Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mitt Romney leaves Ohio with unwanted souvenir

Word that Mitt Romney would travel to the Cincinnati area Tuesday surprised some, given that Ohio's June presidential primary figures to be one of the nation's last nominating contests.
 
And today, the Republican front-runner might wish he hadn't stopped here at all. 
 
After first refusing to take a position on two controversial Buckeye State ballot measures, the former Massachusetts governor is backtracking and now enthusiastically backing Issue 2. A "yes" vote would uphold Senate Bill 5, the new collective-bargaining law for public employees.
 
What made Romney's sidestepping so perplexing Tuesday was that the Ohio Republican Party billed his visit as one to rally phone bank volunteers dialing up support for Issue 2 and Issue 3. The latter is a Tea Party initiative aimed at blocking part of the federal health care law.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

From fan to The Man: How Cleveland's Rich Lowrie claimed a place in Herman Cain's inner circle

Rich Lowrie might not have realized it at the time, but his life changed seven years ago, the day he met Herman Cain.

A Cleveland investment consultant with a voracious interest in economics, Lowrie was attending a Florida conference hosted by the conservative Club for Growth. Cain, a former pizza-chain executive, was seeking a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, and his remarks resonated.

"I just thought, 'Wow, whatever this guy has, he has it,'" Lowrie recalled Friday in a telephone interview with The Plain Dealer. "I introduced myself afterward, and that was that."

Except it wasn't. Lowrie stayed active with conservative causes, followed Cain's post-loss work as a political commentator and expanded his network. Then came the call last year from Mark Block, a friend Lowrie had made through Americans for Prosperity. Cain, their mutual dream candidate, was saddling up for a presidential bid. Block would help run the campaign.

What began as "informal dialogue and a phone call every now and then" quickly turned into a full-fledged role as Cain's senior economic adviser. That's how Lowrie found himself this summer on a New Hampshire-bound flight with Cain, sketching the tax-reform plan that in recent weeks has become a household name and helped Cain surge to the head of the Republican field.

"I had one question for him," Lowrie said of the chat. "How bold do you want to be?"

Cain, "with his signature smile and booming voice," leaned in and replied: "Bold."

And so, "9-9-9" was born -- a proposal to replace the federal tax code with a flat 9 percent tax on personal income and businesses and a 9 percent national sales tax. Asked about the plan's architects Tuesday in a televised debate, Cain identified only one: Lowrie, "out of Cleveland."

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Twitter, Juan Williams and Chuck D help City Club of Cleveland celebrate 100 years of free speech

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When the City Club of Cleveland opened its doors in October 1912, Tweets were known as nothing more than weak chirps.
 
But Monday, as the institution began its 100th birthday celebration with a Conference on Free Speech, Tweets -- the kind that have revolutionized communication -- were the backdrop.
 
Poignant thoughts and probing questions streamed on stage in real time as those in the Allen Theatre audience and others following from afar via the social network Twitter contributed to the discussion. Guest speakers like Fox News commentator Juan Williams and rap icon Chuck D saw their provocative comments "retweeted" almost as quickly as the words escaped their lips.

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