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The Blunt Truth

He should win the Missouri Senate race.

Jul 5, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 40 • By FRED BARNES
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Blunt is dismissive of Carnahan on spending. “I don’t think anybody in Missouri believes that Robin Carnahan will spend less money than I will,” he says. Tea party activists and small government conservatives are another story. Blunt hasn’t solidified their support yet, but his speeches are honed to appeal to them. 

He voted for only half the TARP bailout of banks in 2008, and most of that $350 billion has been paid back, he says. And he’s always voted for the budget with the least amount of spending. When he was majority leader for 100 days after DeLay stepped down, he engineered a $40 billion cut in entitlement spending. He also secured funding for 700 miles of fence along the border with Mexico.

“If there were one big thing we could go back and do again,” he told me, “it would be to insist we have fights over spending. We were so focused on the responsibility [to prevent another terrorist attack] that we didn’t have the veto fights.” Had President Bush vetoed “a series” of spending bills, “the Republican party would be in better shape today and so would the country.” Republicans had the votes to sustain vetoes, Blunt says.

So far, Blunt has out-campaigned Carnahan. When he addressed a business group in Columbia recently, it was his 500th campaign event. The next day, he completed his tour of Missouri’s 114 counties and St. Louis. He’s waiting until he and Carnahan go head-to-head after the August primary to air television ads. Liberal groups have spent at least $1.3 million against him, but their TV spots are so over-the-top—in one, the Blunt character drips with oil from his hands and feet—that they appear to have had little effect.

Most analysts of congressional races—Larry Sabato, Nate Silver, Stuart Rothenberg—give Blunt a slight edge over Carnahan, as they should. The doubts among Republicans about Blunt have dissolved. Despite misgivings, the tea party crowd is likely to embrace him. “The reality of the race is that Roy Blunt is the only opportunity to hold on to Kit Bond’s seat,” says conservative talk radio host Mike Ferguson.

Missouri is never an easy state for Republicans. But John McCain narrowly defeated Obama there in 2008, and this year the main issues—the economy, jobs, spending, the deficit, debt—are Republican strengths. “As far as I know, Robin Carnahan and I don’t agree on anything,” Blunt says. “It’s not complicated.”

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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