This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 9, 2009 - U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Strafford and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said this afternoon that his six-day trip to Mexico, Colombia and Panama was part of his duties as a member of Congress.
Blunt noted that he and other members of the congressional delegation spoke to top government leaders in all three countries as part of their probe into the drug-trafficking problems those nations pose for the United States.
Blunt discussed the details of his experiences during a brief interview that followed up on his earlier conference call today about the trip.
Blunt said that, particularly in the case of Mexico, officials are "optimistic about the level of attention that" the heightened partnership with U.S. law enforcement and governmental officials is having in the fight on drug trafficking.
Blunt attributed the heightened violence in Mexico to the commitment of that country's president, Felipe Calderon, to "take on the drug cartels' that Blunt said Calderon acknowledges are "a corrupting influence on the society and government."
Blunt linked the fight to Missouri's longstanding problem with methamphetamine production. He cited his earlier efforts in Congress as a partner of former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., who targeted the legal materials -- such as an ingredient in Sudafed -- that are used in illegal manufacture of the drug.
Blunt returned to Missouri on Wednesday, while other members of the congressional delegation went on to Brazil.
For the rest of his break, Blunt said, he has a packed schedule of events in Missouri. (Some are tied to his congressional duties or related interests, while others appear to be linked to his 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.)
Blunt's stops around the state will include an all-day visit to St. Louis next week, he said.
As for those who may have questioned his decision to go on the Central/South American trip, Blunt cited his various congressional posts, including membership on the House Intelligence Committee. He also reinterated Missouri's unhappy link to the drug trade.
"I'm not going to quit my job because there's a Senate election in 2010,'' Blunt added.