ST. LOUIS • Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder welcomed dozens of conservative woman to town with a heavy dose of criticism aimed at the federal government.
Kinder was the first candidate to address this weekend's meeting of the Smart Girl Politics Action, a non-profit dedicated to "engaging, educating and empowering conservative women."
Though Kinder is running for governor in 2012, his remarks were loaded with salvos aimed at political leaders in Washington.
The federal government, Kinder said, is trying to subvert the will of the states through "absolute despotism."
"Which we take orders from the federal government in Washington from people who are certain they know how to plan our lives better than we can," Kinder said.
Americans, he told the mostly-female audience of about 250, "were never intended to be serfs to a federal master."
Kinder was followed on stage by a fellow No. 2 — Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch —who also shares
Kinder's media background. (Kleefisch was a TV reporter; Kinder was associate publisher at the Southeast Missourian.)
The "Smart Girls Summit" is in downtown St. Louis through Saturday. Other speakers on the weekend's agenda include Missouri Republicans Ann Wagner and Sarah Steelman; conservative web hero Andrew Breitbart; and presidential hopeful Herman Cain.
The afternoon's closing speaker is — who else? — Republican doyenne Phyllis Schlafly, who Kinder called the "First Lady of American Conservatism."