Candidate campaigns here in middle of night

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Ben Leming, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to run for Congress, campaigned in Lewisburg at about 2 a.m. Saturday.

A Murfreesboro man, who mustered out of the Marines at midnight on Friday, started his campaign at 12:01 a.m. Saturday for the Democratic nomination to run for the congressional seat Bart Gordon is leaving in January.

Ben Leming toured all 15 counties in the 6th Congressional District last weekend and stopped at the Huddle House on Nashville Highway in Lewisburg where he spoke with staff and guests who said they were surprised to see a candidate at that hour.

Leming's campaign release notes Marshall County's high unemployment rate. In a telephone interview he advocated spending economic stimulus money on schools, hospitals and roads to attract employers.

Veterans issues were raised at a National Guard Armory yard sale in Lafayette, he said

Veterans in Congress "understand what it means to send soldiers to war," Leming said. "It's more than just the service members' sacrifice... My boys went without a dad for a while. A lot of people don't understand that.

"We understand what we're sending our folks off to do," he said. Veterans would "make sure it really is in the national interest."

After noting service members take an oath, respect the president and do their job, Leming answered a chief question.

"How do I feel about the wars? After 911, we all agreed we had to do something. Afghanistan was where Al-Qaeda was. On Iraq... we took our eye off the ball and probably should have finished the job.

"The reasons we were told, didn't pan out. Intelligence didn't pan out. I'm an intelligence officer. Intel isn't always right.

"Leaders have to decide how to act on that. I wasn't sure the intelligence was the best... but it was our duty to go and we did," Leming said.

"As far as the average citizen, if you don't like the way things are going, and there's an election ... maybe we can fix it..."

Shaun Urquhart of Franklin Road was at the restaurant on Saturday morning when Leming arrived.

"He was real cool," Urquhart said Monday afternoon. "He spoke to me about some of his credentials and being fresh out of the military. I think he will be a great candidate. Anybody running against him will have his hands full.

"He stayed about 15 minutes. A lot of people didn't know what he was there for, but they knew before he left. By the time he left, people were cutting up with him.

"I was kind of busy, so he didn't trouble me, but he said he was here for the people," Urquhart said.

"You can tell he had that military style of life and ... wouldn't retire for the day. I think he'd stay up and get the job done."

Leming said while he was at the Huddle House, he made Facebook friends with some of the customers.

Because of his active-duty status in the Marines, Leming couldn't campaign before Saturday. The Naval Academy graduate and helicopter captain says serving in Congress would be another form of public service to the country.