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Vitter More Visible; Talks Faith, Freedom

Frank Barnett

Just 5 days left till Saturday’s runoff election, and in the past week gubernatorial candidate David Vitter has become more visible, including speaking with two faith-based communities late last week.

Vitter spoke at Jefferson Baptist in Baton Rouge Thursday evening – a solo appearance -- put on in part by the Louisiana Family Forum. There the Republican addressed religious freedom.

“I think it’s essential that we proactively, aggressively support and defend complete religious freedom,” Vitter said, “Without having opposing views crammed down our throat. Unfortunately, there are folks -- a lot of folks on the left in America now – who want to make believers like us second-class citizens.”

Friday afternoon, Vitter, along with his rival John Bel Edwards, were at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, also in Baton Rouge. The forum, with pre-scripted questions, was for Together Louisiana, a statewide network of religious congregations and civic groups. The topics were the state budget crisis, Medicaid expansion, and addressing the state’s poverty problems.

Bishop Gregory Cooper, pastor of two Full Gospel Baptist churches in Baton Rouge, and Barbara Freeman of Monroe, a self-described former addict and inmate, asked about poverty solutions.

“Jesus took care of the wealthy as well as the poor,” Bishop Cooper began. “My question today is, how would you help us?”

“People like me -- the least, the last and the left out?” Freeman added.

“I’ll focus like a laser beam on skills training and workforce training,” Vitter responded, “equiring that all state agencies that work with low-income families direct them to skills training and lift them out of poverty.”

Vitter and Edwards are participating in their final statewide televised debate tonight.