Fred Thompson, at right, speaks to a gathering of the media at Granny Shaffer's Restaurant in Joplin before assuming the role of guest of honor at a fund raising luncheon for Peter Kinder, at left. Kinder is seeking re-election as Missouri's lieutenant governor. (photo by Vince Rosati)
Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder called a press conference today in Joplin just prior to his invitation-only luncheon to raise campaign funding for his reelection. He invited Fred Thompson, a presidential candidate and former senator from Tennessee who took over Al Gore's unexpired term in office, but who is more known for his long-standing movie and television career, essentially playing the guy who is in charge. As a striking comparison to Kinder, you might say that Thompson was invited for his stage presence.
Introducing himself first, Kinder took the opportunity to denounce his Democratic opponent Rep. Sam Page (D-82) as a "St. Louis liberal" whom he says advocates Pro Choice, gun control and higher taxes--this in opposition to his own stance for Right to Life and support of the National Rifle Association. In addition, he criticized Page, a physician, for his support of making inoculations against the human papillomavirus mandatory for pre-teen girls.
Thompson opened his remarks by describing himself as a proponent of "strong conservative values," which, he said, "make this country great." Although he said he was present as "payback" for Kinder's support of his own bid for office, Thompson didn't spend time promoting Kinder but rather hyping the McCain/Palin ticket.
Known for his role on the TV series Law and Order, Thompson did say that he was there "to raise a few coins for the cause" and indicated that strong leadership was needed on the local and state level. He seemed to have been invited by Kinder for his "star quality." That was something that did bring out most of the local TV and newspaper reporters.
KODE-TV news photographer Darin McCann and news anchor Gretchen Bolander were amongst the media assembled at the Kinder/Thompson press conference. Other local Republicans, including Rep. Kevin Wilson, far right, were awaiting a fund-raising luncheon that followed. (photo by Vince Rosati)
After declaring that "character" and "courage" were the best traits for being the US president, Thompson went on to attack Democrat candidate Barak Obama, not for being characterless or lacking courage but for being the "most liberal guy in the US Senate." He defined Republican candidate John McCain as "courageous" and one "not wrapped up in the Beltway crowd." As for the vice presidential candidate, while saying nothing negative about Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Thompson said that he was "proud" that he defended Republican candidate Sarah Palin on TV and that she "electrified the base." He equated her with having a "real life" and that she had "an 80% approval rating by the people she represented."
What seemed to be in keeping with Republican scare tactics that led the US to war with Iraq---the Bush crowd theme--Thompson referenced "in these dangerous times" and that "at any moment a leader of this country might have to react at a moment's notice."
When questioned about the economy, Thompson first hedged by saying that it was "unrealistic" for every candidate to have a 10-point plan to fix it. Regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he said they operated as a "Ponzi scheme"..."created by the Democrats for the benefit of the Democrats" but then blamed the greed and mismanagement of the agency's heads for their debacle.
"The shareholders should get hit. The people who run the companies should get hit, Thompson said.
While part of the Republican apology seems to be that "We've seen bubbles happen before" and that we're "going to get past this [note the term "bubbles" and not "economic crises"]," it refuses to take blame for America's economic dilemma or in some cases that it even exists. Instead, Thompson, as Republican spokesman, claimed that Obama was "weakening the economy by his [negative] comments."
"The system of free trade is carrying us now and is part of the bulwark of our prosperity," Thompson said. Yes, he used the term "prosperity."
He concluded by saying, "I may be a little prejudiced...I may be a lot prejudiced."
A postscript: Those that awaited lunch at Granny Shaffer's Restaurant on North Range Line Road included local politicians and other Republicans like Jerry Wells, Mo-Ark bigwig, anybody presumably with deep pockets. But although several names were listed on a poster as being supporters, many were not present to fill the seats that optimistically were set up. Granny's, as the location for a potential $1,000 a plate lunch, appeared to have been an uninviting choice.