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Carnahan calls Blunt a Washington insider who masks his corporate ties with plaid shirts

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 21, 2010 - Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan kicked up her U.S. Senate campaign a notch today, as the Democrat portrayed her best-known Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, as a double-talking politician who "puts on his plaid shirt" when he comes to Missouri, then votes in Washington in line with the fancy-suited special-interests who fund his campaign.

"He's gotten so caught up in this culture," said Carnahan in a speech delivered to several dozen people packing the Old Town Donut Shop in Florissant. The crowd included Democratic regulars and customers who listened to her remarks while they waited for their orders.

"I call that 'bull,' " Carnahan said, touting her campaign theme.

Carnahan's comments in Florissant launched the second leg of her "Stop the Bull" tour. Other scheduled stops today were to be in Jefferson City and Joplin.

Today's events come just days after Blunt announced that he had visited all 114 Missouri counties plus St. Louis, a quest often undertaken by Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate (Jim Talent, for example, achieved it in 2006) as they woo crucial rural votes.

Carnahan contended today that Blunt was seeking to play down the real news -- his status as one of the top members of Congress when it comes to campaign donations from oil companies, lobbyists and political action committees, according to several nonpartisan surveys. The Center for Responsive Politics, for example, has cited Blunt as the No. 1 recipient of oil and gas company contributions on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce.

Carnahan also attacked Blunt's support for the first $700 billion phase of the federal bank bailout in late 2008.

Since then, Blunt has voted against federal stimulus packages and called for curbing such spending. In his 114-county announcement, Blunt said, "Free enterprise and the hard work of the people are how to create jobs, not bigger government. The reckless deficit spending and ruinous national debt have to be stopped before they destroy our national finances and cripple the economy for years and generations to come. The federal government must live within its means, now, just like Missouri families, farms and businesses."

Carnahan offered up a similar anti-bailout theme, as she questioned Blunt's sincerity. "It's time we stopped these tax breaks, stopped these giveaways," Carnahan said. She asserted that Blunt was among the cadre of Washington insiders who talk about creating jobs, then do nothing to curb the tax breaks that she said "encourage companies to send jobs overseas."

Carnahan emphasized her responsibilities as Missouri's chief overseer of the investment and securities industry. She was introduced by Norma Linke of Creve Coeur, who credited Carnahan and her staff with getting back investment money that Linke contends had been improperly invested by a local brokerage firm, which then had initially refused to return the money.

Angela Reed of Florissant, a teacher, said she was pleased to hear Carnahan focus on the economy. Reed's top concern is "the lack of jobs."

One group of older shop patrons said they already are backing Blunt. "We'll listen to her, but we probably won't vote for her," said Bill Wallisch of Hazelwood, retired from Boeing.

"Reagan had the right idea: Reduce taxes and get people back to work," said Wallisch, who then left before Carnahan began her address.

Donut Shop owner Keith Took said he was very interested in what Carnahan had to say and that he had paid attention to every word. But Took emphasized that he has yet to take sides in the U.S. Senate contest and had simply agreed to allow the candidate to stop by and talk with customers.

In the coming months, Took said, "As a small business owner, I'll be listening very closely."

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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