Gov. Nixon declines to address former senator's call to clean up politics
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Gov. Nixon declines to address former senator's call to clean up politics

Date: March 3, 2015
By: Steven Anthony
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth gave the eulogy for State Auditor Tom Schweich at his funeral Tuesday and called for the end to nasty political attacks that often turn personal.

"The campaign that led to the death of Tom Schweich was the low point of politics," Danforth said. "Now it's time to turn this around. Let's make Tom's death a turning point in our state."

Danforth is alluding to two controversial topics that engulfed Schweich's campaign for governor before he died.

A radio ad hit the airwaves nearly two weeks ago that made fun of Schweich's physical appearance, calling him a "little bug."

Also, newly-elected Republican Party chairman John Hancock is accused of leading a "whisper campaign" in which Schweich is portrayed as being Jewish.

That made Schweich very upset, but it also made Danforth upset as well.

"I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign," Danforth said. "Anti-Semitism is always wrong and we can never let it creep into politics."

When asked to respond to Danforth's call to end politics-as-usual, Gov. Jay Nixon declined to specifically address Danforth's plea.

"There will be plenty of time in the coming days and weeks to put [Danforth's comments] into a broader context," Nixon said, being ushered away by his staff and personal security.

Nixon also said his focus is on Schweich's family.

"Today, my focus has been on making sure [Schweich's wife] and her two kids... can go on with their lives," Nixon said.

Later in his eulogy, Danforth said politicians must stand up to bullies who want to intimidate others while running for office.

"We will not accept their way as the way of politics," Danforth said. "We will stand up to them and we will defeat them. This will be our memorial to Tom."

At the time of his death, Schweich had begun his second term as Auditor and was facing off against former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway for the Republican nomination.

Neither Hanaway nor Hancock attended the funeral in Schweich's hometown of Clayton.

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