By now you may have heard about that 78-year-old grandmother who is fully against Ohio’s new push to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees — but who had her words brazenly torn out of context and put into an ad advocating for the measure.
The tale has gone national. And now the story is about to get even bigger: The grandma is set to appear in a pro-union ad denouncing the anti-union forces as “desperate” for stealing her words. This will likely earn much more attention to a fight which is now being viewed nationally as yet another major referendum on whether the right will succeed in breaking labor in the industrial heartland.
Could this blunder by the anti-union forces be decisive? Labor hopes so.
Just to catch you up: 78-year-old Marlene Quinn ’s great grandaughter was rescued from a house fire last November. She recounted the story of firefighter heroism in an ad that was aired by We Are Ohio, the union-backed group urging No on Issue 2, a referendum on whether to affirm GOP governor John Kaisch’s new anti-collective bargaining law. But then a group called Build a Better Ohio, which wants the new law affirmed, issued its own ad that — amazingly — used exactly the same footage of Quinn to argue for a Yes vote. You can watch the two ads in succession right here.
After the resulting “granny-gate” controversy blew up, the anti union forces actually defended the move, and Kaisch said he had no problem with it.
Now Quinn is appearing in a new We Are Ohio ad in which she reiterates her opposition to Issue 2 and slams the other side for dishonestly twisting her words:
“The organization behind Issue 2 stole my words to make it seem like I support Issue 2. I don’t,” Quinn says in the spot. “They must be desperate to twist the words of a grandma just to get their way.”
This has turned into a full blown P.R. fiasco for the anti-union forces in Ohio, one that’s earning national news attention. Former Dem governor Ted Strickland says this blunder could prove a “turning point” in this fight.
However this vote ultimately turns out, this battle, as Ed Kilgore puts it, has already emerged as “a major landmark in a national anti-union effort that began in Wisconsin and will reach its apex in November of 2012.” The manipulation of this grandmother’s words is a clear sign of just how far the anti-union side is willing to go to win this one.