Missouri Republicans adopt team approach in bid for across-the-board victories in November
Amid cheers from a supportive Fenton crowd, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin declared Wednesday that the Nov. 6 election is about more than the nation’s economy and jobs.
“This election is about freedom in America,’’ said Akin, the top attraction at an afternoon rally for Missouri’s entire Republican statewide ticket, held in a state GOP campaign office just off Interstate 44.
Another key element to this campaign, Akin added, is the importance of highlighting “the concept that a Creator blessed us.”
Joining Akin were the five other Republican statewide nominees – Dave Spence for governor, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Ed Martin for attorney general, Shane Schoeller for secretary of state, and Cole McNary for state treasurer – and 2nd District congressional nominee Ann Wagner, who served as emcee.
Even the two GOP officials not on this fall’s ballot – U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and state Auditor Tom Schweich – showed up to address the crowd and show support.
“Politics is the ultimate team sport,’’ said Blunt, as he exhorted the audience to help him beef up Missouri's Republican contingent holding statewide office.
Although Republicans hold huge majorities in Missouri’s General Assembly, Democrats hold all but two statewide offices and one of the two U.S. Senate seats. The overarching message at Wednesday’s rally was that Missouri Republicans are aiming for a sweep in November.
Wednesday’s rally was among a series organized by the Missouri Republican Party throughout the state all week. After Fenton, the candidates rushed over to an identical early-evening event in St. Charles.
(Missouri Democrats also have coordinated campaign offices through the state party. But, so far, there has been no high-profile effort for this year's Democratic statewide nominees to run as a bloc.
In August 1996, in contrast, the statewide Democratic ticket -- from then-Gov. Mel Carnahan on down -- rode across the state on a post-primary, three-day bus tour filled with rallies and events, large and small.)
At the GOP rally in Fenton, Blunt focused on Akin, whose victory over McCaskill is deemed a crucial part of the nationwide GOP campaign to take over the U.S. Senate.
Blunt repeatedly cited the importance, from a GOP standpoint, of replacing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who Blunt characterized as an embarrassment.
Blunt asserted that President Barack Obama’s defeat is necessary for a number of reasons, including to prevent further federal restrictions on the use of fossil fuels – notably coal -- as an energy source.
Blunt added that he’d come from a coal-mining operation in Harrisonville, Ill., where he said he told the miners, “Barack Obama has to lose his job before you can keep your job.”
Blunt avoided singling out McCaskill by name – but that wasn’t true of most of the other statewide officeholders, who often garnered their loudest applause when they lobbed a verbal jab her way.
Wagner, for example, lauded Akin’s new attack ad aimed at McCaskill. “Way to punch back!” Wagner said. “We are the eye of the storm, folks. We’re going to get it done.”
Candidate after candidate launched into remarks that often were aimed at discrediting all the Democratic rivals, and when possible, tying each to Obama.
Martin asserted that McCaskill, Obama and other Democrats in office – including Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster – lacked integrity. He contended that officials with integrity would not have supported the federal stimulus spending and the Affordable Care Act.
Schweich directed his aim at Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Susan Montee, who he ousted as state auditor in the 2010 election. Montee, he declared, was “like a zombie” because she has re-emerged as a candidate against Kinder.
“We can’t afford Susan Montee,’’ interjected Wagner, asserting that Montee had spent too much as state auditor.
Spence, meanwhile, dubbed Nixon as “Capt. Obvious’’ because, Spence asserted, Nixon was wrongly taking credit for a state AAA bond rating that Missouri has had since 1968.
Spence also contended that Republicans controlling the General Assembly, not Nixon, should be getting the credit for regularly balancing the state’s budget, as required by the constitution.
And several candidates jabbed at state Treasurer Clint Zweifel, who Wagner said had been part of an “Obama Truth Squad’’ in 2008.
As for Schoeller, the audience cheered when Wagner asserted, “If you don’t like (current Secretary of State) Robin Carnahan, you will despise Jason Kander,’’ the Democratic nominee.
Another audience crowd-pleaser was Schoeller’s promise to make his push for government-issued photo IDs – blocked by the state Supreme Court in 2008 – a crucial element of his campaign against Kander.
Schoeller said that, if elected, he'd also press for a requirement that a person prove they were an American citizen before they could register to vote.
Schweich sought to link all of this fall’s statewide contests together by asserting that victories of many of the down-ballot GOP candidates could well depend on a strong showing by presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.
Although poll results have differed widely, all have shown Romney with some sort of lead. If Romney wins big in Missouri, Schweich said, “it’s going to help everyone else on the ticket.”