Congressional hopeful Martha Rainville campaigns at UVM

Martha Rainville is running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Rainville, who recently resigned from her position as Vermont’s Adjutant General of the Army and Air National Guard, is hoping to fill the seat being vacated by Representative Bernie Sanders, who is running for Vermont’s open Senate seat. On Wednesday night, the former Major General met with the University of Vermont College Republicans, hoping to spread her campaign message to the University community, and reach out to the UVM GOP for support with her campaign. Speaking with the group about federal and state issues, Rainville laid out what she believes to be three crucial issues for the state and the nation: security, the economy, and quality of life. In addressing the issue of security, Rainville pointed to her military background as a unique qualifying factor for serving in Congress, stating that her experiences would bring an element of diversity to Washington. She also emphasized a need for the identification of the nation’s illegal immigrants, in order to weed out those that pose a threat to the national security. Speaking about the economy, Rainville called for Congress to get “spending under control,” telling the students in attendance that they will have to pay for the country’s deficit spending at some point in their lifetimes. Rainville also mentioned working towards achieving a balance between environmental and economic concerns, to ensure that Vermonters will be able to work in green industries and also be able to support themselves. The final part of Rainville’s speech addressed concerns about quality of life, naming health care and education as the most important issues in the field. Criticizing Vermont’s current policy on health care, Rainville called for the state to allow its citizens to choose to buy insurance from out-of-state carriers, which she says will drive costs down because of the increased competition. Touching briefly on the school system, Rainville, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education, was hesitant to support public funding for private schools in the state, worrying about the impact on the quality of public education. When taking questions from the audience, Rainville was asked about her impending primary battle with state Senator Mark Shepard, her most viable challenger. Rainville told the group that she has a great amount of respect for Shepard, and that he is a “good person,” but argued that she has much more name recognition around the state, and is the party’s best shot at beating the presumptive Democratic nominee, Peter Welch. Rainville’s campaign has recently come under fire from Democrats around the state because of her acceptance of contributions from, among others, Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, who has been accused of being tied to Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. Both at the meeting and in an earlier press conference, Rainville defended her acceptance of Blunt’s contributions, stating that Rep. Blunt “hasn’t been indicted for anything.” Earlier in the campaign, Rainville returned a $1,000 contribution from Representative Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania, in response to his out-of-court settlement with an “ex-mistress” in a domestic abuse case. Rainville was asked about her stances on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Rainville told the group that she supports a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, stating that she does not feel that government should be dictating that part of a woman’s life. She did, however, express support for a system of parental notification, in which underage girls wishing to have an abortion would be required to notify a parent or guardian prior to the procedure. Rainville spoke out against partial birth abortion, with the stipulation that there should be an exception for cases where the life of a mother is in danger. When asked whether she supported a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Rainville once again stressed a limited role for the government, saying that government should not interfere in what she believes to be a primarily religious ceremony. Rainville came out in support of medical marijuana, while expressing her opposition to what she calls “hardcore” drugs in the U.S. citing cocaine and heroine which she says “destroy society.” The night’s last question was asked simply and directly: “Do you support capital punishment?” The answer was just as blunt: “No I don’t.”