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Jay Nixon at the Missouri State Fair Governor’s Ham Breakfast.

Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) held a press conference at the Missouri State Fair, immediately after the early morning event. Our previous coverage: A ham breakfast at the Missouri State Fair

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon

Press Conference

Governor’s Ham Breakfast, Missouri State Fair, Sedalia, MO

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Question: …I asked Congressman Hulhof the same question earlier. Could you tell me just in a few words what differentiates you from him. You’re both kind a law and order guys and you’ve worked together on a lot of things. Why should we vote for you rather than him?

Jay Nixon: Well, I mean, first of all, we have a plan to move this state forward when it comes to health care, jobs, and college affordability. He’s been part of the problem in Washington, D.C. And he’s embraced what I think have been failed policies here, turning down over one point five billion dollars that Missourians have paid in taxes for health care that’s now being spent in other states. And living in a state where the uninsurance rate rising at three times the national average. Bottom line, I think there are very substantial differences between he and I. I think that, I think that the change that I’ve proposed is reasonable, straightforward, and will move the state forward….

…Question: What about restoring the health care cuts that were made by Governor Blunt in 2005? Would you, would it be a government, would the government get involved with that in your administration? Or, as Congressman Hulshof said, it would be a government/private partnership?

Jay Nixon: They’ve actually said nothing. They have no plan. I mean, there’s been no plan on their side to, to do anything except stay where we are. I mean, even this morning, when you see quoted in the Kansas City Star, the, the head of MO Healthnet saying that, that there’s significant problems out there. Well, they’ve had their four years. He came in, and the first thing he did was embrace Matt Blunt’s health care cuts and call it “forward thinking.” Having seven hundred fifty thousand people with no insurance, having premiums going up two thousand dollars for Missouri families, having a hundred twenty seven thousand kids, I’ve laid out a plan to move forward in that area, draw down those federal dollars. Missourians pay these taxes. We should bring those dollars back from D.C.

Question: Jay, is that going to be the focal point of this campaign, restoring those Medicaid cuts?

Jay Nixon: Well, I think there are a lot of differences. I mean, I, he supported selling away the student Higher Education Loan Authority, cashing out the one thing that can make college more affordable. I mean, we’ve seen him, you know, vote with the big oil companies. We’ve seen him, I mean, he’s got a clear record and, and he’s been in Washington, and, and this will be a civil and appropriate campaign about defining those differences. They’re very clear, and I think that the people of the State of Missouri are prepared to get this state moving forward in a much different direction.

Question: Kenny and other Republicans have said this is going, to follow up on the Medicare thing, is there any way you can restore those Medicaid cuts completely without increasing taxes?

Jay Nixon: Sure. We’re not gonna raise taxes. I mean, we’re gonna hold the line on taxes. I’ve said that from the very beginning of this campaign. We wanted, we want to run the government more efficiently and effectively. And certainly, I am, plus I’m not gonna take any, any, any strong criticism from anyone who’s been in Washington, has never even voted for a balanced budget. And has presided over the greatest increase of the national debt in this country’s history. So, I, I think that in my office I’ve run an efficient and effective office as Attorney General, returning, saving or returning twenty dollars and eighty cents for every dollar appropriated to the office. I’ve shown an ability to get people to work together. And we can do that, we can begin to move forward on health care, ‘Cause what we’re seein’, is because of these cuts, we’re seein’ businesses and folks that do have health care see their premiums and their co-pays firin’, firin’ up. And so it’s become an issue that is, is effects the economy of this state. When health care is more expensive, when it’s rising at the rate it is, it’s a problem for Missourians. We have drawn down [garbled], it’s important to know, I mean, sixty per cent of my plan is paid for by tax dollars that we’ve already paid. You know, that we turned down from D.C. Their, their plan to turn down those dollars was not smart, was not the right thing to do. It’s a significant difference between the two of us.

[crosstalk] Question: Jay, when you talk about, talk about big oil, your first post primary ad talks about Kenny’s support for subsidies for big oil. When he was asked a little while ago to respond to that ad he said,”Name one,”  as in “name one vote in which I supported oil subsidies.” Can you name one?

Jay Nixon: Sure, I mean, we’ve, we’ve, as you know Tony, we’ve laid out a clear document laying out a number of votes. This is a pattern. This is not one vote. This is not about finding one, we’re not in any trick maneuvers here. This is about laying out what’s a very clear voting record over a long number of years, supporting tax breaks for oil companies, of supporting a system that allows jobs to be outsourced, that’s been, they’ve been proud of that, they’ve been speaking on that. And it’s not one vote. It’s a series of votes. We have those cataloged. We’ll provide that documentation to any that wants to see those. It’s a clear difference in the campaign. And, and we’ll continue to press those differences on, on what, what are substantial issues like that.

Question: What do federal tax breaks for oil companies have to do with being governor?

Jay Nixon: Well, I think it defines. It, I’ve had, I’ve been attorney general and I’ve had a job when, when we had challenges with, with price gouging I went after the price gougers. He’s had twelve years to be a congressman, he chose to vote with the oil companies. We’ve each been given the, the people’s power in that sense to choose with which side we wanted to be on. He chose to be on big oil’s side, I chose to be on Missouri consumers’ side.

Question: What about the future of agriculture under your leadership versus under Hulshof”s leadership?

Jay Nixon: Well, first of all, I’m very excited about the future of agriculture. I mean, we’ve, we have, I mean we see real opportunities in alternative fuels, not only in ethanol, not only in biodiesel, not, not only in all of the others, switch grass, and all the other things, but also a new energy to market and direct market our products from the rice fields of the bootheel, to the, to the corn fields of north Missouri. I think we’re in a situation where, where we’ve got huge opportunities for Missouri agriculture. I am very excited about, about us moving forward in agriculture, and look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to do the same.

[crosstalk] Question: Missouri Farm Bureau got, gave their endorsement to Hulshof, strongly, you did have some support in that vote. What are you going to do to try to win over those farmers?

Jay Nixon: Well, I mean, I, the farmers that were there, I think I had a number that are supporters. You know, Farm Bureau obviously is, as they’ve said themselves, I mean, they’re, they’re part of the Republican establishment and, and I appreciate that. I, I think it was important for me to come and speak, as I do. I’m not, I haven’t given up any corner of the state and, and you know, they themselves say they were part of the establishment on the other side. so it didn’t su
rprise me that they went that way. But I just think that all of those groups deserve the respect, Their involvement in the system is, is appreciated and is respected. And I’ll continue to lay out my, my clear vision for the future of Missouri agriculture to them.

Question: Do you support the ethanol mandate and, if not, to what extent do you support ethanol production in Missouri.

Jay Nixon: I, I support the mandate. I think that, that clearly, I’ve said that on, on a number of occasions. I think we’ve gotten of to a good start. I do think that, that making sure that we, we focus on, on farmer owned cooperatives for any ethanol plants we build in the future. And make sure that we have claw back provisions so that if an oil company or somebody comes in and tries to buy one that, that we don’t lose the tax benefits that we gave ’em to begin. But no, certainly, I think that, that we’re seeing a downward pressure through, through ethanol in, in the system right now. And, and I think continuing to, we can’t sit around and wait for Washington to solve the energy crisis problems, okay. They’ve had twelve years and here we are, gas at four dollars a gallon, people worried about their heating bills coming up, folks arguing about things, I mean, that’ll, that’ll happen in three or four years. You know, here in Missouri we haven’t waited on Washington, D.C, we’ve taken action. I’m gonna support the action we’ve taken and we’re gonna expand the action in many other areas.

Question: Where else do you want to expand in terms of energy policy?

Jay Nixon: I think, I mean, we’re, I think, first of all wind. I mean, obviously we, we’ve gotten the, the beginnings of wind. We’ll be up in a few weeks visiting, Once again, that area of our state. I think conservation and, and efficiency issues are huge out there. And so I think that, that working to make sure we have a whole, I’ve said before, I mean, as governor I want Missouri to be an energy exporting state not an energy importing state. I don’t want to get us in a situation California was a few years ago, or any other states have been. We need to produce our power, we need to have more power than we need so that we always have the capacity to move things forward. And, and there’s a large menu of options for us to move forward.

Question: What about nuclear?

Jay Nixon: I certainly haven’t taken that off the table. I do think it’s important to note if that is moved forward that, that if the rate payers of Missouri are, are, end up being involved in that that they should, that they should get the profits. I mean if that power is wheeled out of the State of Missouri then, then the people that build that should get that profits in lower rates. So I don’t think that we, that while, while nuclear is certainly an option on the table, one we’ll seriously consider, and one we’ll look at, I think it’s very important to remember that the people of this state passed and, and we’ve supported for a lot of years, making sure that, that we didn’t have rates jacked up just because of that. And it’s very, very important with that level of capacity that if that project moves forward that, that the folks that pay for that, i.e. the rate payers of the State of Missouri, would benefit directly not, not just pass on that value over to the shareholders and for profit investor owned utility, but instead be a situation that the state was gonna, gonna allow that to move forward to be able to see the downward pressure on people’s bills, heating bills, and cooling bills over the long run.

Question: Would you support a change to Missouri law that allows Ameren UE to collect some of the money from rate payers before the plant is built?

Jay Nixon: I think the [garbled] is, is a focal point of, of discussion here. I, you know, it’s, it’s an expensive plant, it’s, we need to be energy independent, we need to look at all the options we’ve got, but I think that’s the focal point that guarantees that, that law will, will is, is, gives us the strength to, to, if we do move forward in nuclear, give us the strength to get an option in which Missouri rate payers don’t pay, they actually profit from the additional power that’s made. I think that will be the, the one of the key fulcrum points of any negotiations prior to the State of Missouri signing off on those [crosstalk]…

Question:…So do you support the status quo, or do you support the Ameren UE’s position that maybe that needs to be loosened so that they can get the financing that they [crosstalk]

Jay Nixon: I’m not seeing that their position in, in writing, and in something of the, this magnatude I, I wanna see exactly where they stand. I think that it’s important to see the, the frame of this is, is that, you know, if we move forward, clearly because of that law there’s gonna have to be, have to be, that’s gonna have to be looked at. I, I have a long record of standing up for consumers. I have a long record of making sure Missourians don’t, through their utility bills, pay for, for just profits that go to Wall Street. But, but understanding that, that is the focal point of any negotiations we would have, Tony.

Question: What about ethanol incentives and other biofuel incentives? Do you think that that is an unending thing that we should support?

Jay Nixon: Well, I think we’re still at the, we’re still at the early stages of those. And we have, we have, we have farmer owned co-ops, and the alternatives that are there, and even some of the biodiesel plants now that are running, you know, chicken fat and other things, I mean, we’re, we’re the time in which embracing science, embracing technology, embracing wholeheartedly the future of what we can invent, what we can, what we can support is very important. And I think to, to cut off at this particular juncture the creativity and the possibilities of, of scientists and science and opportunities in Missouri is the wrong thing to do. I support continuing the mandates. I continue to support the, the plants and the programs that are out there to, to make sure that we in Missouri are continuing to be on the cutting edge of competitiveness. We can’t wait for Washington and we’re gonna have to do it ourselves.

Question: So there’s not much to differentiate you from Hulshof when it comes to agriculture?

Jay Nixon: Well, I, I mean, I don’t know. There, there are issues in which our, our, our divisions are, are starker, shall we say. And issues that I think will be the contention, I mean, you know, I think all of us understand the importance of agriculture right here being at the state ham breakfast. All of us recognize that. We see how people trek from all across the state to, to join with each other at this, at this great, great fair because they’re joined together. And in the past, I mean, in many of the areas involving agriculture they’ve been nonpartisan. I mean they’ve, they’ve been folks reaching across the aisle to move this state forward. It wasn’t like it was just the Democrats and the Republicans idea at the time to, to move ethanol forward in Missouri. It wasn’t like just the Democrats or Republicans. This is an area where I think there are a lot of potentials to agree, a lot of potential to keep politics, you know, away, away from this. And I hope to be the kind of governor that, that inspires that, that action.

Question: Jay, a crass political question. The Democratic Party has suggested that the two million dollars or so that Matt Blunt has received, he should not turn over to Kenny Hulshof. Do you care one way or the other?

Jay Nixon: Well, I mean, I, I think he should follow the law.

Question: After the twenty eighth, I mean, when it’s okay to give the money?

Jay Nixon: I think, like I said before, I think, I think he should follow the law. You know, he raised that money, it’s, it’s up to him as to what he does with it. I think that, you know, I, I, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about process right now, guys, I, I really don’t. I’m. I’m, I’m not the campaign manager. I’m not, I’m not as, as strategic. You know, what I’m trying to do is lay out a clear vision for Missourian
s. I’m trying to, trying to make sure that we’ve got the resources to get our message out. And that’s what I’m gonna do. And, and, so…

Question: What will you, what will you do, if anything, to help the Democratic party unify behind Attorney General candidate Chris Koster?

Jay Nixon: I mean, unlike the Republicans, we actually got together after the election. I mean, I, I brought everybody to Kansas City. We all, we all stood together. And I think that we’re well on our way to, to healing the rifts, not only there, but we had a lot of other local legislative races. I mean, I follow that up with, with a session in the City of St. Louis, with their, where we had a serious of, of challenging primaries. I think Democrats are united for change. I really do. I mean, as I travel the state people are united. They are, they, they understand that, that, that the person I’m running against and the folks on the other side have been part of the problems. Especially easy to explain that in Jeff City where the other side has controlled the house, controlled the senate, and controlled the governorship at a time in which we’re seeing gas prices up, energy prices up, the economy in, in problems, once again announcements today of more jobs lost in, in Kansas City at the airline hub spot there. So what we’re seein’, I think, people are united for change. I, I, I fully expect that we’ll be able to bring together, continue to, I mean, that’s why we, we stress that early and we’ll continue to bring folks together.

Question: You mentioned some of the legislative races. Do you think your name on the ticket will help the Democrats in some of the state house and state senate races?

Jay Nixon: You know, I, I…

Question: Grab on to your coat tails, essentially?

Jay Nixon: I, I feel strong and I, I, I’m happy, and enjoy campaigning with our candidates out there. And, and hope to, to help us, you know, secure the majority in, in the house so that let’s us have the speaker, certainly. And, and I have had a lot of contact with candidates, helping them, working with them, as most of you know. I mean, I’ve traveled to, to all corners of the state. I mean I’ve, I’ve not shied away from any. We, we said at the very beginning we weren’t gonna, you know, we were gonna compete in all corners of the state. And we have. We’re gonna continue to do that. We’re gonna continue to work with our local candidates in those areas to have a unified message. A unified message of change to move this state forward.

Question: Do you think, I mean, as governor how important is it to have one friendly body in the legislature?

Jay Nixon: Well, I mean I, I’ve said that from the very beginning that [garbled] like a governor, whether it’s Democrats or Republicans in the legislature. That I’m gonna work, I’m gonna meet with every member of the legislature, Democrat or Republican, and ask them why they ran and what’s important to them and how we can move this state forward. So yeah, it would be helpful to have, have folks of my party in, in that situation. But, my, my job is to, is to lay out a vision for the people of Missouri. Lay out that vision in this campaign. And then, then execute that vision. And, and I just believe that, I mean, whether people ride elephants or donkeys to work in the legislature, or in Jeff City, people of the State of Missouri expect them to  work. And that’s been the way that I’ve dealt with my twenty plus years of public service and the way I’m gonna deal with it as governor. Thank you all, very, very much.