Tales from the Trail

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics


The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

Tony Hopfinger, editor of the online Alaska Dispatch, says he was pushed against the wall and handcuffed by a plain clothes Miller security guard who refused to identify himself.
Miller describes the event differently, blaming “an irrational blogger” for trying to “take advantage of a town hall meeting to create a publicity stunt just two weeks before the election.”
“Even though Joe had spent nearly an hour freely answering questions from those in attendance, the blogger chased Miller to the exit after the event concluded in an attempt to create and then record a ‘confrontation’ with the candidate. While Miller attempted to calmly exit the facility, the blogger physically assaulted another individual and made threatening gestures and movements towards the candidate.”
So reads the statement on Miller’s campaign Web site.
No one was charged or arrested.
But the incident is only the latest scuffle between the candidates and the press this year.
An angry Carl Paladino, the Tea Party-backed Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York, threatened to take out a reporter from the New York Post not long ago. And he didn’t mean that as a dinner invitation.
The phenomenon has not occurred only in the Republican or Tea Party camp, either.
A staffer for Massachusetts Democratic Senate nominee Martha Coakley got the year off to a rousing start in January by shoving a reporter as he tried to ask challenging questions of the state attorney general.
At least some of the friction may stem from a campaign strategy that seeks to shepherd untried candidates away from unscripted public appearances where an unexpected question might prompt a contest-ending gaffe. The tactic may make 2010 the year of the missing candidate.
Could it be that the best route to the cut-and-thrust world of Washington politics is a path that skirts the cut-and-thrust politics of the campaign? We may find out after Election Day.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton (Bare-knuckle Boxers)

Political insider still “in” in New York governor’s race

carl1New York voters are plenty angry. But apparently they’re not so comfortable with “scary-angry” and that could be costing Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino some support, The New York Times reports.

According to a New York Times poll released on the eve of their Monday night debate, Democrat Andrew Cuomo has opened a big lead over Paladino, 59 percent to 24 percent.

Fifty-nine percent of voters said Paladino did not have the right temperament and personality to be a good governor.  Fifty-five percent said the real estate developer who’s never held public office did not have the right kind of experience.

NY governor candidate Paladino says he only opposes gay marriage (and doesn’t like the parades)

Carl Paladino, the Tea Party backed Republican candidate running for New York governor, says he is not against homosexuals, only gay marriage and taking children to gay pride parades.

News reports quoted Paladino, in remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn on Sunday, saying: “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.” USA/

The Buffalo businessman was on all the morning talk shows today responding to criticism over those comments. The campaign of his opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, said the remarks displayed “a stunning homophobia and glaring disregard for basic equality.”

Some voters may be losing their taste for Tea Party – poll


Is your tea getting cold? A new poll suggests the Tea Party movement may be losing some of its steam in the run-up to Election Day.

The ABC/Washington Post survey found that only 18 percent of registered voters now say they are more likely to vote for a Tea Party affiliated candidate. That’s down from 30 percent in July. Those less likely to vote for a Tea Party candidate remains at 28 percent.

Overall, 47 percent of the 1,002 Americans polled Sept. 30-Oct. 3 oppose the Tea Party, vs. 40 percent who support it. The split was even among likely voters, according to results that have a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.