Thune talks with USU crowd

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

Congressman John Thune brought his campaign for the U.S. Senate to the SDSU campus last Tuesday in an SDSU College Republicans-sponsored forum in the student union Market.

Thune began the forum by updating the audience on the latest developments in Washington, particularly the authorization that Congress gave President Bush to use military force against Iraq.

The congressman said his number one priority was to keep Americans safe.

Thune said that issues to be addressed in Congress were homeland security, the budget and further drought assistance.

He said that South Dakota farmers had already received about $80 million in drought aid and that this drought aid was obtained from discretionary funds and did not require an act of Congress.

He said that further drought aid would be difficult to pass until “the Senate gets back on track” and that a post-election session of Congress would be likely.

When asked about health care, Thune said that the high cost of health care is a drag on the economy.

Thune said he supports a health savings plan and tax deductions of health insurance for the self-employed. He told the gathering that there is no end in sight to the health care problem and that increasing premiums are partially an aftereffect of 9/11.

He also said that proposed Medicare changes are currently being stalled in the Senate.

In response to a remark about the campaign tone, Thune said that he asked Senator Johnson to limit the influence of outside groups and avoid negative advertising.

According to Thune, Johnson refused and Thune and his backers voluntarily avoided being negative until he was attacked by environmental groups after the June primary.

Thune said that the “ads of the candidates get lost” in the barrage of negative outside attacks. He said that many outside ads are designed to be confusing and that the passage of campaign finance reform should help in future elections.

“I hope voters respond more to personal contact,” he said

When asked about current campaign advertising, he said, “I am not aware of any negative ads my campaign is running.”

Thune said that the Congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq will avoid conflict and hoped that military action would be a last resort.

He said that the United States needs to deal with Iraq before a catastrophe happens.

Thune said, “It’s only a matter of time before Iraq uses weapons of mass destruction.”

When asked why he’s running for Senate, Thune said that it was a family decision and that he can make a big difference and have a major impact. He described the Senate as a “great place.”