(Host) Vermont National Guard Adjutant General Martha Rainville made the long expected announcement Monday that she is running for Congress.
Rainville hopes to win the seat being vacated by Independent Bernie Sanders. She made the announcement in a series of speeches beginning Monday morning in Saint Albans.
VPR’s Steve Zind was there.
(Worker) “Want to come up on the step for me? Go, go, go, go, go.”
(Zind) Campaign workers herded supporters into place and handed out placards with the green and blue Rainville for Congress logo as the Rainville made her first appearance out of uniform and in her new role as politician.
(Rainville) “Its time to lay to rest the speculation and share my plan with Vermonters and today I announce that I am a candidate for the Republican nomination to serve Vermont in the United State House of Representatives.”
(Zind) In her speech, Rainville outlined broad areas of concern: national security, social security, health care, the environment and economic growth. She returned several times to the theme of partisanship and influence peddling in Washington, and promised to help restore the public’s trust in Congress.
There was little mention in her speech of the war in Iraq – an issue that has occupied Rainville for the past three years.
Afterward Rainville was asked if the war was a mistake.
(Rainville) “I think it’s easy for us to try to look back and second guess. Knowing what we know now, I feel strongly that we could have delayed an invasion into Iraq, if not had time to prevent one. But I wouldn’t presume to remake a decision. I believed as most Americans and members of Congress did that there was an imminent threat and that that action was necessary.”
(Zind) She says she feels President Bush could have done a better job communicating to the American people about the objectives for the Iraq war.
Rainville says she supports Congressional review of the administration’s domestic surveillance program, but she stopped short of questioning its legality, as some members of her party have.
Rainville also says she is pro-choice.
Rainville has already raised $100,000 for her campaign. She says she won’t accept contributions from tobacco companies and drug companies.
Saint Michael’s College Political Science professor Bill Grover says to appeal to Vermont voters, Rainville appears to be distancing herself from the Bush Administration and her party’s conservative leadership in Congress. He says in doing so, she risks blurring the distinctions between herself and candidates from the other parties.
(Grover) “The issue is going to be for her to define what the Rainville difference is within the Vermont political community. Why vote for a Republican who sounds like a moderate Democrat like Peter Welch when a moderate Democrat will be in the race?”
(Zind) Grover says if elected, Rainville could have difficulty getting along with her own party’s leadership which he says has marginalized moderate Republicans in Congress.
Rainville says she will continue to serve as Adjutant General until April first.
She will face Bennington County Senator Mark Shepard and former Burlington Restaurant owner Dennis Morriseau in the Republican primary in September.
For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind.