Monday, July 26, 2004

Clooney stays home from convention

Inside Washington

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When Democrats gather this week for their national convention in Boston, Democrat Nick Clooney won't be there.

But Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell will be.

Democratic House candidates will converge on Boston to schmooze, be seen with their ticket and raise money. But Clooney, father of actor George and candidate for northern Kentucky's House seat, will stay far away from Boston and Sen. John Kerry.

Nothing against Kerry, Clooney insists.

"No votes up there," he said, referring to Boston. He said he'd be happy to campaign alongside Kerry if he came to the district, though he offered he'd "love" to be seen with John Edwards.

President Bush whomped Al Gore in the congressional district in 2000, and Clooney acknowledges that Bush remains popular. Kentucky is considered a solidly Republican state in the presidential election.

The Democratic Party invited Clooney to Boston, where many candidates will go to raise money and visibility. But he declined.

"While we would love for everyone to be in Boston together for the celebration of our nominees, a lot of our candidates have races they need to run," said Kori Bernards, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "It doesn't mean anything about John Kerry or John Edwards. You have to recognize the priorities: Nick Clooney is looking to get elected in the 4th Congressional District."

Justin Brasell, spokesman for Clooney's GOP opponent Geoff Davis, said it's no secret Kerry is weak in the district.

"But I don't know why Mr. Clooney wouldn't go to the convention. It's no secret he's a big supporter of John Kerry and John Edwards. It's a little disingenuous," he said.

Davis, he noted, will be going to the Republican convention next month in New York City.

Meanwhile, Sen. McConnell, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, will be the GOP's voice Wednesday. He's part of what the Republicans are calling their Boston "truth squad."

More from Clooney

Clooney was in Washington last week doing what he hates most, he said: asking potential donors for money.

"This," he said, "is the underarm of campaigning."

Clooney said the top issue in the district, everywhere he goes, is "health care, health care, health care."

"This is the only time I see fear," he said. "And these are tough folks."

Clooney said he has noticed a "subtext of anger" the likes of which he hasn't seen since 1994, which produced the Republican Revolution.

What about BOB?: The latest anti-Bush group to target Ohio is Bring Ohio Back, which will do its work in Democrat-rich Northeast Ohio. Based in Cleveland, the group is a "527," named after the section of the tax code that regulates political groups. Formed in June, it has just begun to raise money.

Actor Martin Sheen is scheduled to do a fund-raiser for the group Aug. 14.

They said it: "I think Edwards will help (Kerry) in southern Ohio. And I think Ohio's our best chance for a big-state pickup."

Former President Bill Clinton, in an interview published in the Aug. 5 edition of Rolling Stone magazine.


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

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