CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Righty radio talker Bill Cunningham got the national publicity he wanted -- he was all over FOX News and the cable channels the week before Ohio's presidential primary. But Hillary Clinton didn't get his vote.
The Daily Bellwether today checked precinct records from Ohio's March 4 presidential primary and discovered Cunningham's much ballyhooed endorsement of the Democratic New York senator turned out to be pure poppycock. Or a ratings ploy. Or a political stunt. Cunningham was not among the thousands of crossovers last week. The conservative talk show host pulled a Republican ballot in Sycamore "W," when he voted at the St.Paul United Methodist Church in suburban Cincinnati. His feud with GOP presidential candidate John McCain now has the aroma of a hoax.
Cunningham on Feb. 26 warmed up a crowd for a McCain rally in Cincinnati and used language that accused Democrat Barack Obama of being tied to Chicago corruption. He also repeatedly used the Illinois senator's full name -- Barack Hussein Obama. McCain apologized for Cunningham's behavior. The talk show host then was all over the airwaves ripping McCain and proclaiming his support for Clinton. On Hannity & Colmes, Cunningham said:
"I'm going to follow the lead of Ann Coulter. I've had it with John McCain. I'm going to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president because she would do a better job in the Oval Office, I think, than the liberal John McCain. I'm done with him."
On his own WLW-AM, 700 talk show, Cunningham said of McCain:
"He just threw me under the bus to the national media. I've had it with McCain. I'm going to endorse Hillary Clinton. I'm going to throw my support behind Hillary Clinton."
"McCain should lose this election and let the Democrats win. . . I've had it with John McCain. He's off the list. I'm joining Ann Coulter and supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton."
There's more here about his fervor for Hillary ahead of primary day. But the whole thing now looks fake. Immediately after McCain apologized last month, there was speculation that the olive branch for Cunningham's conduct was feigned. There was suspicion it was a staged event to portray the Arizona senator as a principled candidate who wanted to take the high road as he campaigned for president. McCain may have meant what he said. But it seems clear from the voting records that Cunningham was just hustling headlines and attention for himself.