CINCINNATI (TDB) -- An irate Gov. Ted Strickland denounced XM radio for harboring liars after a radio talker portrayed the Ohio Democrat as a racist who wants the vice presidency. The governor has considered legal action, and said he consulted a lawyer after learning of the attack.
An XM talker claims Strickland told union members recently he should become his party's vice presidential choice over someone with a black "face" -- a slur aimed at Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Strickland told The Daily Bellwether righty talkshow host Jim Quinn's story was a "total, utter smear, it is a total, utter fabrication, it is totally, utterly untrue. I swear to God under threat of being struck by lightning that such thoughts have never been in my head or in my mouth."
Strickland raised his right hand as if he were taking an oath in a courtroom as he spoke. The governor called XM radio "unethical and dishonest" for airing the story and said he had been defamed, "Their consciences should be troubled if they have a conscience. There is something wrong with them, they don't have any character at all. They fabricate and make up stories."
Strickland added he wanted to take the radio chain to court for slander. He said he's been told by his lawyer that his chances of success as a public figure are slim because of court rulings that have given elected officials little protection against defamatory comments. "When you're a public figure it is almost impossible to protect yourself from this kind of garbage."
Strickland spoke with the Bellwether last night at a political rally for State Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat who is seeking the OH-01 congressional seat.
Some rightwing and Republican bloggers have jumped on the XM radio talker's story and are using it to characterize Strickland as racist. The governor said the GOP right's allegation was launched against him because he leads a politically important state that looks to be shifting into the Democratic column. Some left leading bloggers have jumped in to accuse the Republicans of playing a race card. Strickland told Driehaus and people within earshot last night that, "When they get nervous, they get mean."
When he addressed the rally, Strickland said, "Can you imagine me saying such a thing? We are in a political climate where almost anything will be said, and done, to win elections."