Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder received a warm welcome from Phelps County Republicans at their picnic Saturday, but there was no attention paid to his possible candidacy for the U.S. Congress.
Instead, some attendees sported jackets and T-shirts imprinted with the name of Jason Smith, the current U.S. representative from Missouri’s Eighth District.
Despite that, they responded positively to Kinder’s message, which combined praise of veterans, harsh criticism of the current president and a call to conservatives not to give up hope.
Kinder, who described himself as a World War II history buff, spoke with passion about the contributions of veterans, particularly those who died in combat.
He told of a visit to Hawaii where he saw the U.S.S. Arizona, sunk during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, which began the war, and the U.S.S. Missouri, site of the signing of the surrender in Tokyo Bay, now moored nearby.
He also spoke of his visit to the National Cemetery of the Pacific, located in “the Punchbowl,” an inactive volcano.
These monuments show the greatness of the United States because they show the willingness of people to die defending the country, he said.
Now, though, the nation is in a “discouraging, disgusting, angry period of history” led by a commander in chief who is “in a class by himself.”
That description of President Barack Obama was not meant to be a compliment.
Kinder said Obama does not “believe in the unique greatness of America” and “does not believe in American exceptionalism.”
The president’s answers to questions about the greatness of the country have been “a negation of that concept.”
Citing writings by the first settlers and first leaders, Kinder said the country has always been seen as unique and special and devoted to liberty.
Under the current administration, liberty seems to be diminishing in many aspects of life.
Kinder said he knows of private businesses within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways that have been ordered shut down, and the owners have been threatened with arrest if they open their private businesses during the federal government shutdown.
“The government is furloughing private business,” Kinder said. “Have they not made enough war on our economy?” He said the government is working to shut down coal and oil companies, which is harmful. “The executive branch has a war on small businesses,” he said.
He said the American people must not, and likely will not, stand by idly. He encouraged Phelps County Republicans to continue working for liberty despite their weariness.
“I am so proud to be a conservative in Missouri today,” he said. “I am proud to be your partner.”
Page 2 of 2 - Kinder opened his remarks by thanking Phelps County for sending two doctors to the state Capitol, 121st District Rep. Dr. Keith Frederick, a surgeon, and 16th District Sen. Dr. Dan Brown, a veterinarian. Brown gave introductory remarks on behalf of Kinder.
Kinder also spoke about his many visits to Rolla, beginning in 1980 when he managed Bill Emerson’s campaign for U.S. representative.
“We had just gotten Phelps County in redistricting,” Kinder said. “I’ve been coming here ever since.
Among his favorite times here were with the Tour of Missouri, a bicycle race, that he said was the largest sporting event ever held in the state. He quoted former Missouri University of Science and Technology Chancellor Dr. John Carney as saying that it was the “greatest event ever held to knit together the town and the gown.”
“We’d still be having that, had (Gov.) Jay Nixon not killed the event,” Kinder said.
Kinder last week formed an exploratory committee for a possible run in the Eighth District for the seat now held by Jason Smith, who won the seat in a June special election to replace Jo Ann Emerson who left the office to be the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Smith hopes to run for a full term in the November 2014 election, but he could face a primary challenge from Kinder.
Smith was in Washington, D.C., unable to attend the picnic. He spoke by telephone over the speaker.
County officials also spoke, as did Shawn Sisco, who will run for the state legislative seat vacated by Smith in June.