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Steamboat Springs Since the day they met, Bob McConnell said his wife, Phyllis, has joked with him about what he keeps in his pockets.
McConnell, a Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, emptied his pockets to a gathering of more than 30 people during a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Steamboat Springs. The items included a pocketknife, a lighter, lip balm, his Army Ranger coin, a headlamp, something to stop bleeding and a compass.
McConnell, 63, is a retired Army colonel and labor lawyer who has lived in Colorado since 1984 and moved to Steamboat in 2007. He told a story about how he first realized his compass was broken while looking for a restaurant in Seattle. Every direction he pointed the compass was north, he said.
But it made him realize something, he said — something about the country.
“I’m afraid right now our compass isn’t working,” he said. “I think we’ve lost our way.”
McConnell will square off in the Republican primary in August against state Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, and 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson, of Glenwood Springs. Whoever wins the GOP nod will face Democratic U.S. Rep. John Salazar, who was elected in 2007 to his third term.
McConnell used his compass analogy throughout the two-hour town hall meeting, in which he asked those present to tell him what they thought was wrong with the way the United States is operating and brainstorm solutions.
The crowd listed the economy, job loss, the United Nations, securing U.S. borders, the Federal Reserve System, health care, Iraq, Afghanistan and outsourcing jobs.
McConnell said his campaign is based on five core principles: limited government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, strong national defense, and protecting individual rights and developing individual responsibilities.
He said solutions to questions about how the country is operating can be answered using those core principles, but he also mentioned a few specifics.
To stimulate the economy, McConnell said reducing the tax burden on business owners would create more jobs, including in Colorado. About securing the borders, McConnell said immigrants needed to enter the U.S. legally to become productive members of society. And regarding the war, he said President Barack Obama should lead the country to victory or bring the troops home.
He asked those in attendance to help him take the country back.
McConnell said his goal for Congress was to serve only three terms and to “raise hell,” “rattle cages” and “shake things up.”
“We do that by putting citizen leaders, not career politicians, in Washington,” he said.
McConnell said Tuesday’s town hall meeting in Steamboat was the first of more than 25 he’s planned in the district’s 29 counties leading up to the primary.