By Sheena Williams
Killeen Daily Herald
As threatening clouds from Hurricane Ike loomed over Killeen's American Legion Saturday, democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega traveled from Dallas with a folder filled with talking points, some calling cards, campaign buttons and his Army uniform and boots.
The National Guard lieutenant colonel was in town to share his plan to support Texans and he was ready at a moment's notice, to change out of his blue blazer in order to provide support to the community if the force of nature took a turn for the worst.
The senior parachutist has spent many training days at Fort Hood, jumping out of Chinooks and C-130's and he said this visit to Killeen will allow him to show the military community that he's got their backs when it comes to their care and well-being.
"When I was deployed overseas and my son broke his arm, my wife discovered that no one in Houston took Tricare. And we had access to resources and relationships where she could negotiate that system, but there are many Texas families that don't have that. I've dealt with soldiers in my own unit with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), that were suicidal. And I know what it feels like to have to look into the eyes of a wife and their children's eyes when they come to me and say, 'Please don't take my daddy again,'" Noriega said.
"Those are things that my incumbent will never understand, and we need someone in D.C. that understands those kind of issues. I think that having voted with the president and the administration over 96 percent of the time means that your not representing Texans – your representing Washington. And Texans need a Texas senator, not a Washington senator."
In the question and answer forum held at the veteran's organization, Noriega addressed his energy plan for Texas, veteran's issues and his stance on a national sales tax. Afterword, he shook several hands, including Vietnam veteran Alexander Vernon's, who said he was impressed with Noriega's precise and conscientious blueprint for success.
"I really enjoyed listening to him this morning. Everyone here seemed to want the same thing, but it's just how you present yourself and I do feel that Mr. Noriega really presented himself well. To me, he was the best speaker today because he covered every issue well," Vernon said. "I'm a person that doesn't just vote for the person in my party, I vote for the one who strikes me as the person who will do the right thing. So he's got my vote."
Republican Sen. John Cornyn was invited to the forum but couldn't make it and sent one of his supporters, Marine Lt. Col. Scott Shepherd, in his stead to share Cornyn's views on the portability of the G.I. Bill, Military Voting Protection Act and clean transportation spending bills.
For more information on Noriega's campaign, go to www.ricknoriega.com.