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Jerry Springer to spring political insight on Ohio State

Courtesy of MCT

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Jerry Springer is scheduled to come to Ohio State Tuesday, but don’t expect campus to be turned into the trash-talking and chair-flipping antics characterized by “The Jerry Springer Show.”

Springer, 68, is slated to speak about voting and politics at an event hosted by OSU College Democrats and the Ohio Democratic Party. The event, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Ohio Union’s Great Hall Meeting Room 1. He last visited OSU in 2007.

Though Springer is widely known as the host of “The Jerry Springer Show,” which began airing its 22nd season in September, he said he keeps his television persona separate from his public appearances.

“Usually 30 seconds into the talk, people realize I’m not there to talk about (‘The Jerry Springer Show’),” Springer said. “I’m doing it as a citizen. Just like any other citizen, I care about the country.”

Springer is no stranger to politics. Following a three-year stint on Cincinnati City Council ­- he resigned in 1974 after admitting to hiring a prostitute – Springer was the mayor of Cincinnati from 1977-78. The political campaign adviser for Robert Kennedy’s bid for president and graduate in political science from Tulane University also ran for Congress in 1970 and governor of Ohio in 1982.

He said he is visiting OSU to encourage students to vote early because of the importance of the upcoming presidential election.

“In my lifetime, which is a long time, we’ve never had an election where we’re literally voting on the direction the country takes,” Springer said. “We’ve had important elections … but the lines have now been drawn and this is a war for the middle class.”

Springer said college students should be especially concerned with this election because issues such as health insurance, employment and student loans are at stake.

“There (are) real choices to be made,” Springer said. “This isn’t rooting for a team – this is what kind of country we’re going to have.

“I’ve been lucky in life that there’s not much these candidates will do that will affect my life. I’ve got a job, I’ve got health care. But if I were a student, these things (would be most) important.”

Pointing out that no Republican candidate has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, Springer also stressed the importance Ohioans will have on the election’s outcome.

“With the revival of the auto industry in Ohio, people seem to be pretty happy with the direction we’re going in now,” Springer said. “We have a president who literally saved the auto industry. Clearly we’re on the right track.”

Sara Valentine, a third-year in political science and the campaign coordinator for OSU College Democrats, said she hopes students will be encouraged to vote after hearing Springer speak.

“We’ve always been really focused on youth outreach (and) we think Jerry will be able to bond with students on a more personal level than other politicians,” Valentine said.

Anya Greenslade, a first-year in pre-industrial design, said she would like to hear Springer speak.

“It’d be interesting to see him because he’s kind of off-the-wall,” Greenslade said. “I support the Democrats (and) it’d be cool to say I saw him.”

However, Donovan Golich, a third-year in history, said he does not plan on attending the event because he questions Springer’s credibility.

“Last week they brought Obama. When I saw it was Jerry Springer I was like, ‘Really? Is he the most credible person to talk about politics?'” Golich said. “I thought it was kind of laughable.”

Niraj Antani, communication director of College Republicans agreed, saying it was “pretty unbelievable” that the College Democrats were “stooping to the level of bringing Jerry Springer to campus.”

“Any person who would pit people against each other and exploit them (like on ‘The Jerry Springer Show’) is someone I would not want to associate with,” Antani said. “If there was a Republican equivalent to Jerry Springer, I would not allow him to come to campus.”

Despite his history as a politician, Springer said he does not have plans to run for office again and that, for the time being, he is happy just speaking about politics whenever he can.

“I’m probably a little old (to run for office) now,” Springer said. “I won’t say it’s never possible, but it becomes less and less possible. I devote a day or two a week to political stuff. That’s how I can be beneficial.

“I’ll only have whatever influence I might have. Good Lord, you’ve got to love the country enough to take 15 minutes a year and go out and vote. It’s critical for you.”

Caitlin Essig contributed to this story.

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