This weekend Springfield was privileged to host Missouri's state Lincoln days, an event focused on rallying the Republican and conservative faithful from across the state. Attendees and speakers alike did not disappoint as roughly 800 people showed up for the off year event.
For me, though, the event went beyond catching up with friends and fellow bloggers. I wanted to take the opportunity to engage the two current candidates for U.S. Senate and decide who I might support. After all, when would I get another opportunity to talk to the candidates one on one?
So, off I went in search of an answer who I would vote for in August of 2012.
The first stop, as I wondered toward all the party rooms in the atrium, was the Ed Martin suite to ask a few questions. Little did I know I would get more than I bargained for (in a good way).
Ed Martin was intent on greeting everyone who came into the room and engaging them on a personal level which, to be honest, I have not seen in a while. In very short order Mr. Martin came up and introduced him self; I noted I was an undecided voter and wanted to hear why I should vote for him.
Ed's answer, like his introduction, was a very intense and energetic explanation of not only his policy positions but why he was the person to beat Senator McCaskill. In fact, Ed was very specific about what he could corner Claire in a debate on and Steelman could not.
I then asked him what he would do about repeating the 2008 gubernatorial election fiasco. Ed replied that while 2008 was not for him to answer, he would definitely endorse the primary winner. He would support the primary winner and understood the magnitude of the moment and that McCaskill must be defeated in 2012.
I left the room with the impression of Ed Martin being this intense ball of energy with laser cutting analysis. Of course the trick is that Mr. Martin tends to follow rabbits, like my self, during a conversation.
The question then is whether Ed Martin the person to beat Claire McCaskill? I don't know.
Based on my meeting with him I believe Ed Martin would crush Senator McCaskill in a heart beat. Martin is extremely passionate and intelligent. Martin's fire in the belly can be compared to few other candidates I've spoken to in a very long time.
Nevertheless, Claire could turn that to her advantage and take the role of Hillary Clinton the victim while portraying Ed Martin as Rick Lazio the over zealous attack dog. Don't think its not beneath Senator McCaskill. It is fully within her modus operandi and would be Martin's Achilles heal, I believe.
It would be the next day before I got to speak with Mrs. Steelman as I was passing her in the hall way and flagged her down with another individual.
To Sarah's credit, when I told her I was an undecided vote she took me to the side and opened up. I was impressed by this willingness to take time out of her busy schedule and explain to me why I should vote for her.
True to form, Mrs. Steelman spoke about economic condition and described specific proposals of what we should do in cutting particular parts of the government. It was never a matter of asking for her to expand on a vague idea as she went into what I would describe a medium level of detail.
Sarah Steelman then noted she was proud of being prolife and understood how 2012 was an important election year.
I then turned to what I felt was a difficult question, but it needed to be answered for my personal benefit. As with Ed Martin, I asked Mrs. Steelman if she was dedicated to preventing what happened in 2008. She looked a little puzzled, so I followed up by noting that if Mr. Martin lost, he should fall in behind her and if she lost, she should support Mr. Martin. Mrs. Steelman agreed.
Mrs. Steelman continued and noted that she did not engage Roy Blunt in 2010 while many people asked her to do in an effort to prevent another 2008 in 2010. I replied that it was good to hear her agree to supporting whomever won and that 2012 was a very serious election in which Claire McCaskill should be the focus. She agreed and re-enforced the point that we should be absolutely focused on McCaskill in our efforts.
To that end, I was relieved.
My honest to God worst fear at the moment is for Claire McCaskill to end up like Harry Reid, re-elected, despite a thirty percent approval rating at the beginning of the campaign.
The impression Sarah Steelman left me with was that of someone who knew her talking points well and was very polished. I was impressed by the fact she took time to discuss the issues with some random voter walking the hall ways at Lincoln Days.
One thing I felt she was a little short on was not so much specific proposals, as that was a strength of hers, but some of the background information on particular topics. For instance, her eyes glazed over when I discussed Claire's lie about the need to cut the F-35's VTOL engine in lieu of other areas of pork.
To her defense, she may not be a policy wonk.
Yet deep down that is what I believe we will need to defeat Senator McCaskill; someone who will call her out on specific votes and details of proposals she is manipulating in front of what I would refer to as a lazy media.
If we do not call Senator McCaskill out on policy specifics, we will end up with a 2006 recurrence in which McCaskill flatly lied about being a fiscal conservative.
So that leads to me to still being an undecided voter.
Both candidates are solid, but neither to me stood out as being better than the other at this point. That is what a primary is for, I suppose. To find out which is the better candidate.
I pray that both candidates keep their word to me and focus on beating Claire. Senator McCaskill and her defiant rubber stamping of radical Democrat policies must go.