COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Without offering a shred of proof -- probably because there isn't anything to back up the claim -- the Ohio Republican Party says Ohio Dems are flocking to its banner. Last week, the the Ohio GOP bragged that Obama "should be worried because the phones at our headquarters are ringing off the hook with 'coffee Democrats' asking how they can help John McCain."
But that word out of state GOP headquarters doesn't mesh at all with what insiders at local party offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus are seeing. They don't seem to have noticed any kind of rush to align with the political organization best known for George Bush, Dick Cheney and Ken Blackwell, the biggest GOP loser in a governor's race in modern times. Phones "ringing off the hook" with Dems for McCain on the line? Laughable. The claim has the ring and tone of propaganda at best, an outright lie at worst. Hamilton County Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou pointed out on his personal blog this weekend how he's frustrated that he can't sell more people on Republicanism.
"One of the great frustrations of being your chairman is the inability to change perceptions in many respects. Many people get their image of Republicans from the national news media and the top of the ticket. But, our party is much broader and we stand for so much more than the issues that affect the nation as a whole." Those don't sound like the words of someone whose phones are "ringing off the hook." If they were, he'd be rejoicing rather than frustrated.
As Howard Wilkinson, the respected political writer at the Cincinnati Enquirer notes today, McCain starts out in a hole in Ohio. He's not nearly as popular as Bush was in 2004 in the state's suburban counties. And he notes that in SW Ohio's Butler and Warren counties -- where Bush nailed down his 2004 victory --there is no wave of enthusiasm for McCain yet in sight. That makes the Ohio GOP's claim that Democrats are jumping aboard the McCain bandwagon sound silly. Wilkinson writes:
"Bush took 66 percent of the vote in Butler County, winning by a 53,629 vote margin. Next door in Warren County, Bush took 72 percent of the vote, defeating Kerry by 41,993 votes. To win Ohio, McCain somehow needs to replicate that success. Bush was immensely popular in those two counties, but he was also helped by the presence on the ballot of the state issue to ban gay marriage, which pumped up the vote among evangelical Christians and the self-described 'values voters' of whom there are many in those counties. McCain won't have that kind of hot button issue on the ballot . . ."