Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Davis shares Bush spotlight

President OKs airport photo op

Click here to e-mail Patrick Crowley
HEBRON - Geoff Davis waited three years for the few very public moments he spent Monday with President Bush.

And while the brief encounter appeared to be little more than a photo op - Bush and Davis waving to supporters as they emerged from Air Force One - it will provide a lasting political image in Northern Kentucky's 4th Congressional District race.

Davis, a Boone County Republican running against Democrat Nick Clooney, was permitted to greet Bush after the president arrived at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Bush was here to speak at the 105th annual Veterans Foreign of Wars convention in downtown Cincinnati.

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"It was a great honor to greet the president," Davis said after Bush's motorcade sped off. "The president is extremely popular in the 4th District because he offers the kind of leadership we need right now in this country, the same kind of leadership I'm going to give Northern Kentucky and the rest of the 4th District."

The event could not have been any more staged.

After Air Force One rolled to a stop near the DHL Express hanger, Davis boarded near the rear of the plane. He walked through the plane to the front door, where he and Bush came out to wave to a small group of supporters.

"He asked me how it was, running against Hollywood," Davis said, a reference to Clooney's son, actor George Clooney. "He said he's running against Hollywood, too."

Davis' campaign plans to use videotaped footage of the meeting in television ads this fall.

"This is huge for the Davis campaign," said Boone County GOP Chairman Kenny Brown. "Bush and Davis campaigning together shows the people of the 4th District that Davis will be an effective freshman congressman in the majority."

Bush is popular in the district, carrying it by 16 points in 2000. Ever since Davis geared up for his first run for office in summer 2001, he longed for Bush to appear in the district on his behalf.

But incumbent U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a retiring Boone County Democrat who defeated Davis in 2002, often voted with the Republicans. Therefore, he drew little opposition from Bush.

Now that Lucas is retiring, Bush appears to be open to overtly helping Davis beat Clooney.

"The fact that we were together today shows how the president feels about the race," Davis said. "He wants me to win."

Democrats said Davis should be more concerned about the 4th District's citizens than hob-knobbing with the president.

"Geoff Davis needs to spend more time meeting voters and less time kowtowing to Washington, D.C., politicians," said Kenton County Democratic Chairman Nathan Smith.

Bob Doyle, Clooney's Washington-based political adviser, said the race is going to come down "to the differences between Nick Clooney and Geoff Davis."

"We're not running against George Bush," Doyle said. "Nick Clooney is an independent guy who cares about Northern Kentucky (first) and his political party last.

"On key issues like preserving life and preserving the integrity of marriage by opposing gay marriage, Nick's on the same side as the president," he said. "This is just more evidence that Geoff Davis has to seek out other people to prop himself up because he can't stand on his own two feet."

But Republicans are quick to point out that Clooney has announced no plans to greet Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who is to address the VFW convention Wednesday

"Geoff Davis is proud to support our Republican leaders while Clooney runs from the Democrats' leaders," Brown said. "I doubt you will see Nick Clooney anywhere near John Kerry during this campaign."


E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com

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