Talent remains ‘optimistic’ in race

Republican Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) talks to supporters during a rally held at the Jasper County Republican Headquarters Oct. 31. Talent is up for reelection.

Hobie Brown

Republican Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) talks to supporters during a rally held at the Jasper County Republican Headquarters Oct. 31. Talent is up for reelection.

The race for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Jim Talent is nearing its end, and the incumbent brought two supporters of his own Tuesday from Capitol Hill to Joplin.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-Tenn.) and Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.) showed support for Talent with handshakes and a few kind words for the crowd outside the Jasper County Republican Headquarters.

Frist assumed the role of crowd cheerleader, leading the crowd in a chant.

“Republicans are right, Democrats are wrong!” he said.

Though Frist was more of an intercession between Bond and Talent, he still had a distinct message.

“When it comes to securing our homeland, Republicans are right, Democrats are wrong,” he said. “When they say we’ve got to cut and run, Republicans are right, Democrats are wrong. When we say we are out there for marriage, and maintaining American values, the Democrats are wrong.

“As we look to the future, and these elections, it really is about two very different visions: one of optimism and upbeat looking ahead. Looking at alternative sources and ways of solving problems that are insurmountable opposed to looking at the past partisanship obstruction that I have seen in the United States Senate.”

Whether one chooses to look at the past or the future, Bond said the present race for the Senate between Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill has become critical for the Republican Party to maintain control of the Senate.

“Jim is my best ally,” he said. “He has done a great job, but he is also critical to keeping our majority in the Senate, that’s why Bill Frist is here.

“We can keep this country strong with a sensible tax policy and we can keep the country safe if we are strong on the war on terror abroad and strong on intelligence and law enforcement here at home. We’re for that; the other side is opposed to it. That’s why this race is critical both nationally and in the state of Missouri.”

Talent made his own case for another term, as well.

“This election, I think, is important to Missouri because I have a record of changing Washington and making it work, and there are also some important issues,” Talent said.

One of the issues he focused on is renewable energy.

“I passed the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is ushering us quickly into a renewable age of ethanol and bio diesel, breaking us from the dependence on oil and lowering energy prices, which is tremendously good,” Talent said. “It is resulting in a huge amount of private investments in ethanol and biodiesel in the heartland. It will be for us what oil is for Texas.”

Talent also addressed the Small Business Health Fairness Act.

“I sponsored legislation to reduce health insurance costs for small business people by allowing them to pool together to be trade associations nationally,” he said. “A big problem for people coming out of college today is if they go to work for a small company then they don’t have good health insurance. If they go to work for a big company they have to work that [health insurance] through a separate bill. Increasingly young people are entrepreneurial.”

Bond agreed.

“He knows that small business is the growth engine of this economy,” Bond said.

Talent also briefly addressed two high-profile issues: marriage and stem cell research.

“I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and woman,” he said. “I believe in the dignity and value of life at all stages.”

In a campaign garnering national attention, Talent made clear his position on tax cuts.

“I’m for continuing the tax cuts,” he said. “I think the wealth of the nation belongs in the first instincts of the people who produce it and not the government.”

Throughout the rally, all three senators made reference to Talent’s bipartisan work.

“He has been a leader in so many issues, working on a bipartisan basis, working to get renewable fuels, which are big in Missouri and throughout the heartland, part of our energy policy.” Bond said.

“If you want to do anything great in the Senate, you have to create some measure of bipartisan consensus, ” Talent said.

“He recognized that methamphetamine was not just a Missouri problem, but also a national problem. He worked with a Democratic senator from California and took the lead to get the Combat Meth Act in the Patriot Act,” Bond said.

Talent summed up the campaign by emphasizing that voting is a choice.

“It’s an election,” he said. “I want people to think of it as the great American process of choosing who you want to represent you.

“Really, it’s a question of who has a vision of moving the government and the country in a direction for greater opportunity for the people. Generally, I’m working for a country that gives people a better opportunity than people of my generation had.”

Talent remains optimistic about the results of Tuesday’s election.

“Kit and I have been all over the state, and I can tell you that the momentum is there,” he said. “The election is about who can change Washington and can make it work for Missouri, and who will stand up for the common sense conservative values of the heartland and who won’t.”