He threw his son’s flag-football coach under the bus.
Yup, Bruning stepped up and related a story about watching his eight-year-old son’s football game, and that his son’s coach was terrible, didn’t know what he was doing and obviously didn’t know anything about football.
The humble AG then apparently took the reins of the team and they did…much better? (We really don’t know. And wouldn’t you know that the Nebraska press didn’t pose any follow up questions on that. Sheesh. Where’s Tom Shatel when you need him?) [Update: Joe Jordan says Bruning told him the team went 4 and 1. Though Jordan also failed to interview the old coach…]
The point of the story was supposed to be that when Bruning sees something that needs fixing he takes action instead of just criticizing.
But the real point to take away is that Bruning is not above throwing anyone under the bus. Not the poor football coach that Bruning hammered and certainly not Senator Chuck Hagel (though no one is really crying for Hagel).
The Flag-Football strategy has been the overall theme of the Bruning campaign thus far. Bruning’s opening statement today was, “I will beat Senator Hagel in the primary in May.” Well…except that Hagel may not run.
And that is the problem Bruning has going right now. He has made the campaign: If you hate Chuck Hagel, I’m your guy. If you like Chuck Hagel, I’m absolutely NOT your guy.
But in this goofy spring of 2007, Hagel has given numerous hints that he’s not really even interested in running for re-election. Sure he hosted a big funder last month, but that cash can still go to a Presidential campaign. And today, we hear about former Governor and current Ag Secretary Mike Johanns attending the Nebraska Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol. Only the second time he’s ever been. (Johanns attends Nebraska Breakfast day before Bruning announcement – OWH – 6/7/07.) Ain’t that a coincidence?
So what happens with the Flag-Football Plan? Well, it has effectively driven a wedge between Bruning and every Hagel supporter. Instead of being an alternative to Hagel for many, Bruning has instead become the enemy. And if Hagel drops out, there will be plenty of alternatives for Hagel supporters to choose from – not the least being Johanns.
What if Hagel stays in the race? Again, no true Hagel supporter is going to switch to Bruning. Do the blasting negatives Bruning has doled out really help him that much with the rest of the voters? It may get a few people to perk up their ears when the subjects of immigration and impeachment are raised. But do Nebraskans really cotton to remarks like “Hagel’s not a real Nebraskan” and “provides poor constituent services”? It’s one thing to hear those negatives tossed out by a surrogate; it’s another to hear that kind of vitriol coming from the candidate himself.
Things will get interesting once Hagel finally makes his call, supposedly around Labor Day (see our counter up on the right). But one thing is for sure this summer: Bruning’s son’s Little League Coach better watch out.