Sunday, February 19, 2006
Madrid Talked, But No One Could Listen
By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid bashed Republican health care policy on national radio Saturday, but her message missed the market that mattered most: Albuquerque.
Madrid, a Democrat who hopes to unseat Republican Rep. Heather Wilson in this year's 1st Congressional District race, was asked last week to deliver her party's national weekly radio address. Even national Democratic Party officials hoped the high-profile spot would boost her campaign.
With that in mind, Madrid's New Mexico campaign staff and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington heavily hyped the radio event to the New Mexico media on Thursday and Friday.
The Madrid campaign, in a Friday news release with the headline "Madrid Radio Address to Air Locally on KKOB," listed the station and the supposed 9:06 a.m MST airtime. The Journal on Saturday published a short item by The Associated Press containing the information supplied by the Madrid campaign.
But no one with Madrid's campaign, nor the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, confirmed that KKOB would actually broadcast the speech. The radio station aired a program about computers in the Saturday morning slot.
In fact, KKOB does not broadcast the weekly Democratic National Radio Address nor the President of the United States' Weekly Radio Address, station officials said.
"We never agreed to air it," said Art Ortega, director of public relations for the Albuquerque-based radio station. "We have not been airing the president's address nor the opposition's for years."
Heather Brewer, Madrid's campaign press secretary, said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee coordinated Madrid's radio appearance with ABC Radio in Washington. Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Democratic committee, said ABC's Washington bureau told her that KKOB was among the ABC affiliates expected to air the Madrid speech.
But Bedingfield said her office was unable to confirm the Madrid broadcast with KKOB station officials Friday.
"We were not able to get anybody on the phone yesterday," Bedingfield told the Journal on Saturday.
The Madrid speech was broadcast in dozens of other radio markets across the nation Saturday, an ABC spokeswoman in Washington said.
Some would-be Madrid listeners called the Journal on Saturday and accused the newspaper of conspiring with KKOB, which airs Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators, to keep Madrid off the air in New Mexico.
Ortega said the accusation was completely off the mark.
"The same conspirators kept the president off of the air, too," he said with a chuckle. "Talk about duplicity."
During her radio talk, Madrid said she routinely encounters New Mexico seniors, including her own parents, who struggle to afford their prescription drugs. She accused the Republican-controlled Congress of giving pharmaceutical companies too much influence in drafting existing prescription drug law.
Madrid also called the prescription drug benefit "needlessly complicated" and offered several proposals to improve the system.
Bush focused on energy issues in his radio address Saturday.
The president is calling it "energy week" in his administration, and he and top Cabinet officials plan to crisscross the country to tout a package of energy initiatives highlighted in last month's State of the Union address.
"The best way to meet our growing energy needs is through advances in technology," Bush said.