Traficant#039;s presidency run lame publicity stunt

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Live, from the Allenwood federal prison in White Deer, Pa., the State of the Union Address.

Although it is surely a far-fetched dream, an organization wants imprisoned ex-congressman James Traficant to make a run for the White House.

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A group called ''Draft Traficant for President 2004'' communicated with the imprisoned former Ohio congressman and

started a campaign. They filed a signed ''Statement of Candidacy'' form with the Federal Election Commission this week.

Marcus Belk of Jersey City, N.J.,is working

full time as both campaign manager and spokesman. He says he and several friends were "thoroughly dissatisfied with the current choices in the Democratic field.'' So, they enlisted a man who was expelled from Congress and is serving eight years in a minimum security prison after being convicted in a federal court of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion.

The group says it plans to get Traficant's name on ballots for primary elections and raise $100,000 to qualify for federal matching funds.

"Jim Traficant best represents what the average Democrat believes - putting 'America first.' In a time when almost every American believes that no politician will remain true to his beliefs when he comes under political pressure, Jim has never wavered."

Those "beliefs" landed him in prison, so we think it is a slap in the face of all Democrats to say Traficant is the party's voice.

Traficant is no stranger to running a campaign from his prison cell. He ran an unsuccessful jailhouse campaign last year for his redistricted congressional seat, receiving 27,487 votes

(15 percent). We find it hard to believe the American people would be this generous.

Traficant's possible run at the White House is nothing more than a publicity stunt. While it would, perhaps, be a good story line for a funny movie, it is in no way humorous in real life. Even though Traficant is animated and would, perhaps, make a good actor, the role of Commander in Chief would not be his cup of tea.