CLOUT: Roy Temple Says Akin Is A ‘Poster Child’ For A Failed Political System

CLOUT is a regular feature from Beyond November that profiles the pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. Have a suggestion for a Clout profile? Send an e-mail to Richard Weiss at

This interview for Beyond November was conducted and written by Tim Poor, a former Washington correspondent and national editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Name: Roy Temple

Party:  Democrat

Age: 48

Job: Partner, Midwest Advocacy Group and Groundswell Creative, Des Moines-based political consulting firms.

Education:  Southeast Missouri State University, University of Missouri-Columbia Law School

Clout:  Temple was chief of staff to the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan and to Jean Carnahan, who won Missouri’s senate seat over John Ashcroft  after her husband died in a plane accident.  He’s probably best known as the founder of Fired Up! Missouri, a feisty and partisan political blog.  Temple moved to Washington in 2006 as a partner in a political consulting firm, working for Senate candidates Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Al Franken of Minnesota.  He returned to Kansas City in late 2010 and resumed a role in Missouri’s Democratic politics.

Current campaign work:  Temple is working on behalf of Proposition B (increased cigarette tax) and for Treasurer Clint Zweifel.  He also worked for Judy Baker in her unsuccessful primary race for lieutenant governor.

I know I’ve done a good job when  … :  “You put your head on the pillow at night and can go to sleep without second guessing yourself.”

Beyond November:  Where we head on major fiscal issues will have cascading effects.  Health care will be important, either implementation of it or repeal/revision.  Budgets are going to be a battleground on which many of the challenges in the country have to be faced.  That’s certainly true here in Missouri with Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act, energy regulation and education funding.

Biggest political disappointment:  Not getting Jean Carnahan re-elected to the Senate (in 2002).  “We came incredibly close. My biggest regret about that is that because she served so briefly, Missourians might never fully appreciate the magnificent job she did and the extraordinarily challenging time she did it. Despite extraordinary personal loss, she went to Washington and sunk her teeth in. She felt the burden of doing the job well, not just herself, but compared to Mel.”

Political hero:  Temple was inspired as a third grader in southeast Missouri when assigned to do reports on Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. His biggest recent hero is Mel Carnahan.  “He taught me so much about governance and politics and how to do things right.”  He often did the right thing regardless of politics.  “I didn’t fully appreciate how rare he was in that regard. He really taught me something about leadership He was aware that in politics, instead of reacting to forces, you can be shaping them. If all you ever do is the easy thing, you’ll realize you left some things undone.”

The (second) presidential debate:  “I think the president delivered a stronger performance and that was important, for both the Democratic base and swing voters.  It was demoralizing for Democratic loyalists to see President Obama’s record unfairly characterized and the president unwilling or unable to counter that (in the first debate).  Swing voters are not looking at deep analysis, they’re trying to get a gut instinct.  They saw in the president a willingness to say, ‘Here’s the challenge to be faced, and here’s what we can do about it,’”  in contrast to Romney, who said “all we need to do is sprinkle some magic Romney dust and it will solve everything.”

Most important race:  U.S. Senate.  The Senate majority could hinge on the outcome in Missouri.  “It’s important to the country that we have a Democratic Senate.”

Underrated race:  “I think they’re all underrated” because each could hold the key to leadership in the future. “Todd Akin is the poster child for why you have to take out people who are unfit for office at the lowest level possible.  He has not changed his beliefs – he was saying the same crazy stuff in 1993.  He should have never made it to Congress.  It’s extraordinary that he could be the nominee.  He is a poster child for a failed political system.  In some ways, we should all hang our heads in shame.”

Overrated race:  Missouri governor.  It’s an important race, but I don’t see it being competitive.

Biggest primary surprise:  That Akin’s win was surprising to so many.  “If you look at the makeup of the Missouri Republican party and who shows up for primaries, you shouldn’t be surprised Akin won.”

Akin/McCaskill prediction:  “McCaskill will win.  I think he’s (Akin’s) a zombie; he’s dead and doesn’t know it yet.” Temple wasn’t surprised that former Sens. Jim Talent and Kit Bond, who had urged Akin to drop out, wound up supporting him.  “I believed from the beginning they would make the walk of shame back to supporting him.”  He doesn’t fault McCaskill, whose ads before the August primary bolstered Akin’s candidacy.  “Look, if John Brunner or Sarah Steelman are so inept they can’t beat Todd Akin, that’s their fault more than  Claire McCaskill’s.”

Posted in CLOUT: Influential pols, pals & pundits, Commentary
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