by Brian Brus - OK Gazette
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
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.