The Hummel Report

Investigative Reports That Get Results

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Meet the Candidates

Frank Caprio - 2010 Moderate Party candidate for governor





As the Columbus Day parade makes its way through the heart of Federal Hill, Frank Caprio lets the other politicians go ahead - he's spending too much time shaking hands and saying hello to keep up.


It's a deliberate strategy Caprio has used since his days in the General Assembly.


Caprio: ``People want to see you, they want to meet with you - there's no event too small or too large. That's what you signed up for.''


It's what the politicians call retail politics - in a state where voters expect their politicians to be hands-on. And it might not be a shock to see your governor at the grocery store.


Caprio: ``Somewhere along the ways I've seen that the more hands you shake along the route usually the more fruitful the day is. And when you're on the other side of that - you have to put yourself in the position of a youngster or family - they're sitting politely on the side of a parade and someone comes up to them and wants to say hello; extends their hand and wants to say hello and thank them for coming  out. And people remember that.''


It's a Saturday afternoon in September and Caprio arrives to a hero's welcome at a senior apartment complex in West Warwick. Within minutes he owns the crowd - mixing stories about his grandfather in with a standard pitch on why he wants to be governor.


And, therein, lies the tale of two Frank Caprios.


Hummel: ``I watched you at the senior center that day, you were talking about your grandfather, you had 'em laughing and it was almost like Frank Caprio is a guy I could sit down and have a beer with - people said the same thing about Don Carcieri. And I'm wondering why we don't see more of that out on the campaign trail or in a more structured environment. Have you heard that?''


Caprio: ``I go out and campaign like most candidates do, go to a lot of events, to parades, to the events in the community, and I do my best to get my message  out.''


Hummel: ``But when you're speaking on a debate, I've had people say this to me: `Frank is such an amiable, personable  guy, but it's almost as if he's programmed when he gets out on the trail.' Is that a conscious effort or do you got into a default mode, in terms of talking about the issues?''


Caprio: ``You know what - we're in the homestretch of this campaign, so keep watching . We're going to close this deal right now and there's a lot of work to do over the next week or so.''


On the campaign trail and in debates Caprio has made job  creation a lynchpin of his platform - and visited dozens of businesses to see what their needs are. Those visits have shaped his message - including his often-repeated line about every business creating a job and cutting Rhode Island's unemployment in half.


Caprio: ``I'm having a small business forum - 10 to 15 small business owners - and there was a CPA there who has his own firm, and he gave me that statistic. He said there are about 35,000 small businesses with employees. He said on average if each added one employee you'd cut unemployment in half because there's about 70,000 people out of work,  so it's a very straightforward equation.''


Hummel: ``And when you heard that did it surprise you, had you heard those figures before?''


Caprio: `` I had never seen it laid out that way.''


Caprio, at times, has found himself on the defensive about allegations that his father, Frank Caprio Sr., a Providence Municipal Court Judge and Chairman of the Governors for Higher Education in Rhode Island, has pulled strings to help friends get jobs. Frank Caprio Jr. chooses his words carefully when he is asked what influence his father might have on a Governor Caprio.


Hummel: ``Where is your dad going to fit in and the old school impinging on the new school - so can you talk about that a little bit?''


Caprio: ``There's a clear, clear way I've run the treasurer's office and that's the way I'll run the governor's office. The fact that my dad is someone who is well known  in the community and has done a lot of public service - I'll let that speak for itself.''


Hummel: ``What role is he playing in this campaign for you as an advisor, father, friend,  hands off ? Where does he fit into your campaign?''


Caprio: ``He's a cheerleader - he's 73, he loves his children and he's there cheering us on.''


Hummel: ``Do you ask him for political advice?''


Caprio: ``When I talk to him it's usually to give him an update on my son's baseball games, and how that's gone. That's usually what we talk about.''


Then there's the question of a Democrat recapturing the governor's seat after a 16-year drought. After all Republicans *have* had the corner office all but four of the past 26 years, despite - or maybe because of - Democrat domination in the Assembly. Caprio says the unions know he's not going to be a rubber stamp, and that may be why they have not endorsed him in this race.


Caprio: ``I'm the type of person that's going to go in the governor's office and I can work with that legislature, but I can also stand up to them - the more important thing is, and this doesn't come up that much. When you have a governor who is a Democrat - now that focus of that party is a much wider focus, that a governor brings to issues. When it's a Speaker of the House and legislative leadership they're looking at narrow issues that affect their district or people in the legislature, I think it's a Democratic governor look at the state and the issues that affect the state.''


Hummel: ``Why not another term as general treasurer? I enjoyed the job, here we have an opportunity to run for governor, to help small businesses help the people looking for jobs.  I know I'm the best qualified for this job and that's why I'm asking the people to hire me for this job.''


Jim Hummel, for The Hummel Report.