Skip to comments.Presidential politicking [Wyoming delegate-choosing county conventions moved up to 1/5/08]
Posted on 10/01/2007 7:58:16 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
For one day at least, Wyoming felt a little like New Hampshire.
Three Republican presidential candidates, including former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, made their pitch to the Cowboy State at a packed forum in Casper on Saturday.
The newfound attention comes on the heels of a decision by the Wyoming Republican Party to move its county conventions up to Jan. 5, to be closer to the New Hampshire primary, traditionally the first in the nation.
"It behooves all the candidates to pay attention to the state of Wyoming," said Joe Schloss, chairman of the Teton County Republican Party.
A crowd of hundreds filled the Casper College gym for the forum, and several times the audience rose to its feet to cheer the hopefuls.
"I just think them coming out of their way to be here is huge," Colleen McGlocklin of Casper said afterward.
Also appearing at the forum were Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and California Rep. Duncan Hunter. For about two hours, the candidates discussed their policies and took questions from party precinct committee members.
The three candidates were never on the stage at the same time. Instead, each hopeful had his own time in front of the crowd.
Hunter, first elected to Congress in 1980, spoke first and drew a standing ovation for advocating support of gun rights.
"The ability of an American to have a gun and to use it effectively to protect his family, his country and his community is an important part of national security, and I will protect the Second Amendment," he said.
In response to a question about global warming, Hunter said it was "almost impossible" to determine whether climate change is a natural or man-made phenomenon. He advocated for the use of traditional energy resources, including oil shale in Wyoming and Colorado, as well as alternative fuels and wind energy.
Brownback spoke next and advocated for a strong family structure in America as a way to improve education and reduce crime.
"The best place to raise a child is between a mom and a dad, bonded with each other for life," he said.
Asked about the federal budget deficit, he suggested that congressional salaries should be cut by 10 percent until the budget is balanced.
Thompson, the most prominent of the candidates at Saturday's forum, spoke last and described himself as a country boy from a little town in Tennessee.
"I'm not somebody who claims to have all the answers for the things that face America right now," he said.
Thompson, an actor who's been featured in "Law and Order" and "The Hunt for Red October," advocated for a strong national defense, arguing that "radical Islam" had declared war on the United States.
"This is serious stuff like we have never faced before," he said.
A committee member asked Thompson about the estate tax, which she said made it difficult to pass land onto children. The senator said the tax should be phased out.
"The estate tax is an example of just how messed up the government is in term of our tax policy," he responded.
After Thompson's speech, the three presidential hopefuls mingled with the public on the gym floor. Nearby, Casper resident Jimmy Goolsby reflected on what he had just seen.
"I'm encouraged with what I heard," he said. "The two that came first, Hunter and Brownback, were much stronger than what I expected them to be. I would be happy with either one as the candidate."
As she left the gym, Herty Larsen wasn't ready to decide who her candidate will be.
"It was great," she said. "I'm very impressed that we have good people with grassroots ideas who are willing to run."
Hunter and Brownback were scheduled to speak at a forum Saturday evening in Riverton.
Reach Joshua Wolfson at (307) 266-0582 or at email@example.com.
Missed the forum but want to see what Fred Thompson had to say about energy and the environment? The Star-Tribune has videos broken up by candidate and issue on our special Elections 2008 site. Go to casperstartribune.net/elections2008.]]>
Notable quotes from the candidates at Saturday's GOP presidential forum in Casper:
"The government has stiff arms and a cold heart. I haven't met anyone who has been hugged by the government and been happy about it afterward."
- Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback
"I will never apologize for the United States of America."
- California Rep. Duncan Hunter
"My philosophy doesn't depend on my geography. It doesn't depend on the office I'm running for at the time."
- Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson
"Faith is a good thing. You cannot understand America without understanding faith."
"When you elect me, you'll have a real hunter in the White House."
"Innovation and experimentation and freedom works for just about any problem we have in this country."
"I'm a basics guy. I believe if you get the basics right, the country prospers."
"This country needs to be energy independent."
"I never met a tax cut I didn't like."
At the beginning of the Casper forum Fred Parady argued that the primary season should kick off with small population states gradually building up to the big prize of California at the end. Parady's proposed primary process would take months to unfold giving voters an ample opportunity to learn about candidates. The stakes get a little higher with each state enabling candidates to easily overcome losses in early states.
OTOH trends seem to indicate America moving towards one national primary date for all states.