Sen. Bond discusses GOP challenges in upcoming elections

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The near-capacity crowd at Saturday's Cape Girardeau County Lincoln Day Dinner at A.C. Brase Arena Building heard from several Republican officials, including U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, about the importance of this year's election.

"Every election is a crucial election, every election charts a course for who we want to be as a people, as a nation," said Bond, keynote speaker for Lincoln Day.

Bond was introduced by state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods.

"To see this many red-hot Republicans in one room is energizing," Hanaway told the crowd.

Before addressing state issues, Bond talked about America's war on terrorism and military efforts overseas. He said the country has faced a new reality since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, one that compels decisive and swift force.

"Thank heavens we have George W. Bush," he said, "who had the strength, confidence and commitment to take action."

On the state level, Bond talked about the benefits of the tax breaks President Bush approved, and said "they have brought more money into the economy to keep it going."

He said his highway bill would help create jobs and long-term economic growth. Bond also mentioned the need for an energy bill, tort reform and education reform.

"There are many challenges ahead, there are also many challenges ahead in the political arena," Bond said, referring to the battle the Republican Party will face in the upcoming election on a statewide and national level.

"We're going to be under attack," he said, mentioning money being put forth by the AFL-CIO and billionaire George Soros and his MoveOn.org campaign to prevent Bush from being re-elected.

"With your help I can say, 'Come into our briar patch, we're ready for you,'" Bond said before his departure.

Nasty election

Following Bond, the audience heard from other officials who rallied them to join the battle for this year's election.

"This is going to be the meanest, nastiest election I can remember," said Cape Girardeau's U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who is running against Democrat Dean Henderson. "It is absolutely critical that we come out and work harder than we've ever worked. The margin of victory in Cape Girardeau may well elect the next president of the United States."

This year's recipient of the Tuff Tusk Award is Tom Schulte, district office director for Bond. The Bill Emerson Public Service Award went to former Cape Girardeau County Auditor H. Weldon Make.

Earlier Saturday in Jackson, the Cape Girardeau County Republican caucus was held and 33 delegates from the county were chosen to attend April's congressional district caucus.

On June 4 and 5 the state caucus will be held in Springfield, and at that time 27 at-large delegates will be chosen to attend the national convention.

There were only a handful of people at Saturday's caucus, so most of the chosen delegates were not in attendance. Among those present were District 158 state representative candidate Nathan Cooper, Cape Girardeau County 1st District Commissioner Larry Bock and 27th District state Senate candidate and current state Rep. Jason Crowell.

"It's really hard to get people riled up right now. There are 236 days until the election, and that is like an eternity," said Donna Lichtenegger, the Southeast Missouri regional coordinator for the Bush campaign and a member of the Republican State Committee.

kalfisi@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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