John Brunner

John Brunner, a Republican businessman running for U.S. Senate, made a campaign stop at a Washington restaurant Wednesday morning to emphasize his leadership credentials.

Those credentials include working for his family’s business, Vi-Jon, a private-label personal care products manufacturer, for roughly 30 years and time as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Brunner touted the support of several state elected officials — Sen. Brian Nieves and Reps. Paul Curtman and Scott Dieckhaus.

He told supporters he was the best candidate in the upcoming Aug. 7 primary.

Brunner is facing U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and Sarah Steelman, who has served as state treasurer and state senator.

The winner of the primary will face incumbent Claire McCaskill in the November general election.

At Cowan’s Restaurant, Brunner discussed the importance of family, service and sacrifice.

“We all care about our country and the direction it’s going,” he said. “We’re all engaged.”

Brunner said his opponents — in both the primary and general election — are career politicians.

“Sometimes … career politicians get caught up in the system and lose their edge,” he said.

Brunner has said he will only serve two terms in the Senate if he is elected.

Brunner spoke against government regulations and said those regulations are “crushing everyone.”

He said he’s in a better position to make those sorts of judgments — after 30 years of doing budgets for his family’s business — versus the current U.S. Senate, which “hasn’t had a budget for three and a half years.”

The last time the Senate passed a budget measure was in April of 2009.

“We can turn (the economy) around with the right kind of leadership,” Brunner said.

“In tough economic times, the key to success is flexibility. If you’re locked down by regulations, what are you going to do?” he asked. “You’re going to hunker down in a fetal position and wait until the storm blows over.”

Brunner said the government instead needs a plan, one involving flatter, fairer taxes and less restrictions on industry.

“Investors are going to look at other (international) companies to invest in, like Nestle,” he said of the Swiss multinational corporation ranked the most profitable in 2011 in the Fortune Global 500 compiled by Fortune magazine.

“In a competitive environment, your prices have to be competitive, so our taxes need to be competitive,” Brunner said.

He said Democrats have been running negative ads against him because they are “scared to death.”

The Missouri Democratic Party has been critical of Brunner’s history with Vi-Jon, noting a $372,000 salary claimed on a financial disclosure form in February despite the company reporting lay-offs to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October of last year.