By Steve Coomes, Contributing Editor, Nation’s Restaurant News
Political tension is running high throughout the industry’s bar rooms, board rooms and dining rooms as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney slug it out for the presidency in the run-up to the Nov. 6 elections.
But many restaurant leaders are nonetheless hesitant to voice their opinions publicly in what has emerged as one of the most polarizing national elections of recent memory.
While operators know full well that such critical issues as health care, tax reform, menu labeling, food safety and labor could hang in the balance, the intense partisan feelings generated by the close contest have many biting their tongues so as not to offend customers at a time when business is still slow and communications move at the speed of light.
Former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. understands the reluctance of those who choose to remain guarded when it comes to presidential punditry. As president of KFC from 1964 to 1973 and governor of Kentucky from 1978 to 1981, the 77-year-old Brown is well-acquainted with the risks of sharing opinions publicly.
“When you have two candidates spending more time tearing each other down than saying what they’ll do to fix the country’s problems, … that critical climate puts the American public in a negative atmosphere,” said Brown, who was regarded favorably by many Kentuckians as an apolitical governor.