© 2024 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Missouri congressman says Trump knows the power of KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield
Official portrait
U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield

CLEVELAND — Missouri U.S. Rep. Billy Long is arguably the state’s version of Donald Trump.

Long was a well-known auctioneer and radio talk-show host in Springfield, Mo., who emerged from a seven-person GOP field in 2010 to win the congressional seat that had been held by fellow Republican Roy Blunt until Blunt opted to make his successful shot for the U.S. Senate.

Long says he was impressed with Trump when he first met him in 2011, just months after Long arrived in Washington. The occasion was a charity event, and Long approached the billionaire businessman to thank him for his charity support.

“Here I am, a no-name, nothing congressman from southwest Missouri,’’ Long recalls.” And he said, ‘Do you have a moment, congressman? Sit down, sit down.' He talked to me very engagingly for 20, 25 minutes."

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield
Credit Official portrait
U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield

What became clear then, and is reinforced now, said Long, is that Trump believes in “K-I-S-S:  Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

“He tells people he’s going to protect their family, he’s going to protect their kids, he’s going to bring jobs back,” Long said. “That’s all you’ve got to say. You don’t have to get in the nuance of the policy of how you’re going to do it.”

For that reason, Long contends it’s ridiculous for some Republicans to refuse to get behind Trump because of policy differences. “It doesn’t do any good to pontificate and come up with all these beautiful policy positions, if you can’t implement them,” the congressman said.

And the only way to put any GOP policies in place, Long continued, is if the party retains control of the House and Senate, and wins the White House. He notes that GOP control of the Senate is up for grabs this fall.

"If you don't have the Senate, if you don't have the White House, you don't have anything,”  Long said.

So his advice to wary Republicans boils down to this: "Lay down your policy pen for awhile, pick up your Trump pin, and go out there and promote, get the voters to the polls,and get Donald Trump and Mike Pence elected."

“The Democrats cannot beat Donald J. Trump,’’ Long added. “But the Republicans can. That’s why the Republicans need to get over their hard feelings, not coming to support him and not showing up at this convention.”

He said that the decision of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who made an unsuccessful bid for president, to avoid this week's convention and not endorse Trump is "repugnant."

St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh for an update on the Republican National Convention.

Many candidates in both parties skipping conventions

Most of Missouri’s six Republican members of the U.S. House have stopped by Cleveland, although it’s unclear if any of them are staying all week. Blunt, who is running for re-election, remained in Missouri to campaign — a decision that Blunt had announced in early May. Blunt has made clear, though, that he is supporting Trump.

None of  Missouri’s Republican statewide candidates is showing up in Cleveland either, especially because many face competitive primaries on Aug. 2.

Blunt’s Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, has dropped plans to attend next week’s Democratic convention, although Kander has repeatedly said he backs Hillary Clinton. It’s expected that Missouri’s two Democratic members of the House,  Reps. Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver, will show up in Philadelphia.

Long lauds Pence

Long said that he long has admired Pence, a former congressman and now the governor of Indiana. When he first arrived in the House, said Long, he was told, “You don't need a legislative staff, just walk in and see how Mike Pence is voting."

That’s because Pence had solid ratings with conservative groups on economic and social issues. Long said he’s confident that Pence will stick with his conservative principles as vice president.

Long emphasizes that he’s convinced  the Republican establishment underestimates the appeal and savvy of Trump.

"When I go to the store, the checkout person says, 'I'm voting for Trump,’ “ Long said. “When I sit down to get my hair cut, it’s 'I'm voting for Trump.' When I go out to get some meat out of the meat department, it’s 'I'm voting for Trump.' "

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Related Content