Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Democrats set sights on Ohio, if not on Cincinnati

Inside Ohio's Capital

Click here to e-mail Debra
Click here to e-mail Spencer
With a week to go before Super Tuesday, it's already clear Ohio is going to figure prominently in the battle between John Kerry and John Edwards.

But what about Greater Cincinnati? Kerry popped up in Dayton last week. The closest Edwards got was Columbus.

Kerry will make appearances in Democrat-heavy Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo today and Wednesday. There's no word yet where Edwards will pop up next.

It's obvious to everyone the Cincinnati region is GOP central. But the city is run by a prominent Democrat in Mayor Charles Luken.

Kerry spokeswoman Kathy Roeder insists her candidate will campaign south of Interstate 70. She points out that Kerry opened offices in Cincinnati and in Athens.

"He believes you've got to campaign all over the state," Roeder said.

Edwards opened an office in Dayton. His staff is keeping his schedule to themselves for now.

FRONT RUNNER: Kerry is counting on a "lucky buckeye" to help him defeat Edwards and maybe raise some more cash.

At an evening union rally in Columbus with more than 500 workers, Kerry showed off a buckeye that he said a driver gave him when he first arrived last week. "I know that hope springs eternal in Ohio," he said, laughing.

Kerry also used the buckeye to make a subtle reference to the money he needs to raise from the AFL-CIO and other unions during this campaign. As he reached to pull the buckeye out of the pocket of his navy suit jacket, hanging on a chair next to where Ohio AFL-CIO president Bill Burga was sitting, Kerry joked: "He thinks I'm picking his pocket. But I'll do that later."

He jabbed at President Bush's lack of military service in battle, saying Bush "played dress-up" on an aircraft carrier.

Outside the union hall, though, Republicans tried to draw attention to Kerry's protests of the Vietnam war after he served in it.

They stood on a pickup truck playing 1960s protest songs and waving a sign that said, "Hanoi John."

THE ONE-LINERS: Campaigns are all about staying on message, controlling that message, and, of course, getting the message on television.

Here are the candidate's quick quips. These are slogans casual voters may hear only once. Campaign junkies will probably hear them about 20 times between now and March 2.

Both slam the president.

Kerry: "Like father, like son, one term and you're done."

Edwards: "What would be good for the American economy is to 'outsource' this administration."


Email djasper@enquirer.com and shunt@enquirer.com

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