Tales from the Debate: Pavlik talks politics, Tubbs-Jones talks boxing, Jesse Jackson talks about what he damn pleases


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THE SPIN ROOM -- The spin room is the type of place where middleweight boxing champ Kelly Pavlik can pass five feet from Rev. Jesse Jackson, and neither will so much as glance at the other. Yes, Youngstown native Pavlik is prowling the spin room, a little inexplicably, wearing a suit and holding court with the few reporters that recognize him, wryly guarding his own endorsement like a super-delegate. ... Both candidates mentioned Youngstown in their responses, as an example of, well, everything that’s gone wrong in this country. Pavlik, perhaps the only thing to go right in Youngstown in the last decade, welcomes the scrutiny. “I thought it was good that we were discussed,” he tells C-Notes. “It is a place with a lot of problems. All of the foreclosures, closing factories, jobs being shipped overseas, it’s really hurt us. Youngstown at one time was the biggest money-making industrial city in Northeast Ohio; we’ve taken a drastic turn for the worse.” “And it’s to the candidates’ advantage,” he adds, “to use Youngstown as an example.” Remember when Mike Tyson used to talk about eating his opponents’ babies? What happened to that type of boxer? When did boxers start talking like Howard Zinn? Pavlik then jokingly throws his hat into the ring. “We’re running late, but we’re going for it,” he says of his presidential chances. “My slogan is, ‘A change everybody knows is 100% true.’” It's at that point that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones crashes our interview and commandeers Pavlik, gushing like a schoolgirl over the boxer, posing for photos and holding a whispered conversation as a few curious reporters surround the odd couple. “I’m a huge boxing fan,” she explains later. “People say it’s bloody and all that, but I think it’s a rich and storied sport.” “Pavlik’s done a great job of establishing himself,” she says, adding that she watched his two victories over Jermain Taylor on pay-per-view. “Taylor’s not one to play with, but Pavlik held his own.” When did congresswomen start talking like Norman Mailer? As for Rev. Jackson, he’s been in a few spin rooms in his day, and that’s apparent when you watch him saunter a room, moving from mob to mob of reporters. While most everybody in this room knows how to dodge a question they don’t want to answer, Jackson has mastered a more advanced trick: pretend that a totally different question was asked. When he finishes a Hardball interview, the Reverend has five talking points he addresses with reporters on the floor: foreclosure, poverty in the Appalachia, Kenya, Bush’s stimulus plan, and Farrakhan (he may be extreme, but Bill O’Reilly is worse.) If your question is about something else, don’t worry; that will not a problem for the Reverend: Reporter: What’s your opinion on Ralph Nader entering the race? (Pause, as Jackson considers the question) Jackson: Well, the thing about Bush’s stimulus plan, really, is it … Sorry, reporter, but your ass just got spun. -- Gus Garcia-Roberts


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