Observations on the presidential candidates forum | NevadaAppeal.com

Observations on the presidential candidates forum

by Kirk Caraway

The secondary event came in No. 1

The satellite viewing venue hosted at the Nevada Appeal office was supposed to be just for the overflow from the main event. But due to the setup, the overflow event gave attendees a much closer and more personal experience with the candidates. Only John Edwards and Mike Gravel failed to show for the overflow crowd.

Biden’s “labor” crowd

As candidate rush from one stop to another, they often have to depend on their advance people to communicate to them where they are and to whom they are speaking. But sometimes, candidates just wing it, making assumptions.

When Joe Biden showed up at the Nevada Appeal overflow event, he addressed the crowd as if we are an extension of the union audience at the forum. He referred to us as “labor” and made a big pitch as to why he was the best labor candidate, that he was one of us.

What he didn’t know is that most of the people there weren’t union members, and he was speaking in the building of a non-union newspaper. His comments left more than a few people shaking their heads. He made the comment that he gives the same speech to business groups as he does to labor groups, but I doubt it.

Kucinich’s appeal

If a prize were given out for the candidate who most energized the crowd, Dennis Kucinich would win hands down. The little guy from Cleveland makes a great speech, and gets the audience involved. Can’t say I agree with him, but he was exciting to watch.

Kucinich’s appeal extends beyond his speechmaking also. Those in attendance probably noticed a tall, young woman with long, red hair standing beside him. That would be his wife, Elizabeth. Curious about the odd couple, I did a search on Google and came up with a great article on how these two came together: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/1030-04.htm

You can take the cowboy out of the saddle …

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is a big guy, John Wayne-like. Many people remarked that he was a lot taller than they assumed from all these years of watching him on TV. I remember seeing a commercial from his re-election campaign last year, and it looked like he was riding a small horse. But I now know he’s just a big cowboy. One other note, while all the other candidates wore matching suits, Richardson opted for khaki pants and boots.

Censored reporting

The fact that the Nevada Appeal hosted part of this event caused some discomfort for local media outlets. As I expected, the Reno Gazette-Journal pretended that the portion of the program at the Appeal office didn’t exist. They made no mention of it at all.

But the coverage from Reno TV stations was puzzling, since we really don’t compete with them. KRNV Channel 4 and KOLO Channel 8 had cameras at the event, but never mentioned where it was. KRNV had no problem mentioning that Hillary Clinton visited Comma Coffee, showing the establishment’s logo and interviewing the owner. But when it came to their coverage at the Nevada Appeal, there was not a word about where it was.

In contrast, KTVN Channel 2 did a live remote in front of the Nevada Appeal sign, clearly stating where the event took place, and mentioning the name several times. Must have been weird for those reporters at the other two stations to be told to leave out an important fact, like where they actually were filming.

Heller chimes in

Newly elected Congressman Dean Heller, playing his first attack-dog role for the Republican Party, issued a terse statement about the event, saying, “Of this large cast of left-wing characters, I saw not one President among them.” What is funny about the statement is that he does not mention any particular item about what any candidate said, just recycled criticisms of Clinton and Edwards. It’s pretty obvious he didn’t watch any of the event, and probably had a staffer write up the response the day before. The statement attacked Edwards for being a champion of the poor while living in a multimillion-dollar mansion. But what is more hypocritical, the self-made millionaire who takes on the cause of poverty, or the congressman who criticizes him for his efforts while doing nothing himself about the problem? I’m not sure Heller is cut out for this attack-dog stuff.

• Kirk Caraway is editor of nevadapolitics.com.