Candidates for governor blame lack of leadership for MU protests

The candidates promised to bring better jobs to the state, provide strong leadership, cut business regulations and fix infrastructure.
The Missouri Theatre host the Republican governor debate on March 17 in Columbia.

Republican candidates at Thursday’s gubernatorial debate criticized what they called a lack of leadership on MU’s campus and in Ferguson, Missouri.

The debate featured Marine Corp. officer John Brunner, Navy Seal Eric Greitens, attorney Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. The event was held at 7 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre, and attendees filled most of the 1,200 seats.

The candidates said they would bring better jobs to the state and cut income taxes. They were also asked about infrastructure, the legalization of marijuana, minimum wage, race relations in the state and November’s protests at MU.

“There has to be an end to the politically correct foolishness on this campus,” Kinder said.

He cited what he saw as a lack of leadership on campus and at the state level as the reason for the fall’s events.

The other candidates agreed.

“The crisis right here on campus spun out of control because the governor wouldn’t come to the frontlines,” Greitens said.

Brunner called MU the “gem of Missouri” but said that “a little less time (should have been spent) out on the fields protesting.” He said conflicts should be handled by leaders, and that administrative positions should include fewer lawyers. He said he would recommend budget cuts if MU kept working with Columbia’s Planned Parenthood facility.

“It’s important that we have accountability,” Brunner said. “That’s all that the people of Missouri want.”

Hanaway said that if she were to be elected governor, “teachers will teach, scholarship-athletes will play and students will go to class without calls for muscle.”

The candidates said they felt that the lack of leadership at MU during November’s protests mirrored Gov. Jay Nixon’s response to the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Kinder called the Ferguson protests “the worst betrayal of leadership in the history of the state,” while Hanaway said the governor failed to develop a relationship with the Ferguson community prior to the protests and “created a sense of hysteria.” Hanaway and Greitens both agreed that Ferguson police officers were abandoned.

The candidates agreed on a number of factors, including cutting the state income tax to under 6 percent, decreasing regulations on business, supporting right-to-work laws, simplifying the tax code and objecting to legalizing recreational marijuana. They agreed that Missouri’s roads and infrastructure needed significant improvements.

They disagreed, however, about each other's trustworthiness.

Hanaway and Kinder criticized Greitens for accepting a $1 million donation from a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was recently accused of sexually abusing his partner for over 13 years and paying her $10 million in hush money.

“This is what happens when desperate politicians get very desperate,” Greitens said. “I like Catherine, but you just can’t trust her. She’s willing to convict people in the court of public opinion.”

Edited by Emily Gallion and Allyson Vasilopulos | egallion@themaneater.com

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