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Blunt, Bond share quest for the Senate, and to save Gitmo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 7, 2009 - U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Strafford, is joining the fight of Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., to preserve the U.S. military's detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

And Bond, in turn, is joining Blunt on the campaign trail as the congressman from southwest Missouri seeks to re-energize his quest to replace Missouri's senior senator when he retires after the 2010 election.

Bond is set to accompany Blunt at several stops Friday around the state -- in Columbia, Cape Girardeau and Kansas City -- as the congressman and Republican allies try to give his campaign a boost. U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-
Cape Girardeau, will join the two in Cape.

Despite Friday's bad weather, Republicans reported that the duo's stops have gone off as scheduled.

Blunt has run into some tough political waters since his formal kickoff in mid-February. He has yet to put to rest a possible primary challenge from former state Sen. Sarah Steelman, and his first post-announcement finance report filed last month showed him raising less than the only announced Democrat, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

(Bond's assistance record is mixed. He was a boon to Republican Jim Talent in his first bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002, but couldn't stave off Talent's Democratic opponent -- Claire McCaskill -- in 2006. Last year, Bond was a big booster of the GOP candidate for governor, then-U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Columbia, but the congressman still got creamed in November by Democrat Jay Nixon.)

On Thursday, Republicans in state House offered some help to Blunt when 71 of their 89 members formally endorsed him.

House Majority Floor Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, lauded Blunt in a statement as "a great Missouri leader who shares our values and ideas. Roy knows we must and will win the war against terrorism. He knows that this runaway liberal Congress must learn what we know in Missouri – that federal spending and uncontrolled deficits must be stopped and controlled, without new taxes that destroy jobs and delay our economic recovery..."

By coincidence or design, Blunt emphasized those same themes in two public announcements Thursday.

He called President Barack Obama's first round of budget cuts "almost laughable."

"The $17 billion worth of cuts is a good starting point but it amounts to just one-half of one percent when compared to the overall massive size of his proposed budget,'' Blunt said. "It’s even less promising when accompanied by the President’s admission that these savings will immediately be spent funding new government programs instead of reducing the deficit."

As for Guantanamo, Blunt announced he is co-sponsoring a bill that would require the president to "receive approval from state legislatures and governors prior to transferring detainees at the Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to facilities within their state."

Blunt also has cosponsored legislation that would bar the administration from transferring the Guantanamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., which Blunt noted is "along the Missouri border."

Blunt's pro-Gitmo comments echo those of Bond, who declared in a floor speech earlier this week that "Americans don’t want these terrorists in their neighborhoods."

Bond plans to make those same points when he delivers the official Republican radio address on Saturday. No word yet on whether Blunt will join him at the mike.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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