July 16, 2008 Edition

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An unpredictable
presidential race

John Bland

Ron Fournier, Associated Press bureau chief in Washington, D.C., had interesting comments to make about our country's current presidential race. He spoke Friday during the Arkansas Press Association's (APA) annual convention in North Little Rock.

Fournier, a native of Hot Springs, sees the race as very unpredictable at this point. He said it is obvious that people are tired of the war in Iraq and the tough economic times, with the ever-rising costs of fuel and food.

While the majority of Americans disagree with President Bush over the war, Fournier said Bush has held firm with his belief that the U.S. military should remain in Iraq. Thus, we know where he stands.

We also know that Senator John McCain stands for many of the same things as Bush, so there is little doubt about what McCain stands for.

On the other hand, Senator Barack Obama tends to be sliding a bit to the right or conservative side, said Fournier. American citizens are still not clear on what they would be getting if he were elected.

He said there are many similarities between the present age and about 100 years ago. One hundred years ago, people were concerned about economic conditions and about losing jobs. As the industrial revolution took hold, many people's jobs were replaced by machines.

In this election, as back then, people are looking for a Teddy Roosevelt to give hope to the country, Fournier said.

He also said that while most everyone is careful not to appear openly racist in this election, it is interesting to note that very few people mind being openly sexist in making comments about Senator Hillary Clinton.

Fournier says that even his wife does not know whether Fournier is a Republican or a Democrat.


During the APA convention, there are always several education sessions related to the newspaper industry. At one session, I was very proud of our newspaper staff when the Auburn University professor leading the session displayed the TD website on a screen as an example of a good website.

Members of our staff have continued to stay a step or two ahead of the curve with their website innovations. I am also grateful for their hard work and dedication. While I was attending the convention, they were busy putting together the extensive salute in this edition to Lawrence County's Farm Family of the Year, the Kerry and Mary Jane Callahan Family.


Roy Ockert Jr., editor of The Jonesboro Sun, became the new president of the Arkansas Press Association during the convention. Fittingly, he gave credit to his wife and family, and to numerous newspapermen and women from such cities as Hot Springs, Batesville, Russellville and Jonesboro for their support of his career.

The APA has begun a tradition of passing the gavel, and each former APA president, 15 or 20 in attendance, stood in line and passed the gavel until it reached the new president. The APA is like a fraternity of sorts, and seeing this group of distinguished newspaper veterans standing in line across the room was a moving sight.

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