Sunday, October 24, 2004

No accounting for missteps in Senate race

Around Northern Kentucky

Pat Crowley

Jim Bunning's not sick, at least in my opinion, but why did he wait so long to adequately address questions about his health?

Nick Clooney's not dull, so why does he come across that way in debates?

Running campaigns does funny things to people. Not funny "ha ha" but funny as in making bad decisions.

Bunning, the Southgate Republican running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, was confronted with questions from Democrats about his health months ago. Rather than doing what Bunning can do best - aggressively confronting an opponent - he let it linger.

The issue festered and the questions grew, and now it seems like every reporter in the country wants to know about the senator's health. Back in July when the questions were first raised, Bunning should have done what he did last week here and in Louisville, stand up and show people that he is fine.

Instead, he's dealing with wicked rumors in the final weeks of a campaign that he should be winning in a walk.

But because he didn't move quicker, Democrat Daniel Mongiardo has made dramatic moves in the polls, and the Dems in actually think they can win. That's still a stretch, but it never should have been close in the first place.

Clooney, the Democrat running in the 4th Congressional District, presents more evidence of opportunity squandered.

The man who has spent a life before a camera suddenly wants to leave his personality in Augusta and become Al Gore.

Voters need and deserve to hear Clooney's stance on the issues in his campaign against Geoff Davis. But it was Davis who was supposed to be the stiff.

Clooney can be great on the stump. But when he gets into a debate he suddenly wants to become a great orator instead of a great guy. He's making the classic political mistake - talking at the audience instead of to them.

How obvious was it during last week's televised KET debate? When I saw a press release from the Clooney campaign with a headline that read "Clooney wins debate" I felt like I was reading one of those tabloids you see in the supermarket, the ones with stories like "Princess Di and Elvis visit Jacko at Neverland."

Clooney must have forgotten what gives him juice in this race and why he even has a chance to begin with. Voters don't want a lecture from Clooney the deep political thinker and historian. They want to be wowed by the guy they grew up watching on the news, the one who showed up at their festivals, balls, sock hops and awards dinners.

He doesn't have to dumb it down; he just needs to jazz it up.

With Bunning, it's not saying enough. With Clooney, it's knowing how to say it.

E-mail Crowley interviews 4th Congressional District candidate Nick Clooney this week on ICN6's "On The Record," which is broadcast daily on Insight Communications Channel 6.

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Election 2004 page

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