Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Luken begins election ads

Fuller won't hit airwaves anytime soon

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Charlie Luken the candidate looks much like Charlie Luken the mayor in the first television spot of the mayoral campaign, which hits airwaves today.

        In it, Mr. Luken pledges to fight a boycott “that will polarize, tear down and harm our city.”

        Some black activists and religious leaders have called for a boycott of city businesses to protest a lack of progress on racial issues since the April riots. In the ad, Mr. Luken says he will fight the boycott “with every ounce of energy I have.”

        Sitting on the edge of the mayor's desk wearing a dark blue suit and with flags in the background, Mr. Luken talks straight to the camera in the 30-second ad. There's no music and no printed words except for the required disclaimer.

        It's not a traditional campaign spot. Indeed, there's no indication in the ad itself that Mr. Luken is running in the city's first direct election for mayor in 76 years.

        But then again, this is not a traditional campaign, Mr. Luken said.

        “This is not a campaign where you can sling a sport coat over your shoulder and say, "Vote for me because I'm a nice guy,” Mr. Luken said.

  Script of the first campaign ad of the mayoral campaign, a 30-second spot from Mayor Charlie Luken that will hit airwaves today:
  “I want to talk to you about a move to target Cincinnati with a boycott — a boycott that will polarize, tear down and harm our city. It's time to say no to those who would destroy our businesses and our neighborhoods.
  “Instead of talking boycott, we should be speaking with one voice to end the senseless violence on city streets and come together as one community. The boycott is the last thing we need, and I'll fight it with every ounce of energy I have.”
        He said the ad was deliberately crafted to set a serious tone for the campaign.

        “I've discovered after spending the last four months talking to people that what they want is strength and clarity,” he said.

        Mr. Luken said the ad, with an initial media buy of $40,000, might be the only one he runs between now and the Sept. 11 primary.

        And he conceded the ad might be early, with 14 weeks to go until the general election. However, he said he wanted to speak to voters about issues while they're topical.

        Courtis Fuller, the former TV anchor who's running against Luken under the Charter Committee's banner, declined to comment on Mr. Luken's ad.

        He will take to the airwaves at some point, campaign manager Jeff Crammerding said. But not soon.

        “We knew we were going to have to play catch-up,” Mr. Crammerding said. “This is one of the disadvantages of starting in July.”


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