By Mike Ferguson
Barbara Grassley and Mariannette Miller-Meeks have celebrated what they called their "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" tour this week across Iowa's Second Congressional District.
"We've had a blast," said the Republican from Ottumwa, who's running against U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, in the Nov. 2 election. "It's like a girls' night out."
"She has a powerful message and she gets fired up," Grassley said of the candidate for whom she is honorary finance chairwoman. "Say amen and hallelujah, sister!"
Both Miller-Meeks and Grassley, a Washington lobbyist and the wife of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, stopped by the Muscatine Journal for a 40-minute interview before their Wednesday fundraiser at the Rendezvous banquet facility.
Among the topics they discussed:
A smart purchase for any political candidate is a 1984 ambulance.
"It's a great parade vehicle," Miller-Meeks said. "It has tons of storage outside and enough room for large (campaign) barn signs inside. But the best thing is that all its accessories work: the lights, the sirens, and the PA system."
Miller-Meeks said she sold her daughter's prom and pageant dresses on eBay to pay for the ambulance.
"In a parade, it's very visible, and it fits in with my medical practice," she said.
The voters they've talked to during their travels this week say they're most worried about the economy.
"After spending almost a trillion dollars (on the stimulus bill, cash for clunkers and other programs), we still had an increase in jobless claims last week," Miller-Meeks said. "You don't create jobs through the government. You have to create them through the private sector."
To help speed the recovery, Miller-Meeks has proposed a payroll tax holiday to put money in the pockets of business owners and workers alike.
"I know it's deficit spending, but it's fair, because small business gets a break and low-income workers do, too. Taxpayers can plan their budgets around (the tax break) and a small business owner can keep an employee, add a new one or invest in capital equipment."
The only way to bring back the nation's manufacturing sector is through changing the nation's tax policy, she said, and she'd start by lowering the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent.
Both Houses of Congress have long been served by physician/legislators, including former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., current Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
Miller-Meeks is an ophthalmologist who has suspended her practice to run for Congress.
"I think given the tremendous problems we face, people want someone who has an intellectual curiosity, who can problem-solve and use deductive reasoning," she said. All are skills doctors use every day, she added.
"As a nurse (Miller-Meeks' initial profession) you have to be honest with people, up front with them, so you can develop a level of trust. Right now I think the electorate is hungry for somebody they can trust."