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Published: Thursday, 10/20/2005

Ford's campaign addresses riot in 2 ads

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two new Jack Ford campaign commercials focus on the weekend riot in the north end, and one includes the claim that the mayor "kept the situation contained."

The talking-head ads begin airing today on Toledo's four network television stations and the Buckeye CableSystem, campaign officials said.

Mayor Ford stars in the first 30-second spot, expressing his reaction to the riots, which he saw first-hand.

"The events of last weekend were difficult for Toledo. I witnessed actions that were unacceptable," Mr. Ford says to the camera.

He promises to prosecute wrongdoers, credits police and firefighters for the few injuries, and tells listeners: "We must not let this one event cloud our city's future."

In the second spot, three speakers talk about the disturbances and Mr. Ford's determination to lead Toledo forward. Two of the speakers are Paul and Denise Johnson, of Old Orchard, although they are not identified in the commercial.

The third speaker, also not identified, is the Rev. Mansour Bey, associate pastor of First Church of God, who talked about Mr. Ford's unsuccessful attempt to reason with the mob at the height of the riot.

Mr. Ford, along with several of his top officials, waded into a large, angry crowd that included gang members at Mulberry Street and Central Avenue.

His efforts to explain why he couldn't prevent neo-Nazis from marching through the neighborhood were shouted down. The impromptu dialogue, at about 2:50 p.m. Saturday, ended when Jim and Lou's Bar at the same intersection was looted and set on fire.

"Mayor Ford showed courage when he went right into the crowd. He kept the situation contained," Mr. Bey said.

The violence was brought completely under control by 5 p.m.

The commercials don't mention his mayoral challenger, Democrat Carty Finkbeiner, and they don't include any video of the disturbance, which accompanied a neo-Nazi rally outside Woodward High School.

Mr. Ford's campaign has purchased about $222,565 worth of airtime on Toledo's four commercial television stations leading up to the election.

Mr. Finkbeiner has not purchased any TV time. Mr. Finkbeiner's campaign spokesman, Bob Reinbolt, said the campaign will spend about $100,000 on television.

He said the former mayor's plan is not to mention Mr. Ford.

"Our ads are going to be on our accomplishments," Mr. Reinbolt said. "We're not going to be responding to their ads - unless it's something really outrageous. We want to talk about our track record."

Mr. Ford has been expected to launch political attacks on Mr. Finkbeiner. The former mayor came in first in the Sept. 13 primary with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Ford with 26 percent.

The 4th Ward, where the riot occurred, was one of the few bright spots of the primary election for Mr. Ford. He claimed 43 percent of the 1,495 votes cast, with Mr. Finkbeiner receiving 32 percent.

Mr. Ford's campaign consultant, James Ruvolo, said the issue of the riot had to be addressed before the campaign returns to other ads that were already in the can.

"Anything that happens like that three weeks before the election is clearly on the voters' minds. We emphasized what the mayor did, why we have to move forward from it," Mr. Ruvolo said.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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