Friday, November 03, 2000

Area Republicans quick to Bush's defense

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Local and regional Republicans rallied to the defense of George W. Bush on Thursday night, saying the governor's admission that he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol 24 years ago will have no effect on Tuesday's election.

        “I don't think it will have any bearing on his ability to be president,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett. “I can't think of any voting families that haven't had to face a situation similar to that. Most people understand that this can be attributed to the indiscretion of youth and that this has no bearing on his leadership abilities.”

Bush DUI coverage from Associated Press
        Joe Deters, Hamilton County's prosecutor from 1992 until he was elected Ohio's treasurer in 1998, said Mr. Bush has been “pretty up-front that he had a problem with alcohol.”

        “I don't think it is something he should have brought up,” said Mr. Deters, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party. “It was so long ago.”

        Tristate Democrats blasted the Republican presidential nominee for failing to acknowledge the incident sooner.

        “All Bush had to do was be clear about his past five months ago,” said Tim Burke, co-chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

        Thursday's revelation, he said, calls into question the governor's honesty. “The American public is forgiving if people are honest and truthful with them,” he said.

        One of Gov. Bush's biggest backers in the region, U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, questioned the timing of the revelation.

        “This is a little suspect, it being days before the actual vote.”

        The timing is irrelevant, said Kentucky Rep. Jim Callahan, (D-Wilder).

        “This should have been brought out earlier,” he said. “Someone said he didn't acknowledge this because it was something he wasn't proud of. It makes you wonder what else he has not admitted that he is not proud of.”

        Spencer Hunt of the Enquirer Columbus Bureau contributed to this report.


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