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Parson responds to ‘defund the Pentagon’ comments: ‘Irresponsible and immature’

Missouri’s gubernatorial candidates are sparring over a recent comment from Democratic Congressional candidate Cori Bush. 

“If you’re having a bad day, just think of all the social services we’re going to fund after we defund the Pentagon,” Bush said on social media Tuesday.

Bush went on to elaborate in a separate thread Wednesday, stating that the military took up 65 percent of the nation’s budget and recalling a proposition in the U.S. Senate to reduce funding by 10 percent and redirect the funds to housing and education in impoverished communities.

Gov. Mike Parson addressed the comment during Wednesday’s press conference, calling it “very irresponsible.”

“When you talk about defunding the Pentagon, that is not to be taken lightly by anybody in the state of Missouri,” Parson said. “As a veteran, I find it personal when you start talking about trying to do away with the men and women that serve this country. To send a message like that, it has effects — effects on people, our state, and our nation.”

Parson went on to call the comments “immature” and said they demonstrated a lack of experience. 

Parson’s gubernatorial opponent State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who endorsed Bush, took to social media Wednesday to share her stance on the topic.

“I don’t support defunding the Pentagon and Gov. Parson knows it,” Galloway said. “I’ve always supported our veterans and it will be an honor to lead Missouri’s National Guard as governor.”

Parson’s campaign released a statement Thursday pointing to a fundraising email sent by the Galloway praising Bush’s activism. 

“Nicole Galloway’s support for Cori Bush represents support for defunding law enforcement and defunding our troops,” said Parson’s campaign manager Steele Shippy. “Unless Nicole Galloway immediately rescinds her endorsement of Cori Bush and rebukes her extreme views, Missouri voters will know that Nicole Galloway stands for defunding law enforcement and defunding our troops.”

The release included statements from Missouri veterans speaking out against the comments.

Bush’s camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bush has been an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform and defunding the police, having led demonstrations this summer, including one in Jefferson City

“Our work is to save the lives of Black people in this state and this country,” Bush told The Missouri Times in August. “That has to happen with law enforcement, it also has to happen in other parts of government.”

Bush defeated incumbent Congressman Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary, moving forward to face Republican Anthony Rogers for Missouri’s first congressional district.