Sunday, July 18, 2004

Northup puts down car-sticker campaign

By Greg Hall and
Michael Lindenberger
The Courier-Journal

U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's re-election campaign Saturday denounced as inappropriate a bumper sticker being circulated in Louisville that suggests a vote for Democrat John Kerry in November's presidential election is a vote for Osama bin Laden.

But the campaign's chairman said Northup would not ask the Jefferson County Republican Party to stop distributing the stickers, which read: "Kerry is bin Laden's man/ Bush is mine."

Campaign chairman Ted Jackson said a flap over the bumper stickers is "a party matter. It's not something I see a role for the campaign to play."

Jefferson County GOP chairman Jack Richardson IV, meanwhile, defended the stickers' distribution, saying that while he did not know their origin, he's hoping to find more of them.

Richardson said the stickers, which have been available at the local GOP headquarters, raise an important distinction between President Bush's approach to the war on terror and Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Northup's opponent, Democrat Tony Miller, called the stickers outrageous during a news conference Saturday outside the GOP headquarters in downtown Louisville and demanded Richardson resign or be fired. He also called on Northup to denounce the sticker.

"No American should deserve this sort of treatment," Miller said. "There's nothing unpatriotic about asking tough questions regarding the war in Iraq or the war on terrorism."

Richardson responded in a telephone interview that he won't resign. Patrick Neely, Northup's campaign manager, agreed with Miller that the sticker is inappropriate, but said its tone is no worse than that of "the demonstrators and their hate-filled signs who protest in front of Anne's house every Sunday morning. Neither does one thing to advance civil, thoughtful debate in our democracy."

He also said Congress - and congressional candidates - should focus on more important issues.

"The real question is whether Tony Miller thinks that a bumper sticker slogan is at the top of the list of national priorities," Neely said, adding that Northup only learned of the sticker Saturday.

Richardson said Northup's stance won't prompt him to quit distributing the stickers.

Richardson said the sticker makes a valid point about Kerry's voting record in the Senate. He said Kerry's vote last fall against President Bush's request for $87 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan shows he'd be less effective than the president at fighting terrorism.

Kerry has defended that vote, saying it was an attempt to force the president to develop a better post-invasion plan in Iraq.

Judy Munro-Leighton, a Miller and Kerry supporter who attended the press conference, said Republicans' attempt to change the subject to Kerry's voting record is inappropriate.

She said linking bin Laden and Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, is as bad as "someone suggesting FDR was Adolf Hitler's candidate. I am just astounded."

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