MEDINA — Jerry Springer, longtime TV talk-show host and one time Cincinnati mayor, told Medina County Democrats on Saturday that he still hasn’t decided whether to run for governor in 2018.
However, he said, if he were elected governor, he would create a statewide health care system featuring small neighborhood clinics funded largely by corporate donations.
Also on Saturday, Springer dipped his toe into the national political discussion, criticizing President Donald Trump and Republicans who support him.
“America is under attack,” said Springer, 73. “And it’s not just by terrorists, and it’s not just by the Russians, and it’s not just cyberattacks.
“But for the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in at least 150 years, we’re under attack by our own government, by our own White House,” Springer said. “And that may be the most sinister attack of all.”
Springer spoke at the Medina County Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and Silent Auction fundraiser at Williams on the Lake on Lafayette Road. About 70 people attended.
State of indecision
In a news conference immediately before his talk, Springer told reporters he’s not sure when he will make up his mind about a gubernatorial run. He has considered it for months.
“I’m not trying to be cute,” Springer said. “I’m really trying to decide. There’s pressure for me to do it.”
That pressure is coming from Ohio Democrats who aren’t entirely confident in those who already have announced their candidacies. Those candidates include former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, former state Rep. Connie Pillich, former state Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
“You have very qualified candidates. Any one of them I can easily support,” Springer said. “The question is, ‘Does anyone have a real chance?’ We just don’t know that.”
On Oct. 23, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine was in Medina, speaking to about 50 supporters at Amuse Euro Bistro on Public Square. Other GOP candidates seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich include Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci from Wadsworth.
Springer acknowledged that Democrats asked him to run for governor largely because he — like Trump was before he sought the presidency — is a celebrity, and would bring name-recognition to the ballot.
However, Springer said that he, unlike Trump, has political experience. In addition to his time as Cincinnati mayor in the late 1970s, Springer has campaigned and raised money for Democratic candidates over the years.
Springer, dubbed the “king of trash TV” for his talk show, which routinely involves brawls among guests, said he must consider his talk-show employees, who would lose their jobs if he runs for governor. Also, Springer said he must determine if he wants to spend the last chapter of his life running for and possibly serving as governor, and whether he can assemble an effective campaign team and administration.
“It’s a big job,” Springer told reporters. “It’s a grown-up job.”
Springer said that due to his age, he would serve only one term, so he would have no hidden agenda or aspirations to seek higher office.
“I can’t possibly have a political future beyond this,” Springer said.
Health care foundation
Asked about health care by The Gazette, Springer told reporters, and later the audience, that nothing is more important than the health of one’s family. He said the No. 1 priority of any government is to ensure that everyone has access to health care.
Springer said he would push for a statewide system of small neighborhood health clinics, staffed by
primary-care doctors and nurses, within 10 to 15 minutes of everyone’s home. All Ohio residents would receive a health care card and would pay medical bills on a sliding scale based on their incomes. The poor would pay nothing.
Springer said the system would receive some money from the federal and state governments. However, most of the funds would come from corporations and the private sector through a foundation he would create.
The foundation and government appropriations, in addition to covering the cost of the clinics, would pay for the medical education of doctors and nurses who agree to work at the clinics for at least three years.
Springer said the idea came to him after watching everyone, including average citizens, come together to help hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. He said he would raise millions of dollars for the foundation, even if he had to organize a telethon every year.
“I’m being flippant, but we know how to do this,” Springer told the audience Saturday. “We have to think outside the box.”
Springer said he believes Republicans, if they continue to dominate the federal and state governments, would support a plan that used limited taxpayer dollars.
Springer said the United States has experienced tougher times — including World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and the 1960s civil rights movement — but he called today “the most unsettling of times.” He noted that millions of Americans protested Trump’s inauguration, even before he took any action.
“It’s the first time in my lifetime that we really as a nation seem confused about who we are, what we are,” Springer said.
He said the United States is the only nation in history built upon an idea, as opposed to a tribe or race. The idea is that regardless of their backgrounds, citizens can strive to be who they want to be.
“Now we have a president or government that seriously wants to attack that idea, that we are no longer a multicultural society, that it’s OK to deport Mexicans, ban Muslims, disenfranchise African-Americans and attack women,” Springer said.
He said it’s wrong to spout patriotism, then support policies that hurt minorities. He said it’s also wrong that congressional Republicans ignore Trump’s indiscretions just because he supports their legislative agenda.
“Our sons and daughters didn’t fight and die for a bill, or a particular piece of legislation,” Springer said. “It’s the idea of America.”
Messages may be left for Bob Sandrick at (330) 721-4060.
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