Meub, Sanders argue over Vermont’s business climate

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders and his Republican opponent Bill Meub clashed over economic issues on Tuesday afternoon.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) According to GOP congressional candidate Bill Meub, the high-profile socialist views of Congressman Bernie Sanders help portray Vermont as an anti-business state and discourage companies from locating in Vermont.

Sanders says the charge has no foundation and that he’s doing all that he can to help small businesses survive in a difficult economic climate.

Meub told reporters at a Montpelier press conference that Vermont’s ability to attract new higher paying jobs is being thwarted by Sanders’ political image:

(Meub) “His socialistic philosophy has an impact. People outside of Vermont say Bernie Sanders is pretty much our mascot. And they talk about Vermont, ‘Well, you’ve got that socialist there, the independent socialist.’ That has an impact on our image. That, I think, reinforces the anti-business image of this state. A different congressman will change that image.”

(Kinzel) Sanders dismissed Meub’s charges and said he’s has always fought to protect the rights of working people:

(Sanders) “So anyone wants to call me anti-business because I think an American worker should not have to work and compete against desperate people who are working for starvation wages so be it. But I will continue to defend American workers against our disastrous trade policies and will fight for small businesses rather than for $100 billion in corporate welfare, which go to companies that are selling out our people.”

(Kinzel) A day after he interrupted a Sanders press conference on dairy issues to demand more campaign debates, Meub accused Sanders of hiding in Washington to avoid a closer scrutiny of his record:

(Meub) “And the rose garden strategy says, ‘I’m too busy working in Washington. I have too busy a schedule.'”

(Kinzel) Sanders says he’s not going to ignore critical votes in Congress in the next two weeks in order to satisfy Bill Meub:

(Sanders) “So if Mr. Meub thinks that I should not cast votes in Washington, if Mr. Meub thinks that I have got to totally distort my own campaign when I’m probably going to have two weeks back here in the state of Vermont to vigorously campaign, he’s mistaken. Let him run his campaign. I will run my campaign. But I will not run away from debates and I look forward to debating him.”

(Kinzel) Sanders predicts there will be at least ten debates featuring the congressional candidates before election day.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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