Citing Orlando Massacre, Pressler Announces Support For Clinton
In the wake of last weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando, a former Republican senator from South Dakota has announced he is endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.
In an email interview with the Press & Dakotan Wednesday, former Sen. Larry Pressler said the Orlando massacre, in which 49 people were killed and 53 wounded, emphasizes the need to bolster background checks and address the access to assault-style weapons.
"My endorsement of Secretary Clinton springs from a desire to do something about background checks for people carrying assault weapons around after the slaughter in Orlando," Pressler said. "Presently, one can be on a no-fly list and still buy an assault weapon.
"We need to work for comprehensive background checks for guns," he added. "I am a pheasant hunter and a Vietnam combat veteran. I certainly want to preserve the Second Amendment, but I see no justification for assault weapons being purchased by people with serious mental problems."
A Washington publication reported earlier this week that Pressler is endorsing Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
"I can’t believe I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am," Pressler told The Hill newspaper Monday. "… This morning, I woke up and told my wife, ‘Did I really do that?’ But I did."
Pressler, a native of Humboldt, served two terms in the U.S. House (1975-1979) and three terms in the U.S. Senate (1979-1997). In 2014, he ran as an independent in the South Dakota U.S. Senate race, during which he was endorsed by three state newspapers; the race was won by Republican Mike Rounds.
The former senator sees other areas of common ground with Clinton. He describes himself as a "fiscal moderate" and said her budgetary and defense proposals "are more in line with some Republican mainstream thinking than Donald Trump’s proposals."
His stand may well receive mixed reviews from some Republicans, but Pressler said there were also many who privately shared his view.
"Many fellow Republicans and independents have said they agree with me but many of them said they just won’t vote in the presidential slot this year," he said. "I think we have to force ourselves to study the issues and make a decision."
Pressler said that Americans "should vote for that candidate whose policies most agree with their own and not be driven strictly by party loyalty."
You can count the former senator as being among those troubled by the increasingly negative tone of politics. Indeed, many political observers believe this presidential campaign could be particularly brutal.
But he believes the voters can help supply a remedy to that.
"Our politics on all levels have turned completely negative," he said. "Citizens can counter this by not being apathetic and studying the issues and voting."
Pressler said that, with his endorsement of Clinton, he is following his own advice.
"I feel the greatest problem we have is apathy and I think, in this election, citizens must speak out, study the issues and vote," he said. "I am 74 years old and about to experience some cancer exploratory surgery. Thus, I feel this election is a time that America must take great care and really study the policy statements of the candidates. Thus, at this stage in my life, I just decided to speak out."