Archive for September, 2008

The Economic Road Ahead

September 30, 2008

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”  -Franklin D. Roosevelt



September 26, 2008

It's all about Cleveland!

                       “Hello Ted?  Barack here.  Hey buddy a question, how’d you do it?” 


If I were Barack Obama it’s a call I might be making to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.  The answer to the question about how to win Ohio may very well be found by studying Ted Strickland’s blue print for winning the Governor’s seat in 2006.


And there’s no need to bog yourself down by studying strategy for 88 counties, let’s just focus on three and they’re right here in Northeast Ohio; Cuyahoga, Summit and Stark.


In his victory Ted Strickland carried all three of these counties.  No real surprise, John Kerry also carried them in 2004.   Consider this though, after studying the numbers from those two races I found that if John Kerry had carried those three counties by the same percentage as Ted Strickland he would have had, by my count, an extra 124,891 votes.  John Kerry only lost Ohio by 118,600 votes. 


Flip those popular votes and you flip Ohio’s 20 electoral votes, flip those electoral votes and John Kerry would be in a battle right now for his second term as President.


In the interest of full disclosure John McCain’s no Ken Blackwell and the likelihood of Barack Obama matching Strickland’s 75% of the vote in Cuyahoga county is a tall order order.  Bill Clinton only got 61.4% in 1996 to Bob Dole’s 29.46% (Ross Perot got 9.12%.) 


            Even still in the final week of the campaign especially watch for a prominent Obama presence in the Cleveland Akron Canton area.  The key to maximizing numbers in generating a growing buzz leading up to  Election Day. 



September 25, 2008
Newt Gingrich at Oberlin College

Newt Gingrich at Oberlin College

“This is the most amazing period I can remember in any campaign in my lifetime and I have no idea what the next act is.”  – Newt Gingrich

Stopping at Oberlin College Wednesday former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared what the nation needs is a workout not a bailout to solve the financial crisis.


“The biggest challenge for McCain and the Congress is to recognize that we need an economic recovery act which includes a workout for the financial community.  But if all you adopt is a workout for the financial community then the economy continues to slide then you’ll never be able to pay off the bad debt.”

“Remember they started the year asking for 152-billion dollars stimulus package.  They came back in July and asked for 300-billion plus housing package.  They’re now back in September asking for a 700-billion dollar bailout package now that’s almost a trillion 200-billion dollars in one year.  And there’s no reason to believe if you can’t solve the underlying economic problems that the bailout won’t lead to another bailout. “

 He’d like a three part economic recovery package with part one being economic growth, part two solving energy problem and part three a workout and not a bailout for Wall Street.”

 On the issue of energy Gingrich pointed out that we’re sending $700-billion a year overseas for energy. That’s why he says Dubai is able to bring our money back to buy our companies.


1) “You replace snap shot to market which is what they currently have, which is a fairly destructive accounting rule, with a three year average mark to market. You overnight eliminate almost half the bankruptcies because this is an artificially accountant driven bankruptcy.”

2) “You change the loss – reserve provision so that it becomes counter cyclical rather than cyclical.  Right now the loss reserve provisions on top of the snapshot to market provisions are literally driving companies bankrupt that are totally healthy except they don’t fit the accountant’s rules.”

3) “The third thing I think you have to do is open a window and say look if you have bad paper and you have a liquidity crisis we will loan you money at Treasury plus 2-percent but you ultimately have to work this out. You made the deal it’s your paper you own it you fix it.  Paulsen I’m told has said well they’ll never agree to that.  Well my question is if they don’t think it’s worth working out why do you want the taxpayers to hire beurocrats to try to work it out.  And so I think you can find a way to meet the liquidity challenge without having the government set up a new beuracracy without having the government take ownership of the paper.”


September 23, 2008
McCain's Plane at Cleveland Hopkins

McCain's Plane at Cleveland Hopkins

As I watched John McCain’s campaign jet, “the Straight Talk Express,”  taxi into Cleveland Hopkins Monday night I couldn’t help but think what a difference a few months make.  
This spring I was flying in Newschopper 5 and we landed near a Jet Blue airplane at Burke Lakefront Airport.  Next to it there was a Cleveland cop waiting to escort a couple of vans waiting for the passengers to get off. 
As I walked by the plane I asked what’s up? Someone said ‘oh it’s John McCain.’  No big security deal, nothing really, just another plane.
Fast forward to September 22nd when we went out to Cleveland Hopkins to get video of McCain’s arrival and we had to be in place by 6 p.m. for McCain’s 9:30 arrival.   We had the full Secret Service sweeps that are usual and they were joined by several Cleveland Cops and State Police.  The vans for the press were triple in number, there was the big old painted McCain bus, about a half dozen or more vans for press.   (And of course the Jet Blue plane has since been repainted.)
The blurry guy's John McCain

The blurry guy is McCain

It was a total 180 from the arrival I stumbled across this spring but for one exception.  I still don’t think McCain is used to having the press awaiting his arrival at airports.   So when he exited the plane he hit the stairs like he was running to make a connecting flight.  (Hence the blur of a photo.) 
He’s got to learn that you walk out, pause – wave, then head to your car.  That gives the media a good 30-seconds of video and the candidate a little more face time. 
But again knowing how he was traveling a few months ago I’m not sure if he even knew we were there.

2008 Debate Schedule

September 18, 2008

Some years ago the late David Brinkley is quoted as having said after a presidential debate something to the effect that “candidates don’t come to debates to debate, they come to give speeches.  And they did.”

With that in mind a reminder for Wednesday night:

Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Notes, Quotes & Anecdotes

September 17, 2008




*The Vienna, Ohio visit of John McCain and Sarah Palin Tuesday was part political design part political convenience.  If you’ve been watching ABC’s Good Morning America you know they’re traveling cross country this week by train as part of their Great American Whistle Stop Tour.  John McCain’s scheduled to appear live Tuesday morning as the train heads into Gustavus, Ohio from Western New York.  Gustavus is just a stone’s throw up Route 11 from Vienna.


*The theme of the day though, the crisis on Wall Street, played perfectly into the location for McCain.  Trumbull County is Democratic no doubt.  It went for John Kerry in 2004 62% to 38% and it went roughly 3-to-1 for Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown in 2006.  But these are in many ways conservative democrats, Reagan democrats, Hillary democrats (she won the county 2-to-1 over Obama in March.)  These are voters John McCain feels he can reach and having an issue like this that pits Wall Street greed against Main Street values is one he or any politician will pitch here any day. 


*Polls out today show both Barack Obama and John McCain are trusted equally on the economy.  This is issue number one with Americans and the candidate who the voters feel is best able to handle it will likely be the winner in November.  I weigh that though against these words that started a New York Times article today on the situation on Wall Street. 

“One clear implication of the tumult in the financial world is that some of the biggest brains in the business, from the Federal Reserve to Wall Street, have no idea what will happen next or how to respond.” 

Good luck with that guys.


*Finally to see that old hangar at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport converted into the site of that political rally Tuesday with 7,000 people, McCain’s jet, Palin’s jet and a sea of media was somewhat amazing.  That’s because the last time I stepped foot in the place was in May of last year when we had to land there to refuel in Newschopper 5.  It felt like the Twilight Zone, I could literally count on one hand the number of people I saw there (and that’s including me, the pilot and the photographer.) What a difference a campaign makes.

Be well – John

Media riser in airport hangar

Media riser in airport hangar

Airport hangar @ Youngstown Airport

Airport hangar @ Youngstown Airport



September 11, 2008

Bellwether’s a funny word you are sure to hear mentioned often leading up to Election Day.  By definition bellwether is “an indication of a trend” or “a castrated male sheep.”  (, seriously I’m not making it up.) 


For our purposes let us focus on the former and try to erase the mental image of the latter.  Ohio is a bellwether state because our voting trends are often reflective of the nation as a whole.  But what spots are bellwether’s of the state?  Leading up 2004 it was Stark County.  That’s why the New York Times covered the Bush-Kerry race through the pen of a reporter living there. Going into the race (with the exception of 1976) they had voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1964.  But when the votes were tallied four years ago Stark County had sided with John Kerry, the state with George Bush.


So as I poured over election results in the past couple of years and broke down the numbers I found the new Stark may very well be Lake.  Lake County’s numbers in the 2004 race mirrored the state of Ohio, which mirrored the nation.


National Totals;              Ohio                     Lake County:

George Bush   50.73%    Bush: 50.81%       Bush  51.3%

John Kerry      48.27%     Kerry 48.71%        Kerry 48.7%


The numbers in the 2006 race U.S. Senate and Governor look similar;


Ohio                                 Lake County:

Sherrod Brown  56.16%      Brown     57.14%

Mike DeWine   43.82%       DeWine  42.85%


Ohio                                 Lake County:

Ted Strickland  60.54%      Strickland  66.32%

Ken Blackwell  36.65%      Blackwell   33.67%


Even in the Democratic primary in March the numbers were that far off from the rest of the state;


Ohio:                                 Lake County:

Hillary Clinton:   66.06%      Clinton:   62.13%

Barack Obama  30.81%      Obama:   36.37%

John Edwards     3.13%       Edwards:   1.5%


So what does that mean? It means if the candidates want to float a trial balloon on an issue or position you could come to a county like this and see how it plays. 

For us on election night it may provide us with an early indication of how the state will go.  The Lake County Board of Elections is one of the fastest in the state for getting in election results.  That’s important because the state numbers will hinge on the Cuyahoga County vote which as we know you can’t put a time frame on.  So if you want to get an early indication of who the next president will be you may want to keep your eye on Painesville.





Ohio, get set to enjoy the ride.

September 9, 2008
When it comes to the race for the White House, to alter a line from political guru Ed Rollins, Ohio is about to feel like the only fire hydrant at the Westminster Dog Show, we’re going to be the object of a lot of attention whether we want it or not. My hope is that you not only want it but you take the time experience it and recognize it for the rare opportunity it presents us as individuals and a state.
Ohio will decide this election and the candidates know it. As a result between now and November 4th it will feel as if Barack Obama and John McCain are running not for the White House but for the Governor’s mansion. The campaign trail will take them, their running mates and their surrogates on an almost daily trek across Northeast Ohio.  
In recent elections we’ve been spoiled by such attention but trust me it is not the norm. I grew up a political junkie in Philadelphia, I volunteered stuffing doors as a kid in grade school, I worked on campaigns in high school and started getting paid for the work in college.  After college I went to work full time as a press secretary for a year and a half on various campaigns before taking my first job in television.  Philadelphia though is a city where democrats held a 5-to-1 registration edge so even if Pennsylvania was up for grabs in a given election, the city was not so there was little campaigning there.  As a result the first time I ever got to see a President in person I was a reporter covering him.

So when I cover John McCain and Barack Obama I like to look around the room to see the children in attendance.  As a little kid who never got that opportunity I am envious of them and happy for them. This is their first taste of American Democracy and hopefully it is the memory that stays with them and one day inspires them to get involved in the process or at very least reminds them of the value that goes along with their vote.
Through our Democracy 2008 coverage we will be there covering those visits and bringing them to you but at some point, if you have the opportunity, take advantage of the chance to experience it first hand.



Press Pass from McCain's Palin Announcement Dayton, Oh

Dayton Press Pass






John McCain preparing to introduce his pick of Sarah Palin

John McCain preparing to introduce his pick of Sarah PalinWright State University Dayton, Oh

McCain-Palin Dayton, Oh

McCain-Palin Dayton, Oh