SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Oct. 15, 2010) — Few candidate presentations could be more different than Tuesday night’s speeches by U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton and his Republican challenger, Vicky Hartzler.
Vicky Hartzler speaks at the Waynesville-St. Robert Senior Citizens Center candidate forum.
Skelton, a 17-term veteran of Congress whose district has included Fort Leonard Wood since the 1982 elections, gave a calm and often quiet speech, packed with financial figures showing hundreds of millions of dollars brought to Fort Leonard Wood during his time as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — with none-too-subtle warnings about the potential consequences of a Republican round of budget cuts.
By contrast, Hartzler took the podium to raucous applause by a large contingent of supporters who wildly clapped and cheered as she made fiery pledges to bring budget deficits under control.
“(Skelton voted for) every runaway spending bill, every government takeover, was one of four deciding votes for cap and trade, and just two weeks ago, (in what) I believe was a dereliction of duty, cast the deciding vote to adjourn Congress without a budget and with allowing these huge tax increases to go into effect Jan. 1. We deserve better,” Hartzler said.
Hartzler said a major reason for voting against Skelton is that as a member of the Democratic Party, he’s consistently and faithfully voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal, as Speaker of the House.
“I am the conservative and the Republican candidate for Congress and I am running because I believe it is time to fire Nancy Pelosi. My opponent does not. He has taken our vote here in the Fourth District and cast it for her for speaker four times and yet he is now voting with her 95 percent of the time, and yet we are not Nancy Pelosi,” Hartzler said. “I believe we have some crises in our country, including a jobs crisis and a debt and spending crisis and a government crisis in the way Washington does business.”
While Skelton has attacked Hartzler’s record on gun-rights issues and veterans issues, pointing to his endorsement by the National Rifle Association and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Hartzler said the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Right to Life, Gun Owners of America and Western Missouri Shooters Alliance all endorsed her.
“There are many similarities between my opponent and myself. We both are very supportive of our military and of veterans. Let’s say that very, very clearly,” Hartzler said. “The difference between us is that I believe when our men and women come home, I am going to work and make sure they have a job to come home to.”
Hartzler, a home economics teacher who taught in the Lebanon schools for a year prior to her marriage and return to Harrisonville where she then taught for another decade, said there’s no excuse for congressmen failing to balance the national budget when she taught that skill to schoolchildren. She took particular aim at President Barack Obama’s $3.1 trillion budget, a third of which was deficit spending, and said she and her husband would never succeed in their farm equipment dealership business if they ran their business that way.
“I used to teach school and teach kids that you shouldn’t spend more money than you take in,” Hartzler said.
“We know what it is like to balance a business budget and to create real jobs for real families on a daily basis … My opponent has been receiving his paycheck from the public since 1957. My husband and I are small business owners so we know how to create jobs. I believe that to create jobs we need Washington to get out of the way.”
To loud applause from her audience, Hartzler cited Obama’s health care proposals as well as the cap and trade carbon tax as major impediments to job creation.
Many of the problems in Washington stem from deals between congressmen that don’t serve the public interest and put unpopular legislation into unrelated but popular bills, Hartzler said.
“I think we need to stop the backroom wheeling and dealing and special deals that are going on. Unfortunately, our representative also participated in that with using the military to allow in committee the unrelated controversial hate crimes bull to be added on the backs of our fighting men and women,” Hartzler said. “That’s wrong; I won’t participate in deals like that.”
That’s also the basis of attacks Hartzler has been receiving from Skelton on some of her votes in the Missouri state legislature, she said.
“It is sad that my opponent has chosen to attack me relentlessly from the primary,” Hartzler said. “I voted for veterans on a certain bill to make sure that their money that’s going to veterans’ homes and veterans’ cemeteries wasn’t siphoned off to other projects. The veterans in my district were livid asked me to vote that way and I did that. There were other things in that bill, and that’s what they’re talking about in the ads … I was standing up for them and I have a record to prove that.”
Accusations that Hartzler opposes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms or opposes concealed carry legislation are equally wrong, she said.
“We farmed and have been shooting guns since I was eight years old,” Hartzler said. “I am very pro-Second Amendment and I have a letter from the NRA that kind of dispels some of the distortions that, unfortunately, my opponent has put out there about this and my support for the Second Amendment.”
Hartzler said that even though she didn’t receive the NRA Political Victory Fund endorsement which went to Skelton, she received an “A” rating from the NRA and read a letter sent to her by Charles Cunningham, the NRA’s director of federal affairs.
That letter noted that the 1999 public vote in Missouri on concealed carry was very expensive and caused a six-year delay in obtaining permission for Missouri residents to carry concealed weapons. Hartzler voted against sending the question to voters but said she would have voted in favor of concealed carry in the legislature.
That letter to Hartzler from Cunningham states in part, that “voting against putting this issue on the ballot as an initiative is not the same as opposing concealed carry reform. Obviously if there were any concern that you were not pro-gun, you (Hartzler) would not be rated an A by the NRA-PVF.”
Hartzler also announced that House Minority Leader John Boehner, who would likely become Speaker of the House if Republicans take control, has pledged to place Hartzler on the House Armed Services Committee if she wins her race and the Republicans win control of Congress—receiving loud applause after making her announcement.
“I believe the only reason my opponent is trying to falsify my stellar record on behalf of veterans and the Second Amendment is he does not want to talk about these other issues. He does not want to answer for his 95 percent voting record for Nancy Pelosi,” Hartzler said. “I am dedicated to doing that to support Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base and all our military men and women in this community.”
“Together, let’s take back our country,” Hartzler said.
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