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Columbia Missourian

Carnahan backs stimulus package, quick action

By DAVID A. LIEB/The Associated Press Writer
March 7, 2009 | 6:02 p.m. CST

HANNIBAL — Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan indicated her support for the federal economic stimulus package Saturday while Democrats rallied behind her as their U.S. Senate candidate for 2010.

Carnahan is the only Democrat to declare her candidacy for the seat being vacated by longtime Republican Sen. Kit Bond. At the annual Missouri Democrat Days event in Hannibal, party leaders from Gov. Jay Nixon on down expressed their unity behind Carnahan.

Republicans, by contrast, might be headed toward a primary. U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt already has declared his Senate candidacy for 2010, and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman has said she also is leaning toward running.

Blunt voted against the $787 billion federal economic stimulus plan signed by President Barack Obama, telling Republicans at their state conference last month in Kansas City that the large spending plan "is going to be devastating to our country for a long time."

Steelman also has criticized the federal stimulus law.

Carnahan said she was not familiar with all the details of the stimulus law but added that she "would have come down on the side of action."

"For the folks who say doing nothing was an option, I disagree with that," Carnahan said in an interview.

In an e-mail newsletter earlier this week, Blunt described Carnahan as "a faithful Obama liberal" and said it is vital for Republicans to hold on to the seat being vacated by Bond to prevent "a wide-open 24/7 ATM for President Obama and a one-party liberal Congress.

Democrats have targeted the Missouri Senate seat as they try to pick up the one vote necessary to give them a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority.

Carnahan on Saturday rebuffed Blunt's description of her as an example of "slinging political rhetoric and nonsense," and instead referred to herself as "progressive." She also denounced Blunt's focus on keeping the Senate seat so that Republicans can retain their filibuster strength.

"There are insider folks in Washington where this is what they talk about all the time," Carnahan said. "The folks around here, and the folks in our state who have lost their jobs or are having a hard time meeting their payroll and their house prices and retirement accounts have plummeted, this isn't on the top of their mind. They're looking for somebody to go to Washington who's committed to solving problems."