YOUNGSTOWN Springer: If I can help Democrats, I'll run
The talk show host says his Senate aspirations have nothing to do with fame or fortune.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Talk show host Jerry Springer, who is considering a 2004 run for the U.S. Senate, sees himself as the only chance a Democrat has of breaking through the stranglehold Republicans have over Ohio.
"Right now, the Democrats can't win in this state," Springer said. "If I can be helpful, I'm running."
Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor who hosts one of television's most outrageous shows, talked like a candidate in midstump during an interview Friday with The Vindicator.
Springer criticized U.S. Republican Sen. George Voinovich, the war in Iraq and the federal government for failing the middle and lower classes, and he took a shot or two at President Bush.
Talk show an obstacle
Calling his own talk show "silly" and "stupid," Springer acknowledges it is an obstacle, even though it has made him a multimillionaire.
"I'm doing a show that's chewing gum," he said. "It's a one-hour escape from life."
Springer, who has delivered speeches at Democratic dinners all over Ohio, including Boardman on Friday night, said he will decide by July whether he will seek the position. State Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Cleveland is the only announced Democratic candidate for the seat.
"If I can break through the clutter of the show, I'll run," he said. "If I can't, I won't run. If I ran, it would be for the purest of motives. It won't make me rich or famous. I'm not thinking of this as a career move. ... Even if you hated me, I can't see a motive you could attach to me running for the Senate other than I want to help people."
Criticism of Voinovich
Springer said Voinovich, a self-proclaimed deficit hawk, didn't show enough leadership in fighting Bush's $550 billion tax-cut package. Voinovich favors a $350 billion package and is in a position with a divided Senate to play a key role in the decision.
Voinovich "could have said "No tax cut, and that's it'; there's a hero," Springer said. "He's a working-class guy, but his policies have been absolutely elitist."
Marcie Ridgway, Voinovich's spokeswoman, declined to discuss Springer's potential candidacy.
"The senator's concentration right now is focused on the economy, and giving it a shot in the arm and passing important legislation to give jobs back to the United States," she said.
In one breath, Springer called Bush a "good man, he's not evil at all," and then a few minutes later said the president is "evil" because he said on national television that people have the right to not buy Dixie Chicks CDs over statements their lead singer said about Bush. Springer compared Bush's statements to McCarthyism.
Ideas for economy
Springer mentioned a number of ways to stimulate the economy and improve the lives of Americans, including emphasizing early childhood education, providing free college to those majoring in math or science in return for their spending time after graduation teaching those subjects in impoverished communities, and making the first $10,000 to $20,000 earned by each American tax free.
Springer couldn't give a cost for his proposals but said it would be cheaper to fund them than the invasion of Iraq.