The race for ’08: Sam Brownback makes it official
Conservatives put trust in senator
Topeka ? U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., on Saturday attempted to stake out his territory in the 2008 presidential race as the “conservative you can trust.”
Brownback, 50, who grew up on a farm in rural Kansas and has become a power broker of the religious Right, launched his longshot bid for the White House championing “faith, family and freedom.”
For Brownback, that means opposing abortion and embryonic stem cell research, supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and rejecting tax increases.
He told hundreds of supporters, “How much better we will be as we seek to live the great commandment to love God and one another.”
Trust and religion
Brownback’s values and loyalty were mentioned numerous times by speakers at the event and those in the crowd.
“Sen. Brownback is a man we can trust to take our values to the White House,” said Angela Perez Baraquio, who was Miss America 2001 and who introduced Brownback.
Topeka Bible Church minister Jim Congdon wove Brownback into the Lord’s Prayer.
“Thy will be done, and that’s all Sam Brownback wants to do is Your will,” Congdon said. He also prayed for deliverance from “societal sin” that has allowed the “wanton destruction of life for the past three decades.”
Brownback offered private market solutions for health care and Social Security and voiced disgust for the current federal tax system, saying it “should be taken behind the barn and killed with a dull ax.”
On the war in Iraq, Brownback called for a bipartisan solution. “We need unity here to win over there,” he said.
An ardent supporter of the war, Brownback, however, has criticized President Bush’s recent plan to increase troop strength in Baghdad.
Later, Brownback said the resolution of the war probably will be in partitioning Iraq along ethnic and religious lines.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to see some form of three-state, one-country solution because there is just so much animosity and history between Sunni and Shia,” he said.
Brownback, known for his opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research, didn’t mention either term in his speech.
But his talk was peppered with allusions to the subjects.
“Let’s start following our hearts and work to protect all innocent life at all stages,” he said. “It is all beautiful, it is all sacred, it is all unique whether it is here, whether it’s in the womb, whether it is somebody in poverty, whether it’s a child in Darfur; they’re all sacred and beautiful.”
Brownback was scheduled to return to Washington to participate in an anti-abortion rally Monday.
The Democratic National Committee issued a statement saying Brownback places “his uncompromising ideology over the needs of real people.”
Despite hardly registering in national polls, Brownback said his positions were with the majority of voters.
Those in the crowd echoed his remarks, citing Brownback’s religious convictions and their belief that he wouldn’t abandon them.
“He knows what he stands for and is not afraid to state his opinion. That’s what America needs,” said Tylan Ricketts, a freshman at Benedictine College in Atchison.
“He’s been good for Kansas and will be good for the rest of the country,” said Shane McCoy, of Topeka, as he held his 11-month-old son Caylen, who wore a shirt that read “Future President.”
“Sam is a good guy, very grounded,” said Pam Edds, of Topeka. “He thinks things through and has a good Christian base.”
Asked about Brownback’s chances, Chris Miller, of Lawrence, said, “He’s been successful at most every political effort he’s undertaken. He wouldn’t be doing it if he didn’t think he had a reasonable shot at it.”
‘Yellow Brick Road’
Brownback said he wasn’t worried about his place behind the pack of more well-known Republican contenders, such as U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“My positions are at the heart of where the Republican Party is. I’m willing to take those positions with all comers. I think we’re in great shape,” he said.
During his speech, he strayed briefly from his prepared remarks to get in an allusion to “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Today my family and I are taking the first steps on the Yellow Brick Road to the White House,” he said.
Later, asked if his announcement for presidency would be overshadowed by the same-day announcement by U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the first woman president in U.S. history, he joked, “I don’t know why she did that. I guess she’s scared of me.”
Sam Brownback in his own words
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback’s comments from his speech and a brief exchange Saturday with reporters.
“We need to support the foundational institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman for life.”
“We need a social security system in which all Americans are given a choice in how to prepare for their retirement; a choice they do not presently have.”
“I’ve never voted for a tax increase, and I certainly will never sign one.”
“We need a different income tax system altogether. This one, the Internal Revenue Code, should be taken behind the barn and killed with a dull axe.”
“I propose the creation of an alternative flat tax, which lets the people choose which system works for them.”
“Let’s put our energies into conquering the No. 1 fear in America … the fear of getting cancer. We can end deaths by cancer in 10 years.”
“We must address our health care problems with market-based solutions, not government-run health care.”
“And for goodness sakes, the last thing we need in America is to take God out of our public lives and institutions! We need to embrace our nation’s motto “In God We Trust,” not be ashamed of it.”
“To walk away from the Almighty is to embrace decline for a nation. To embrace Him leads to renewal … for individuals and for nations.”
“Let’s start following our hearts and work to protect all innocent life at all stages. It is all beautiful, it is all sacred, it is all unique whether it is here, whether it’s in the womb, whether it is somebody in poverty, whether it’s a child in Darfur, they’re all sacred and beautiful.”
“We need unity here to win over there.”
“At the end of the day, you’re going to see some form of three-state, one-country solution because there is just so much animosity and history between Sunni and Shia.”
Chances in race
“I’ve been a long shot when I ran for the United States Senate. My positions are at the heart of where the Republican Party is. I’m willing to take those positions with all comers. I think we’re in great shape.”