Unless President Barack Obama calls the show anytime between 3 and 6, he’s banned.
The same goes for his Republican presidential opponent Mitt Romney. Either call the show and ask for our votes or be banished from the most powerful airwaves in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
In case campaign strategists missed it, we vote here in hard coal country. But you’d be hard pressed to find evidence that either campaign cares about us. We’ve only recently heard radio and television commercials.
But that’s not good enough.
Take voters for granted and suffer the consequences.
In 2008 I had presidential and voice presidential candidates falling over themselves to talk with me and my listeners.
I talked politics with then Sen. Joe Biden even before Barack tapped him to be his running mate and help secure white, working-class votes in places like my town of Scranton, where too many voters took the bait and believed Biden when he went into his scrappy kid routine and lied about having family members who worked in the coal mines.
Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called the show and we talked about everything from abortion to basketball. Palin laughed when I told her she could beat Barack in a game of one-one-one or horse. Former North Vietnamese prisoner of war and Sen. John McCain and I sat face-to-face when he appeared in Scranton. We talked about immigration and neighborhoods and family.
His buddy Sen. Joe Lieberman told me on my way out the door that he liked the interview.
All kinds of people showed up in our hard little region to woo us and ask for our support.
During the primary I had interviewed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the girls’ locker room at Scranton High School. Singer/songwriter legend Carole King called the show. Numerous former governors, cabinet officials and other high-profile surrogates called the show.
So did former President Bill Clinton.
Then Obama showed up on line one, oozing soft Chicago-style confidence. We talked about race and getting off cigarettes and the future. Now Obama’s in the White House with Biden and doesn’t want to leave.
But since Pennsylvania no longer is a swing state, our battleground doesn’t seem to matter to him and his elite crew of button-down strategists who plan and plot the direction of the campaign.
The same goes for Romney and his gang of dysfunctional GOP generals who push and pull from the right wing to the middle and back again to right as might, deceiving even their own stuffy faithful with flip flops and falsehoods about their fabricated plans for America.
For months I have politely emailed both campaigns, communicating with the same people, asking them for the courtesy of surrogate interviews so they can share their vision with the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I sensed lethargy within their ranks and knew I was being played.
Yes, the Romney spokeswoman said, you are on the list to interview Romney and Ryan. Yes, said the Obama spokeswoman – who seemed to think that I would endorse their candidate and half-joked about how hard I am on the president – we are working with you to get all the interviews you can handle.
In 2008 I told the campaigns that I would take a surrogate a day until November 6. I politely called their bluff, knowing full well that they would not comply. They didn’t but we still got a discussion that helped the debate and the process of democracy. This time, the campaign staffers didn’t even come close and actually re-circulated some of their own staffers who came on the air and acted as translators of a cult doctrine that sounded vague and scripted.
Such crass, empty behavior is simply no longer acceptable.
We didn’t even get Clinton and he talks to everybody.
So two weeks ago I wrote a column in this space issuing an ultimatum, putting both campaigns and their local, county, state-wide and national supporters on notice that some of us in hard coal country would no longer stand for them playing us for suckers, fools and worse, that we will stand on honor, telling them to hit the road rather than continue to be abused.
I gave them two weeks and today’s the day.
Yesterday afternoon I emailed both campaigns and told them that their time is up. Let’s see if either camp responds. I doubt that they will but you never know. But if I don’t hear from Barack and/or Mitt by the end of the day, the two of these mugs can call the show at the same time tomorrow and I will refuse to take their calls.
Who do I think I am?
I’m a law-abiding, good citizen taxpayer and man of principle who votes and expects to be treated with decency, not taken for granted. That’s who you are, too - whether you know it or not. That’s who we all are in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
And whether Barack and Mitt know it or not, one of them will lose here when, had they only shown us more respect, he could have won. Put that in your concession speech and shove it.