John King doesn't call his CNN news show "John King, USA" for nothing. He really is everywhere, not just chained to his desk in Washington. And this week his drive to cover the nation proved beneficial to front-running Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, accused by a Democratic blogger of making up sappy stories about downtrodden Ohioans he plans to help.
The scene is Tuesday night's Ohio gubernatorial debate between Kasich and Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who trails the Republican by 17 percent in the latest Quinnipiac poll. At the end of the debate, Kasich told the story of a couple he met at a Bob Evans restaurant—one of the Republican's regular stops--who were balancing their family budget after both of the couple's jobs were downscaled.
To Democratic blogger and critic Anthony Fossaceca of the OhioDailyBlog, the whole thing sounded made up. He wrote:
It is a crying shame that tonight's gubernatorial debate wasn't mandatory viewing for all Ohioans. Had they been forced to watch, they'd have seen a shallow Republican candidate grasping at straws time and time again. They'd have also witnessed the lamest, most cliche closing in debate history. John Kasich told the story of one of the saddest days of his life, as he just happened to be in an undisclosed Bob Evans, eating an undisclosed meal (probably Sausage Gravy or Pumpkin Supreme Pie), when he noticed an Ohio couple balancing their household budget on the back of a napkin. (Yeah, I know...) Legend has it they immediately brushed aside their steaming hot cups of coffee to shake the hand of the wealthy man stopping to interrupt them while they were eating.
He added: "Like much of tonight's debate, the words coming out of John Kasich's mouth were fiction. They aren't true tonight. They weren't true when they were brainstormed over the weekend. And they won't ring true when voters dismiss his candidacy this November. (In fact, someone please send me a photo of the Ohio couple in the Bob Evans with the napkin and I'll personally apologize to Congressman Kasich the next time I'm at his country club)."
Well John King did. Following the debate and the blogger's assault, King did a story on the race and revealed that he and a video crew were with Kasich when he met that couple at Bob Evans. "There they are right there," King said while showing his viewers the video. "He did talk to this couple."
After his story aired, blogger Fossaceca posted his apology and the King story under the headline, "CNN Confirms: I Am A Dumba**." (Though his headline didn't use *s.)
With a backhanded flip, he wrote: "CNN ran a fact-checking piece on a story we wrote Tuesday night and, lo and behold, I was apparently (kinda) wrong. Turns out, John Kasich was actually at a Bob Evans recently. And he actually talked to people there. And two of them actually were working on their household budget. And CNN just happened to have video of it. D'oh! Now, after a year or so of listening to one story after another coming out of John Kasich's mouth, you can't blame me for being cynical or suspect of everything this guy says. He was a Wall Street insider for crying out loud. But this time (while he obviously distorted and enhanced his story a bit--and CNN points that out as well) he was still more-or-less repeating something that kind of actually happened. For that, he gets a one day pass here at OhioDaily. And, as promised, he will get a personal apology from me. At his country club. The next time I'm there. (I'll wait quietly for the invitation and the guest pass)."
We caught up with Kasich spokesman Scott Milburn who told us that the campaign makes so many stops at Bob Evans restaurants they simply call them "Bob's." He said, "Chicken-and-noodles at Bob's is almost a food group for the campaign. I think all the Bob's in Ohio are programmed into the Garmin, but it wouldn't matter because John knows where most of them are anyway."