Monday, August 9, 2004

Democrat taking stroll to Cleveland


Inside Washington

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WASHINGTON - On Wednesday morning, Democratic Senate candidate Eric Fingerhut will show up at Yeatman's Cove on Cincinnati's riverfront and start walking.

And walking. And walking.

Fingerhut, considered a long-shot challenge to Sen. George Voinovich, is walking all the way to Cleveland.

"This is an opportunity to connect with voters and talk about the issues that Ohioans face every single day," Fingerhut said. "This walk gives me a chance to do something that George Voinovich rarely does, which is get out beyond the fund-raisers and spend a day walking in the shoes of ordinary Ohioans."

The route will take him through College Hill, Fairfield and Hamilton. The walk even has its own Web site - www.walkohio.com.

Polls show the state senator from Shaker Heights trailing Voinovich by a two-to-one margin, and Voinovich has raised nine times more money.

So the walk is partly to get free publicity - and look, it's working - and to contrast the 45-year-old Fingerhut with Voinovich, who, though still scrappy, is 68 and had a pacemaker installed last year. Voinovich's office had no comment.

Lamar Alexander, now a senator from Tennessee, walked across his state in 1978 when he ran for governor. Lawton Chiles did the same in Florida when he ran for the Senate in 1970. This year, another gubernatorial candidate, North Carolina's Dan Barrett, walked across the state - but lost the Republican primary.

Heresy

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush campaign, told reporters last weekend that President Bush can win the White House without winning Ohio - and he even said it en route to Canton for Bush's appearance there.

"Ohio's at the top of the list of the states that we really want to win. You don't have to win it, because you can accumulate electoral votes in other ways," he said, according to the pool report, which is filed by a reporter traveling with the president and distributed to the other reporters.

Never mind that - as every newspaper reader in Ohio knows - no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. By contrast, Bush knows he can win the White House without other battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. After all, he did it in 2000.

But losing Ohio would mean he'd have to make up those 20 electoral votes by sweeping several states Al Gore won in 2000. (He could win Pennsylvania alone, but recent polls show Kerry's lead there approaching double digits.)

Bush would have to combine at least two other former Gore states: Minnesota plus Iowa, for example, or Wisconsin plus Michigan, or Washington plus Oregon plus New Mexico.

Anyway, Dowd recovered right away. "You really want to win (Ohio)," he said. "It's tight, it's close and it's got a large amount of electoral votes."

The local angle

When members of the 9/11 commission testified before a House committee last week, northern Warren County Rep. Mike Turner made sure to plug Dayton.

A month before the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, Dayton had undergone a training exercise, responding to a hypothetical terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction.

"In reading the 9/11 commission report, I was struck ... that your recommendations were very similar to the recommendations that came out of our Dayton Domestic Preparedness Action Report on what was needed for our first responders," Turner said.

Tomorrow's the day

The Colorado Republican primary is Tuesday. So what?

West Chester native and 1980 Moeller High School grad Bob Schaffer is facing off against brewery tycoon Peter Coors.

There is also a separate Democratic primary. The winners of the two primaries face each other in November to fill the seat left by retiring GOP Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

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




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