of course, the DCCC has to resort to this because they know John Cranley would tax a hermit crab out of its shell."

Cranley's campaign quickly counters that Chabot is rarely spotted in his district during years when he isn't seeking re-election. Also, they point to what they call his hypocritical stands on the perks of power, first speaking out against free travel for members of Congress from donors and then accepting $77,000 in trips for him or his staff since 2001.

"It's obvious that Steve Chabot has lost touch with the district," Cranley says. "Over the last five years I rarely have seen Chabot engaged in the issues of the city or the region. In the past few years he spent more in public and privately funded trips than most people who live in his district earn for their families in an entire year. He's done very well in getting the perks that come from being in Congress, but I don't know what he's done for the district."

The silliness in campaigning is bipartisan. Cranley's campaign ran a TV commercial using the voice of a professional President Bush imitator, who makes a telephone call to his pal "Chabby" and praises him for toeing the party line on crucial issues. With Bush's popularity plummeting, Democrats like to stress that Chabot has voted to support the president on issues nearly 92 percent of the time.

The ad ends with pseudo-Bush saying, "And thanks for not asking any pesky questions about Iraq. You're doing a heck of a job, Chabby!"

Cranley plays Twister
Cranley's own stance on the Iraq War — ironically, the single issue that's most giving Democrats a bounce in the polls — is unclear.

In 2003, as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq, Cincinnati City Councilmembers David Crowley and Alicia Reece tried to get support for a resolution opposing the impending war. The pair pulled the resolution after several of their colleagues, including Cranley, refused to sign it.

Now Cranley has told anti-war groups he opposes the Iraq War and supports the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops to begin in 2006, but with no specific end date.

"I would not have a date certain for full withdrawal, although I do believe that we are going to have to announce, at some level, the beginning of our redeployment — a beginning, not an end," Cranley says. "That's the only way we can genuinely convince the Iraqis that we're not going to stay forever. Fundamentally, Bush's Iraq policy is flawed because it's an open-ended military commitment with no end in sight. That's wrong for our troops and wrong for our country. He thinks he can do that because he has a rubber-stamp Congress, like my opponent, who will go along with whatever Bush wants when it comes to war."

Chabot's campaign blasts Cranley for trying to position himself on both sides of the issue.

"John Cranley has taken more positions on Iraq than a game of Twister," Towhey says. "There is no doubt that for more than three years John Cranley has attempted to tailor his position to the political winds."

But Cranley's stance on the war isn't that far apart from Chabot's, at least based on what Chabot has said publicly.

"I believe it is important that we defeat the terrorists in Iraq," Chabot says. "Simply pulling our troops out would be a disaster for our national security and only encourage radical Islamic terrorists to attack the U.S. and American targets around the world.

"As I have said since the beginning of the war on terror, we need to train the Iraqis to take care of security in their own country. The administration has not always moved fast enough to train other countries to handle their own security, and that is a priority so we can bring our troops home."

Cranley's camp counters that, while Chabot professes to want a phased withdrawal, he's done nothing to force Bush's hand on the issue. In the past week alone, the U.S. Army drafted plans on keeping troops in Iraq through 2010 — a full seven years after the invasion. ©



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