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Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) met with tribal leaders in South Dakota during his 2008 presidential campaign. Photo from Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association / Facebook

Pressler calls for face-to-face meeting for Obama and SD’s tribes
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY—Larry Pressler wants tribes in South Dakota to help him host a presidential visit. The former Republican Senator turned independent spoiler, announced his plans to invite President Obama to South Dakota to discuss issues that are important to residents in the state and to tribes.

Pressler said that tribes in South Dakota “deserve” a face to face meeting with the President. Pressler made the comments during a press conference where he was critical of an amendment passed by the South Dakota Republican Party at their yearly convention last month. Pressler would also say that he had not reached out to any specific tribes yet, but that he plans on contacting President Bryan Brewer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and President Cyril Scott of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

The resolution that has been called radical by many on the left passed by a narrow majority of 191-176 and cites several reasons why supporters feel the president’s impeachment is needed. The resolution claims that President Obama “has violated his oath of office in numerous ways with the latest being the release of five terrorists in exchange for a soldier without consulting Congress as required by law,” “lied to the American people telling them they can keep their insurance company, and they can keep their doctor under Obama Care, prior to an election,” that he “has ordered Federal Agencies to enact rules (laws) that threaten the security of the people of this great nation (EPA regulations) by passing Congress and usurping its authority,” and finally that president Obama “has abused his executive privilege usurping his authority as decided by numerous federal courts.”

Approval numbers for President Obama have been low across the U.S. and South Dakota’s non-Native population has traditionally leaned right of center; however, the vote by the South Dakota GOP has forced several law makers in South Dakota, including Kristi Noem, who has been a favorite of Tea Partiers in the state to distance themselves from resolution.

"The congresswoman currently believes the best way for Congress to hold the president accountable is to continue aggressive committee oversight and investigations into the administration's actions like the ongoing VA scandal, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, Benghazi, and the recent Taliban prisoner exchange," said Brittany Comins, Noem's spokesperson, to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Noem had addressed those in attendance at the convention prior to the passage of the resolution.

South Dakota is beginning to emerge as a potential battle ground state in the midterm elections after initially being viewed as an easy win for republicans who are attempting to secure a majority in the senate. A tough republican primary seems to have shortened the gap between the republican nominee, former South Dakota governor Mike Rounds, and the democratic challenger Rick Weiland. The seat is being left open by the retirement of longtime South Dakota lawmaker Sen. Tim Johnson who was seen as an advocate by tribes in the state.

Through a release from his campaign, Rick Weiland, was highly critical of the call for Obama’s impeachment.

“The call for impeaching a President over political differences, rather than high crimes and misdemeanors, is something that you would expect to see in a banana republic country, not the United States of America,” said Weiland. “Mike Rounds and his support of the South Dakota Republican Party State Convention’s impeachment of the President are an embarrassment to our state and a disservice to the people of South Dakota. It substitutes hate for reason, impeachment motives for rational discussion and impeachment itself for the casting of ballots -- and represents the very opposite of the South Dakota common sense that Mike Rounds claims to be representing,” added Weiland.

Rounds dodged questions from reporters refusing to support or oppose the resolution but did say that he sympathized with supporters who felt Obama should be impeached. "I understand the frustration that people have with our President. He misled the American people about his health care law, and he is leading this country in the wrong direction. I'm focused on winning in November and bringing South Dakota common sense to the United States Senate, so we can not only stop the damage they are doing to our country, but reverse it," said Rounds in a statement.

Neither Rounds nor Weiland has released a comprehensive plan for how they plan on addressing the many socioeconomic problems facing South Dakota’s nine Indian Reservations. In the past Rounds has talked about the importance of supporting economic development on reservations and he was successful in making inroads to Native voters while governor however, it seems unlikely that Native voters will go against their longtime trend of voting democratic. In the 2012 presidential election Shannon County who has a 94% Native American population voted heavily for President Obama.

Recently, Weiland has taken a strong stance against the Keystone XL pipeline and the expansion of Uranium mining in the Black Hills in southwestern SD. Two issues that Native voters in the state support due to widespread opposition to Keystone XL across Indian Country.

The once heavily favored Rounds took a pounding from fellow Republicans during the Republican primary as he was criticized early for not being conservative enough by national Republican boosters like Jim DeMint, who refused to endorse Rounds, and radical tea party conservatives like Larry Rhoden and Stace Nelson who went on the attack at every opportunity during a rough primary campaign. Further complicating matters for republicans is the presence of former South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler and the heavily conservative Gordon Howie who are both running as independents and are sure to funnel votes away from Rounds if on the ballot in November.

All this seems to equate to good news for Rick Weiland despite claims from the Pressler campaign that the former senator is more likely to draw votes away from Weiland instead of Rounds. The Pressler campaign went as far as suggesting that Weiland drop out of the race.

“The Pressler candidacy however seems to be capturing the middle that Weiland hasn’t been able to crack. Rounds might or might not reach 50 percent with Pressler and Howie in the race. Howie doesn’t affect Weiland, but Pressler does. Weiland might or might not break 35 percent,” said political pundit Bob Mercer in his weekly column that Pressler sent out to potential voters.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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