Many among crowd urge Russ to run
Published Tuesday, May 30, 2006 1:37:23 PM Central Time
By Brian Gray
of the Times
NEW GLARUS -- If Saturday's listening session is any indication, voters in Green County support a Sen. Russ Feingold campaign for president in 2008.
"Someone mentioned that if Hillary Clinton isn't the nominee in 2008 you will be," one member of the audience told Feingold as others applauded vigorously.
Feingold, D-Middleton, smiled at the comment.
"This is supposed to be a non-political meeting," he joked. "But you're certainly free to say whatever you like."
About 60 people attended Feingold's listening session in New Glarus and questions ranged from the recent theft of veterans' personal information to Feingold's call for a censure of President George W. Bush.
"I don't think President Bush should be censured. I think he should be impeached," one woman told Feingold.
"I thank you for your comment because that makes me look like a moderate," Feingold laughed. "We do have a serious Constitutional crisis here. It's troubling."
Feingold said he's concerned the president has signed bills into law and then has written that he won't abide by things in the law he disagrees with.
"In December the president said he could do anything he wanted. I thought 'Oh really.' That's why I proposed a censure," he said.
Some senators have supported the idea of a censure. Feingold said it's something that's going to take time, but it's something that needs to be done.
"The president broke the law and there needs to be some accountability," he declared.
Many of those at the meeting just wanted to tell Feingold they support what he's doing. Others asked about issues recently in the news.
Joe Cousin, Albany, told Feingold he would like to see a war on poverty, similar to the efforts in the 1960s, with Pres. Feingold standing in front of a sign that reads "mission accomplished."
Feingold said health care and poverty continue to be a problem throughout the country and need to be addressed.
"I think there's going to be a rude shock when people realize how far behind we are when it comes to those issues," he said.
Mike Furgal, Monroe, said he was upset about the theft of veterans' identification information and said the government's response was not adequate.
"They want veterans to call an 800 number but a lot of veterans have problems seeing or hearing and can't call. Other veterans live in nursing homes and can't call."
Furgal encouraged Feingold to support a plan by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for the government to monitor veterans' credit for free for one year. Feingold said he would look into the plan.
One person asked Feingold why he thinks it's important for the Democrats to win control of either the House of Representatives or the Senate in November.
"It's important we not have one party rule," he replied. "We could block a lot of bad things. For example, gay marriage and flag burning are distractions to real issues.
"I love and respect the flag and I think anyone who burns the flag is an idiot. But I don't think we need a Constitutional amendment. Even horrible speech is protected."
Feingold also spent time Saturday at a listening session in Darlington.