Sunday, February 22, 2004

Hot Corner: Nipping at the heels of the newsmakers

Not-so-favorite son

Back in the day, state political parties had the quaint habit of supporting a "favorite son" - a governor, senator or such - who often didn't have a real shot at the party's presidential nomination, but could provide some smoke-filled-room leverage and 15 minutes of "The great state of ..." fame at the convention. But the way the nomination process has evolved, that practice has fallen by the wayside.

Too bad for Dennis Kucinich. With the Democratic contest pegged as a two-man race between John Kerry and John Edwards, the still-hopeful Cleveland congressman's one shot may be an appeal to Buckeye pride that might get him a bloc of delegates in the Ohio's March 2 "Super Tuesday" primary.

"I'm Ohio's favorite son. Ohio needs me in this race," Kucinich said here on Wednesday. "Two months from now, I could be the front-runner." Right. And two months from now, Britney Spears could compose a symphony.

Kucinich is mired in the low single digits in other big Super Tuesday states. An Ohio Poll recently put him at 7 percent here, with Edwards at 13 percent and Kerry at 44 percent. So the numbers just don't add up. As of Friday, Kerry had 608 of the 2,162 delegates needed to be nominated, while Edwards had 190. Kucinich had 2.

Kerry gets a mulligan

Talking with reporters in Dayton on Wednesday, Kerry gave a rambling discourse on President Bush's economic policy that left the networks without a snappy soundbite, reported the Boston Globe's Patrick Healy. A CBS producer asked Kerry to "try again." The TV-prompted "take two" went better: "They don't know what they're talking about in their own economic policy. Today it's one thing, tomorrow it's the next," Kerry dutifully bit. We're certain CBS would give Bush a re-do, too.

Trail Mix: Notes and quotes from the political campaigns

• Call it the Maple Syrup Imperative. Bowing out of the Democratic race after a weak third-place finish in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean found a pithy way to sum up his campaign's vision for America: "What we set out to do was make the rest of the country more like Vermont." OK, all together now: "Ay-yup!"

• The head of the biggest union that for a time backed Dean thinks the Vermonter took too long to quit. Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the New York Times Thursday that he begged Dean to drop out, then withdrew AFSCME's support because he didn't want to waste its money. "I have to vent," McEntee said. "I think he's nuts."

• CBS Late Night host David Letterman put a deft political spin on one of the week's more bizarre rumors: that President Bush has had a nose job. "If this is true, it would be the first new job he's created since he's taken office," Letterman joked.

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DeWine: Our choice over Dowlin
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Hot Corner: Nipping at the heels of the newsmakers

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