Clinton Strategist Pitches for Cranley

It’s about raising money, stupid.

James Carville, the bombastic Democratic political strategist and Friend of Bill, will be the featured speaker at a lunch and reception Monday for Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley. Cranley is challenging GOP incumbent Steve Chabot for the 1st Congressional District seat.

Nicknamed “the Ragin’ Cajun,” Carville is known for his southern drawl and frequent appearances on the Sunday morning TV chat shows. Along with George Stephanopoulos and Paul Begala, Carville helped Bill Clinton win the 1992 Presidential race by positioning the candidate as a centrist and focusing the campaign on the theme, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The efforts of Carville and his cadre of consultants were featured in the 1994 documentary, The War Room. The film included several of Carville’s glib one-liners, such as this one about George H.W. Bush: “He reeks of yesterday. If I think of an old calendar, I think of George Bush.”

Cranley’s fund-raiser will be at the Vernon Manor hotel in Avondale. The cost is $150 per person for lunch or $500 per person for lunch and a reception. According to invitations, the reception will include a question and answer session with Carville and opportunities to have photos taken with him.

The event is coordinated by Brooke Hill, a local political consultant who worked for former mayors Roxanne Qualls and Charlie Luken and helped with the 1996 stadium sales tax campaign.

Cranley’s campaign got an inadvertent boost this week from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The chamber began running TV ads praising Chabot for supporting the Medicare prescription drug coverage bill in 2003, adding it helped elderly Ohioans save an average of $1,100 on their annual prescription drug costs.

Cranley’s campaign quickly pointed out that Chabot voted against the bill, which left chamber officials red-faced and helped put the media spotlight on the Democratic challenger’s campaign.

Not to be outdone, Chabot is bringing First Lady Laura Bush to town Aug. 4 to stump for him and help raise cash. Although the minimum contribution fee for the event wasn’t immediately available, the event will be held at 10 a.m. at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

Chabot’s move is a risky one in a year when many GOP House and Senate candidates are deciding to distance themselves from Laura’s husband in light of Dubya’s plunging approval ratings. The invitation is a sign that President Bush remains popular among the Republican faithful here in this extremely red county, which proved pivotal in helping him keep the White House in 2004.
— Kevin Osborne

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