We’ve interviewed the new Republican candidate for the United States Senate nomination twice now. John Brunner is the former head of Vi-Jon, Inc., best known these days for making a hand sanitizer Germ-X. We told him in our first interview he’s the first political candidate I’ve ever interviewed who truly enters the campaign with clean hands. We had to explain that.
He’s 59, has a strong “operate government as a business” attitude, and looks—well, senatorial. He has indicated there will be no shortage of money to fuel his campaign. He has two veteran Republican campaign operatives working for him–John Hancock and Rich Chrismer.
Our telephone interview with Brunner on the day he announced his candidacy is on our Missourinet.com web page with the story we did about him. If you read the story or if you heard the story, you might get the impression that we couldn’t find much substance in his answers.
Late last week, he was at the state chamber of commerce offices in Jefferson City for a media availability. All fourteen minutes of it before Hancock stopped reporters’ efforts to get him to say something of substance by announcing he had another appointment.
That interview hasn’t been on the Missourinet air or on the website. I’m still trying to figure out whether he said anything worth reporting. I told Hancock I felt as if I’d been chewing on a cloud. “Oh, there was lots of substance there,” he responded.
We have seen people before who seek public office and begin their campaigns in a similar vague, wandering, manner, unable to answer specific questions with answers that specifically state what their opinion is. These people are not lacking in intelligence. They’re often people who have not been active in politics and have not paid close attention to the broad issues with which candidates and office-holders have to deal. They’re not prepared for reporters and others who want to know where they stand on key issues, and they want to know right now.
The news release announcing his candidacy had the standard Republican rhetoric on issues in it. But Brunner didn’t even touch on those statements. He apparently has not been properly programmed.
He’s running against Congressman Todd Akin and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, neither of whom is reluctant to blurt out a position, something that can be their greatest strength or their greatest liability depending on the views of the blurtee.
In today’s political climate, a candidate who cannot articulate even the standard line would seem to be at a disadvantage.
But it’s early yet. John Brunner is a sharp guy. He’s just getting started. Maturity has to come quickly for candidates who’ve never entered the arena and now are entering one of the biggest, toughest contests. Some get it. Some don’t. Some discover the real fire they have in their bellies. Some discover this game isn’t their game.
Let’s see how he matures. Let’s see if some substance develops.
After all, people don’t usually buy lemon meringue pie because they like meringue.
Or put an interview on the air.