Bill Clinton is the greatest politician I've ever known and I've been active in politics since I was 18 years old. Bill never forgot a name or a face and when he shook your hand and looked you in the eye, which he always did, you felt like you were the only person in the room. He rode that connection with people to the Presidency and served for two terms with his personal magnetism. And when he was asked recently on the David Feherty show on the Golf Channel if he was tired of being President after eight years, he said it was good for his opponents that there were term limits on the Presidency because he would have served in the office until they carried him out in a pine box. Despite his personal failings, that's who Bill Clinton was and is and he rallied the Democrats in their convention a few weeks ago like no one else could have.
Then there's Ben Nelson, a McCook native and a former governor and current U.S. Senator from Nebraska. I've been around the Senator at several functions in McCook and, although not as charismatic as Clinton, he practiced the same techniques. He would roam around the room, shaking hands, calling people by their names and thanking them for everything they had done for him. As a good friend of mine says, that's politics 101. The first rule is to be engaging, the second rule is to be likeable, and the third and most important rule is to acknowledge the people who spent time, money and effort to get you where you are or where you want to go. And he never forgot that.
But Bob Kerrey is obviously not cut of the same cloth. A lot of time, effort and money brought Kerrey to McCook last Friday and yet he recognized none of it. I attended both of his appearances here; the press conference he gave at the George Norris House and the meet --and-greet he held at the Bieroc Café and he never thanked anyone publicly. He gave essentially the same speech both places and it was all about what HE was going to do when he was elected to the Senate again. Now this is not to disparage what Bob Kerrey has done in the past. He was a Navy Seal in the Vietnam War; he lost a leg in battle and was awarded the highest honor any service man or woman can be given; the Congressional Medal of Honor. To his credit, he never brings that up or talks about it on the campaign trail because he says many other people gave much more than he did and some of their bodies are still strewn across South Vietnam.
But in meetings with people who like him and are most likely going to vote for him, he comes across as distant. Why would you not thank the people who worked so hard to put an event like this together for you? Why would you not thank the people who donated rather significant amounts of money to bring you here? Bill Clinton always did and Ben Nelson always did because they knew that of all the people who did the dirty work for them in terms of arranging meetings, setting up places, getting people to come or donate or both, that all they really wanted was an acknowledgment for their efforts. Either a private or a public thank you for what they've done to support your campaign. But Bob Kerrey did neither. A friend of mine who I invited to the press conference showed up early and found Mr. Kerrey standing alone in front of the Norris house so she engaged him in conversation. I asked her on Monday what her impression of him was. She said, based on his attitude and his aloofness, that he had maybe been gone from Nebraska too long.
And the polls reflect that feeling. The latest MSNBC poll says the state most likely to switch Senators in November is Nebraska because, in their words, "Kerrey hasn't gained any traction at all.
That's the way I feel too so, when Election Day rolls around, I'll vote for Kerrey for Senate the same way many of you will vote for a moderate Republican masquerading as a hard-core conservative for President.
By holding my nose.