(LAURA SIMOn) [Order this photo]
About 25 people gathered under a pavilion at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau and listened, then posed questions as Brunner discussed his ideas for serving in Congress.
Brunner is in a tight race with fellow Republicans Sarah Steelman, the former Missouri treasurer, and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin. The three are vying for a chance to run in the general election against Sen. Claire McCaskill.
"I worry all the time," Norma Blankenship of Cape Girardeau said before Brunner arrived. "People aren't accountable to anybody. He is a businessman, while some of these people are career politicians."
Brunner addressed his concerns about career politicians shortly after he arrived.
"The debt has been going up and up and up for the last 11 years, whether it was Democrats or Republicans running Congress," he said. "Term limits would give them the courage to make the tough decisions."
Brunner explained that politicians worry about the next election, not about doing what they think is correct. He said career politicians, with their pensions and extensive staffs, have lost touch with the voters. Brunner said he simply wants to be elected, go to Washington to do the job he was hired for, then come home.
Steelman has spent the past 14 or 15 years running for office, and Akin has spent about 25, Brunner said.
"I would challenge them and ask, 'What have they done?'" Brunner said.
He said that as a state senator, Steelman voted to continue gas taxes and opposed tort reform.
Patrick Tuohey, Steelman's spokesman, said Sunday evening that as a member of the Missouri state Senate, Steelman voted for tort reform 15 times.
He said when Brunner said Steelman opposed tort reform, he was probably referring to a tort reform bill she opposed in 2003 in which there was provision that exempted responsible parties in traffic accidents from liability if the person injured was not wearing a seat belt. If a drunk driver injured a person who was not wearing a seat belt, they wouldn't have been responsible, Tuohey said. The bill passed after the provision was removed, Tuohey said.
Steelman also sponsored medical malpractice reform, Tuohey said.
A call to Akin's campaign was not returned Sunday evening, but in a Southeast Missourian candidate questionnaire, Akin said he has been rated as the most conservative Congressman in Missouri by the Heritage Foundation, has been a strong advocate for our second amendment rights and believes in traditional marriage.
Also, at a meeting of the Cape Girardeau County Republican Women's Club in April, Akin said he voted against the Wall Street bailouts, even though he was pressured by his single largest campaign contributor.
Brunner said his No. 1 priority would be to get legislators to stop borrowing and spending.
"Every dollar that we're borrowing and spending is a tax, and it's a tax on the future," Brunner said.
He said that Congress is going to have to make tough decisions and cut programs.
Carol Jones of Cape Girardeau, said she's kept up with where Brunner was by following him on Facebook.
"Everything he says is what I believe in. He's conservative, and he wants to get rid of McCaskill," she said of the former U.S. Marine. "I think he'd make a wonderful, disciplined politician."
Washington could use a few more former military personnel, Brunner said.
He said he was disturbed when he heard of some of the rules of engagement in the war in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the United States has to have a clearly defined mission, it has to use all its resources and it has to have a clear definition of victory, he said.
Kenneth Bender of Cape Girardeau said he was still trying to decide who to vote for.
"At this point, it's almost a toss-up," he said. "[Brunner] seems to be a highly moral man. My primary interest is to choose someone who can win in November."
Arena Park, Cape Girardeau, Mo.