Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Study in Contrasts - Lt. Gov. Candidates Part III

My previous two posts were the comments and points made by each of the Lieutenant Governor candidates during their presentations at the County Commissioners Association of Ohio summer Conference in Akron.

I did my best to highlight their statements objectively, offering no opinion or that's what this post will do.

Both Tom Raga (R running with Ken Blackwell) and Lee Fisher (D running with Ted Strickland) were highly professional and complimentary to each other. As Fisher said, the campaign is not about the individuals, but about their ideas. And both indicated an appreciation and respect of the other while still differing on the ideas of the campaign.

Both were excellent representatives of their ticket. Raga's presentation was a bit more formal while Fisher seemed much more at ease as a candidate for lt. governor than he did as a candidate for governor.

Raga's presentation was policy. Fisher's presentation was emotion. Raga focused on specific initiatives and plans, emphasizing the core philosophy of the ticket (lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and limited government). Fisher focused on an appeal for urgency and a return to faith in elected leaders.

Despite the Democrat Party's national emphasis on "culture of corruption," Fisher - recognizing that his audience consisted both Republican and Democrat elected officials - made a point of saying that no political party has a lock on virtue.

Raga's speech included specific initiatives or goals the Blackwell ticket would work toward. Fisher mentioned only one specific (the Knowledge Bank), focusing instead on a personal appeal to set aside partisanship and work together rather than against each other.

Raga did not say anything negative about Strickland or Fisher, perhaps following the old adage that you don't acknowledge anything about your opponent. Fisher spent several minutes questioning Blackwell's stand on the TEL (Tax Expenditure Limits) and his consistency on issues. He also attacked Blackwell for focusing on "socially divisive" issues.

The style of delivery, along with the subject matter, was a study in contrasts. I don't know what it is about Republicans and Democrats, but you often will hear Dems publicly praise other dems on the dais, or in the audience. Republicans do this sometimes - but not nearly as often or as well as the Democrats do.

In general, Republicans tend to focus on the logical aspects - here's a problem and here's what I'm going to do about it. Democrats tend to focus on the "feeling" aspects - this is terrible and we all feel badly about it so here's how I'm going to fix it.

It's a rare politician who can combine both aspects effectively into a presentation (former Presidents Reagan and Kennedy come to mind). Watching the audience, it was clear that the two different approaches were effective with their respective party members. But it was also clear that many more women than men were nodding their heads in agreement with the emotional perspectives.

Whether the difference in approach is reflective of individual style or campaign strategy is yet to be determined - and only futher appearances will answer that question. However, both men made it plain that their gubernatorial candidate looks at local government as a partner and, in making that point, told the commissioners what they wanted to hear.


Hooda Thunkit said...

I mostly agree with your analysis of both candidates, although I feel that you were way to forgiving and generous in your opinion of Mr. FIsher.

I felt that he came off as more of a party-line hack.

Well, as for campaigning on ideas, it is a start, albiet a feeble one, for one candidate...

Kate said...

Maggie - thank you. This was well presented and - to my mind - unbiased.

We need more of this :-)

Maggie Thurber said...

Hooda - I really debated about whether to pick apart the positions of each candidate or not. Chose the "or not" side...I was really struck by the style of each one and the focus each had - rather than the specifics of the programs they were presenting (even though Fisher had only one he mentioned).

And even today, I'm still struck by the logical versus emotional see it locally as well. I can't help but wonder how much an individual's reaction to such an appeal determines their choice of political parties...and what that choice says about the individual....

Maggie Thurber said...

You're welcome, Kate!

Joab said...

While I wasn't there, I will admit to being "won over", so to speak, by the apparent genuineness of Fisher's talking points. I also agree with much of what he said, in general terms. Having said that I also agree with Maggie's points on how the left and right tend to approach issues (and have blogged myself a likewise position on liberals and emotions). Using Fisher as an example I will say I do not object to an emotional approach--as long as it doesn't go beyond a guiding principle. If your emotions end up being part of legislation, for example, that's taking it too far. It's fine to let your emotions bring you to an issue, but reason and logic should prevail in the hands-on aspect of addressing it. That, I think, is where you see the difference between the conservative and liberal mindsets. On a national level, we're seeing the unhinged emotions of John Murtha fomenting actions he wishes to see, even though they are illogical.

I agree with Kate that you presented this in an unbiased fashion. Well done and thanks for posting it.

Tom E said...

None of this overcomes one salient fact - the GOP has led Ohio for a dozen years and we are headed for the dumpster.

I'm beginning to agree with Peggy Noonan, a genuine Reaganite when she says that losing may be the only salvation of the Republican party.

The Ohio Republican Party is an embarassing mess.

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