The attention starts early in the morning, as curious delegates eye the familiar-looking man with the wavy hair and winning smile conducting back-to-back interviews.
Jerry Springer, politician-turned-king of trash TV, is relishing his role as a delegate to the Democratic convention and potential candidate for Ohio governor in 2006.
“This is what I do,” said Springer, who was named Ohio Democrat of the Year in May. “I spend six hours a week on the show, this is what I really do in life. People are understanding there’s a political part of me.”
In the first couple of days of the convention — his ninth since 1972 — Springer appeared to be everywhere at once and always a center of attention. After a short morning speech Tuesday to Ohio’s delegation, he was off to tape NBC’s “Today” show. Hotel fliers advertised a Tuesday night appearance at Boston’s Foggy Goggle pub.
Springer is “a true Democrat,” said convention delegate Jodie Ditmer of Laura, Ohio.
'Peddler of sleaze'
A “peddler of sleeze” is how Ohio Republican chairman Bob Bennett describes him.
“He’s trying to clean up his image, but you can’t go out and make tens of millions of dollars a year and exploit the people he does through his television show, and then gain respect with the rest of the general public,” Bennett said.
Springer, now 60, was Cincinnati’s mayor before turning to a TV career. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1982 and considered runs for the U.S. Senate in 1999 and again last year.
“Springer’s problem is he’s associated with the most bizarre images in American culture, and no other celebrity has ever tried to overcome that type of hurdle,” said Darrell West, a Brown University political analyst and author of “Celebrity Politics.”
The Friday before the convention began, a series of Jerry Springer Show episodes on people cheating with cousins concluded with “Hellraisin’ Hillbillies!”
“Tim is a two-timing hillbilly and proud of it! He’s been playing his girlfriend, Cindy, and his sometime lover, Christine,” according to the program’s Web site.
Springer spokesman Dale Butland said the show would be off the air at least 18 months before any run for governor.