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Democrats release blistering criticism of Blunt

January 14, 2004
By: Alex Yalen
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - An experiment with humor at the expense of current Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Matt Blunt garnered few laughs Wednesday morning.

As Blunt was traveling across the state announcing his gubernatorial campaign, the Missouri Democratic Party issued a press release asking, "After you (Matt Blunt) lose the Governor's race, what are you going to be when you grow up?"

The question touched a nerve with some because Blunt, 33, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and has served on active duty with the Navy in the past.

"This was obviously written by someone who's never served their country," said House Speaker Pro Tem Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, who served with the Marines. "The armed forces has a way of making men out of boys. This is kind of a slap in the face."

Gov. Bob Holden has never served in the armed forces. Earlier in the day, he met with veteran's groups as part of a celebration in the capital.

The main focus of the press release, its authors said, was to highlight Blunt's inexperience in the General Assembly, and the problems it could play in the upcoming campaign.

"In the spirit of Rush Limbaugh, we were using humor to prove a point," said Jim Gardner, who helped author the release. "It takes something a little out of the ordinary to catch people's attention."

Besides offering an attempt at humor, the release also attacked what Democrats say are inconsistencies within Blunt's campaign, including his policies on education funding and tax loopholes.

"He's running for chief executive, and I think it's legitimate to ask if his limited experience has prepared him," Gardner said.

Gardner said Blunt's military record had nothing to do with the accusations in the release.

"I don't think that military service record has anything to do with it," said Caleb Weaver, Gov. Holden's campaign director.

The ten-item statement also attacked the marriage of Matt Blunt's father, Roy Blunt, to a tobacco lobbyist whom it described as the congressman's "girlfriend", and posed a question for Matt Blunt "does that make Phillip Morris your step-grandfather?"

Holden could not be reached for comment.