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Holden praises Truman in rare speech to House

Friday, May 9, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Bob Holden marked Harry S. Truman's 119th birthday Thursday with a rare speech before the Missouri House in which he drew parallels between himself and the nation's 33rd president.

During his last appearance before the House -- for his State of the State address in January -- the Democratic governor evoked the Democratic president's "Fair Deal" policies by dubbing his own budget plan the "Fair Share Budget."

More recently, the Missouri Democratic Party has been issuing news releases containing side-by-side pictures of Holden and the Man from Independence.

Holden even faces a political landscape similar to the one in which Truman ran for president in 1948, campaigning against "do-nothing" Republican majorities in Congress. Republicans control both chambers of the Missouri Legislature.

On Thursday, Holden not only praised Truman but also linked himself to Truman's own budget struggles and his commitment to education.

But he had to wait more than two hours to deliver his brief speech while the House debated a proposed education budget that Holden has said threatens Missouri schools.

"Harry Truman was very dedicated to education and so am I," Holden said as he waited to speak.

With lawmakers nearing Friday's deadline to adopt a state budget, Holden recalled Truman's battles with a faltering economy.

"As leaders of our state, we face many challenges he faced," Holden told lawmakers.

"And even though he faced tough economic times, he did not shy away from responsibility or leadership," Holden added. "He offered the American people straight talk and a plan for the future."

Typically, a Missouri governor addresses a joint session of the House and Senate for the annual State of the State speech and during extraordinary circumstances. In 2001, for example, Holden spoke to joint session following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Holden said his remarks were not designed to chide lawmakers and that his speech was the result of an invitation from members of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library.

House Majority Floor Leader Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said he saw nothing inappropriate about Holden's speech to the chamber. But he also defended lawmakers' right to make the governor wait while they worked on the education budget.

"Education is more important and everybody wanted to speak on the legislation," Crowell said. "We weren't trying to be rude at all."

Truman was born May 8, 1884, in the southwest Missouri town of Lamar and died on Dec. 26, 1972, in Independence. He was elevated from vice president to president upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 and was elected to a full term in 1948 with a narrow victory over Thomas Dewey.

Joining Holden at the Capitol was Raymond Starzmann, who for the last two years has been portraying Truman at events across the state. Starzmann received a proclamation on behalf of the Truman Presidential Library recognizing the late president's accomplishments and Missouri heritage.

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On the Net:

Missouri Legislature: http://www.moga.state.mo.us


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