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The Advertiser - Kennedy Stumps at Local Grocery Store

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The Advertiser - Kennedy Stumps at Local Grocery Store

Jeff Moore

U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy said Veron's grocery store in Lafayette is exactly the kind of small business he would support in Washington if elected next month.

Flanked by about two dozen supporters, Kennedy drummed up support for small businesses in the parking lot of Veron's on Monday.

He criticized his opponent, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, for her stance in a debate televised a night earlier.

"Sen. Landrieu thinks Washington is working just fine for America and just fine for Louisiana," Kennedy said. "She is wrong. And she would know that if she just talked to a small businessman or a small businesswoman."

Like many small businesses, Veron's is struggling with rising costs of food, transportation, labor, health care, insurance and regulation, Kennedy said.

Ninety-five percent of Louisiana corporations are small businesses, he said.

"If we don't do something in Washington to make it easier to start a small business to make it easier to operate a small business, then a whole lot of folks are not going to have jobs and a whole lot of folks in this country are going to miss out on the American dream," he said.

Kennedy pledged to lower costs for small businesses, which he termed "the backbone of America's economy."

He said the state often devotes its attention to courting large corporations, but overlooks small business owners.

"They're hurting today," he said. "They're hurting because of the action or inaction of Washington."

Landrieu spokesman Scott Schneider said Landrieu has "a strong record" of supporting small business incentives, including tax cuts, insurance benefits and reform of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Landrieu is the only Democratic senator to be endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he said.

"While John Kennedy makes these baseless accusations, Sen. Landrieu actually has a record of delivering," he said.

Veron's employs about 20 people. Kathy Veron said the store is having to raise prices to keep pace with rising costs.

"It's not a 'We can get rich fast' kind of scheme," Kathy Veron said. "It's because everything from beer to bread has gone up."

Veron said taxes are a significant expense for the store. The business deals with a multitude of taxes, including unemployment, income, franchise, sales and property taxes, in addition to regulatory costs.

"As business owners, you have to have a license to do everything," she said. "If they're not going to get you one place, they're going to get you another."

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