Monday, May 17, 2004

Kerry's paid staffers begin work in Ohio

Inside Washington

Click here to e-mail Carl
WASHINGTON - For all the talk about Ohio's importance in the November election, one thing had been missing until this month: The John Kerry campaign.

While the George W. Bush re-election campaign has had paid staffers in Ohio since Jan. 1, the Kerry campaign only this month brought in its first paid staffers.

They include communications director Jennifer Palmieri; political director and Dayton native Crystal King; field director Beth Leonard, who helped Kerry win in Iowa; and nine other paid field organizers.

"We only have stars coming to Ohio," Palmieri said. She said this was the earliest any Democratic presidential campaign had brought paid campaign staff to Ohio.

And, she said, Ohio has more staff on the ground than any other state. Brendon Cull, Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken's press secretary, will be the 13th paid employee this week as he takes a leave of absence to become Ohio press secretary for the Kerry campaign.

Since the March 2 primary that sealed Kerry's nomination, his campaign had been visible on TV, in visits and in its bus trip across the northern part of the state. But only volunteers had been working in Ohio.

By contrast, the Bush campaign brought in executive director Darrin Klinger Jan. 1. Paid Bush campaign staff in Ohio now number 13, campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said. They're based in Columbus but spend their days on the road, "eating bad food and staying in hotels."

As for the Democrats, Madden said: "They are 27,000 volunteers, 50,000 phone calls, and 88 county chairmen behind."

THIS IS NOT A HOAX: Rep. Steve Chabot spent a day earlier this month in New York City at a program organized by - we repeat, this is not a hoax - the Humpty Dumpty Institute.

HDI, as it quickly calls itself in news releases, is a nonprofit trying to solve international problems. It puts things back together.

The institute put together a program for members of Congress on the June 30 transition in Iraq, the role of the United Nations and its capabilities. "It's an odd name, isn't it?" Chabot said. Chabot spokesman Brian Griffith stressed that Chabot did not actually go to the Humpty Dumpty Institute but went to the United Nations. The institute just put it all together.

PENSIVE PENCE: Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican who represents northern Dearborn and Franklin County, Ind., has launched an online blog, or Weblog - the first on a congressional home page.

Here's an entry from Thursday, after viewing more prisoner abuse photos.

"Sitting in the complete silence of a darkened room full of legislators and watching depictions of lurid images of U.S. soldiers coercing prisoners to engage in obscene acts was revolting and saddening to me."

It's at Click on Mike's Blog in upper right corner.

THEY SAID IT: "I have to tell you: It's not possible for me to visit a gas station these days without coming across people who are downright angry. When people pumping their gas start talking to each other across the islands about the 'blankety-blank' price of gasoline, you know they are mad. I don't blame them." - Sen. George Voinovich at a Wednesday hearing on gas prices.


Carl Weiser covers Washington news for the Enquirer. E-mail or call (202) 906-8134.

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