Sunday, October 19, 2008

Show-Me Showdown

The two spar over Sarah Palin's "Pro-America" comment
Blunt says Obama "associations" should be on the table
McCaskill Defends Cities, Obama's Tax Plan

Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Roy Blunt sparred over Sarah Palin's recent comment about campaigning in "pro-America" parts of the country, but ended up agreeing that Barack Obama's "bitter" comment, referring to rural residents, was a dumb statement.

The two appeared on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer to trade thoughts about the state of the presidential race.

Reacting to the endorsement of Republican and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Blunt only said that he disagreed with the General. The 7th District Congressman then went right into Obama's associations with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, adding that John McCain should have never taken Rev. Jeremiah Wright off the table as an issue.

Blunt said these associations should be things "people are thinking about." "I think it does matter what a guy listens to week in and week out for twenty years," Blunt said. "I think it matters where you decide to launch your campaign for the Senate. I think those are well within the bounds of political discourse. If John McCain had anything like that at the other end of the spectrum, I absolutely am confident it would be a big issue," Blunt added.

McCaskill said Powell's endorsement of Obama would speak "very loudly in Missouri," and used it to counter Blunt's charges. "Does anybody in their right mind think that General Powell would ever endorse anyone that had any patience with terrorists? Of course he wouldn't," McCaskill said, labeling the McCain campaign as "small, petty and angry."

On the issue of taxes, Blunt estimated that 54 percent of all small businesses would face a tax increase under Obama's plan. He said that 16 million people work for small businesses that earn more than $250,000. "Almost all those people put their money right back into the business and try to create a few million more jobs," Blunt said, adding that the specifics about Joe "The Plumber's" story are irrelevant.

"I'm sure he wishes he could have that 'We need to spread the wealth' comment out," Blunt went on. "We ought to be focused on job creation here, rather than spreading the wealth. A spread the wealth environment will not get us through this. Spreading the wealth creates less wealth, not more wealth," he added.

"We all now know that Joe 'The Plumber' will get a tax cut under Barack Obama. He won't with John McCain," countered McCaskill.

Answering the charge that some people who don't pay federal taxes would get a tax break under Obama's plan: "They are paying taxes. They may not be paying federal taxes, but they're paying plenty of taxes," said McCaskill.

The biggest sparks between Blunt and McCaskill came on a question about Sarah Palin's recent comment about being happy to campaign in "very pro-America areas." The implication: That there are areas of the United States that aren't pro-American.

"It's sad, honestly," said McCaskill. "We need a president that sees all of America as patriotic," she added.

Blunt seemed to attempt to distance himself and Palin from that comment, and painted it this way: "Obviously the best of America is all over America. I think often in small town America, like so much of our state, you do see what America's about in a little clearer microcosm because everybody knows everybody else and you see that," Blunt said.

"Today in our state, there are going to be tens of thousands of families . . . that go to church, they're going to be talking over the weekend about deer hunting season and turkey hunting season, and remember that's the group that Barack Obama said were bitter and clings to their religion and guns," Blunt added, attempting to turn the focus back on Obama.

When pressed by Blitzer on Palin's specific comment, Blunt said: "I'm sure she didn't say there are anti-America parts of the country, I don't believe that. I'm sure she doesn't either."

"Roy, you know Roy, c'mon up to St. Louis," McCaskill said, interjecting. "I'll show you a microcosm of very, very pro-American people."

After noting he likes St. Louis, Blunt defended his home turf: "Claire, in your last campaign you talked constantly about how you wanted to be out in small-town Missouri, and you've talked constantly about how Barack Obama needs to be out in small town Missouri, now why is that? Nobody believes that the best of America is not in our cities. . . "

"Good . . ," McCaskill replied.

Blunt then paid McCaskill a compliment: "I think Claire McCaskill did a lot in the primary to help Barack Obama win this state, and I admire her for taking that position in the primary."

McCaskill made sure she didn't get away without showing her love for rural Missouri. "It's not that rural America and rural Missouri is not wonderful. It is, it is great, and I meant what I said about campaigning in rural America, but so are the cities. And we shouldn't divide ever in America, between the two," McCaskill said.

"If you want to talk about Sarah Palin, let's talk about Barack Obama," Blunt responded, again referring to Obama's "bitter" comment.

In a piece in the New York Times Sunday, Obama acknowledged that "bitter" comment was a mistake.

"He's right about that," Blunt said.

"Yep, he is right about that," McCaskill said in agreement.

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