Independent Senatorial Candidate and former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler called me today in response to the list of e-mailed Qs I sent him yesterday. Given the last minute rush before the polls and the sudden hubub of activity that must be hitting his campaign this weekend now that both the Sioux Falls and Rapid City papers have endorsed him, I feel pretty good about Pressler taking the time to talk to me personally.
We got to a few of my Qs. Time permitting he'll get to the rest of them in some depth, either via e-mail or by phone, before the polls open on Tuesday. You can scroll down to the previous post to see what each question asked. Here's what he said:
Q1: He would exclude VT Senator Bernie Sanders from consideration as a member in his "centrist" clique of Independents. Sanders, though an Independent, is probably the most extreme of the U.S. Senate liberals and I couldn't imagine him having a place at a tableful of centrists. So Senator Sanders, consider yourself "included out" of that little club if a Senator Pressler has his way.
Q2: Time wouldn't let me pursue it. I'm hoping Pressler will name some names in the near future.
Q3: No, Pressler would not have voted for a government shutdown. He says that this is in keeping with the general theme of his campaign: that he sees himself as a problem solver, not a representative who will resort to extreme measures during a legislative standoff.
Q4: Pressler would consider each debt ceiling extension on its own merits, basically looking for what the President would offer in the way of spending limit commitments as each extension vote comes up.
Q5: Time wouldn't let me pursue it. This one was so contentious that an answer from Pressler would reveal a great deal about his mindset on dealing with the costs of providing food assistance to those who qualify for SNAP, aka "food stamps."
Q6: Pressler does not support the Keystone XL pipeline as presently routed. His concerns are twofold: 1) the possible damage to the aquifers in the region, and 2) the extra cost of piping crude to the south, followed by the refined products coming back up here to the north, which he believes would add $1/gallon to the final cost. His suggestion is to route the crude east from ND, then south to midwestern refineries, solving both the environmental and economic problems.
Q7: Yes, he supports ACA, though he probably would not have voted for it. "We're so far into it," he told me, that trying to repeal or substantially revise it now would be difficult, impractical, and probably politically impossible. He said that he'd consider some changes, but that ACA is here to stay.
Q8: Yes, he's for Medicaid expansion in South Dakota and that he would support it.
Q9: Time ran out. Let's hope for a comment soon.
Q10: Time ran out. Still hoping for something.
All in all, I give kudos to Pressler for coming up with direct answers to my questions. I think he was unequivocal in his replies. I believe his upfrontness with me is an asset and that he merits serious consideration at the polls on Tuesday.