Loftus Campaign Hits a Bad Spell

By Joseph Hanneman
Journal Times

Candidates for governor often face tough questions from their opponents and the press, but Thomas Loftus got stumped Tuesday by a third-grader at Johnson Elementary School.

Loftus, the Democratic legislator challenging Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, asked students if they could think of any difficult words he could spell.

“Chrysanthemum,” chimed one student, referring to the flower.

It appeared the Assembly speaker from Sun Prairie regretted ever asking.

He turned to the chalk board and hesitantly wrote, “chrysanthinum.”

Several people in the room shook their heads, indicating Loftus’ version was wrong, but no one offered the correct spelling.

For the record, it’s c-h-r-y-s-a-n-t-h-e-m-u-m.

Loftus, who was in Racine to discuss his plan to reform school financing and cut elementary class sizes, had some other interesting exchanges with the students.

He asked kindergartners what the governor does.

“He tells people stuff,” one boy offered.

“Yeah, he tells people stuff,” Loftus replied, “some of it accurate.”

After speaking with fifth graders for about five minutes, one student raised her hand and said, “I forgot what your name was.”

“Dan Quayle,” Loftus quipped.

He then signed autographs for the students, which helped engrain his name in their minds.

As he left the room, students could be heard saying, “Loftus, Loftus, Tom Loftus.” ♦

– This article originally appeared on Page 1 of the Racine Journal Times on June 6, 1990. View the original newspaper page.