The Springer Interview
At the Starbucks in Cleveland’s warehouse district where Jerry Springer and I sat down to talk, people regularly stopped to wave and ask Jerry when he was going to run for office.
They didn’t mention his TV show.
Perhaps the mere act of publicly considering whether or not to run for office has begun to overcome the most vocal criticism of his potential candidacy; that he is, in fact, Jerry Springer.
“They’re snoots,” Springer notes with a smile of the people who keep harping about the show. “No one brings up the show as I travel the state.” The claim would be hard to believe, except that it held up, at least during my half hour with Springer.
Springer is clearly frustrated by the talk of his TV show, even seems exhausted by having to address his TV persona. He asserts that the only people who care about the TV show are the media and his potential opponents.
We spent the half hour talking about how he gets over that hurdle, even if it might be disappearing. “I start by pleading guilty,” Springer says. “You know what, you’re right. I’m the biggest sleazeball there is. Now let’s talk about how to fix Ohio.”
Springer firmly believes that once he puts his case to the voters, they will make their judgment based on policy not personality. “If I run, the show will have been off the air for almost two years,” said Springer. “Once I start campaigning, there’s no way the average voter will not here my message. And then the people will vote on what’s best for the state.”
He firmly rejects the label of liberal, preferring “populist.” “I’m as much of a populist as Howard Metzenbaum,” he agreed, Metzenbaum being perhaps the most liberal US Senator Ohio ever elected. When asked if he thought Ohio was ready to go back to a Metzenbaum liberal, Springer said, “Ohio’s ready to go back to someone who’s not a politician.”
If elected, Springer plans to get around the Republican Caveman Caucus in the state legislature largely through ballot referendums. “Once I’m governor, we’re gonna hold a referendum on a plan to rebuild Ohio, let the people keep the Republican legislature from destroying the state’s chances of moving forward.”
A confident Springer left the coffee house looking every bit the candidate for governor. And along the way, a guy driving a bus beeped and waved at him. Someone walking by smiled and waved. It’s hard to imagine any of Springer’s potential opponents being even recognized, let alone greeted warmly on the street.