After major storms and tornados hit Perryville, Missouri Tuesday night leaving one man dead and a trail of destruction in its wake, Gov. Eric Greitens surveyed damage and met with affected residents and first responders Wednesday morning. In a statement, Greitens pledged to help those hurt by the storm and credited the community for its strength.
“You can look at a situation like this and see people who suffered, people who have lost everything. And the damage from this tornado was real and serious. We can’t ignore that, and we will do what is in our power to help these communities rebuild,” he said in a statement. “But what we also saw was a resilient community. We saw neighbors helping each other, comforting one another, and beginning to put things back together. Out of our suffering can come strength.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported roughly 180 homes suffered major or moderate damage, with 60 of those homes being completely leveled.
News also emerged this week from Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber that Greitens openly supported former President Barack Obama in 2008. While it was well-known Greitens attended Obama’s speech to the DNC in Denver and even entertained the idea of running for office as a Democrat, Webber told The Missouri Times that Greitens had a progressive mindset when the two were friends in Washington D.C.
The revelation came following a Facebook post in which Webber said Greitens had abandoned his values for political expediency after Webber felt comments made by President Donald Trump were disrespectful to veterans.
“Donald Trump’s got a history of insulting our troops – this has become a pattern for him,” Webber said. “But if he is going to sit there and dismiss our efforts right in front of Eric, I think Eric’s got a responsibility as a veteran to – at some point – say something. I’m not saying he had to get up and walk out of the meeting, but he’s had a lot of opportunities since then, and as far as I know, he hasn’t said a word.
“That’s really disappointing,” Webber added. “He’s putting his political ambitions and his desire to suck up to Trump and Pence and forget what his veteran friends did, and I just find that abhorrent.”
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Greitens also welcomed Smith and Wesson’s announcement to construct a new distribution center in Columbia, Missouri with a video message that gets back to his campaign’s roots with lots of bullets and gunfire.
Smith & Wesson plans to create 300+ new jobs in Missouri. We’re always fighting for more jobs, and proud to welcome this great company here. pic.twitter.com/wAldsGDTvg
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) March 2, 2017
The gun manufacturer’s facility is expected to create more than 300 jobs in the Mid-Missouri.
“We’re always fighting for more jobs with higher pay, and we’re proud to welcome this great company to our state.”
The governor also held his first open press conference for the Capitol Press Corps in the governor’s office as part of the Missouri Press Association and Associated Press’ legislative day. He answered questions for roughly half-an-hour.
Greitens has frequently been criticized by political opponents and members of the press corps for his lack of transparency and his reluctance and outright refusal to answer questions after many events, something his predecessor Gov. Jay Nixon often did. More press conferences of that caliber could go a long way to mitigating that criticism.