General aborts Windy City announcement

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

By The Leader-Chicago Bureau (chicago@illinoisleader.com)  - Former POW announces his bid for U.S. Senate in Rockford, Champaign and Springfield

This is as close as General John Borling was able to get to the Chicago lakefront press conference he called today to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate.
 
General John Borling announced his bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate today in Rockford, Champaign and Springfield. His plans for the Chicago announcement were postponed until Thursday of this week.
 
"You know there's a breaker out there, right?" Chicago police asked the Borling campaign.
 
The Chicago skyline was background for the planned arrival.
 
News cameras waited for the General to "make a splash."
 
Dave Zapata, Borling's campaign press spokesman, explained that the plans to land at the beach had to be postponed until Thursday, time to be announced.
 
Meigs Field lies just south of the 12th Street Beach, south of Adler Planetarium.
CHICAGO -- Chicago's wind and high waves caused General John Borling to abort plans to land at Lake Michigan's 12th Street Beach and announce his candidacy for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate today.

But earlier this morning at the Borlings' home in Rockford, the retired Air Force general did announce that he plans to fill U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald's soon-to-be-vacated seat.

But the planned landing at the lakefront was abandoned when the lake was too choppy for a seaplane to land, emphasizing the detrimental effect on private plane transportation Mayor Daley's recent closure of Meigs Field has had.

The destruction of Meigs Field is an air transportation policy decision with which the General, a Chicago native and Air Force Academy graduate, disagrees. ?The General was disappointed with the closure of Meigs, yes,? campaign consultant Rod McCullough said. ?He?s now a private pilot.?

Borling's campaign press release, inscribed with a patriotic theme logo bearing the words, "Duty Calls Again," stirred the curiosity of Chicago?s big media personalities enough to come to the beach adjoining the Adler Plantarium for the announcement. Chicago news commentators Andy Shaw and Mike Flannery, along with their camera crews, came to see General Borling do what the press announcement said he would do, ?make a splash.?

The plan was for General Borling to arrive at the lakefront at 11:30 am via the ?Goose,? a seaplane, which was supposed to land on Lake Michigan and the General was to proceed into the 12th Street Beach. That could have caused a problem.

?I hope you know that there are breakers out there,? a Chicago City cop told the Borling staffers at the announcement location. ?You can?t bring a seaplane or a boat in through there, you know that, right??

?That?s not a problem,? McCullough said. ?We planned this thing well. General Borling plans to take a Zodiac raft from the seaplane to the beach. There should be no problem unless the waves are over three feet high.?

But by the time the plan was in action, the waves were too high for the seaplane to land. The General and his co-pilot flew over the Adler Planetarium several times before they decided to abort the landing and fly on to a small airport in Schaumburg. From there, they hoped to bring a helicopter back to the beach and the press conference location.

But that wasn?t to be, either. Borling, who has flown F-15 Eagle fighters and commanded the famous ?Hat in the Ring? squadron, was forced to take a Cessna from the Schaumburg airport to the Gary, Indiana airfield where he landed and proceeded on to Champaign?s Willard Airport and Springfield Capital Airport later today to announce his campaign kickoff.

The Chicago announcement has been rescheduled for Thursday, David Zapata, the campaign's press spokesman, said.

The confusion on the Chicago announcement is likely to be just an air bump for Borling, who spent six and a half years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. He was shot down by enemy ground fire while flying over VietNam. While trying to evade the enemy, Borling was seriously injured, captured and taken as prisoner. He is a decorated officer, including the Silver and Bronze Stars with V for Valor and, Borling says, ?a few? Purple Hearts.

Borling has appeared at several conservative forums over the last few months, and his position on abortion is unique among the current candidates. Borling says that after conversations with his wife Myrna, his daughters and religious advisors, he has decided that ?women have a right to decide what they will do with their own bodies? on the whether or not abortion should be legal.

But Borling?s emphasis will not be domestic or social issues. He is stressing ?a renewal process for shared values and experiences that bind Americans together as a people,? a press release says today.

?It?s not enough to do the ?Chicken Little -the sky is falling routine,?? the gruff-speaking Borling said. Borling?s campaign will focus on three important issues above the others: creating and protecting jobs, restraining tax and spend practices, and helping Americans to find accessible and affordable health care.

?For me, the priorities are like this, what?s best for America, what?s best for Illinois and what?s best for Myrna and me,? Borling said two weekends ago in Champaign.

With the addition of Borling in the GOP primary, any one candidate could win the party?s nomination with a minimum of 18% of the 2004 GOP primary votes.

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