The CNN Election Express Bus' view of the Cincinnati skyline.
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS: Covington, KY (CNN)– Do the presidential candidates value one citizen’s vote just as fervently as they value another citiizen’s?
They would say yes, of course. But from the vantage point of where we’re parked– on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, near the shore– you have to wonder.
From the bus we can see Cincinnati on the other side. The vote in Ohio is expected to be extremely close– and the outcome may end up deciding who the next president will be. Kentucky’s votes, though, are thought to be fairly safe for the Republicans.
You know in which of these states the candidates are going to be spending most of their time.
Bill Schneider and CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser were in the bus, peering at computer screens, checking out what the latest poll results for Ohio are. I excused myself and walked two blocks to the Roebling Suspension Bridge, and in a matter of a few minutes I crossed the Ohio River and stepped into Cincinnati.
The people on the Ohio side of the river watch the same local television stations as the people on the Kentucky side, listen to the same local radio stations– they’re all American citizens, all reside in the heart of the nation, the same rain falls on the citizens of Covington as falls on the citizens of Cincinnati. And yet. . . .
The Electoral College being what it is, the voters on the Ohio side of the water will be courted and fawned over, and the voters on the Kentucky side will seldom see a candidate walk among them. My own walk on the Cincinnati side led me down Rosa Parks Street until I turned right toward Pete Rose Way (there are moments when America makes you smile and shake your head in wonder).
There was a sign promoting a tavern that seemed to be purposely careful, in the fine and self-effacing way of many Ohioans, not to brag too much: “Cincinnati’s second-oldest pub,” it said, cautious enough not to declare itself the champion when it hadn't won the championship. Within 30 minutes I was on the Purple People Bridge, walking back across the river to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The bridge is named for the color of its paint, but it was difficult, the whole way over the river, not to hear the strains of Sheb Wooley’s 1958 novelty hit, “The Purple People Eater,” sounding somewhere in the haze.
The bridge ended in the town of Newport, and another Kentucky bridge, this one over the Licking River, led me back to the Election Express, where Bill and Paul were still analyzing polling numbers. The rule in this country is one person, one vote, but if you vote on the northern side of the Purple People Bridge, you’re about to be wooed much more avidly than your neighbors on the southern side. If you want to blame someone, take it up with the Founding Fathers. They’re the ones who gave us this system.