‘Sarah Palin with an Economics Degree’?

By Danny

Mar 13, 2009 8:56pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: Fmr. Missouri treasurer Sarah Steeleman is weighing a 2010 GOP Senate primary against Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House Whip.
Ferdous Al-Faruque/ ABC News Former Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, 50, and her husband stopped by ABC’s Washington Bureau on Friday. Steelman is weighing a Senate primary bid against Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., for the seat being vacated in 2010 by retiring Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. Steelman was recently described by a GOP operative in Missouri as "Sarah Palin with an economics degree." What does Steelman think of the comparison? "You might want to ask my husband that. I don’t know. I am who I am," said Steelman, who earned her master’s in economics from the University of Missouri. When husband David Steelman, the former Republican leader of the Missouri House, was brought into the Palin discussion, he quipped, "We have no helicopter wolf hunting in Missouri." Reflecting on Palin’s vice presidential run, Steelman suggested that the Alaska governor received scrutiny not faced by men. "I’m not sure she was treated fairly," said Steelman. "But politics is a tough game and when you get into the game you have to have pretty thick skin." "I think there’s a lot more scrutiny of women," she continued. "You get asked questions about how you handle your family, and your responsibilities as a mother, that most men don’t get asked." "I’m not sure that a man ever gets asked that question," she added. So how would she run against Blunt who until last year served in the GOP’s House leadership? By trying to tie him to the status quo. "His Washington experience has gotten us into this mess," she said. Steelman’s two main gripes with Blunt are his vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill in September and his support for earmarks. Earlier this week, she sent Blunt a letter challenging him to take an anti-earmark pledge. Blunt’s campaign responds to the bailout criticism by noting that he voted against releasing the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds earlier this year when it became clear to him that it lacked appropriate safeguards on how the money was being spent. Blunt’s office is also quick to point out that the September bailout was supported by Bond and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). While Blunt sponsored 25 earmarks in 2008 which totaled more than $46 million, according to Legistorm.com, a website devoted to government transparency, his team charges that it is "hypocritical" for Steelman to criticize him on this issue since she supported directing government funds to local projects when she served in the state legislature. Although Steelman is styling herself as an outsider in her potential Senate run, she has not thought through whether she would accept money from registered lobbyists. She also struggled to articulate her views on health care and President Obama’s plan to drawdown U.S. trooops in Iraq. The winner of the GOP Senate primary in Missouri will likely face off against Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the daughter of Mel Carnahan, the former Missouri governor who died in a plane crash while running for the U.S. Senate in 2000. Mel Carnahan was elected posthumously to the U.S. Senate before being replaced temporarily by wife Jean Carnahan who lost the seat two years later. Asked what she tells Republicans in Washington who worry that her potential challenge to Blunt might jeopardize the GOP’s chances of holding onto Bond’s Senate seat, Steelman said, "Primaries aren’t necessarily bad. What they should worry about is who can beat Robin Carnahan." ABC News’ Sara Just, Ian Cameron, and Ferdous Al-Faruque contributed to this report.

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