Personal time 'important' to Steve Largent

by Brian Brus - OK Gazette
10/24/02

            An average campaign day for Steve Largent begins at least as early as 7:30 a.m., his campaign manager says over scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy at the Hometown Buffet in northwest Oklahoma City.

            By breakfast, the Republican gubernatorial candidate has already finished a radio interview and is waiting to speak to about 30 members of the Rotary Club. For such an early start, Largent looks comfortable enough in a full suit and tie, and somehow never loses his fresh-pressed look through the rest of the day.

He begins by turning aside a recently televised comment about bovine excrement with an introductory joke that he’ll reuse throughout the day: “I don’t use foul language before 8 in the morning,” he promises the Rotarians. “I never cuss before 11 o’clock,” he says when he meets later with the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association. With a few chuckles, the reference to losing his temper in a television interview Oct. 13 is easily set aside so Largent can move on —  his personal history, a shopping list of campaign issues, and a few promises.

Later, with the state Concrete Pavement Association, Largent’s faux pas is even endearing: “Your comments didn’t hurt your chances with us,” one company manager thunders, with nodding assent from the rest of the room. Largent will strengthen his connection to the pavers with his own blue-collar beginnings and the conclusion, “I’ve had to work hard for everything I’ve ever wanted.” And he’ll agree to look at their concerns for more transportation jobs after they get him into the governor’s office.

But with the Rotarians, he compares the association’s Four-Way Test to a personal question of his own: “Do you love the Lord with your soul and mind?” The 30 or so Rotarians (and restaurant staff) seem to appreciate his message – he leaves the room with applause and handshakes.

The gathering is a little larger at the next stop, and Largent’s campaign message is delivered much quicker. By the time Webb has finished listening to Largent’s pre-taped radio interview in the car — again addressing his self-admitted “inappropriate and unprofessional” cursing — Largent is already ending his well-practiced speech inside the Biltmore Hotel. Largent thanks the 200 people attending the Oklahoma Drug & Alcohol Professional Counselor Association and Drug & Alcohol  Professional Counselor Certification Board meeting and steps off stage.

More smiles and handshakes to the door. No timeouts given. It’s on to talk to firefighters across the city at the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum.

But somehow in the rush, Largent loses about 45 minutes behind Webb, giving up more valuable interview time to his campaign manager.


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