Local Republicans, Democrats bring out the big guns
It's a big deal when the White House press secretary comes to Ohio to campaign for U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine and other Republicans on the statewide ticket.
It shows that President Bush understands how important Ohio remains when it comes to national politics. The state was ground zero for the 2004 presidential election and is shaping up to be that again in 2008.
It also shows that the president and national Republican leaders realize how damaging it would be to the GOP to have Democrats in key positions such as U.S. senator, governor and secretary of state when the 2008 presidential election comes around.
To have Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, make one of only two Ohio appearances in Boardman shows that Republicans realize the importance of lessening the Democratic vote in the Mahoning Valley, one of the most Democratic sections of the state.
National Democrats recognize these facts as well. U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, is headlining a Saturday rally in Austintown for U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, DeWine's Democratic challenger.
After the rally, the former first lady will (according to an e-mail I obtained) be featured at "an intimate fundraising brunch" at the Canfield home of Bruce and Rori Zoldan. "Suggested contribution: 2,000 per person -- NEGOTIABLE." Somehow I can't envision anyone negotiating at the door to get inside for 1,600.
The Brown event in Austintown is to rally the Democratic faithful and get them more involved, contribute more money and recruit more people to support the party's ticket during the Nov. 7 election.
I expect Clinton to lay out the reasons why it is so important for not just Ohio but for the nation to elect Brown and the Democratic statewide slate.
I expected the same thing from Snow.
Instead Snow told the crowd at The Georgetown on Monday that he's got "the best job I'll ever have in my life," and Bush is a super neat-o guy.
When he talked about a conversation he had earlier in the day with Bush, Snow stopped himself, laughed and said, "I was in the Oval Office with the president. Kind of cool, huh?"
Snow even made up a word: "misunderestimated." He used it when talking about what terrorists thought would happen to the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He quickly realized he made up the word and covered it by saying, "When you're in the White House, you talk like this," a reference to Bush creating new words at times.
When the one-man pep rally ended, Snow had barely uttered a word of support for Ohio Republicans and never mentioned how important it was to elect DeWine, who introduced him, or any other GOP candidates next month.
If not for DeWine and Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett talking about the election before Snow got the microphone, you wouldn't have known it was a few weeks away.
After the event, I asked Snow, who grew up in Cincinnati, why he didn't discuss the election.
His answer was he follows Ohio politics, but not enough to speak about it in an insightful way. "I'm not wrapped up in the races in Ohio."
I realize Snow's party has other problems. The most notable one is the scandal surrounding Mark Foley, a Florida Republican who recently resigned from the U.S. House for sending suggestive computer messages to teenage boys working as House pages. (High-level Republican staffers in D.C. tell me this is the most damaging scandal to hit the party in recent memory.)
To come to Ohio and not talk about next month's election was a major miscue on Snow's part. Polls show Democrats defeating Republicans in Ohio next month in nearly every statewide race. The state went to Bush in 2000 and 2004. Perhaps because someone else will be the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, Snow doesn't care who will be the next Ohio governor or if Brown defeats DeWine.
I seriously doubt Clinton is going to ignore the election when she speaks Saturday. Perhaps the comparison isn't fair with Clinton probably having a greater political interest in the Ohio election than Snow.