Sunday, September 5, 2004

Local focus group
disparaged by media figures


When pollster Frank Luntz picked Cincinnati to do a focus group of swing voters during the Republican National Convention, he saw the assembled group as a microcosm of America.

But when Luntz filed a report from the WCET studios in the West End for Joe Scarborough's Convention After Hours show on MSNBC, the panelists in New York City saw something else.

Mike Barnicle, columnist for the Boston Herald: "It looks like the bar scene from Star Wars. I don't mean to demean anyone who was there, but I thought from the looks of several of them - and I'm not in the greatest shape in the world - but they're talking about health-care issues. Have a salad, would you?"

Ron Reagan, son of the late president: "If these are the undecided voters who are going to decide the election, which of us fears for our nation?"

Barnicle: "Frank is great. He's very skillful. He was clearly in a room full of mental patients."

That left Luntz, considered by Republicans to be the Obi-Wan Kenobi of polling, scrambling to fill the seats of insulted panelists who didn't show up the second night.

"Screw them for their comments," Luntz told the replacement swing voters on the second night. "But I don't want them to do it again."

THE NAME GAME: Democratic Youngstown Mayor George M. McKelvey's endorsement of Bush last month is the biggest defection in Ohio this year. He leads a corps of Democrats for Bush that seems to have more firepower than the Republicans for Kerry.

They include David Madison, mayor of Bexley, Jim Stanton, a former congressman from Cleveland, Mike Verich, a former state representative from Warren, and William White, the former chief of staff for Sen. John Glenn.

On the other side? No official list exists, and Brendon Cull, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, could offer only non-Ohioans such as Lee Iacocca and a former mayor of Centerville whose name he couldn't remember. But he hinted that an official rollout of a "Ohio Republicans for Kerry" could be coming.

OLD MIAMI, NEW MIAMI: President Bush introduced Alice DeWine, daughter of Sen. Mike DeWine (and sister of Cincinnati Councilman Pat DeWine) at a campaign event in Broadview Heights Saturday.

"And Alice, sweet Alice, Alice DeWine, a student at Miami University, Miami of Ohio. Alma mater, I want you to know, of my grandfather, Marvin Pierce. ...

"My other grandfather, Prescott Bush, was raised in Columbus, Ohio. You know, as I told them in Columbus the other day, why don't you put a home boy back in the White House?"

HOME GIRL: At least one presidential candidate will be campaigning in Cincinnati every day until Election Day - if only she can get on the ballot.

Sandra Noble, 48, of Walnut Hills has submitted 5,526 signatures to the Ohio secretary of state to be included as an independent candidate. The state will determine this week whether she has the 5,000 valid signatures necessary.

Noble hasn't filed in any other state.

GRAND OLD NICKNAME: The Republican Party has been known as the "GOP" since 1875, but it was originally known as the "Gallant Old Party," according to Harper's Weekly. That changed the next year, when the Cincinnati Commercial, covering the 1876 Republican National Convention here, coined "Grand Old Party." Rutherford B. Hayes, the former Cincinnati city solicitor, won the nomination that year.

Compiled by Enquirer staff writer Gregory Korte

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