Please let him not be
A few hours ago I got back from a breakfast meeting with Sherrod Brown in Dayton, held at Panera Bread near the University of Dayton. This meeting was meant to be a mini-forum for Brown to address concerns raised by Paul Hackett's withdrawal from the Senate race. There were roughly 20 people in the restaurant's compact community room including Brown himself, Ben Wikler (Brown's press manager) and Dennis Lieberman, the Montgomery county Democratic party chairman.
I had intended to record the whole thing and then either transcribe a few quotes or at least summarize high points of the 90-minute meeting, but about halfway through the tape recorder became a minor issue. I wasn't aware that this was supposed to be an "off the record" kind of thing; it was never brought up. Since it would have been utterly counterproductive (and more than a little churlish) to make a stink about it, I just turned the thing off. At the end of the meeting I voluntarily handed the tape to Brown himself (no request was made), to forestall any questions of my propriety in handling the recording. I mention this not as a complaint, but to explain that I was relying on the recorder rather than on taking notes. Since I'm posting from memory only, I won't be able to post any direct quotes or cover everything that was touched on in this wide-ranging (and somewhat scattershot) meeting. Cést la vie. Brown did say that he would be perfectly willing to answer questions "on the record" at a later time and I plan to take him up on that.
I make no pretense of being a Brown fan, or a hardcore Democratic partisan. In fact, I've been pretty damned harsh on Brown and the Dems over this whole fiasco. However, to paraphrase Rummy for a moment, you have to go to the elections with the candidate you have, not the candidate you want. That's of course what primary elections are supposed to be for, but I digress. For better or for worse, Brown is the candidate we have so further recriminations — at this time, about this issue — seem pointless. It's been a week and lots of people are still pretty incensed about the whole mess. I'm more or less over my initial anger, but I still have a very hard time picturing how Brown wins against DeWine and today's forum hasn't changed that.
Be that as it may, I'll try and be basic and factual about what was actually discussed at the meeting for the benefit of those who were unable to attend. I think it's pretty clear where my opinion comes into it, but if not, that's what the "Comments" link is for. Just a note on how the mechanics of this thing went: everyone was perfectly civil and friendly, but freely interjected what they had to say more or less at random. There was a lot of crosstalk, sometimes with three or more simultaneous speakers, and it got hard to follow at times. One thing I learned is that I apparently need to be a bit more assertive in settings like that, as I kept getting steamrolled and couldn't manage to get any of my own questions in edgewise. In any event, my basic points (not on Hackett or policy, but on the dynamics of the race) can be seen in the last few paragraphs of this post.
Saturday's Rasmussen poll was one of the first points brought up and Brown was dismissive, saying that according to other polling, Hackett was 30 points down (no link; I'm unsure where that figure comes from). The Mother Jones article was cited several times by attendees regarding Reid's and Schumer's involvement, as well as the fundraising calls. Brown explicitly made no apologies for anything he or his campaign have done, stating that Reid, Schumer and the DSCC had offered him no help whatsoever prior to Hackett's withdrawal.
Brown said that Hackett's main fundraising sources were 'New York gays and Hollywood elites' (I think that was the phrase), and that "of course" his campaign contacted these groups and tried to convince them to give money to him rather than Hackett. A later question addressed whether he would be willing to sit down with Hackett and try to work out some kind of rapprochement; Brown paused for a moment, but to his credit he did voice his willingness.
I hope Brown didn't say that, for two reasons:
One, it's dumb as a post and bigotted.
Two, it isn't true. He had massive support from vets as well.
Well, here's a chance for his people to clear this up.
I want this to be clear, because my description seems to have been interpreted as Sherrod Brown's having said something malicious or callous when that wasn't really the case.
Yes, the phrases "New York gays" and "Hollywood elites" were indeed spoken by Brown in reference to major out-of-state donation sources for Paul Hackett. They were contained within the same thought, in response to the same question about Reid, Schumer and the DSCC. However, they may not necessarily have been uttered in the same breath:
…I was relying on the recorder rather than on taking notes. Since I'm posting from memory only, I won't be able to post any direct quotes…
(I think that was the phrase)
I had thought I made it clear right up front that I was going from memory, and this is why I wanted to record the damn thing in the first place. You see, he did indeed say those things, but he may have said "New York gays" in sentence 1 of his answer and "Hollywood elites" in sentence 2. Having them strung together inside one set of single quotes was apparently a lousy way to write it out, and I'm going to edit that for clarity.
As a gay man, I also want to reiterate that Brown's remarks absolutely did not come across as derogatory in any way. It was more along the lines of 'those groups should be on my side, because I've been on their side longer than Hackett has.' Oh, and that isn't a quote either, although it does convey Brown's meaning and intent.
I don't need to make shit up to bash politicians with; they provide more than enough material on their own. My admittedly poor use of punctuation and any resulting miscommunication can be laid at my feet, not Brown's. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
Which is why I posted this. Because stories like this can spin around the net and take on a life of their own.
This way, it's all in the open early and resolved before all kinds of shit starts.
posted by Steve @ 10:07:00 AM