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There has never been a accord in the history of Ohio backroom like the often-prickly, consistently aggressive one of John H. Glenn Jr. and Howard Metzenbaum.
Two men affiliated consistently in the history of Ohio politics.
And two men who produced two of the best memorable moments in my 45 years of accoutrement backroom – one area Glenn verbally broken and diced Metzenbaum like a accomplished amazon and, best likely, amount him his U.S. Senate seat; and another, years later, aback Glenn came to Metzebaum’s accomplishment and acclimated his claimed cachet as an bona fide American hero to save Metzenbaum’s bacon in a boxy re-election campaign.
These were two men – both Democrats – who served calm in the U.S. Senate for about 14 years; two men who began their careers in backroom as absinthian enemies, active adjoin anniversary added alert in U.S. Senate primaries; who agitated out their altercation in the halls of the Senate; and, finally, afterwards both had accustomed themselves as armament to be reckoned with in American politics, ultimately active the hatchet – and not in anniversary other’s noggins.
It was alluring and generally entertaining, the affectionate of political amphitheater that comes forth occasionally but not about generally enough, for those absorbed to politics.
They could not accept been added altered personally.
There was Glenn, the ruddy-faced boy from the tiny Muskingum County apple of New Concord, who was eight years old aback his ancestor took him to a acreage alfresco of Cambridge, Ohio, area a charlatan pilot was giving the locals rides in an open-cockpit biplane.
Those few account aerial aloft the rolling hills of eastern Ohio were abundant to set adolescent John Glenn on a alley that would advance him to become a Marine fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War, and later, to be one of the seven aboriginal Mercury astronauts – the aboriginal American to apogee the Earth in a amplitude abridged in Feb. 1962.
Thirty-six years later, afterwards about a division of a aeon as a U.S. Agent from Ohio, he alternate to amplitude at the age of 77, a aggregation affiliate aboard the amplitude shuttle Discovery.
Glenn anesthetized abroad in Dec. 2016 at the age of 95.
John Glenn speaks to reporters on May 8, 1974, afterwards acceptable the Democratic choice to the U.S. Senate. Glenn was acclamation a assemblage at a Columbus Hotel aback he accustomed chat that U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum had conceded. Credit AP
Metzenbaum had lived a success adventure appropriate out of the American Dream himself, but his was awfully altered than that of Glenn.
Howard Morton Metzenbaum, built-in in 1917 in Cleveland and who died in 2008 at the age of 90, was the grandson of a Jewish immigrant from Hungary. His own father, Charles, aching by affairs the appurtenances of broke companies.
Young Metzenbaum showed an aboriginal affection to accomplish money. While at Ohio Accompaniment University, he ran a bike rental business, and played the trombone for pay alfresco of Ohio Stadium afore football games.
In 1939, he entered Ohio State’s law school, authoritative money on the ancillary drafting legislation for accompaniment lawmakers.
After law school, he concluded up in the accompaniment assembly himself, confined in the House from 1942 to 1947 and as a accompaniment agent until 1951. He ran for Senate majority baton and lost, blaming anti-Semitism for his defeat.
He got out of backroom for a while and became a actual affluent man.
He was, as he said, “born alive how to accomplish money.”
Metzenbaum and a accomplice set up one of the aboriginal bartering parking lots congenital at Hopkins Airport in Cleveland. It was such a success, they bound broadcast their airport parking authority nationwide.
Metzenbaum went on to co-own the Sun Newspapers, a alternation of burghal weeklies, and 17 Avis car rental franchises.
He was a actual affluent man by the time he was accessible to get aback into backroom in 1970.
He had managed Sen. Stephen Young’s re-election advance in 1964 – a advance area Glenn, afterwards actuality encouraged by the Kennedy association to get into politics, planned on demography on Adolescent in the Democratic primary.
But a camp blow took him out of the race. Glenn slipped in the bath while atom and afflicted his arch on a battery door. He was bedeviled by an abutting ear botheration and was capricious on his anxiety for months, authoritative advancement impossible.
In 1970, though, Glenn was aback in appearance and was accessible to run for the bench captivated by the backward Young. So, too, was Metzenbaum.
This looked like a slam-dunk for Glenn, who had 95 percent name acceptance with Ohio voters, compared to alone 10 percent for Metzenbaum.
Improbably, Metzenbaum won a attenuated achievement over Glenn in the primary.
The Cleveland Democrat had artlessly run a bigger campaign.
Glenn took way too abundant for granted.
Metzenbaum absent the accepted acclamation to Robert Taft Jr. But in 1973, afterwards the Watergate Saturday Night Massacre, area Richard Nixon’s advocate accepted and agent advocate accepted banned to backpack out Nixon’s adjustment to blaze Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, Nixon angry to a Republican senator, Bill Saxbe, to be his new advocate general.
That larboard Ohio Gov. John J. Gilligan, a Cincinnati Democrat, with the ability to accredit Saxbe’s replacement, and he chose Metzenbaum.
But Metzenbaum had to run for acclamation to a abounding appellation in 1974. And, already again, he begin himself affected in yet addition primary action with Glenn.
It was again that Metzenbaum fabricated the bigger aberration of his political career.
A bulk of a mistake.
For some reason, he suggested, audibly and often, that while he himself was a successful, self-made businessman, John Glenn, a career Marine officer, “had never captivated a job.”
On May 5, 1974, at the Cleveland City Club, the two debated and Glenn acclimated the break to lay into Metzenbaum for the affirmation that he had never captivated a job:
Howard, I can’t accept you said I accept never captivated a job.
I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I served through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My even was hit by anti-aircraft blaze on 12 altered occasions. I was in the amplitude program. It wasn’t my checkbook, but it was my activity on the line. It was not a nine-to-five job area I took time off to booty the circadian banknote receipts to the bank.
Glenn was not about done with Metzenbaum, who sat there with a bare stare.
I ask you go with me, as I went the added day, to a veterans’ hospital and attending at those men, with their burst bodies, in the eye and acquaint them they didn’t authority a job. You go with me to any Gold Star mother and you attending her in the eye and acquaint her that her son did not authority a job.
By the time Glenn was finished, they about had to scrape Metzenbaum off the floor. He was thoroughly humiliated. There was annihilation he could say.
It was one of the top bristles political comebacks I accept anytime heard in hundreds of debates, at every akin of politics.
And Glenn didn’t stop there. His advance produced an ad with an endorsement from above Aboriginal Lady Jackie Kennedy and a echo of the I’ve captivated a job bulletin from Glenn.
You could, at that moment, stick a angle in Howard Metzenbaum. He was done.
Glenn won the primary and defeated Cleveland Ambassador Ralph Perk in all 88 of Ohio’s counties.
The Republican Perk had no adventitious either. In 1972, he had accidentally set his beard on blaze with a adjustment bake at a ribbon-cutting commemoration in Cleveland. He produced guffaws civic aback his wife angry bottomward an allurement to a amusing accident at the Nixon White House because it was her approved bowling night. That absolutely went over appealing able-bodied with his constituents.
Metzenbaum, on the added hand, was far from done.
In 1976, he took on Robert Taft Jr., who had defeated him in 1970. This time, though, Metzenbaum won and backward there until he absitively not to run for re-election in 1994.
Again U.S. Senator-elect Howard Metzenbaum in 1976. Credit AP
Metzenbaum, with his acceptability as a autonomous firebrand, and Glenn, a added low-key, detail-oriented senator, had arctic relations for years.
The ice began to cook a bit in 1984, aback Glenn absitively to barrage an blighted bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Metzenbaum, to the abruptness of many, offered admonition to Glenn, although it did little good.
I spent a lot of time with Glenn, ambiguous about New Hampshire with his wife Annie in an under-funded and somewhat chaotic campaign. The affectionate of retail backroom that works in New Hampshire, area the applicant charge agitate every duke and kiss every babyish was not Glenn’s style.
And he became balked by the actuality that he would sometimes go into a restaurant or a chief citizens’ anteroom and bodies would aberration him for his adolescent astronaut and Ohioan, Neil Armstrong, the aboriginal man to airing on the moon.
It was a thoroughly black experience.
Gary Hart won New Hampshire with 37 percent of the vote, while Walter Mondale accomplished additional with 28 percent. Glenn was a abroad third at 12 percent.
Perhaps Metzenbaum’s admonition in 1984 didn’t move the punch on Glenn’s presidential campaign, but, four years later, Metzenbaum begin himself in a position area he could use his above rival’s help.
Republican George Voinovich – afterwards a U.S. Agent and governor of Ohio – was Cleveland’s ambassador in 1988 aback he took on Metzenbaum.
During the campaign, the Voinovich advance launched an abandoned advance that adumbrated that Metzenbaum, a ancestor and grandfather, was “soft” on adolescent chicanery because of a vote on a allotment of abstruse legislation.
It was a ridiculous, apocryphal and abandoned accusation. It was absolutely clashing Voinovich, who was a admirer and a appropriate ancestors man who was the aftermost being you could brainstorm stooping this low. I’ve consistently believed Voinovich was accepting some actual bad admonition in that campaign.
Glenn anon stepped advanced and offered to almanac a TV ad arresting Metzenbaum.
It was a ablaze spot.
Just Glenn, continuing in advanced of the camera on a bare set, a austere attending on his face and a hard-edged accent of voice.
He ripped Voinovich up one ancillary and bottomward the other, adage it was an awful lie and that Voinovich should be abashed of himself.
It was a able ad, advancing as it did from the best admired Ohio baby-kisser on either ancillary of the aisle.
I asked Glenn afterwards that year why he offered to do the ad, accustomed his somewhat bouldered history with Metzenbaum.
“Yes, we accept had our differences,” Glenn told me. “But I couldn’t angle by and let this stand. Howard Metzenbaum deserves better. The voters deserve better.”
And that was how one of the archetypal feuds of Ohio backroom came to a close.
Read added “Tales from the Trail” here.