Political Log Rolling in the Clinton Campaign

It was just an old-fashioned case of political log rolling. In this case, the Clinton campaign approached a Democratic county commissioner and held up a political carrot—if the commissioner, the only Democrat of the three commissioners, would endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, they would do their best to provide President Bill Clinton as a speaker in the commissioner’s county.           

“Well, OK. That’s a pretty fair deal,” the Bloomsburg (Pa.) Press Enterprise quoted Commissioner David Kovach as telling the Clinton staffer. Kovach told the newspaper he didn’t know whether to support Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama, but that the lure of the President’s appearance is what convinced him to make a decision.

The Clinton campaign later said it would neither confirm nor deny that such an offer was made, or verify any of the statements in the newspaper’s story. “As a policy, we do not comment on private conversations between the campaign and its supporters,” said Frank Rothman, communications coordinator for the northeastern Pennsylvania.

Rothman also would neither confirm nor deny that the campaign staff approached any other politician in Columbia County or any other county, trading personal appearances for endorsements. It didn’t have to.

“The director of the central Pennsylvania campaign contacted me about noon, Friday [April 11],” two days before the planned visit, says Bloomsburg Mayor Dan Knorr. “It seemed they already had a visit planned and were grabbing as much endorsement as possible.” However, Knorr was already committed to supporting Obama.

Allison Hirsch, Obama’s coordinator of volunteers for Pennsylvania’s north central region, says she’s “never heard of any offer to bring in a speaker in exchange for an endorsement” for Obama.

Kovach publicly supported Sen. Clinton; President Clinton came to Bloomsburg, the county seat, and spoke to an energized and enthusiastic crowd of about 800.

In political campaigns, it’s not unusual to use every tactic possible to gain even the smallest advantage. Trading favors is common. Less common is to lure an endorsement by dangling an appearance from a high-profile speaker. Even rarer is a politician who readily and publicly acknowledges that he traded his vote for an afternoon with a charismatic and popular former president.

But, overall, in the world of politics, in a nation in which almost every politician works behind-the-doors deals, it is refreshing to see a politician publicly admit that he allowed his vote to be bought.
[Walter Brasch, professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University, is president of the Pennsylvania Press Club. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available through amazon.com]

Bookmark and Share

About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a "flower child" who is now middle-aged--and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through Amazon.com . . . Check out website, www.walterbrasch.com for further info. Or, just write me: walterbrasch@gmail.com
Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Political Log Rolling in the Clinton Campaign

  1. atdleft says:

    OK, so this isn’t really something to be proud of. But really, this isn’t a big deal. As the author mentioned himself, stuff like this happens all the time. Even though the Obama Campaign wouldn’t want to admit to it either, I’m sure they’ve also done this to snatch endorsements. Really, this is no big deal… Except maybe to the media, as they’d rather “report” crap like this than actually cover the real news affecting us.