Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What gives; Jeb Bush and Ben Carson think they’re too good for Chicago?

The presidential dreamers will gather once again on Tuesday in Milwaukee for yet another presidential debate and a chance to convince the voting public that their dreams deserve a chance to become reality.

KASICH: A Billy Goat burger?
Yet for two of the candidates, the warm-up act on Monday was in Illinois. Ohio Gov. John Kasich literally was in Chicago, trying to persuade voters within the media market (those within the city proper are going overwhelmingly for whoever wins the Democratic nomination) to take him seriously.

CONSIDERING THE MEDIA market accounts for about three-quarters of Illinois’ population, it is a significant (and long-overdue) campaign stop.

While New York real estate developer Donald Trump made his visit to Springfield – which, for what it’s worth, was the same place where Barack Obama began his serious presidential campaigning in the ’08 election cycle.

But while Obama used the old state capitol building that Abraham Lincoln would have known and walked the halls of (the current capitol building dates to the 1870s), Trump wanted a differing image.

The local political bigwigs arranged for the Prairie Capital Convention Center, which is an arena that has been used for inauguration ceremonies in the past – in addition to other sports (the Urbana and Springfield campuses of the University of Illinois played basketball there against each other Sunday) and large-scale events.

TRUMP WANTED THE sight and sound of stands packed to capacity chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump” as he walked across a stage and made his usual vapid remarks with regards to why his personal wealth somehow qualified him to be president of the United States.

Yes, I wrote this copy prior to the event, because the actual happenings of the event were so predictable. Tickets for the Springfield, Ill.-based rally were given away free, first-come, first-served. They went quick.

TRUMP: Trying a horseshoe?
The spectacle was destined to be packed with true believers – or at the very least a crowd lacking of individuals who’d have been inclined to say anything negative about the man who’d likely look at the Springfield skyline and have as his initial reaction how lame it looks without some gaudy tower bearing his name.

Considering that Springfield’s only significant tall structures are the current Capitol and the tower-like Hilton Hotel, it might be one place where he wouldn’t be blatantly wrong.

THEN, WE CAME to Chicago, where Kasich spent the day in the city with awe-inspiring architecture and a definitely-mediocre building named for Trump.

BUSH: Beat Kasich to Billy Goat
Kasich’s campaign activity centered around an afternoon rally held in the shadow of tower Trump – Chicago-style. Below ground, actually.

For the Kasich people, who in Illinois include a significant segment of the Republican political establishment, were at the Billy Goat Tavern for a send-off rally to make the governor feel more peppy about doing verbal battle with the just over a dozen presidential dreamers that the GOP side has given us.

No word on whether Kasich actually consumed one of those cheeseburgers the bar cooks up to try to absorb all the alcohol that is otherwise consumed by customers on the premises.

ALTHOUGH IT REMINDS me of an event some decades ago when then-President George Bush (the elder) decided to try to appear to be a regular-guy Chicagoan by making a Billy Goat appearance – one that legendary newspaper columnist Mike Royko mocked by saying he didn’t go because he’d rather watch the cable TV news (one of those ‘90s ‘Crime of the Century’-type trials was taking place).

I doubt that Kasich’s play-acting at being a regular guy was any more legit than that of Bush.

RAUNER: Not taking sides?
It also intrigued me to see Gov. Bruce Rauner’s public schedule for Monday – no events whatsoever. What does it say for the GOP candidates that the Republican governor felt no need to advertise his presence at their events?

And when will the other Republican presidential dreamers feel compelled to visit us in Chicago to make the long-shot attempt at courting our votes?


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