Feingold urges voters to skip dramatics, focus on issues
GOFFSTOWN — Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold from Wisconsin addressed a crowd of 70 Thursday night, urging the United States to wake up from the slumber he says has overcome the land.
“We have enormous focus on every little minutiae when candidates are running that have little or nothing to do with the (policies),” Feingold said to a mostly sympathetic crowd.
John Rauh, founder and chairman of Americans for Campaign Reform and an old ally of Feingold, introduced the senator, recalling the time they first met.
“Your damn ads were better than mine,” Rauh said. “It's irritated me ever since.”
Rauh ran unsuccessfully for one of New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seats.
“Fortunately (Feingold) won, I lost, and he went on to serve a tremendous (run),” he said.
Feingold, who was voted out in the 2010 midterm elections after 18 years in the Senate, discussed his recent book, “While America Sleeps.” The book deals with the lack of awareness he sees in issues ranging from foreign to domestic policy.
He proposed that the America's lack of awareness was what allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks to take place, then swung at the opportunism of politicians who used post-9/11 fears to push through unrelated policies.
Particularly, he noted that he was the sole senator to vote against the Patriot Act.
“I did this odd thing for a legislator — I actually read it,” he laughed.
Feingold attacked the “assault on the U.S. Constitution” by the George W. Bush administration, which he said authorized torture and overturned long-standing laws on civil liberties.
Although he's the co-chairman of the Obama reelection campaign, Feingold had strong words for the President on the issue of presidential power.
“When a guy like Obama doesn't change it, it gets embedded into the Constitution forever,” he said. “They need to be more explicit that they don't accept (Bush's) notion of presidential power.”
Feingold spent most of his speech talking about countries hot with Islamic extremism that he said the U.S. has little knowledge of. And when America does get involved, it's only to invade and wear out its welcome, not to carry out the kind of cultural work he believes garners admiration, he said.
“What ever did happen with things like ‘walk softly and carry a big stick'?” he asked.
Feingold voted in favor of the invasion of Afghanistan, but against the war with Iraq.
Asked about the current effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker in his native Wisconsin, Feingold said: “So much damage has been done to our state that I think he does need to be removed from office. And I'm hoping that's what happens June 5.”
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