Saturday, August 05, 2006

'The Kiss' follows Lieberman,0,257697.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines

'The Kiss' follows senator on the campaign trail

By Brian Lockhart
Staff Writer
Stamford Advocate

August 5, 2006

As U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman campaigned at the Milford Senior Center earlier this week, a familiar sight arrived in the parking lot on the bed of a black Chevy truck.

Through the glass of the center's front doors, Malcolm Boxwell, an employee and Lieberman supporter, observed the puckered lips of a giant, papier-mache bust of President Bush aimed at a similar likeness of the senator.

"It's the kiss of death, I think," Boxwell said.

Lieberman, a Democrat combating accusations he is too closely allied with the GOP, has been dogged by the televised image of the Republican president appearing to kiss him on the cheek after the February 2005 State of the Union address.

And for a month that exchange, captured in plywood, chicken wire, paper and paste, has literally followed the 18-year-incumbent in his battle against primary challenger Ned Lamont of Greenwich.

"The Kiss" was designed by Jeffrey Talbot, a Vernon-based art director. With his family, he spent two weeks building the papier-mache sculpture, debuting it as a float in Willimantic's annual Fourth of July Boom Box Parade.

His wife, Jennifer, said much of the work took place in a barn on their property.

"Jeff has always been very politically motivated but it's the first time we've gotten this involved," she said.

Talbot, a Lamont supporter, said the float received some media publicity and was embraced by Internet bloggers critical of Lieberman.

Enter Ed Anderson, a self-employed New Haven Realtor, and Fairfield's Jonathan Kantrowitz, who runs an educational workbook publishing company. They believed Lieberman had grown too friendly with Bush.

Kantrowitz offered to mount "The Kiss" atop his Chevy 4x4 so it could be recycled into what Talbot calls a "get out the vote" mobile. Kantrowitz said the three split the gas.

"They have really been the people motivated over the last couple of weeks to get it out," Talbot said. "They both have flexibility in their schedule where I don't."

"The Kiss" recently circled the Waterbury theater where former President Clinton appeared to endorse Lieberman.

"The Kiss" also has followed Lieberman during his ongoing 10-day "Joe's Tomorrow Tour" of the state by bus.

"We get his schedule, which is not easy, (and) try to make an appearance at every event to let people know there's another side to the story," Kantrowitz said during a stop Wednesday in Newtown.

Anderson said the float-laden-truck must be driven slowly on the highways, but that has its benefits.

"If you go 50 mph, you have a 15 to 20 mph differential between you and traffic," he said. "It's hilarious. People wave out the windows, honking, hollering. I occasionally get the finger."

Though Lieberman supporters have no love for the truck -- one woman called it "obnoxious" -- a campaign staffer acknowledged the drivers are civil and have not interfered with the senator's travels.

Talbot said he would never want to do anything that could undermine Lamont's campaign.

"We don't heckle. We don't jeer. We don't interfere in any way," Kantrowitz said. "We just show up."

Kantrowitz, a former member of Fairfield's Democratic Town Committee, said his family is not very enthusiastic about his hauling papier-mache busts of Lieberman and Bush around the state.

"(My wife) and my kids think I'm a jerk for doing this," he said.

But, he said he is against Lieberman's staunch support of the Iraq war. His efforts are a reminder of his days marching on Boston and Washington, D.C., to protest America's involvement in Vietnam, Kantrowitz said.

"I thought that was the overriding issue of that generation and Iraq is the overriding issue of this generation," he said.

Lieberman has said he will run as a petition candidate should he lose the primary to Lamont. Talbot said if that happens, he is uncertain whether "The Kiss" will remain visible through November's general election.

He already had to rebuild an estimated 40 percent of the sculpture and repaint it after a thunderstorm.


Anonymous said...

They are all a bunch of crooks.

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