Parson pitches book at Hannibal stop

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs copies of his biography next to the author, Jim Jones. — Photo by Brittany Boll

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson said he wasn’t trying to compare himself to Mark Twain when he made a stop Tuesday in Hannibal to promote his new book “No Turnin’ Back”, but that didn’t mean Hannibal’s most famous son wouldn’t be referenced.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum Director Megan Rapp introduced the governor, who is finishing his second and final term in office this year, with a quote from the great American author about politicians, whom he had a well-known disdain for.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum Director Megan Rapp introduces Gov. Parson Tuesday afternoon. — Photo by Brittany Boll

“‘Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a congressman can,'” Rapp said. “I felt safe using this quote since you’re governor and not a congressman. Twain also had opinions that I’m sure that our governor can agree with, like ‘When you’re in politics, you are in a wasps nest with a short shirt tail.'”

Parson, who served in the U.S. Army before becoming sheriff of Polk County, was in the Missouri House from 2005-2011 and the Missouri Senate from 2011-2017 before being elected as the state’s lieutenant governor.

He became governor in June 2018 following the departure of Eric Greitens, who resigned in a scandal involving felony charges and campaign finance violations. Those charges were dropped upon his resignation.

Parson said the title of his biography was inspired by the first time he faced the media as governor. When asked what’s next by reporters he said “Well … there’s no turnin’ back.”

“For only the second time in our state’s history, the governor resigned,” he told the audience. “And the last time that happened was back in the 1800s. Most governors have about two months and you can campaign for the office and say what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do and then you have a two month transition period to probably get ready. We had 48 hours.”

He discussed his beginnings as one four sons in a family Hickory County sharecroppers.

“What that really means is we went around from farm to farm,” he said. “I’m the youngest of four boys, and we worked other people’s farms. We would live on their farms and until we either moved on or till the crop season goes and that’s how we moved around in Hickory County which is one of the poorest counties in the state.

“In the world of material things we had very little in the scope of the way we judge things today, but I will tell you, we had everything with my mom and dad, because the things they taught you as a young man. They taught you about faith early on. How important was that faith was going to play a role in your life, which it has every day. They taught you how to respect family and how to make sure you took care of one another in hard times.”

He then segued that into how government wasn’t really noticed back then.

“In those days, we probably didn’t know government existed very much because everybody helped one another out,” he said. “I mean, if somebody was on hard times, if they run out of food, if they needed help on the farms, you just always helped your neighbors and that’s what everybody did.

“So that’s how I kind of grew up. Now there’s one thing I will tell you as a young man. You learned how to work but very early age. So what no doubt about that. And I will guarantee you my mom and dad had no clue that there was even such thing as child labor laws. They had no knowledge of things of that nature.”

Parson also introduced the book’s author, Jim Jones. Jones is a Monroe City native and a former teacher and coach who retired as superintendent of schools in Blair Oaks. His wife, Kelli, is Parson’s deputy chief of staff.

Parson signed books and spoke to a small crowd made up mostly of Hannibal’s Toms and Beckys at the Mark Twain Museum Gallery. It was his third stop in Northeast Missouri after speaking at Schuyler County High School and Truman State University before heading back to Jefferson City.

Parson said he’s sold about 7,000 copies of the book, with the proceeds going to First Lady Teresa Parson’s Moving Missouri Forward Foundation.

Parson was asked about the squabbling going on among his fellow Republicans in the state senate as Friday’s budget deadline fast approaches.

“They’ve got a job to do and they need to come together,” he said. “And they’d better get it done by Friday.”

A group of this year’s Tom Sawyers and Becky Thatchers listened to Gov. Parson speak Tuesday afternoon. — Brittany Boll

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