MACON ó Macon, a northern Missouri town of about 5,000 people, was Gov. Eric Greitensí first stop on his multi-city tax cut tour Monday morning.
The town hall event was held at Economy Products, a factory with a smattering of screw machines. A vertical American flag hung from the ceiling behind a banner: "Cutting taxes for working families."
"I think thereís a lot of 'non-hope' here," Sabrina Edwards, 60 , said seated on a metal folding chair moments before Greitens took the podium. Edwards moved back to Macon last year after 25 years of working in southern California in interior design and landscaping. She said jobs are tough to come by in Macon and insurance premiums in the state are too high, but she remained optimistic about Greitens, who won her vote in 2016.
"He has a great perspective as an outsider," Edwards said. "Thatís something we need."
At Mondayís event, Greitens addressed the crowd of factory workers and residents as "folks." He started with listing what he saw as his administrationís achievements, including recently passed anti-abortion legislation.
Halfway into his speech, Greitens briefly engaged in Americaís culture wars. "Here in Macon, we honor the American flag," he said. "And we stand up to the American flag." The remark received an ovation from the audience.
He then moved to the main subject, his tax cut plan. After going into the details of the proposal, he assured the constituents that it would be fiscally responsible and revenue neutral. Greitens called on the audience to read, discuss and distribute his plan.
After delivering his speech, a cheerful Greitens, in blue jeans and a light-blue shirt, made his way around the room as "Born In The USA" blasted through the speakers. The governor shook hands and talked with the constituents, many of whom waited on the floor for twenty minutes to greet him.
"Iím a guy that believes a lot in all of these jobs here that donít have anything to do with college degrees," Wayne Wilcox, a retired grain farm owner told the Missourian in reference to the governorís proposed budget cuts to colleges and universities.
"If you look at what a welder can make today, itís better than any college graduate," Wilcox said. "And it doesnít make any difference whether itís a girl or a guy. Iím a champion of the gals getting the blue-collar jobs."
In the last row, an old man with a deeply-lined face smiled approvingly. An MU í67 alumnus and Vietnam veteran, Ralph Thomas lives on a cattle farm 20 miles from Macon.
"Heís doing all right. Iíd probably vote for him again," Thomas said of the governor. He added, however, that in the 2018 U.S. Senate elections heíd support Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. "We gotta have some Democrats left," he explained.
Despite his support for Greitens, Thomas was concerned about the tax cut proposal.
"Whoís going to pay for it?" he said. "Missouri is a great state. We donít want to end up like Kansas."
Reporters Joe Siess and Annika Merrilees contributed to this report.