Baron Hill comes out swinging at fund-raiser in Frenchtown
Feisty and newly ‘invigorated,’ former Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill, D-Seymour, vowed Saturday in Frenchtown to beat well-funded Republican incumbent Mike Sodrel and help put America ‘back on the right track.’
Hill said everywhere he goes in the far-flung Ninth District, he hears people say they are fed up with the Bush-Cheney and Gov. Mitch Daniels administrations. Their approval ratings have dropped into the high 30s lately in Southern Indiana. Hill said Sodrel supports Bush 90 percent of the time and former House leader Tom DeLay (now under indictment) 95 percent of the time.
Speaking at a Harrison County Democratic Central Committee fund-raiser luncheon at the new Frenchtown Community Center, Hill said that if voters are happy with spending $80 billion for the war in Iraq, thousands of casualties, tax breaks for big oil companies and the wealthy, a mind-boggling federal deficit, cuts in agriculture and college loan programs, then they should vote for Republicans. ‘But if you want an independent voice who’s not afraid to question Bush and the more liberal Democrats in Congress, if you want to move this country in a different direction, then I’m your man,’ Hill said. He said grassroots voters would make the difference in the 2006 races.
Hill said he senses a new energy among Democrats everywhere he goes, and he encouraged the many local candidates and officeholders present to pursue public service because it’s ‘honorable, noble and worthwhile.’ Next to church work, he said, ‘this is the most important work in this life. You people here in politics make the community, state, nation and world a better place to live.’
Although he is dismayed at the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Sodrel has raised through visits by such GOP notables as President Bush, Vice President Cheney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bush strategist Karl Rove and, tomorrow night in Corydon, Lynne Cheney, Hill said he knows that money is not everything. He quipped, ‘If money meant everything, Ross Perot would be president, right?’
Hill told of a high-pressure meeting in 2003 that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and other White House strategists held for 35 conservative and moderate Congressmen who weren’t convinced that the United States should wage war on Iraq. They were told that Saddam Hussein had unmanned drone airplanes that could attack the United States plus centrifuge tubes for making nuclear material. They were told Iraq could wage chemical and biological warfare.
After the impressive high-level briefing at the Pentagon, Hill said he wanted to do the responsible thing for the safety of America. He voted for the resolution for war against Iraq. Four months later, an Air Force general said in a magazine story that the top administration officials were told the intelligence had been ‘manipulated’ and was not true. The hawks in the administration shouldn’t be using that as an argument to go to war. They did anyway, Hill said.
With Republicans now controlling the White House, Congress and apparently the Supreme Court, Hill said the country is suffering from one-party rule. ‘We’ve lost the checks and balances. We need them.’
He said Democrats must regain control of Congress if this country hopes to do things to help average Americans, like change the Medicare prescription problems because, as things stand now, ‘the Republicans are in bed with the pharmaceutical companies.’
At the Frenchtown meeting, State Rep. Paul Robertson, D-Depauw, pointed out that it was Hill who challenged Daniels when the governor told Southern Indiana’s senators and representatives to support his unpopular ‘Major Moves’ transportation program if they wanted to see an East End bridge built across the Ohio River to Louisville.
‘Daniels shouldn’t be using it (the bridge) for blackmail,’ Hill said. It’s a federal project and is a ‘huge economic development project.’
Robertson predicted that it will be built. ‘And we did not vote for Major Moves,’ he said
In answer to another question, Hill told Susan Minton that he would fight hard to make sure that programs like HeadStart are not dismantled when people depend on them.
Hill also expressed disgust that the Democrats have allowed themselves to be painted as anti-family, anti-God and pro-gay. ‘I’m sick and tired of the Republicans saying that we are not family-oriented, that God is on their side. Hill said he and his wife, Betty, attend a United Methodist church in Seymour and would be there Sunday. ‘We love God, too. It’s amazing that we have to defend ourselves that we are God-fearing and church-going people.’
As the Democrats cheered, Hill said, ‘I don’t mind saying it: I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore! This country is moving in the wrong direction and we all know it.’
He told the group of about 125 that he would counter malicious and false advertising in his district with legal action, and that he plans to visit churches where congregations were told from the pulpit that they should vote Republican in the 2004 race.
Mark Redden, chairman of the Harrison County Democratic Central Committee, said afterward that Hill was ‘getting a little more aggressive, finally, and going after it a little harder.’
The fund-raiser, put on by the Harrison County Democrat Women’s and Men’s Club, raised more than $2,000 for Hill, Redden said.
Hill introduced his friend Adrian Jacobs, 86, a combat veteran of World War II who finally received his Purple Heart 60 years after he was wounded in fierce fighting in the Battle of the ‘Zig-Zag Pass’ in the Philippines. Hill helped the Mauckport veteran get his award.
Hill also praised Spencer Township precinct committeeman Eddie Troncin for holding office for more than 52 years.