By Ron VandenBoom
John Driscoll, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, in a recent pass through Havre expressed disgust over Congress's recent signing of a bill that would permanently normalize trade relations with Red China.
Driscoll watched the debate on the trade bill last week and said he was sickened by what he saw.
"I woke up this morning after watching that and I felt queasy, really queasy, physically queasy," he said. "I'm very troubled by it."
Driscoll had been traveling around the state campaigning and spending most of his evenings sleeping in the open. On the night of the debate he took a motel room just so he could watch the debate on C-Span.
"I listened to the Democrats who voted against it in the house and some Republicans and I wished I'd have been with them ... they had a lot of good straight thinking," he said.
Driscoll, a full colonel in the Montana National Guard, said he is amazed that nobody yet seems concerned that the Taiwan situation has yet to be resolved. He is troubled that the United States has surrendered a potentially valuable political/economic weapon.
"I don't know what we're thinking of," said Driscoll. "I wish we hadn't given up that trade lever."
Explaining that he believes the vote was payback for political campaign contributions, Driscoll said he is feeling more and more distant from the people in Washington.
Payback is another issue that has driven the Driscoll campaign.
"I watched Clinton at a fund raising dinner last week tell the crowd that next year they are going to get rid of soft money contributions," he said. "I thought to myself if you think soft money is bad, what the hell are you taking it for now.'"
Driscoll said he came away after watching the dinner feeling that the country had been "compromised by really poor quality leadership
Driscoll noted that in his entire political life he has never taken one nickel from people he had a hand in regulating. This included the time he has served in the Montana Legislature and the years he sat on the Public Service Commission.
"Not even a cup of coffee," he said. "And I feel really strongly about it."
Driscoll started his campaign for the Senate on $5,000 and has so far collected only about $2,000 in private contributions.
"But I've turned down PAC money four times actually more than four times," he said. "I told them to give their money to (Brian) Schweitzer (Driscoll's Democratic Opponent), I just wanted their votes."
In an earlier interview, Driscoll also slammed Republican Senator Conrad Burns for having accumulated $5 million to be used in the campaign.
"I wouldn't be associated with $5 million," he said, at that time. "I would be ashamed."
Driscoll's website at www.johndriscoll.org, reveals the amount of money so far collected in the Senate race and according to Driscoll, links will lead visitors to organizations that will show where the money originated.
Money in the pockets of Montanans is also of concern to Driscoll, but his views on improving the the state's sagging economy place emphasis mostly on the community.
"We've already got all the things necessary for a really good economy," he said, noting that we have an abundance of clear eyed youth, mechanics, truck drivers, and hard working, self reliant people.
"We have to build on that," he said. "And have community leaders work together to solve their own problems instead of waiting for Washington to solve them."
He added that people living in and around the towns of Montana are the ones that know best what will work.
Driscoll said he believes that while Washington tends to ignore Montana because we don't have any $500,000 contributors at Washington dinners, a senator's office is an excellent place to fight for Montana.
"Somehow we have to make sure our government is responding to us and not the corporate treasury that influences government now," Driscoll said. "At least there's someone on the ballot that cares."