Road Trip Jay

Governor Nixon loves to go to places where he can do all the talking.  And he apparently likes to stay away from places where he might have to do a lot of answering.

The governor loves to trot off to here or there to announce this or that but he doesn’t seem all that willing to talk to reporters in the Capitol who might have some questions about that or other issues he’s plugged into.   We think we know why.

When the governor is making a speech and working from a script, as he does when he’s on the road, announcing something such as  his “Missouri Works” proposal, he’s smooth and authoritative.  But we’ve noticed when he has news conferences at the capitol and reporters press him for details and justifications, he has a tendency to hem and haw, stumble and pause, interrupt himself in mid-sentence (it’s sometimes a challenge to get a good soundbite when the governor is speaking off the cuff in those situations).  One can sound so much more gubernatorial working from a script at a podium without some pestiferous reporter boring in.

One of the governor’s big issues in his State of the State message next Tuesday night (you can hear it right here on your friendly will be the “Missouri Works” strategy.  It apparently is a big deal.   He has promised jobs will be job one for his administration in this election year’s legislative session.

And where did the governor go to unveil this verrrrrrrry important part of his legislative package?  Nowhere near the place where the legislature is meeting.   He went to Excelsior Springs where there’s a factory that makes car seats.  Then he went to Hopkins, Missouri, to a company that makes plastic tanks that hold chemicals.  Hopkins has about 680 people living in it. It’s in Nodaway County, way up in northwest Missouri, hardly a hotbed for aggressive reporters who might make the governor hem and haw, stumble and pause while giving an answer.

But the Nixon Communications Ministry made sure a broadly-worded advisory ws sent out that the governor was announcing this wonderful program, so there was some publicity in this re-election year.  The news release noted Missouri Works would be “a key component” of next week’s State of the State address.

Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star went to Excelsior Springs yesterday and notes in today’s Star, that Nixon “would not say how much his jobs effort would cost, who would pay for it, and what other state programs might face cuts to pay for job incentive legislation”  at a time when the state faces a half-billion dollar budget shortfall. Helling says Nixon promised more details in his State of the State address.

He delivers State of the State addresses while standing at a podium and working with a script that is on a teleprompter.

Past governors have often had news conferences with the capitol press corps after those speeches to answer questions about the proposals from reporters wanting to flesh out specifics. And there always are questions.

Not Nixon.

However he probably will hit the road again the day after the speech to speak from more podia, presenting more well-scripted remarks.

An old saying at the capitol probably needs to be revised:

The Governor proposes.

The legislature disposes.

While the governor makes a road trip.

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One thought on “Road Trip Jay

  1. Your post about Nixon going on the road to avoid the press corps reminded me of a story from the Blunt years. It was July 2005 and I was summoned to the newsroom in Cape for the first time in about four years to fill in for a week since they were shorthanded due to vacancies left by a couple people moving on and folks being on vacation and such. (Little did I know that at the end of the week, I’d be told the paper was going to pull the plug on the Capitol bureau a couple months hence.)

    Anyway, while I was there Gov. Blunt held a news conference at the Proctor & Gamble plant near Cape to do one of his many “signings” of the bill creating the Quality Jobs Act. Naturally, I was assigned to cover it. The governor and his people weren’t happy to see me.

    At the end of his pre-packaged speech, I proceeded to ask tough questions and challenged his assertions about what the bill would actually accomplish, if anything. I was the only reporter to ask any questions.

    The other reporters there were from the local TV and radio stations and weekly papers, none of whom had any expertise in the subject, which, of course, is why governors like to get as far away from the Capitol press corps as possible. After the news conference, a couple of them thanked me for making their stories better by knowing what questions to ask.

    Marc Powers

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