Cox Takes a Step

Just back from Ed Cox‘s announcement of a long list of exploratory committee members, topped by Henry Kissinger. Also on the list were Reagan’s chief-of-staff, Ken Duberstein; William Howard Taft IV; and State Senator Dale Volker. To local observers, the presence of George Pataki’s fundraiser, Cathy Blaney, was just as important, seeming to indicate that Pataki still doesn’t share Steve Minarik’s enthusiasm for Cox’s potential rival in the Senate race against Hillary, Jeanine Pirro.

Cox’s new press secretary, Tom Basile, is a Bush White House hand, and it showed: careful staging; red, white, and blue printed backdrop; and a (universally ignored) instruction for the press to show up hours early to the event at the Women’s National Republican Club. Cox introduced his committee members in a pretty tepid speech, in which his rationale for running against Hillary seemed to be the logical, if dispassionate, case that a Republican who isn’t running for President can bring more home from GOP-dominated Washington than a Democrat who is running for President.

If the speech was just serviceable, however, he was more impressive in his first-ever press scrum. In an interaction that often trips up rookie candidates, he said what he wanted to say — he supports a “culture of life” in the sense that he backs the partial-birth abortion ban and parental notification; he’s enthusiastic about charter schools — without getting dragged into the details of either issue. He didn’t get that scared, glazed-over look in his eyes either.

The candidate also managed to take the high road in response to a question about whether Al Pirro is fair game — Cox thinks the campaign should be about issues — without actually ruling out attacks on Al Pirro.