Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Cheney touts Davis, Bush

Helps Kentucky candidate raise $160,000 and defends president's policies

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

HEBRON - Vice President Dick Cheney kept it clean as he helped GOP Congressional candidate Geoff Davis raise an estimated $160,000 during a Monday afternoon campaign fund-raiser in Boone County.

Vice President Dick Cheney (right) holds up a Cincinnati Bengals jersey presented to him by Geoff Davis, Republican candidate for the Fourth District Conressional seat.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
Cheney made national news last week when he uttered a four-letter expletive during a brief argument on the Senate floor with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

The vice president was more profound and less profane in delivering a 20-minute speech to the 230 Davis supporters who paid from $250 to $2,000 to attend the lunch event at the Marriott Cincinnati Airport Hotel in Hebron.

Cheney made no mention of his exchange with Leahy but gushed over Davis, touted and defended President Bush's policies and only briefly mentioned Monday's transfer of power from the U.S.-led military coalition to the newly established government of Iraq.

"The world witnessed the arrival of a free and sovereign Iraq, and an emerging democracy that the United States will be able to call a friend," Cheney said.

Davis, a self-employed business consultant from Hebron, is running against Augusta Democrat Nick Clooney for the seat now occupied by U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Boone County Democrat who is retiring this year.

"Geoff Davis has exactly the right ideas and the right experience for the job," Cheney said. "He's defended his nation as an Army Ranger. He leads a successful business. He works hard to make his community a better place to live ...and I know he's going to be the next congressman from Kentucky's 4th District."

Davis said Cheney's visit shows the Bush administration believes the race is important to Republicans.

"What I'm lacking in celebrity, I'll make up for in substance," Davis said in a reference to Clooney's career as a local media personality.

Clooney held a fund-raiser Monday night in downtown Cincinnati that was not open to the press.

The Davis campaign circulated an e-mail to reporters covering Cheney's speech that Clooney's campaign sent to potential contributors and supporters.

"As the Republicans have continually shown, they will stop at nothing to beat us, bringing in top tier members of the party to stump for Davis," Clooney Campaign Manager B.J. Neidhardt wrote in the e-mail.

In an interview Monday, Neidhardt said he wrote the e-mail but said, "ultimately, this race is not about Dick Cheney."

"It's about who has the better ideas, Nick Clooney or Geoff Davis," he said.

There have been suggestions in the national press that Cheney could be a drag on Bush this November in his race against the presumptive Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

Opponents say Cheney's support of the war in Iraq and his ties to Halliburton, a company the vice president once headed that is now facing allegations of overcharging the government, could damage Bush.

But state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said there is no way Cheney will hurt Bush's chance at reelection.

"He's brought a lot to this administration, and I also think he would be an excellent president," he said.

Thayer, who represents southern Kenton County, said Cheney was not totally out of line in his comments to Leahy, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who Republicans have blamed for holding up Bush's federal judge appointments.

"While I would certainly never condone the use of profanity in a public situation like that," Thayer said, "I think vice president Cheney expressed the feelings of many people across the country for Sen. Leahy for holding up President Bush's judicial nominations the last four years."

During a lighter moment, Davis gave Cheney two gifts. A framed Kentucky Colonel certificate, compliments of Gov. Ernie Fletcher, and a Cincinnati Bengals jersey emblazoned with Cheney's name and the number "04," a reference to this year's election.

The football connection came through former Bengal Anthony Munoz, a member of pro football's Hall of Fame and an advocate for children's and other charities. Munoz gave the greeting at the event, where contributors paid $250 for a lunch of baked chicken and $2,000 for lunch and the opportunity to have their picture taken with Cheney.

"It's always exciting to see the vice president," said Fort Mitchell Republican Michael Plummer. "But I think Geoff Davis has really come into his own as a speaker. He was great today. You can see he's ready for the election this fall."


E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com

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