Not to be outdone by Dick Versace, John Morris kicked off his own bus tour on Tuesday in Eureka, with similar stops around the 18th Congressional District. This isn't just a bus tour. He also revealed his positions on national security, the economy and more for the first time.

Keeping America safe, continuing to support troops in Iraq and checking Iranian aggression are the staples of Congressional candidate John Morris’ campaign.


"We must continue to take the fight to the terrorists and achieve victory in Iraq. To do this, we must first establish the security that will bring about political stability. The surge is working. We must allow our troops to get the job done," Morris said. "We must give our troops the equipment and funding they need and our generals the confidence they deserve."


Morris, 39, a Republican, officially kicked off his campaign for the 18th Congressional District seat Tuesday in Eureka near the former stomping grounds of former President Ronald Reagan, whom he called the "greatest influence on our conservative political thinking."


He outlined his positions on national security, the war on terror, the economy, illegal immigration, family and energy.


The mission in Iraq must be carried out to win the war on terror and leave Iraq a free and democratic nation, Morris said. If elected, he would vote to continue to fund troops and provide them with necessary resources to defeat enemies.


"The war against terrorism is not confined to the borders of Iraq. Dangerous dictators with radical ideals, particularly in Iran, pose a threat to American security and world peace," he said.


Morris called illegal immigration a national crisis and said borders should be secured. A proponent of immigration reform, he acknowledged immigrants contribute to key economic industries and said that the U.S. should encourage legal immigration.


On the domestic front, Morris said he promotes agriculture and harnessing productivity of U.S. farmers by encouraging investment in renewable energy sources and alternative fuel. He also would push to open new markets through trade policies.


By encouraging investment in renewable energy sources by offering tax incentives, he said he hopes to make central Illinois the "new energy capital of the world."


"We must end dependence on foreign oil. I believe that central Illinois is uniquely positioned to be the leader of energy development and production," Morris outlined in a position statement.


Finally, Morris said he would work to lower taxes, cut government spending and limit government regulation of business and trade to propel the economy and promote opportunity. He also supports Congressional reform and transparency in government.


"This election could not come at a more critical time in the history of central Illinois, our nation, and our Republican party. We face big challenges," Morris said.


Morris, a former Peoria City Council member and vice president for development at WTVP-TV, Channel 47, is seeking the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, who is retiring in January 2009.


Other Republican challengers include state Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, and Heartland Partnership CEO Jim McConoughey. Former Bradley basketball coach Dick Versace is running on the Democratic ticket.


Karen McDonald can be reached at (309) 686-3285 or