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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Claude Kirk and 'the written word"



To young readers of The Buzz, this will seem shockingly naive or ill-informed. But former Gov. Claude Kirk, speaking at a forum Wednesday honoring the legacy of former Gov. LeRoy Collins, said one key to democracy is "the written word."

"You didn't expect me to say that, did you?" Kirk asked his audience, which included Gov. Jeb Bush, former Gov. Bob Graham, Collins' widow, Mary Call Collins, and former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte, among others.

Kirk said politicians of all stripes will spend the next five weeks filling the airwaves with charged messages to influence voters. The only antidote to that noise, he argued, is "the written word" in the form of newspaper coverage.

With Times editor Paul Tash seated before him, Kirk credited the paper with his own surprise 1966 election as Florida's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. The Times had earlier exposed Democratic malfeasance in the refinancing of bonds on Florida's Turnpike, and voters were in a mood for change. Mindful of the Times' left-of-center editorial stance, Kirk joked: "I"m sure Mr. (Nelson) Poynter is rolling over in his grave."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:49pm]


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