Montana Politics Steve Daines

Put on your hip boots, it’s a Steve Daines “teletownhall”

Let’s say you have to take an important exam. Fortunately, you have a staff that gets the questions in advance and prepares the answers for you.

That was Sen. Steve Daines’ “teletownhall” meeting last night — a rambling pile of alt-facts from a scripted Republican playbook.

I found out about the teleconference from a Facebook post 15 minutes before it started, and logged in. An operator took my question and then I listened in as Daines pontificated, and pimped for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, while his staff scrambled for talking points to the callers’ queries.

It was a classic case of misdirection — verbose, disconnected responses to questions asked — and a piss poor excuse for a town hall meeting.

Most of the questions took Daines to task. Callers wanted to know why he voted for Secretary of Education Betsy Devos; they were worried about their health care if the ACA is repealed; they wondered what would happen to Montana’s Superfund sites if the EPA is dismantled; they asked about any Trump/Russia connections.

Daines heaped praise on DeVos, gave bogus health care statistics, told us he was just trying to reign in the EPA’s “overreach,” and said he opposed an independent investigation into Russia’s alleged influence in campaign and administrative affairs.

A guy from Bozeman, with an obvious science background, wanted to know why Daines supported Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s first official act: ending the ban on lead bullets, shot and fishing tackle. To say that Daines was out of his depth in responding would be an understatement.

He gave a backhanded compliment to Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist saying he liked his music but then parroted the party line, Quist is “too liberal for Montanans.” He hinted that Quist would make folks register their guns and that he’d also be welcoming radical Islamist terrorists into our communities with open arms.

Daines also took a poll, asking callers to push 2 if they supported Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice or 3 if they were opposed. Toward the end of the phone conference, he released the numbers: 56% in favor, 25% opposed and the rest unsure or no opinion. This surprised me as it seemed most of the callers had a bone to pick with the good Senator. A show of hands at a real town hall meeting would have been more believable.

But a real town hall meeting isn’t in the offing. Daines wouldn’t be able to prescreen questions or have staff feeding him white papers and talking points. He’d have to deal with follow-up questions. There’d be more scrutiny of his impromptu polls.

He wouldn’t be able to choreograph the event and would have to give real, unscripted answers to the people, although you still might need those hip waders.



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  • Quist started off his campaign with well prepared scripted talking points targeting issues he assumed Democrats and swing voters wanted to hear. I suspect he had quite a bit of help from Schweitzer or one of his people.

    Then, he went off script and responded to questions from voters in town halls and on radio programs and strayed into politically dangerous territory, advocating for gun registration (“You register your car to drive, why not your guns” ) and sanctuary cities. Montana editorials and talk news programs had a field day with those comments.

    At best, it wasn’t the opening PR week Quist was looking for.

    • It’s been an excellent “opening PR week” for Quist — much more press than Gianforte and way more positive. He’s an interesting newcomer. Gianforte is stale news.

      As to gun registration, that quote followed on the heels of this exchange:

      “He’s a gun owner who never saw the need for private ownership of assault-style weapons. ‘As far as these automatic weapons, I’m definitely old school,’ he said, ‘You register your car to drive, why not your guns?'”

      An off-the-cuff comment, no doubt, but why it strikes fear in the hearts of law abiding gun owners is beyond me. Thanks, though, for bringing up the old Obama-era meme, “He’s going to take your guns away.” Is this the best Republicans can come up with? Cue Gary Marbut.

      • With all respect Pete, I think Democrats are underestimating the gun registration issue. Brian Schweitzer fully recognized Montanan’s resistance to government interference with private citizen’s ownership of guns. Schweitzer strongly opposed an assault weapons ban, had an A rating from the NRA and was a strong supporter of most pro-gun bills. If Quist wants to keep discussing the introduction of any kind of new gun registration laws then he will find his path to Washington DC a lot more difficult.

        • So it’s all about guns. That’s a pitiful comment on the electorate. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid take a back seat along with the economy, the environment and foreign policy. Good to see we have our priorities straight.

          • It’s is pitiful that a father would spend $1500 on an AR-15 while his children have no dental care, let alone any healthcare! That father could get by with a 30-06 for hunting, who NEEDS an assault weapon that only ENRICHES the NRA gun lobby and they make donations to the likes of Daines, Gianforte and GOP ilk. Daines ‘gushed’ over Devos – the DUNCE – and how he pitched ‘local’ control of schools and avoided any discussion of public funding diverted to religious schools, etc.

  • The fats already in the fire and Flaming! Saw an old apolitical friend today who knows guns.
    He likes Quist but does not trust him on constant fire assault weapons. BECAUSE he has long heard and read that after registering assault weapons, the government will want other special guns registered. Maybe .50 rifles and snub nose hand guns.
    Maybe tens of thousands gun owners in Montana are recently educated by radio and friends and dealers and NRA and some newspapers about Quist and gun control
    The fats in the fire and chances are thousands of people are being manipulated to flame Quist.

  • Rob Quist wimps out on gun control. I would register all firearms, just like automobiles, real estate, and marriages. And there may be a case for registering high powered squirt guns. There’s no case for going crazy because a candidate for political office makes a common sense comment on firearms. The Gunpowder Caucus needs to take some valium, stop reading the paranoid firearms magazine, give the NRA the finger next to the trigger finger, and return to the world of reason, or take their shootin’ irons to Afghanistan or Syria where they can shoot off both their mouths and assault weapons at everything and duck incoming fire all the time.

  • Try this approach. Private schools. The money follows the student. Parents make the choice. Better for all. Competition for the public schools to make them better and the parents choice, not the public schools making the decision what is best for all?

    • Even within the public school system the money does not follow the student. Money is appropriated to the schools from the state based upon a formula that is primarily but not entirely based upon student numbers, but that does not mean that the same amount of money is spent upon each child. Special needs and low scoring kids cost districts the most, this is followed by the high level learners at the middle and high school levels. If a kid participates in extra curricular activities they also cost more. If a child is an average student, has no disabilities and does not participate in activities they are a bargain to the district. Also when levies are passed by local taxpayers this money is above the state minimum of 80% and is only to be used within the confines of that district. Most property owners would be upset to find that money voted on by people within a district is then being diverted to a private entity that they have no control over. Also why should a person of the Jewish faith have their tax dollars sent to a Christian school that may teach that Jews are heretics that killed Jesus. If a person does not want their children to attend public school they have the choice to send them to a private school or to teach them at home, but when they make this choice they are also obligated to find a way to pay for it. My kids attended parochial school for several years as I was not happy with the administrator of our local K-8 school, I worked a lot of Saturdays and late nights to pay for this, my choice. The day you allow kids to opt out of public schools and take what you perceive as their share of funding with them, it will be the end of public schools and the beginning of the end of America as we know it.

      • Rather an ominous observation. Perhaps many parents may disagree with you and prefer a choice in schools to increase competition and also, this may drive improvements in public schools.

        • There already is a provision to create charter schools in Montana through the existing public school districts. The reason Republicans reject that idea is because the charter school would be held to the same legal standards. They can’t use tax funds to support sectarian programs and the same anti discrimination laws apply. Bozeman already has one. Other districts are looking at them.

          • Corrine, thanks for some resolution as to why existing law IS NOT ACCEPTABLE to some sectors.
            Might you pass on some background/backstory
            about chronology of Bozeman school district charter school program.

            • Corrine, thanks,

              HELENA (AP) — A Democrat’s proposal to establish a statewide charter school system faces an uncertain future in Montana, even as Republicans hailed it as an opportunity to lift struggling schools.

              Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder wants to establish a seven-member charter school commission to oversee the new program. Democrats have generally been opposed to charter schools, and a policy adviser for Gov. Steve Bullock spoke against the proposal during a hearing before the House Education Committee on Wednesday.

              Republican leaders say Windy Boy’s proposal could provide the necessary flexibility to help struggling students, particularly those in Montana’s native country.

              The proposal could also face legal challenges. A legislative legal review raised concerns about whether the Legislature has the constitutional authority to establish a charter school commission.

              • Montana House passes charter school bill
                Associated Press Feb 27, 2017
                MISSOULA – The Montana House has passed a bill to create a charter school system for the state.

                The House approved the measure 55-44 Monday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

                The bill by Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder would allow a school district to request a charter school if 20 percent of voters there petition for one.

                The schools would not be subject to the state Board of Public Education’s supervision or to accreditation standards. They would be overseen by a new commission.

                Supporters include House Speaker Austin Knudsen. The Culbertson Republican says people have choices in just about every facet of their lives except for education.

                Opponents say they are concerned by the schools’ lack of accountability to school boards and that they would take money away from public schools.

                • oh well, Bullock will veto this due to pressure from the MEA-MFT and teachers protecting their jobs. All will have to wait till 2020.

  • I was on the ‘FAKE’ town hall and didn’t get to ask any question, had to listen to Daine’s ‘gushing’ love of GorSICK and attacks demeaning Rob Quist as an ‘amusing banjo player’ without experience when that’s suck a load of horse manure since DAINES never held ANY office before he ‘smoozed’ into Congress and then became SHUTDOWN STEVE and screwing veterans and folks depending on Uncle Sam and more! I told Daines staff we need a REAL TOWN HALL like Tom Cotton did, stop hiding behind a telephone, MAN UP Daines since you’re not even up for election till 2020!

  • Couldn’t agree more with James Conner. A couple years back, I made the mistake and joined the NRA. They called my home quite often with messages of crazy scare tactics.Their magazines were even worse. Some were recordings, and some were real people. What a joke…. I can’t believe people fall for their nonsense.

    The NRA supports big money – the companies selling firearms, and they want you voting for the politician that will allow them to sell anything to anyone. Open your eyes, and use common sense. Quit letting these politicians scare you. Remember.. it’s always about money.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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