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Pressler slams GOP, calls impeachment resolution 'embarrassment'

U.S. Senate candidate Larry Pressler is not too pleased with the action of his former political party.

After the state Republican Party passed a resolution to support the impeachment of President Barack Obama last weekend at its convention in Rapid City, Pressler said regardless of political standing, there should be an effort to work with the president.

"It's an absolute embarrassment to the state," Pressler said Wednesday in a meeting with The Daily Republic editorial board. "We can disagree with the president. I disagree with him on a lot of things ... but he is the president of the United State for two more years and we need to work with him."

He said it says a lot about politics in the United States when the dominant party in the state takes a motion of that nature.

"You can have a resolution to strongly disagree with the president or to have him to find another way," he said. "It's the poisonous state of politics. We don't talk about the issues."

Pressler said the nation will need to keep the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and work around it to make it better.

"It's there now," he said. "I'm a realist in politics. I'm 72 years old and I want to get something done when I'm there."

Pressler represented South Dakota for 18 years in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997 as a Republican and was defeated by U.S. Sen Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in 1996. He's now trying to win the seat that Johnson is vacating, and said he's operating on a "shoestring" budget of less than $50,000.

"I'm trying to earn people's votes, not steal them," he said when asked if he's trying to win over Republicans or Democrats.

Pressler also touched on signing an amicus, or friend of the court, brief supporting gay marriage in South Dakota, as the issue is challenged in U.S. District Court. A Vietnam veteran, Pressler said he comes at the topic from a military standpoint, where gay people are allowed to serve in the military.

"Whatever one believes about gay marriage, gay men and women now serve in the military openly," he said. "I'm a member of the Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and they're coming out for equal rights for gays and that includes gay unions, if they're available. I think we've reached an era where that's a conservative position."

He said it's a civil rights issue -- one Republicans should support, because it gives people an equal right to compete in society.

He also referred to the 2004 referendum on the topic in the state, which by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, and that opinions have changed statewide. Pressler acknowledged he now supports gay marriage, even though he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act when he was in the U.S. Senate.

"I personally support people's rights to have it if they want it. That doesn't mean they're guaranteed to have it in a church, but it means that there's unions," he said.

In addition, Pressler recently stated that the United States needs to withdraw all forces from Iraq, citing his experience in Vietnam.

"We eat up American blood and treasure in other countries," he said. "We can't keep fighting civil wars and we can't settle them for other countries. So I feel it's almost the Libertarian position that we have a strong national defense, we need to project out some, but we just cannot keep getting into these civil wars."