Saturday, March 21, 1998
Ex-football pro here
to back Bunning

BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MITCHELL - Oklahoma Republican Congressman and former pro football receiver Steve Largent helped pull down about $20,000 Friday for Jim Bunning's U.S. Senate campaign.

About 100 Northern Kentuckians paid $250 for a lunch of cold cuts and salad at the Drawbridge Estates, where Mr. Largent appeared for about 90 minutes at the Bunning event before heading off to another fund raiser in Indianapolis.

Earlier in the day Mr. Largent, a two-term congressman and member of pro football's Hall of Fame, helped raise money in Louisville for Third District Republican Congresswoman Ann Northup's re-election campaign.

''When Jim Bunning first approached me about this, he asked me if I believed in the Constitution . . . and free speech,'' Mr. Largent joked during his remarks at the fund raiser.

''I said sure. And he said, 'Why don't you come to Kentucky and give one for us.' '' Mr. Largent said he actually came to Kentucky ''because Jim Bunning is the kind of leader who doesn't do what's politically expedient or popular. He does what's right.

''That's not only what kind of leader and senator Kentucky needs. That's the kind of leader America needs right now,'' said Mr. Largent, who serves with Mr. Bunning on the House Budget Committee.

The two congressmen took questions from the donors and discussed a broad range of topics.

Both Mr. Largent and Mr. Bunning said as more information about exactly what happened between President Clinton and Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey comes out, the president's approval ratings, which have been high, will plummet.

''As a nation we are in denial,'' Mr. Largent said. ''The American people don't want these things to be true. I don't want them to be true. The problem is we keep finding information that could substantiate the allegations.''

Whether the $365 billion settlement with large tobacco companies passes this year or not, Congress will likely pass some kind of legislation to curb teen smoking, probably restrictions of vending machines and advertising, they both said.

Mr. Largent predicted Republicans will hold Congress and ''optimistically'' pick up 12 to 14 seats.

But Republicans in Congress should not ''sit on their hands and avoid anything controversial'' because it's an election year, he said.

''When you play a prevent defense, the only thing that does is prevent you from winning,'' Mr. Largent said.

Mr. Largent backs Mr. Bunning's proposal to eventually allow people to invest a portion of the money they pay into Social Security in a stock or other fund.

''This is the greatest scam played on the American people,'' Mr. Largent said.

Mr. Bunning, who has raised more than $1 million for his race, is running in the Senate primary against State Sen. Barry Metcalf. Democrats in the race are Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, Louisville businessman Charlie Owen and Lexington Congressman Scotty Baesler.