Tuesday, August 21, 2007

John Georges Sees Iacocca In The Mirror

Gubernatorial candidate John Georges compares himself to Chrysler champ Lee Iacocca.

When Georges met with The Times' editorial and community boards Tuesday, he brought Iacocca’s book on leadership as a prop. "We lack people like Lee Iacocca, like myself," he suggests. Georges believes he can provide that kind of leadership (session audio -- streaming file).

Among the points he made at the gathering:
-- Expressed admiration for former U.S. Senator John Breaux (D) to stress he is not a party loyalist.
-- Referenced his meeting with former Governor Mike Foster when possible, and seemed proud that Foster considered him dull.
-- Underlined his accomplishments as a church leader, a business turnaround "guy"and gaming profiteer. He added he is divesting himself of gaming interests to run a campaign free of special interests.
-- Supports eliminating a state income tax, but acknowledges it as a false promise in the immediate future.
-- Wants charity hospitals in New Orleans fully restored.
-- Stressed leadership over ethics despite recent headlines and Louisiana’s lingering reputation for corruption. He did support full disclosure of an official’s household income.
-- Expressed disbelief that the Massachusetts health care model would work in Louisiana because of the indigent patient numbers.

On the way out the door, he pushed his recent poll. He believes it shows him with an opportunity to beat campaign front-runner and U.S Rep. Bobby Jindal (R).

Georges introduced himself to us as an amateur politician.

This was endearing at first, but he did come across as na├»ve on health care. His school administration experience seemed short dealing with real-world public school issues of dropouts and poverty. He never really answered the high-stakes testing question. His solid business acumen comes across, but his references to the plight (and flight) of affluent Louisianans left me wondering if he can relate to the range of Louisianans that’ll vote. Some board members took issue with his position on ethics and his understanding of health care issues. Georges believes he’ll win -- if you will just get to know him.

These are just impressions. Of course, we are still digesting and reviewing his comments. You can too. Listen to the complete recording (streaming file) of the editorial board meeting.

We are meeting with candidates as part of our election coverage and editorial board review process.

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