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Vicky Hartzler rallies area veterans, explains her efforts to replace Skelton
Vicky Hartzler rallies area veterans, explains her efforts to replace Skelton

Vicky Hartzler is introduced by David Dicke with his "Take a Hike, Ike" campaign button.
LAQUEY, Mo. (Oct. 30, 2010) — About two dozen fired-up supporters of Vicky Hartzler converged Saturday morning on VFW Post 3168 next to the Laquey ambulance base to hear their candidate explain why she believes it’s necessary to oust U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Retired school superintendent David Dicke introduced Hartzler while wearing an “Ike Take a Hike” button, which he said is available for purchase from the Camden County Republican Party. Dicke predicted a Hartzler victory, and Hartzler herself said that’s important to “get back on the right track.”

“I really believe that in this election we have a window of opportunity to get back on the right track, but I am concerned if we aren’t, what our country is going to look like a few years down the road because the liberal leadership in Washington, D.C., right now is bankrupting us … economically,  morally, pushing and dismantling all of the things that made our country great,” Hartzler said.

In a consistent theme she’s repeated throughout her campaign, Hartzler said that Skelton’s votes to support Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a liberal Democrat from San Francisco, are “enabling this destruction of our country.”

“We have got to stop this,” Hartzler said. “San Francisco already has one vote; they don’t need ours.”

Hartzler said she grew up in a small farming town with 38 people in her graduating class, making the Waynesville and St. Robert area “a big town to me.”

Small-town values are different from the big-city values of the current national leadership, Hartzler said.

“We just want the government to leave us alone,” Hartzler said to loud applause. “They don’t have a clue about who we are and the values that we have of faith, family, and freedom, hard work, independence, the free enterprise system, liberty, all those basic things. They like to make fun of us here … I may be biased but I think what we believe is what made our country great.”

Hartzler said 40 districts need to change from Republican to Democrat for her party to take back control of the House of Representatives. She said national Republican leaders regularly ask her how her campaign is going, and she tells them she’s optimistic because she, unlike Skelton, is in touch with her district.

“I’ve had a couple of reporters come to me the last few days and say, ‘Would you have guessed a year ago that you would have been here? Why, you might actually win this thing!” Hartzler said. “I said, ‘Well, I’m not really surprised because I’ve been out with the people of the Fourth District. People on the outside are saying, ‘How can this happen?’ They don’t understand us.”

Changing Washington means reducing debt, largely by reducing spending while increasing the number of people working, she said.

“I’m not going to Washington with a to-do list, I’m going with an undo list,” Hartzler said to loud applause. “I think we need less federal government and we need to undo some of the junk that they’ve been pushing the last 18 months.”

That “undo list” includes repealing President Barack Obama’s health care program, continuing the tax cuts that were passed under President George W. Bush but are scheduled to expire next year, preventing the proposed “cap and trade” law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stopping the unspent portion of the federal stimulus package.

Skelton was one of four deciding votes in favor of the cap-and-trade vote in the House of Representatives, Hartzler said, and also supported the stimulus.

“Back when I was teaching school, I was bringing home a paycheck of maybe $2,000 a month. (The stimulus) would be like if I were to budget and spend $3,000 a month. That would be one-third deficit spending. I wouldn’t do that; I would know pretty quick I’d be in real trouble. They’d come take my car away and everything else I was paying on as a teacher,” Hartzler said. “They do that every year in Washington, D.C. That’s ridiculous.”

Responding to questions from audience members who feared that their great-grandchildren will still be paying the bill for current deficits, Hartzler said immediate steps must be taken to cut the deficit, and said one key may be not spending stimulus money that hasn’t yet been spent.

“It hasn’t happened overnight so are we going to be able in a month or two to be instantly out of it? No,” Hartzler said. “We can start off by not funding the rest of the stimulus package that hasn’t been allocated yet. That would save almost half of it, I believe. We can return our spending levels, our discretionary items to pre-stimulus 2008 levels.”

While opposing new taxes, Hartzler said the federal government will collect more tax revenue if more people are working.

“We had unemployment nearly 4 percent for many years in this country. Now it is what, 9.6 percent,” Hartzler said. “Even if we get unemployment back down to 6 percent, if you get 4 percent more of the citizens of this country working, that’s going to be a lot more money being made in the economy plus more taxes being paid.”

Hartzler rebutted accusations in Skelton’s campaign ads claiming she isn’t a supporter of the military, noting that her father did his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood and still has his military scrapbook, photos, and dress uniform from his time in the Army Reserve.

“I am a huge supporter of the military and veterans and look forward to working for you and fighting for you in Washington, D.C.,” Hartzler said. “(My father) could have been called up. He never was, but I lived with that, and I saw other girls and other friends’ parents who were.”

Hartzler also explained her votes on several bills for which she’s under attack by Skelton, bills which she said took money away from veterans’ homes, delayed the ability of Missourians to have concealed carry legislation pass, and could have risked voter fraud in an early pilot project a decade ago to allow internet military voting. According to Hartzler, even the Democratic secretary of state at that time, Becky Cook, opposed the plan out of voter fraud concerns.

Electronic voting is now allowed, but Hartzler said there’s a new problem: election authorities in some states didn’t send out military ballots in enough time for them to be received by troops deployed overseas.

“One of the first things I want to do if I have the privilege to serve on the Armed Services Committee is I think we need to hold some hearings and find out what happened,” Hartzler said. “There is a law that Congress passed saying that states have to send those out, 45 days I believe it is, before the election … we need to be able to enforce that, penalize it, whatever. You can get FedEx and you can get UPS overnight. Don’t tell me you can’t load up some ballots, put them on a plane, and get them over there, get their votes and get them back in two days.”

Area resident Neil Lewis, who had previously commented during Hartzler’s speech, did so again.

“I don’t the Democrats are really interested in the military vote because they normally vote Republican,” Lewis said. Other audience members said “heads should roll” over the issue, and excoriated the situation in Illinois with delayed mailing of ballots.

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