JEFFERSON CITY • If it worked last time, why change it? That might be Gov. Jay Nixon’s re-election slogan.
In a stump speech he gave this month to supporters in Cameron, Mo., Nixon recycled some lines that he used frequently in his 2008 campaign for governor.
In one anecdote, he recounts how it was his job as a youth to answer the phone during dinnertime. At the time, his mother was on the school board and his dad was the mayor of De Soto.
Nixon said the caller could be someone with a sewer problem or “somebody whose kid didn’t get enough playing time on the basketball team and wanted to complain to the school board about the basketball coach. So I started in politics in constituent service.
“The interesting and frankly, learning moment for me was, my mom and dad never asked me whether the person who called was a Democrat or a Republican. They never asked whether they’d given money or not. They never asked whether they had a yard sign in their front yard. They asked what the problem was.
He said he tells the story to illustrate his belief that "the easiest thing to do is divide people. When I became your governor, I thought about my mom, I thought about my dad. When I took that oath, I said I’m going to serve everybody in Missouri. Everybody.”
The other retread is shorter. It is his closer.
“Polling places are very, very dangerous places to go, and you should never consider going there alone,” Nixon intoned.
“That’s why they put those backseats in those cars, that’s why they’ve got those suspended bed pickup trucks, that’s why they’ve got the bedliners.”
You may hear that one a lot in coming days, as part of his get-out-the-vote pep talks.
Both of the stories drew applause, so maybe only reporters (and veteran campaign staffers) knew they were old material.
There was one fresh anecdote, and not surprisingly given Nixon’s passion for sports, it was a baseball story.
After law school, he said, he played on a “competitive softball team” made up of all-lawyers. Things got tense during a game in Festus.
His team’s shortstop was running from first to second base when, instead of making a simple double play, the opposing team’s shortstop “took his glove, with the ball in it, as hard as he could swing it, and smacked our shortstop right in the race, knocks him down, blood coming out of his mouth.”
Nixon said he was the on-deck hitter, so he “meandered out to have a discussion. I may have stuck my finger in his chest,” prompting the entire opposing team to spill out of its dugout.
“Then I get this really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I turn around and there’s my entire team still sitting in the dugout. So I apologize to the fellow, tell him he made a good play, pick my shortstop up.”
His point, he told the crowd, is that on Election Day, “you’ve got to get up out of the dugout. You’ve got to get on the field.”