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Palin returning to Missouri

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It appears as though Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is returning to Missouri.

Sources at the State Capitol tell the Missourinet that plans are in the works for a Sarah Palin rally, on the south lawn of the Capitol, in Jefferson City, on Monday.

The Alaska Governor was in Springfield last Friday … and in Cape Girardeau Thursday. She has consistently drawn huge crowds to her political events.

– Steve Walsh

Update at 5:30 pm

The McCain-Palin campaign has released details of the Alaska Governor's visit. Doors will open at 8 am for a program that begins at 11 o'clock.

Tickets are free and are available, starting Saturday, at Victory Office locations in Jefferson City and Columbia … as well as at Republican Party Headquarters in Moberly (Randolph County), Osage Beach (Camden County), Mexico (Audrain County), Fulton (Callaway County), and in Monroe City.

Written by learfield

October 31, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The changing face of political coverage – “watching” the newspaper

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folks in the Missourinet newsroom watched a political rally Thursday … on a newspaper. Well … on a newspaper website.

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Thursday goes into the books as one of those days in the Missourinet newsroom in which many of the tasks before us could be planned in advance. Three big political events had been scheduled … starting with a Sarah Palin rally in Cape Girardeau and a Joe Biden event in Arnold … capped off with a Barack Obama gathering at the University of Missouri-Columbia at 9:30. In between the morning events and the Obama rally – around mid-day – Joe Biden would call me to do a quick interview.

We had previously spoken to our Cape Girardeau affiliate – KZIM – about sound from the Palin event … we would have our interview with Biden … and three of us from the Missourinet – Brent Martin, Aurora Meyer, and yours truly – planned on attending the Obama event in Columbia.

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Then while planning the particulars of our activities it was pointed out, by News Director Bob Priddy, that the Southeast Missourian was streaming a live feed from the Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau. The news channels – CNN and Fox – eventually picked up the feed from Cape Girardeau (so did MSNBC) … but it was nice to have the Southeast Missourian giving us its coverage from the very beginning … complete with warm-up speeches from Congressman Kenny Hulshof, Senator Kit Bond, and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson.

It was great that while waiting for audio material to be sent to us … we could look in on the rally, courtesy of the Southeast Missourian. The Southeast Missourian, by the way, also provided us with photographs – thanks to Aaron Eisenhauer, the pool photographer who took some great shots.

There's nothing unusual about pool feeds at political events … it's par for the course because there is limited room for reporters. What is really great about the newspaper streaming the event live is that it gives Missourians outside the Cape Girardeau area (who can either get to the event, watch it on local TV, or listen to it on local radio) the chance to experience an event while it is happening.

With newspapers facing serious financial troubles these days … this is a wonderful way of attracting readers … even if they are only going to the website to "watch" the newspaper.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 30, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Obama and Biden and Palin … Oh my!

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As if the last few weeks with Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, and Sarah Palin visiting our fair state weren't enough … we're doing it all again on Thursday. Well … not quite all of it … as McCain won't get his Missouri passport stamped. But the other three will!

The morning kicks off with a Joe Biden event in Arnold and a Sarah Palin rally at the Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau. The day ends with an Obama rally attended by an anticipated 30,000 people at the University of Missouri-Columbia. It's a late event … with the guest of honor expected to address the crowd sometime after 9:30. My guess is quite a few of the students will be well lubed by the time the program gets underway.

Anyway … in an effort to add sugar and spice and everything nice … sort of … to this huge rally, students on 29 campuses throughout the state have been busy making signs for the rally at what are appropriately called sign-making parties. A party to make signs? These students will use any excuse to party! Do you think that's what kids did when I was in school? Actually … that's exactly what we did … but that was back in the days when it was legal for people over the age of 18 to enjoy adult beverages.

One last thing … the best part of hearing that this might be the last Missouri visit of the campaign for the candidates … is the realization that this campaign that has dragged on for more than two years is coming to a close … and reporters get a chance to sit back, kick off our shoes, and knock back a cold one or two or three … then gear up for the next campaign. Senator Kit Bond's seat is up in 2010 … so, if my guess is right … campaigning will probably start … a few weeks after Inauguration Day.

– Steve Walsh

Update: 7:40 pm

The Obama campaign won't confirm this … but KY3 TV in Springfield is reporting that Barack Obama will make a campaign stop in the southwest Missouri city on Saturday. Details are not yet available.

Written by learfield

October 29, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Arkansas Senator Lincoln to stump for Obama in Missouri

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You already know (at least I hope you already know) that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will be in Missouri on Thursday for a rally at the University of Missouri in Columbia. What you might not know (or maybe you do) is that a bunch 'o Obama surrogates have been making stops in the Show-Me State in advance of that MU event.

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We've had Governors and ex-Governors as well as Senators and ex-Senators making stops here and there to spread the gospel. And, on Wednesday, we will be graced with the presence of Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who will spend some time in the southern and central parts of the state.

She'll start off with what is being called a Women's Coffee in Springfield at 8:30 … followed by a visit to a phone bank in Camdenton at 11 o'clock. Next stop is Jefferson City for a 1:15 luncheon with volunteers and a press availability on the steps of the Capitol. The Senator from the Natural State wraps up the day at 3:45 at a phone bank in Sedalia.

By the way, in addition to the Obama visit on Thursday … VP candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will be here, as well. The Delaware Senator takes part in an event in Arnold … while the Alaska Governor hosts a morning event in Cape Girardeau.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Obama and Biden coming to Missouri on Thursday

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Earlier in the day we got the word that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin would visit Missouri on Thursday for an 8:30 am appearance at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau … now we get the news that both Democrats on the presidential ticket will be here, as well.

Details have not yet been released, but the Obama campaign confirms Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden will visit Missouri on Thursday. They will be traveling separately and will take part in events in different locations.

Can there be any doubt Missouri is in play? I think not!

– Steve Walsh

Update: 9:30 pm

The Obama campaign announced, Monday night, that Barack Obama will visit Columbia for a rally on Thursday evening. The event is scheduled for 9:30 pm – with gates opening at 7:30 pm – for what is billed as a "Change We Need Rally With Barack Obama" at the University of Missouri's Mel Carnahan Quad – off Conley Avenue. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are NOT required, but people wishing to attend are encouraged to RSVP through the Obama campaign website.

A press release from the campaign states VP candidate Joe Biden will meet with voters in Arnold on Thursday, but provides no other details at this time.

Written by learfield

October 27, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Freezing out reporters for asking questions

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By now, it's a safe bet that many readers of this blog have seen (or at least read accounts of) an interview conducted by Barbara West of WFTV-TV in Florida. It was a 4-and-a-half minute interview with Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden … during which West asked the Delaware Senator some questions he clearly was not comfortable being asked.

According to the TV reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, the Obama campaign, through its Central Florida Communications Director, informed the station that a previously scheduled interview with Biden's wife, Jill, would be canceled as a result of the West-Biden interview. The official also informed the station that, "Further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election." In essence, you're being cut off!

This prompted a conversation in the Missourinet newsroom about politicians threatening to cut off reporters or media outlets because of what a campaign or elected official might consider unfavorable coverage.

News Director Bob Priddy told of how he once got into a bit of a situation with then-Governor Joe Teasdale, who informed Bob – at a news conference – that no more of Bob's questions would be answered. But that freeze-out was soon over.

My colleague, Brent Martin, tells of the time he talked to a spokesman for one of our Governors about some unhappiness with a certain Missourinet reporter (No … not me) and the situation was ironed out without any threats being issued. Says Brent, "People get angry and they get aggravated, but they get over it."

We've all dealt with politicians – Democrats and Republicans – who don't like certain questions we ask during interviews or at news conferences. I recall being jeered by some Republican backbenchers gathered in the House Lounge at the Capitol not too long after the Republicans had taken control of the House. Speaker Catherine Hanaway was surrounded by these members during a news conference … and I dared to ask a question they didn't consider appropriate. Catherine had no trouble answering the question because she knew I was doing my job … even if my question made some Republicans uncomfortable.

Politicians of all stripes must realize that while some reporters will toss softballs to the person being interviewed … others are interested in getting honest responses to questions that we or our listeners, viewers, and readers think are important. And, threatening to cut off a media outlet because the reporter failed to behave in an obsequious manner, is rather unbecoming of anyone holding public office or running for one.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 27, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Back to Missouri for Sarah Palin

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She's baaaaaaaack! Well … she's coming back.

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Missouri Republicans who missed Sarah Palin's appearance in Springfield, last week, get another chance to see the Alaska Governor. The Republican VP nominee will be in Cape Girardeau this week to, in the words of the McCain-Palin campaign: "Discuss John McCain's plans to put an end to this economic crisis, create jobs that support the American dream and keep our nation secure by putting country first."

The event is scheduled for 8:30 Thursday morning at the Show Me Center. Doors open bright and early at 6:30.

Tickets are free and can be picked up – starting at 3 o'clock this afternoon – from Cape Girardeau County Republican Headquarters on North Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, Butler County Republican Headquarters on Greenwood Drive in Poplar Bluff, Scott County Republican Headquarters on South Main Street in Sikeston, and at St. Francois County Republican Headquarters on North Washington in Farmington.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 27, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Newsrooms deluged with political spam from zombies

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The political campaign season is rapidly drawing to a close (perhaps not rapidly enough) and the final surge to the finish line includes a flurry of e-mails from what I like to call the "brain dead" folks out there who dutifully follow instructions to deliver political messages to the news media.

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The ones we have received at the Missourinet's common e-mail address are from various individuals (or so we are led to believe) who go after Republican presidential candidate John McCain. One of these chain e-mails focuses on McCain's record as it pertains to veterans' issues:

"John McCain touts his status as a veteran as a qualification for President. Being a vet and a POW gives him an edge on foreign affairs. McCain's service in an unpopular war should be praised. But there is a troubling trend in his stances on veterans' issues after he returned from Vietnam. Here is a list of Senator McCain's positions on Veterans Issues over the years:"

Several people have sent this message – complete with facts and figures – to the Missourinet and, based on conversations with other journalists, to other media outlets throughout Missouri and the country.

Another begins with a paragraph dealing with McCain's health:

"You've read that McCain has had health problems, but also that he released 1,200 pages of health history, far more than Obama. You've read that McCain had Melanoma, but the lesions were removed in 2000, and since then, McCain's cancer has been in remission. But here's what you haven't read:"

At least one of the health e-mails came from the same person who sent the veterans' issues e-mail … well, at least it came from the same e-mail address.

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Folks … the veterans issues e-mail from various people had the identical wording … with the same facts and figures. The same goes for the health e-mails … the same wording and the same links to additional information. The odds of these messages having the exact same wording … from intelligent individuals acting independently of one another would be … astronomical, to say the least.

We must conclude, then, that these mass e-mailings are generated by one thinker and disseminated by groups of zombie-like disciples who, without using the gray matter with which they were born, simply do as they are told to do. It's kind of sad in a way. There was a time – not too long ago – when citizens would involve themselves in the political process by writing or typing letters after giving serious thought to important issues. Their thoughts carried weight because the thoughts were heartfelt.

Sadly, the ease with which one can take another person's thoughts and pass off those thoughts as his or her own through blast e-mails has turned legions of what might have been provocative thinkers into brain dead automatons expressing the political views of someone with much greater intelligence.

Thankfully, the political campaign season is rapidly drawing to a close.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 26, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Some final thoughts on the Palin visit to Missouri

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I suggested in an earlier entry that it would be interesting if Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin were to draw more people at her appearance in Springfield than the guy at the top of the GOP ticket – John McCain – drew in one of his Missouri appearances (St. Charles and Belton) earlier in the week. Well, it happened.

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Monday's John McCain appearance in St. Charles was estimated to have drawn about 3,000 people … while his end-of-the-day event in Belton, near Kansas City, attracted about 6,000. Friday's Sarah Palin event in Springfield had … wait for it … 20,000! Sarah put more than twice as many butts in the seats for one event than did the presidential candidate for two. Can you say … rock star?

Okay … onto St. Louis where the VP nominee took part in the ceremonial dropping of the puck prior to the start of the Blues-Los Angeles Kings NHL game. I watched the opening of the telecast on FSN to see what kind of reaction Sarah would get from the St. Louis crowd. It was hard to tell as FSN went to a commercial break just as America's best known hockey mom was about to walk onto the ice. The ad ended in time for TV viewers to see Sarah, the "First Dude," and two of their girls walking out on the carpet, but too late to hear the introduction. Within moments of the puck being dropped the announcers went right into the pre-game stats. It seems FSN could have had a little more fun with it.

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Finally … still with St. Louis … Jake Wagman of the Post-Dispatch did a piece this week on the amount of money that had been spent on clothing for the Palin family since the Alaska Governor was chosen as John McCain's running mate. It amounted to about $150,000 – with approximately $7,500 of that total having been spent at Saks Fifth Avenue in Frontenac. It's a cute piece you might expect to see as part of a blog or as filler in a newspaper … but the piece was picked up by the Obama campaign and sent to various media outlets. And, the Missouri State Democratic Committee cranked out a flyer with a photo of Sarah and the Saks logo on the flyer … and handed out copies to fans attending Friday's hockey game in St. Louis. It's been a long campaign … but come on.

Let's see … money was spent on clothing for the Palin family … none of it taxpayer dollars. In fact, it was paid for by the Republican National Committee. Why is this a political issue for the Obama campaign and the Missouri Democratic Party? Is this really a campaign issue? Call me madcap, but it seems to me if someone is buying something with money that is not YOURS … it's none of YOUR business! Someone who contributed money to the RNC might have a problem with it, but I seriously doubt the Obama campaign and the Missouri Democrats fall into that category.

So, as Larry King used to ask on his overnite radio show many years ago when someone would bring up an issue that was really none of his or her business … "Why do you care?"

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 25, 2008 at 5:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Palin appearance in Springfield steals spotlight from final Nixon-Hulshof debate

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The final debate in the Missouri Governor's race is set for Friday night in Springfield … but more on that later.

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The stage is set for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to appear before what is expected to be a huge crowd outside the Bass Pro Shop headquarters in Springfield. As has been noted, the event that had been scheduled for Missouri State University's McDonald Arena was moved to a larger venue after the 4,000 tickets for the McDonald Arena rally were snapped up in short order – leaving a lot of supporters disappointed.

The Governor's debate? Not yet.

Rain is in the forecast for Friday morning … but things should dry up around the time the rally gets underway at 11 o'clock. That means a huge crowd can be expected … and that might raise another question Republicans probably don't want to think about: What if Sarah Palin draws a bigger crowd than GOP presidential candidate John McCain drew in St. Charles or in Belton on Monday? Just asking. Blame it on intellectual curiosity.

To the Governor's debate? Soon … I promise.

Let's face it … Missouri is pretty much a "must" for the McCain folks … and most political observers are in agreement that Johnny Mac can't win the Show-Me State if he doesn't get big turnout from southwest Missouri. A bruised ego is certainly a possibility if Sarah outdraws the guy at the top of the ticket … but it's a safe bet the Arizona Senator will be thrilled if Sarah's appearance helps to lock up the Republican vote and puts him over the top in Missouri.

Okay … now onto the Governor's debate? Hang on … we'll get to it.

We should mention that the Alaska Governor won't be the only non-Missourian stumping in our state on Friday. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will join Senator Claire McCaskill … aka … Our Claire … for Obama campaign events in Columbia at 11 o'clock, Springfield at 1:40 pm, and Kansas City for an event at 4:45 in the afternoon.

Finally … to the Governor's debate.

You know … the presidential contest and the Palin appearance have taken most of the attention away from what should be a big event Friday in Springfield. Democrat Jay Nixon and Republican Kenny Hulshof take part in their final debate of this long election campaign at 8 o'clock from the studios of KY3 television. This is the last shot for Congressman Kenny to pick up a good chunk of ground on AG Jay by demonstrating their differences. It's too bad it's a Friday night … with a lot of people enjoying some time away from home and TV. And, it's too bad that Sarah's appearance in Springfield will have sucked all the air out of the political atmosphere. In all honesty … does this surprise anyone?

Sarah, by the way, won't be sticking around. America's most famous hockey mom is scheduled to head to St. Louis to drop the puck to start the Blues-Los Angeles Kings game. And, she'll be doing that around the time a couple of guys named Kenny and Jay are getting ready to face-off in Springfield

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 24, 2008 at 1:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized