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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Good politicians gone bad

--posted by Tony Garcia on 2/25/2006

Tomorrow we will be broadcasting from JP's Grille & Bar in Sauk Rapids, MN. The event was to be Race to the Right Answers, No Politics Edition. On November 12 I originally discussed this event with the candidates and they all agreed to it. On January 29th I sent an e-mail to all four GOP 6th District Candidates reminding them of the event which by that time was confirmed by Phil Krinkie's, Michele Bachmann's and Jay Esmay's campaign. As of 14 February all four candidates campaigns had confirmed tomorrow's event.

Before I continue I will provide the e-mail addresses of the campaigns so YOU can contact them with your own comments.
Michele Bachmann: info@michelebachmann.com
Jay Esmay: JayEsmay@cs.com
Jim Knoblach: info@jimknoblachforcongress.com
Phil Krinkie: info@krinkieforcongress.com
Now, the event itself is a remote broadcast desinged to give the candidates meet-and-greet time without the pressure of watching every phrase. This was a chance to show potential delegates and voters that they are people, not just politicians.

I should add at this point that all four candidates were also confirmed for an in-studio debate on March 19th.

On February 19th (one week before the previously confirmed event) I received the following from Krinkie's campaign:
"I double checked on the Feb. 26 event and Phil has another commitment so will not be able to attend that date. I am still checking on his calendar for the 19th."
Today in mid-afternoon (less than 24 hours from the event) I received phone calls from Knoblach's campaign indicating that "something else came up" and calls from Bachmann's campaign that she was going to speak at a church in Wyoming about gay marriage.

Very poor form on behalf of both of those campaigns. I am deducting points from the scoreboard from each of these three.

Knoblach: It is time to be 100% upfront about Knoblach and our show. Knoblach was confirmed to be interviewed on 8/14/05. He no showed. No phone call, no e-mail and no explanation...absolutely no-showed. We took the blame saying that we mixed the signals. When we rescheduled on 9/4/05 we again took the blame even though the error was 100% his own. We did an event on 2/4/06 (we recorded it for future use on 2/12/06) and all of the candidates were tentatively informed of this in November and given an exact date in early January via phone. Knoblach, despite around 8 voice mails never returned a single call. He finally called back a week after the air date of the event and apologized. He blamed the absence on "crossing signals". I bit my tongue, but you actually have to return a phone call in order to get "crossed signals". During that conversation he also confirmed his appearance for tomorrow. He also said he was "excited" and "looking forward" to the event.

I suppose it is not a surprise that he is again no-showing. We have been more than fair to his campaign but this disrespect for the listeners of St Cloud, for us and the obvious high level of disorganization leads me to several conclusions. One, a Congressional seat and the demands of a district of that size are well above his capability. Two, his inability already to maintain a schedule with any type of reliability leads to the belief that he is inaccessible ALREADY...imagine how much more inaccessible he will be if he wins. I want a Congressman that is easily accessible and it is becoming clear that Knoblach is not that person. I have concluded that I cannot support a Knoblach campaign...and I am not holding my breath that he will actually show up for the in-studio debate. For these no-shows and poor level of accountability I deduct 4 points for each no show and more if he ducks out of the debate. The disrespect of a cancellation less than 24 hours prior deserves an additional penalty of 2 1 points (the original confirmation was for the whole event, we got part of the confirmation so I restored part of the deduction). That is a total deduction of 14 11 points (restoring 2 points for a partial attendance and 1 point from the last-minute-cancellation deduction)

Bachmann: I was going to keep this under my hat even though I was very put-off by it. I figured that it was a story not worthy of mention if Bachmann eventually showed up. When approached back in August about this late-February event Bachmann agreed. I reminded her in November and her tune changed drasticly (I wonder if it had anything to do with her perception of her performance at the GOP Forum on that day). She instead said that she would rather phone in her portion. I explained briefly that a phone-in would neither be effective for her or functionary in the format. She then said that "Sundays are very bad. We do not schedule anything on Sundays. Can you move your show instead to Saturday?" "No, I do not think our station manager would let us move our show to Saturday for the sake of one event." She replied, "Well, Sundays are bad." and she walked away.

I'm sorry, Sen. Bachmann, you are running for Congress against three other very capable candidates. Your availability, especially 3 1/2 months out, should be pretty wide open. And considering your lack of name recognition in the western part of the 6th you should be grateful to be asked on the only talk station in St Cloud. For this incident (which I have heard from many other insiders is typical behind the scenes treatment) I think she is less likely to be an electable candidate. This makes me deduct 3 points.

Her campaign called me this past Thursday to confirm her attendance tomorrow and get directions (I thought Sundays were bad). I again received another call this morning for directions. It was then about 5 hours later that her campaign called to cancel. Less than 24 hours is behavior I find to be beneath even the typical politician. I do not want to send this kind of deceit to Washington. This puts her further away from my support and I must deduct points for the deception of confirmation, requesting directions and then cancelling all so close to the date of the event. (5 points deducted)

The scheduling conflict comes from a speech in a church in Wyoming about gay marriage. Hmm, I thought Sundays were bad. First, the excuse that her Senate office gave was the scheduler of her Senate calendar did not syncrhonize calendars with her campaign scheduler. This is either a lie or horrific organization. Either way points are deducted (- 3). Second, as I talked with the person on her campaign that called me I found out that the Chruch Stumping Speech was put on the schedule AFTER she committed to our event. (- 2...this is unacceptable in my view). Third, this Church Stumping is on her Senate calendar...which means that it was very possible to move the speech to another day when the conflict was found. Especially since the session has not yet started. This shows to me she places a higher priority on stumping in her Senate district (though able to be rescheduled) than on getting to know the rest of the district and its delegates she hopes to represent. This poor judgement makes her less electable in my opinion and thus I am deducting 2 points. Finally, when the GOP whines about Kerry or Edwards giving stump speeches in churches I expect them to do the same when Bachmann does the same. Yes, it is under the guise of her Senate duties but it is obviously only a facade. The hypocrisiy is worthy of a deduction of 4 points and using a church for politics is an obvious blurring of church & state (2 points).

Total deduction: 20 points. Of all of the blunders in the GOP 6th she seems to handle them the worst.

Krinkie: All of the notifications for Krinkie's campaign were earlier. I was dealing more directly with Krinkie's campaign because he was the frontrunner for my endorsement. I was going to be a precint representative for his campaign. This means we were on the schedule much more immediately. In fact, the correspondance was through my personal e-mail instead of my e-mail through the show.

At least Krinkie's campaign gave us notice of the cancellation one week prior to the event. That and the fact that this was the first time there has been any problem with the Krinkie campaign helps to mitigate some of the deductions. When his campaign notified me they were cancelling I asked what bumped us. I received no response whatsoever. I had to call other people within the campaign to find out that he was meeting with delegates in this area at the same time and this time was the only time they could meet. While delegates right now may not be delegates after the March 7th caucuses I can understand the need to meet with them. I also understand that they are in this western portion of the district which is where Krinkie needs to get some name recognition. All in all the strategy of cancelling an event in the same area might not be as good I at least can understand it. However, it is still a fact that there is an issue with maintaining scheduled and confirmed commitments. For this I must deduct 3 points. I also called him personally and and the campaign manager who both seemed to be under the impression that there was not a conflict at all.

The other reason to deduct points is that one of two things happened. This other meeting was scheduled at the time we were notified of Krinkie's cancellation. This would seem to lead everyone on his calendar to feel wary of being bumped at any second. OR this other meeting was scheduled more than a week ago which means the campaign failed to resolve the conflict immeidately. Either practice I find to be poor and so I am deducting 3 points.

That is a total deduction of 6 points.

Esmay: It should be expected that someone holds their commitments. Keeping your word should not be treated as extraordinary. It seems, sadly, in the midst of politicians keeping your word IS extraordinary. Thank you Jay Esmay for keeping your commitments. Integrity here must be rewarded, and I do so by adding 5 points.

********** UPDATE **********
The event went on. I have to be honest. Jim Knoblach DID show up for the first half hour of the event. For this I am restoring the points that were previously deducted for not showing up at this event.

The event by the way...well, it was our first remote, it was a drastically oversold crowd (there were far fewer people than we were told to expect) and the candidate no-shows altered immensely the format of what we were planning. By the grace of God my recording of the show failed.

My sincere thanks to Jay Esmay for sticking out the whole event...and it does get reward as you will see later. My thanks also to Jim Knoblach for showing up. You did keep your word for the most part...I hope that we do not encounter anymore scheduling issues again.


Blogger CmptrBug said...

What?! Are you trying to tell me that POLITICIANS are LIARS? Wow. That's news.

It is very unfortunate that 2 candidates did not show after confirming it with you months ago. KNSI has been billing this for months, and I feel sorry for the bar employees and everyone else who worked hard to make the quiz show happen.

Outside of a few "coffee with candidates" type events, my only exposure to the candidates lately has been through KNSI. I am a delegate, and was looking forward to this event. To have 2 candidates cancel out just one day in advance is appalling.

It doesn't really surprize me from Bachman....she has an air about her that she is too good for the common person, and the fact that she did not show up today to meet the common people in the western part of the district does not surprize me.

As for Krinkie, I guess he's not a man of his word, either. I truly believe that people should live up to their committments.

Both are obviously too incompetent to manange their own schedule.

February 26, 2006  
Blogger W.B. Picklesworth said...

This is disappointing. I think that they were actually scared of the format. Trivia tears them away from rehearsed talking points and might make them look stupid. They've made themselves look stupid anyway.

Go Esmay!

February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinking just now about the correlation between the blog format and voting. Voting is a very private thing. It's personal. When you get in that voting booth, you have the ability to vote for whomever you choose - despite who you profess you support to your friends, family, or fellow party members. I'm sure there are candidates out there who are Republican who secretly vote for a DFL candidate once and awhile (for whatever reason) - while you would never know it by the way they speak. I remember as a kid, my Mom wouldn't ever tell my Dad who she was voting for. Political blogs reflect a person's personal, inner thought about a candidate - be it rational or irrational - and you would think that, for that reason, campaigns would pay more attention to the blogs.

February 26, 2006  
Blogger CmptrBug said...

At least Knoblauch acutally showed up, but I can't say I'd be as generous with the point reversal. It sounds like (on his part) it was a big CF (as we would say in the military) - he still scores very low for effort in my book. I can't say the radio show went as well as it would have had there been all 4 candidates.

After I post this, I am going to see if I can find a voting record of how many votes Knoblach has missed in passed years. I used to work for the MN Senate, and legislators who no-showed for votes were always my pet peeve....I noticed a trend in that they always had this sort of pattern with their confirmed public appearances also (they would half-ass it, or forget, or just think it wasn't important to show up). If the legislator didn't "have it together" in their personal life or in their schedule, they almost always didn't "have it together" on the floor (or doing anything else in the session, either). Their $20,000 per year assistants pretty much ran the show for them.

I agree that the candidates have to "woo" delegates at this crucial time right now. The average constituent can wait until after the endorsement. But, the fact of the matter is, the delegates haven't really been selected yet - even though some will stay the same, there will still be a decent sized turnover just as there is every other time.

That being said, the candidate's opinion is probably that the radio show today would not HELP them in any way. To which I can agree, showing up probably would not have helped them win the endorsement. But, it sure did HURT them. By showing up and participating (no matter how much they might have sucked at trivia questions), at least they would have remained in neutral standing (instead of looking bad).

I have to say you were very gracious in not bashing them on the air. I would have.

February 26, 2006  

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