As Missouri's Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon orders National Guard troops to the besieged St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, two of the Show Me State's top elected Republicans told Newsmax that the governor's belated response to the violence spell his political demise.
In separate interviews, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the top elected Republican in statewide office, and Tim Jones, speaker of the state House of Representatives, said Nixon's statements and actions leading up to his deployment of the National Guard showed a lack of leadership.
"To me, this very much appears to be Nixon’s Katrina," said Jones, likening the governor's handling of the violence in Ferguson to the political fallout experienced by the Bush administration to the hurricane that struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, "and any national aspirations he may have had [either as a candidate or via an appointment] are rapidly evaporating."
Jones cited criticism by the governor of local law enforcement officers for being "too heavy handed" and then calling in the National Guard on Sunday.
"Whatever was the right thing to say, he said both things at two different times," the speaker said. "This is a governor who has gotten away with 'being everything to all people' and walking a political tightrope for the last six years. He avoids all issues and is very reactionary."
"Non-leadership" is how Kinder branded Nixon's performance since violence broke out in Ferguson earlier this month.
"Law enforcement officials and Missourians in general are being jerked around from hour to hour," he said, "by a governor whose performance is tentative, uncertain, late, and jerky."
Kinder, who was in Ferguson on Thursday, contrasted Nixon's waiting eight days before declaring a state of emergency with the response of Democratic Gov. Warren Hearnes in 1968 when Kansas City began to experience the racially tinged violence that plagued other major cities that year.
"Gov. Hearnes immediately ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew and sent in the National Guard right away and without hesitation," recalled the Republican lieutenant governor. "Kansas City experienced four days of on-again, off-again violence, and then it was over. Right now, Ferguson is in the ninth day of unrest."
"So far, you’ve seen 40 FBI agents, the U.S. Department of Justice, the police from Ferguson and many borrowed from the other towns and cities in St. Louis County, and the Highway Patrol trying to prevent law-breaking in Ferguson," Kinder said. "What is government good for if it cannot prevent looting and stop bad actors from destroying a town and people’s jobs?"
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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