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Graves swiftly jumps onto the Perry-for-president bandwagon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 15, 2011 - Just two days after Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped into the Republican presidential contest, one of Missouri's members of Congress is jumping aboard.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, announced this afternoon that he's endorsing Perry (pictured here at a June fund-raising event for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder) for president.

Graves appears to be the state's first Republican member of Congress to pick a side in the crowded GOP field -- and is definitely the first to back Perry.

Graves' action is reminscent of now-Sen. Roy Blunt's swift move in the late 1990s, as a member of Congress, to back another Texas governor seeking the White House: George W. Bush.  As a result, Blunt became a major player in Bush's congressional campaign contingent and was in the spotlight at the GOP's 2000 presidential convention in Philadelphia, where Bush was formally nominated.

Graves issued a statement in which he also took a swipe at President Barack Obama:

"I believe the next presidential election is vitally important to this country. We now know that the hope and change agenda the president ran on was nothing more than tax and regulate. Our economy and country's finances are now in peril.

"As the chairman of the small business committee, I hear from our nation's job creators every day about what they need from Washington. Consistently what they say is they need less of Washington's regulations, taxes and interference.

"It's important for Republicans to nominate someone who not only has a vision of how to create jobs, but who has done it. That's why I am endorsing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president. Gov. Perry has led the way in Texas on creating an environment for job growth. He can articulate our vision for creating jobs, with a record to back it up."

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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