By VIC SPROUSE
CHARLESTON -- In 2004, it was the Scream at Racine.
In 2008, it was the Silence at Racine.
Did anyone see the photos from the 70th anniversary UMW Labor Day picnic at Racine?
There literally were 10 non-politicians there listening to the speech by Jay Rockefeller. It was clearly the lowest turnout of any Racine Labor Day at least as long as I've been following politics. I mean, you know it's bad when Darrell McGraw doesn't even show up.
* * *
OK, a quick McGraw aside.
This was from the Martinsburg Journal Sunday (certainly the Journal can't be considered to be a hardcore conservative paper, but here's their take on Darrell) ...
The Journal received a call from someone in McGraw's re-election campaign office.
The spokesperson said she was sorry for not getting back to us sooner, but there was a mixup in the campaign office.
She first informed us that the attorney general was not available on the date we had invited him to take part in the biennial candidates forums The Journal and WEPM hold.
It is not clear why she bothered to make that point because she then informed us that "the attorney general declines to debate at this time."
The attorney general declines to debate at this time?
The spokesperson on the other end of the telephone sounded as though she was expecting something more. We certainly are not sure what she might have been expecting. The attorney general declines to debate at this time pretty much sums it all up, doesn't it?
It has been The Journal's and WEPM's practice in the past when one candidate accepts the invitation to take part in our forums, but the other candidate refuses, we offer the candidate who has accepted a chance to make a statement before one of the other forums by him- or herself.
There is precedent for this procedure. We allowed Brent Benjamin, who was running for a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court at the time, to have several minutes before the start of one of the forums to say his piece.
We did not feel it was fair to the candidate who had accepted our invitation to be denied a chance to speak to the audience because his opponent refused to face him and the people.
Benjamin, a Republican, was challenging incumbent then-Justice Warren McGraw, a Democrat, in the race for the high court.
What a coincidence.
I'm sorry, but it has to be really tough on their campaign people when you have a dude who simply doesn't campaign, doesn't debate, doesn't go to events, and pretty much has decided that people are either going to vote for him or not and it matters little what he does.
Even the most stalwart Democrat has to hold their nose when it comes to defending Darrell.
That being said, even DARRELL decided to skip the Racine event.
* * *
Let's put it this way, there were more people at a yard sale down the road than those who showed up for what was supposed to be a huge Democrat rally in the heart of their state electoral strength.
When JRock spoke, he didn't mention Obama's name but spent 15 minutes ripping McCain. At least this time he didn't mention that McCain was evil because during a time of war he dropped bombs on the people trying to kill him and his fellow American soldiers.
But, as Cecil Roberts before him, they have taken the unusual step of not even mentioning Obama's name during their speeches. That should tell you something.
The comical part is that people keep saying that Obama needs to come here and campaign.
As unlikely as that seems considering the dude has spent all of about 40 minutes in the state before and after his worst primary defeat, a whopping 40 point shellacking, my guess is the more Obama is here the less votes he gets.
And judging by the Dem playbook of not even mentioning the guys name, the Dems have already figured that out.
How does that anemic turnout NOT send shudders down the spine of Obama and McGraw supporters? It is clear. Southern West Virginia Democrats will either stay home election day or come out and vote for McCain.
Obama's vote in the primary in Mingo county? Eight percent. Eight.
Judging by the fact that the Democrats' premier grassroots campaign kickoff had a total of about seven people show up, the Republicans didn't need a Scream at Racine moment.
The silence of the No shows was deafening.
By VIC SPROUSE