Monday, March 04, 2002

Taft's pick shows he's tone deaf

Left turn

By Peter Bronson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Has Ohio Gov. Bob Taft been smoking the drapes? The Republican from family values Cincinnati, governor of the Ozzie and Harriet heartland, has chosen a running mate who is pro gay and pro abortion.

        Conservatives are wondering: What about Bob?

        Jennette Bradley, a black Republican on Columbus City Council, is qualified and well liked, but she's several time zones to the left of the Ohio Republican Party.

        State GOP Chairman Bob Bennett insisted Mr. Taft's choice is great — and lie detectors within a five-mile radius of him spontaneously exploded.

        Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, is urging conservatives to mutiny and vote for Democrat Tim Hagan.


"Kamikaze Tom'

               “The choice for running mate is a slap in the face of every conservative group and citizen in the state of Ohio,” said the maverick party pooper's e-mail.

        They may call him “Kamikaze Tom” in Columbus. But his jujitsu logic makes some sense: “I sit in the caucus meetings and everything is concerned with how will the governor react. If a Democrat was governor, we would unite and force the conservative agenda over his veto.”

        Mr. Brinkman's suicide bombings won't keep Battleship Taft from sinking a dinghy Democrat in November. But my theory is that Mr. Taft, who can't carry a political tune, will retire when his second term ends in 2006. And that will set off a stampede not seen since all Three Stooges tried to wiggle through the same porthole at once.

        It's an open secret that U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, wants to run for governor. But he could wind up in a primary cage match with Auditor Jim Petro, Attorney General Betty Montgomery and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.


President Portman?

               Meanwhile, Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, would like to replace Sen. DeWine. Or he could replace Dick Cheney as vice president in President Bush's second term. It's not so far out. During a recent visit to Cincinnati, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Portman is one of the few in Washington qualified for the White House.

        Mr. Portman is a close friend of the Bush family and has no tire tracks on his record. When other Republicans took off chasing cars in the Republican revolution, Mr. Portman wisely stayed on the porch. He could be a smart pick for vice president and a strong candidate for president in 2008.

        Whatever happens, a crowd is already lining up for Mr. Portman's House seat, including Cincinnati City Councilman Pat DeWine, Hamilton County Commission candidate Phil Heimlich and Cincinnati's less moderate Rush Limbaugh, Bill Cunningham.

        So what about Bob?

        If Mr. Taft were seriously considering a national political career, he would be foolish to hang the pro-abortion, gay-rights albatross around his own neck. He could never get away with it if Ohio had a real Democratic Party.

        His left-turn signal could mean he's going squishy on other issues. It could cripple turnout in a key race to recapture a conservative majority on the Ohio Supreme Court. And the prospect of a pro-gay, pro-abortion liberal governor if Mr. Taft leaves early is enough to give Republicans the clammy sweats.

        Conservatives have a right to feel betrayed.

        Contact Peter Bronson at 768-8301; fax: 768-8610; e-mail: Cincinnati.Com keyword: Bronson.


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