Highlights, lowlights, lights out on campaigns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2004

John Kerry called it his lucky buckeye. On his first campaign swing through Ohio, the Democrat dug into his pocket and proudly held up the namesake of Ohio State University sports.

''It'll be with me tomorrow. It'll be with me until November and it's going to the White House,'' the Massachusetts senator bellowed.

He should have checked first with former Ohio State football coach John Cooper, who pulled a similar stunt when he was introduced as the Buckeyes' coach in 1988. Cooper, of Tennessee, found out the hard way that the nut's luck may be limited. His record against rival Michigan, 2-10-1, proved to be far unluckier. He was fired after the 2000 season.

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Kerry carried the buckeye through the campaign, drawing cheers from a crowd of 30,000 at an Ohio State rally the last week before the election. President Bush won the state with 51 percent of the vote.

Here are some other lowlights from this year's campaign trail:

SO THAT'S WHY THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME: The Bush team accidentally provided reporters with a glimpse into how a campaign responds to an opponent's claims. The ''extreme makeover fact sheet'' includes suggested responses for Bush-Cheney supporters.

For instance, if Kerry is talking about reforming the intelligence system, the talking point should be: ''Kerry was on Senate Select Intelligence Committee for Eight Years. While on Committee, Kerry Missed 38 of 49 Intelligence Committee Hearings.''

The e-mail release was ''recalled'' by the campaign less than three minutes after it was sent.

PAPER STARS: Veteran Cleveland Democrat Norbert Dennerll wasn't attracting much attention to his campaign against Eric Fingerhut for the party's nomination to run against Sen. George Voinovich.

So he issued a press release promising ''President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will meet with Norbert G. Dennerll, U.S. Senate candidate.''

At the end of the release, you find out that Bush will be a ''cardboard standup'' and the others, ''look-alike mask only.'' Dennerll got 32 percent of the vote against Fingerhut's 68 percent.

THOSE LAWYERS STOP AT NOTHING: The Ohio Democratic Party implored William Weisenberg, an official of the Ohio State Bar Association, to think again about supporting rules for campaign conduct by judicial candidates. The party thought the rules favored Republican incumbents on the Ohio Supreme Court.

The latter might have received more of a response if it hadn't been addressed to the ''Ohio State Bare Association.''

TODAY ON …: Talk show host Jerry Springer withdrew as a Senate candidate in 2003, but Ohio Republicans found it difficult to let him go. After the Ohio Democratic Party made him its 2003 Democrat of the Year, largely for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he contributed to the party and its candidates, the Ohio Republican Party released a list of zingers against Springer - from fellow Democrats.

MORE SPELL CHECK: Kerry campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri offered this after a visit to Ohio by the U.S. secretary of labor:

''Secretary Chow might get a better reception in Ohio if she were willing to address workers' concerns with Bush's new overtime regulations.''

Wonder if Chow was there along with Secretary Elaine Chao?

OUT OF BOUNDS: The Republican National Committee jumped all over Kerry for his ''false'' claim that as vice president, Dick Cheney received $2 million from Halliburton, his former employer.

''To start, the $2 million figure is wrong. It is true that Cheney has received just under $2 million from Halliburton since his election, but nearly $1.6 million of that total was paid before Cheney actually took office,'' the RNC said.

WHERE'S THE FIRE?: The Kerry campaign chose a former west-side Columbus firehouse for its state headquarters. The Democratic Party subleased it for $3,200 a month from the Greater Hilltop Community Development Corp. The nonprofit group rents the building from Columbus for $1 a year.

However, the lease requires the group to rent only to tenants that ''promote public health, recreation, social services, or similar community services.'' The story caused a brief flare-up but died down after Republicans declined to pursue the matter.

VIVE LA FRANCE!: The RNC also put out a release that included an editorial from French newspaper Le Monde. Presumably, it was flattering toward Kerry. It also was in French, without translation.

FINAL THOUGHT: The news on the Friday before the election included an account from London about the producer of ''Jerry Springer: The Opera'' keeping the show open until at least mid-December. Producer John Thoday had threatened to close the show because of financial problems.

He said they were caused by the costs of a lawsuit against the Daily Mail newspaper. The producers say the newspaper falsely claimed the show was losing money.

John McCarthy is a staff reporter for the Associated Press' Columbus office.