What the birthers believe, from the mouth of the movement’s king…
AK: This seems awfully quixotic. Why continue this clearly fruitless quest?
PB: I think it is bearing fruit. I think significant, about two weeks ago, I put out my latest press release calling for a birth certificate march on Washington. The next day was the national Prayer Breakfast — Obama spoke there at the very end, and I’m paraphrasing…but at the end of the speech, he said: No one should question my faith. Then he paused, and he said, or my citizenship. I think that we’re getting to him by now. It’s the first time that he brought the subject up. Biden jokes about it, but it’s not a joke, it’s for real. And Glenn Beck, who doesn’t touch the birth certificate issue, talked about me for at least three days…I made the blackboard. He’s saying that I am a threat to Obama. I’m not sure what he meant by that…I’m not a physical threat. I’m calling for a peaceful revolution on this issue. For our March of Washington, I’m hoping to get a million people to bring hteir birth certificates, faxing them or e-mailing them to my office.
I think we are bearing fruit. I think the courts are taking their time, unfortunately…if I can raise public awareness, I think the American public will force Obama to either prove he’s constitutionally eligible to be president or they’re going to force him to resign. Because — here’s the thing — American citizens must produce their birth certificate during their lifetime between one and ten times. You definitely need to to do Little League. They keep putting up the COLB — which is not a birth certificate. It’s missing the baby’s length, the baby’s weight, the name of the hospital, and the doctor’s signature. So Obama…even though Chris Matthews shakes it saying it’s his birth certificate, it’s not his birth certificate. And you definitely need it for a passport! Even to travel to — the Caribbean, or Puerto Rico —
AK: But hasn’t he traveled to those places?
PB: I think he traveled his entire life on an Indonesian passport. So that’s why the issue isn’t what happened when he was born, but what happened in Indonesia. In one of his books, he mentioned that he found his birth certificate. And in his book, he mentioned his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, “returned to Indonesia before my mother and I.”
Well, we have his school record on our site and his name is Barry Soetoro, his nationality being Indonesian and his religion being Islam. Every time since then, when he’s used the name Barack H. Obama, he’s committing fraud. He severed relations from the prior country and took on the parents’ last name, so he hasn’t legally changed his last name. But how did he come back from Indonesia in the United States?
AK: So your contention is that Anne Dunham gave birth to him…
PB: …in Kenya. But even if he were in Hawaii, he would have had his birth certificate in Kenya. Now, there’s a law that says a parent can’t give up their rights for their child. But between the ages of 18 and 21, Obama would have had to renounce that citizenship with Indonesia and reaffirm any citizenship he had in the United States. But because he became a natural of Indonesia, he could not have kept his status as natural-born, even if he was natural-born, in Hawaii, which I don’t beliee he was. I think he went back to Hawaii on his Indonesia passport, never reaffirming his allegiance to the United States between the ages of 18 and 21. There’s a question of — you know — in 1980, when he’s 20, he travels to Pakistan, but he also stopped in Indonesia, I think, to renew his Indonesian passport. Someone put in a FOIA request asking me about his passport and it came back that he had no US Passport, so I think that goes along with the fact that he probably uses his Indonesian passport and from his time as US Senator forward used a diplomatic passport, and see, all this can be cleared up really easily if Obama would just come forth with his original birth certificate, like he said he found it, in his book — now, a COLB is now legitimate for a birth in Hawaii but not anymore, they changed it recently.
AK: Why do you think that Hawaii has Obama’s certificate of live birth on record?
PB: We don’t know if that document came from there. That document was put on the Obama campaign website in 2008 to try to refute questions from the year before that. He put this phony document up, two months before I even got involved in this lawsuit. Notice they have not put any other document up; they keep referring to that COLB as a birth certificate.
AK: See, when I sit around with theorizing with people, we tend to say — well, he’s not releasing it because it causes needless distractions division on the right, and people will look at the radical right, and it will undermine conservatives and Republicans.
PB: How would it undermine anyone? From the time I first found my first lawsuit, I have continuously said, if I am wrong: Obama, prove me wrong, and I’ll withdraw my lawsuit. But he hasn’t. And the reason he hasn’t is because he can’t. Listen, we’re not talking about a stupid person here. Obama…supposedly went to Occidental College…
PB: I’m not sure anymore. Reverend Manning is going to have a trial in May of 2010 over the fact that no one shows — he questions — they interviewed everyone that went to Columbia. No one remembers him being in school at Columbia — students who went to school at the time, and no one recalls Obama at all. I think he did some research but no one remembers him doing the job he supposedly did.
He sealed all his records — and for one main reason: that he received foreign aid for his admission at Occidental and Columbia. There are others who say he never went there, I’m not going there. But he’s not stupid. He went to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard, and when he graduated he was a tort constitutional lawyer for ten years, so don’t tell me he doesn’t know his status. He knows if he’s legit or not, and I think he’s not, and there’s no evidence put forward that he is legit. He’s the biggest phony in our country’s history, all 230 years…I’m doing this because there’s nothing more important than the US Constitution. I’m doing it for the 305 million-plus citizens who deserve to know the truth, and for our soldiers who have fought overseas to defend our Constitution, and the millions of others who have fought over the years in these battles to protect our Constitutional rights. Arnold Schwarzenegger comes forth, people asking him to run for president — and he says — amend the Constitution, because I’m from Austria. What does Barack Obama say? Basically nothing, but by saying nothing, he is saying that I’m walking all over the Constitution, that I don’t care about the Constitution, and I think it’s a disgrace. Also, who’s a disgrace, the national media. I was interviewed by the New York Times about six months ago and said that I wished I could sue the natioal media for not vetting Obama. Look what they did to Sarah Palin, they went behind every door and under every rock asking lots of questions. What do they do with Obama? Nothing. They have asked him nothing about his past and it’s like — a taboo topic. And the reason it’s a taboo topic is because the major media is owned by three or four corporations. And they say — stay off this birth certificate issues. And that’s why I think a Birth Certificate March on Washington is really going to identify so many people, the initial response in overwhelming…people contacting me, can I help, can I get buses, so we’re gonna pick the date soon.
From a mini press-conference…
AK: I don’t think it’s an accident that you’ve been showing up in Iowa and South Carolina, and that you’ve been making speeches next to Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty at the events of various organizations. Uh…you’re running, aren’t you? [Laughs in the room]
MP: I don’t have any plans on running for president. [Room murmurs — ‘Of course you’d say that!’] But there are two things I want to do. Number one, is to serve the people of Indiana right here in Washington DC. And two, to do everything in my power over next nine months to return the powers of Congress to the American people. I’m someone who really believes — and I said this in my speech today — one of the things that faces us as a movement, and as a party, is focus. And the reality is that we have nine months and it’s halftime in the locker room. And I think if everyone puts their head down and speaks on behalf of the American people, then things will work themselves out.
AB: You talk about taking the House back in 2010, but right now we’re mired in primary season. What do you say to people who might be taking on establishment candidates?
MP: You know, it’s never the bad thing when the American people become more involved in the American political process. And the reality is, we have a number of competitive primaries in Congress in districts where we had a hard time finding a candidate in the past. We have men and women coming forward to contest these seats and I think that is nothing but a good thing. It’s good for America, let the people work their will, let the candidates to their best. But the important thing is, once we get through all of these primaries…it’s gonna be imperative that people who cherish conservative values get over anything that might have happened in the primary and line up behind the conservative candidate.
AB: Do Republicans have an obligation to support Parker Griffith in Alabama?
MP: I’m pleased to see him join the ranks. I know he’s gotten the support of the Republican governor from that state and all the Republican Congressmen from that state. But being in the minority, we’re glad to see someone who has been voting right come our way…it’s altogether appropriate for us to support his re-election. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s not appropriate for people not to let their voice be heard.
Congressman, I live in that district, and I’d rather have a conservative!, someone yelled. Everyone ignored him.
Someone else asked “Do you think you could convince Mitch Daniels to run for president?”
MP: Let me say that it is a great soruce of joy for me to come from the state that has the best governor in the United States of America. And I believe that Governor Daniels has said he’s not running for any other offices, and I’ve known him for about twenty-five years, and he’s a man of his word. We’ll let the future take care of itself, but he’s a great man with courage and great principle.
The conservative alternative to Kelly Ayotte sits down with Race42012. The audio recording got somewhat garbled. Ellipses indicate where that happened, unfortunately.
AK: The most recent Rasmussen poll shows you as the only Republican candidate losing to Paul Hodes — by six points, while Kelly Ayotte wins by seven — and the candidate with the lowest favorability ratings in the field of prospective senators. Why do you think this is?
OL: It’s because I’ve been a conservative activist for many years, with a record of service that makes you controversial, but I think people will rediscover who I am — and that I have the authentic conservative message. I was chairman of the State Board of Education in the 90s. We opposed the Education stimulus package under the Clinton administration…and that made me very unpopular with the education establishment, as you might imagine…that made me controversial…When I ran for governor, we had a hotly-litigated school funding suit that we actually won in the Superior Court, and again…that put me in the crosshairs of the educational establishment, so, when you try to do things that will make a difference and if you champion causes you believe in, you’re gonna draw some criticism. But whoever wins the primary is gonna win the general election, because what Paul Hodes wants is more taxing, more spending, he supports federal funding of abortion…People are gonna see the difference between us, and who has the true conservative principles…
AB: How, then, do you beat Kelly Ayotte in the primary?
OL: It’s a good question*…she’s the establishment candidate, we’re gonna win the old-fashioned way: by organizing the field. We’ll get the right coalition of pro-lifers, Second Amendment supporters, homeschooling, and the anti-tax coalition…
AB: We all know you’re running against Kelly Ayotte — what’s your opinion on Judd Gregg? Is he a good Republican, is he a RINO? Where does he fit into the Republican Party?
OL: Senator Gregg has served us long and well in a lot of respects, but he voted for the confirmation of Justice Sotomayor. He supported the appointment of a blue-ribbon panel to raise taxes and cut spending…it was a commission that wanted to raise taxes. There are some things, I also think that, um, it’s time for a new breed of leaders, who are truly independent, not part of the party establishment. The Republican Party has to bear much of the blame for where we are now, although the Democrats, of course, take it to a new level. But we have to make sure that the Republican candidates really get back to where our principles are — limiting the size of government, national security, really looking at, and consolidating — cutting the size of government.
AB: So then, we’re talking about a new breed of Republican, so how do you feel –vis a vis — you’re not the only anti-establishment candidate running — how do you feel about JD Hayworth? Is that good or is that bad?
OL: Well, keeping in mind that McCain is coming to New Hampshire to campaign for Kelly Ayotte, the establishment candidate, I would point out that the New Hampshire nomination should be left to New Hampshire residents. I think someone who is outside of New Hampshire, would come to New Hampshire — shows a lot about the process. I’ve been endorsed by Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle…they’re outside of the system. But they all represent a certain segment of conservative positions. Senator McCain, you know, has been there a long time, I believe in term-limits, self-imposed and otherwise…I commend JD Hayworth for trying to breathe some new life into that race.
* – This was meant in the context of Adam Brickley asking a good question, not in the sense of ‘Gosh, hell if I know!’
I am pleased to present the following interview with Frank Guinta, who is the former Mayor of Manchester and a candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Democrat, Carol Shea-Porter. I wish to say a big “thank you” to Nate Gunderson and Bob Hovic for transcribing this interview.
Dustin Siggins: The first question is just a general question. I’m a former New Hampshire citizen. I was wondering – perhaps you can give me a two minute summary – why you think you’re the best person to win the Republican primary, and also why you think you’re the best Republican to run against Carol Shea-Porter.
Frank Guinta: Well, I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to serve New Hampshire for the entire last decade in different capacities. I started as a state legislature and then moved into city governance as an alderman for two terms, and then for the last four years serving as the state’s largest city’s mayor. I had a great and unique experience over the last ten years in elected office serving people of our city and of our state in different capacities. And I think what people are looking for, not just in their member of congress but in their government, I think they’re looking for a forthright, open and honest, transparent approach to solving problems. Which is how I’ve tried to address issues here in Manchester? I think people, even though they don’t always agree with the outcome, I think they appreciate the process that I have taken to try to get things accomplished, most notably trying to reform government, to be focusing on its basic responsibilities. Secondly, cut spending and cut taxes, which we have been able to accomplish for the first time in more than a decade here in the city of Manchester. And then prioritizing the responsibilities of government, and ensuring that the people receive the services they expect to receive, also to receive them in effective and efficient manner. You look at what is going on in Washington today and I think nationally people are concerned about the very same issues. We have the highest debt and deficits that our country has ever experienced. We have a lack of commitment to providing small and efficient government. Right now there is an approach in Washington to expand the size of government, to take over people’s freedoms and liberties, and to take over certain business sectors, and provide things that are not within the confines and responsibilities of the government. So I think with what’s going on in the country, with what I’ve demonstrated and how I’ve been able to address issues has put me into a very strong position. Not only to be the nominee for the Republican Party, but also to win and serve as the next congressman for the district.
DS: You mentioned the responsibilities of the government. Would you be able to go into more detail where you think those responsibilities lie and what there are limited to?
FG: Well sure. First of all one of the basic responsibilities is to keep people safe. Beyond that we have an obligation, whether you’re at local, state or federal government to adhere to the basic principles of either, in Manchester’s case the charter, in New Hampshire’s case the State Constitution, in case of federal government our U.S. Constitution. I think there are blatant violations of that, of what is articulated in the Constitution, and I think people are angry about it. I’ll give you a good example; look at the health care bill. Not only has the process and procedure been very different from what has been promised, but there has not been a clear articulation of where in the Constitution people feel, or members of congress, or this the majority party feels that its not only right, but it’s the responsibility of the federal government to provide and pay for health care. And if you look at, for example, what happened with Senator Ben Nelson and the fact that he was essentially bribed for his vote. There are at least 13 state Attorney Generals, and probably more, who are willing to sign onto a letter saying that not only is this unfair, because states across the country are being treated unequally, not fairly, which is a requirement of federal legislation.
I think the general public, everyday Americans, fell that not only is there a lack of transparency, but there is a lack of basic fairness in how our country is being governed. When I speak with people throughout the district that is what’s on peoples minds, and I believe its on peoples minds throughout the country as well. I’ve always tried to be an individual A) who would take positions, and I’ve never been afraid to take positions as a Mayor. I think when you are leading that people are demanding that leadership and wanting to know what exactly is important to you and why it’s important. I’ve always taken that approach. Whether it’s having a town hall meeting –we had almost 20 town hall meeting while I was mayor. We had twice a month people had an opportunity to come to city hall and express their public opinion about anything. During our budgets we would have open processes where people could come to budget hearings and make their positions known. Believe me, I’ve done four budgets here as the Mayor. I think that everyone but one of them had more than a thousand people show up at the budget hearings to express their opinions one way or the other. That improved the process. It ensured that the people had the opportunity to have their opinion and their voice heard. Then ultimately at election time people would decide – Ok is this leadership, is this individual the person who is best leading our city, or should we be making a change?
And obviously I was fortunate enough to be reelected, I think because of that leadership, that transparency, and the commitment to making decisions on behalf of taxpayers. And you can counter that with what is going on in Washington. I don’t think people feel that tax payers are being considered. I don’t feel that people feel that there is an open and transparent process going on, and I think that people feel that their freedoms and liberties are being infringed upon.
DS: I saw you speak at Plymouth State University to the Grafton County Republicans. I remember there being rumors you were going to run for Governor. This year you are obviously running for Congress instead. Why the switch?
FG: Well, back at that time there had been a small movement of people encouraging me to run for Governor. I think it was because was leading the states largest city and I was speaking out against issues that were critically important to people. This was back, um I became mayor in ’05. Rather, I won the election in ’05 and started in January ’06. This was a period of time you’ll have to remember, that people weren’t happy with the Republican Party. I came in as a young mayor, I was I my mid 30’s, I was 35 years old. I came in cutting spending, cutting taxes, reforming government, making it more efficient, more accountable. Which is exactly what Republicans expected of Republican, but people in the city, and this is a Democrat city, it leans Democrat and the voter registration is Democrat. I think people in the city appreciated the fact that I, it wasn’t just Republicans it was everybody, was appreciative of the fact that I was focusing in on taxpayer rights and the responsibility of government. When you contrasted that, at the time with what Governor Lynch was doing; he just came off of a 17.5% spending increase for the biannual budget for the state of New Hampshire. People were looking for an alternative to that approach, and I was leading in that area and people were encouraging me to run. So I did publicly explore the idea of running for Governor, and came ultimately to the conclusion that the people of Manchester elected me to serve as Mayor and I’m going to continue doing that. And personal family situation was such that, it’s tough with small children. Our children today are 6 and 5, but back they were obviously younger, and while it’s always difficult to determine how you can best serve and raise a family it just didn’t fit in at that time with the age of the children and the time that was necessary that I spend with them at that young, young age.
And finally, I loved being mayor. You know it was a great job and a great opportunity. There was a lot of work that needed to be done. While I was very honored to be considered to run, and people wanted me to run for Governor, I continued to focus my energies as Mayor. Back in May of 2009 when I had to make the decision whether to run for re-election or not, I had been watching what was going on with the state government and the federal government. And essentially I felt that rather than run for Governor my interest was at the federal level because of the massive changes that were occurring at the federal level. We were coming fresh off the stimulus issue. The federal government appeared to looking for states to be reliant on the federal government. I don’t believe that that’s the way our country and states should be functioning. I got very frustrated like many people that the spending was out of control. The way that the majority was trying to solve the economic issues was by infusing dollars into the economy that people were claiming wouldn’t work, and obviously it hasn’t worked. Our unemployment numbers are over 10% and they have been for several months and they’re going to continue to remain there. I said – you know what? The best place I can serve, the best place I can try to be part of the solution is by running for Congress and tying to bring regular everyday solutions that I’ve had to deal with as a Mayor, and bring those ideas to a congress that doesn’t particularly care about the amount of money they spend. They don’t particularly care about the effectiveness of government, and they don’t care about what taxpayers are concerned about or what they are feeling. So I felt that this would be the best way I could serve.
DS: Ok, we’ll take a little bit of a shift. I was looking on your website and I couldn’t find anything on your views on abortion. Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
FG: I’m pro-life.
DS: Also I doing a background Google search on ‘Mayor Frank Guinta’, and I thought I saw that you had voted against parental notification.
Tim Huelskamp, a state senator from Kansas, is running for the 1st District Republican primary nomination. I saw a piece at Townhall.com that piqued my interest in Huelskamp a few weeks back, and got in touch with his campaign manager to conduct the below interview. He is running for the seat of Representative Jerry Moran (R-KS), who is running for retiring Senator Sam Brownback’s seat (Brownback is running for governor of Kansas.)
Some quick facts about Huelskamp:
-He is the only farmer in the Republican race.
-He has been endorsed by the Club for Growth PAC, Concerned Women for America, Gun Owners of America, Ken Blackwell, Kansans for Life, Evangelical Leader and national radio personality Jay Sekulow.
-He has been featured on RedState.com and given a 100% rating by Americans for Prosperity.
-He is Catholic, and led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood in Kansas.
-He and his wife Angela have adopted four children, including two Haitian-born girls.
-He has a Ph.D. in political science.
Huelskamp is one of seven candidates in the Republican primary race, and he has raised over $420,000 as of an October 2009 press release. Be sure to visit his campaign website here.
Dustin Siggins: I would like to start off with, if you don’t mind, why did you decide to run? There are seven candidates running, four who have raised enough money to be competitive.
Tim Huelskamp: Yeah, that’s a good question, I guess that the question would be for the other six who got in after me. (Laughs)
DS: I didn’t know that; I’m sorry.
TH: No, no, that’s okay. No, not giving you a hard time there. No, I’ve been looking at this seat for a number of years, I’ve been a leader on many issues here in Kansas and particularly a leader in this Congressional district I’ve been active in Republican Party politics as First District delegate at the convention and those kind of things, so I’ve been very active in the district and very active statewide, and I’ve been a conservative leader at the state level and there’s just so much you can do, and given the problems in Washington with where the way Obama and Pelosi and Reid are going we need strong, articulate conservatives and that’s why I’d like to move up to the next level.
DS: So I see in the state senate you were involved with technology, agriculture, education and local government- those were the committees you were on.
TH: That’s correct.
DS: When you go to DC, how would you, what are the issues you would like to concentrate on? I mean, I have your website pulled up, and you’re obviously concentrating on- you’re a farmer, I believe, and you’re really running all, the Club for Growth, Erick Erickson, and all these places are saying great things about you, you’re getting all these positive ratings, what would you say are really the three issues you think need to be concentrated on by Congressional Republicans?
TH: Well, we- well, not we, they- have much to blame for the current situation in terms of providing the groundwork to elect a liberal Congress in ’06 and Obama in ’08, and simply put is because we had a bunch of Republicans- a lot of ‘em- enough that created problems that didn’t stick to conservative principles, and as a result in ’06 and then in ’08 Republicans were seen as the party that spent and that was many times the case.
So the first thing we’ve gotta do is redirect the Republicans back to basic values that we can’t spend our way to prosperity, we can’t spend more than we’re taking in, we can’t run up these type of deficits we’re talking about- and that would be issue number one, I think, and that gets back to the basics for the party and I think it’s the path to victory, to convince Americans again that Republicans stand for those principles and are gonna vote that way.
I’m age 41, got four young children, and I know everybody says that, what they’re gonna do about deficit spending, and roll that back and quit digging the hole they’re digging now, but if you look at my record and what makes me different from all the opponents is we’ve got a record of doing the same thing at Topeka. We’ve got the most fiscally conservative record of any state senator-
I know a lot of candidates in this race and other races talk about a tax pledge, Dustin, but I mean we took the tax pledge 14 years ago (Laughs) and have kept our word and been a leader on that, so that would be our number one issue to deal with, and probably trying to roll back- we’ll see what happens on health care- but there will be a number of things to roll back, with all the new programs that going to be started or attempt to be started in the next year or so, and newly-elected Republicans gotta commit themselves to, “No, we’re gonna roll back, we’re gonna roll back government programs and stay out of the hands of personal freedom, liberty and personal responsibility in terms of health care,” and so those are just a couple of issues that we’ll be working on hopefully in a little over a year.
DS: Back in 1994, David Frum wrote a book called Dead Right- it’s a book I read recently- and he, one of the statements he made, and I think it’s very true, is that the middle class will have to be hit with tax raises or Medicare- or other entitlement cuts- to balance the budget. And obviously entitlements are the key, are the major problems with our budget, and so how would you- what would be the top few things you would do to actually cut the budget, roll back the spending and stop the deficit spending that’s really going to crush your children, my children- I’m only 24- and our grandkids?
TH: Excellent question, and I always first say the first thing we need to do is quit digging when we’re in the hole and that’s what they’re doing in Washington, just piling it all, and that’ll be a battle just to keep them from adding new programs, expanding entitlements, you know, whether it be the Medicare expansion under President Bush that will actually be an issue in the U.S. Senate race here, because one guy voted for it and one of ‘em didn’t, and that was a massive growth of entitlements. One thing I’ve learned at the state level, and I’ve been active on trying to push some reforms, particularly in Medicaid- and they also apply to Medicare- is we have created a healthcare system in which somebody else typically pays the bill, and it’s either big government or so-called big insurance companies, generally, and we’ve lost track in that part of entitlements the role of the consumer, personal responsibility- and we talk about health savings accounts, a great aspect of small reform, but a big reform for health care, and those are the kinds of reform that we need to apply to the Medicare system as well, and to the Medicaid system. We’ve tried to push those through at the state level with Medicaid- we’ve been unable to do so, mainly because the Bush administration (Chuckles) wouldn’t give us the permission to implement some of those, plus we had a governor that wasn’t helpful. That’s one way you slow down the growth of entitlements. On the medical side is you provide the type of reforms that allow free enterprise and free markets to operate, and I think it was a big mistake when this country in World War II moved away from private pay of health care and put it on the employer, or again, put it on the government. That took the American consumer right out of the picture, and that’s been driving many of our health care costs in addition to the lack of tort reform and things such as that.
DS: My main question, or maybe I didn’t ask it correctly, and I apologize, those are long-term future, but if you were to try to cut what’s already been allotted. I mean, for example, would you be willing to cut spending for seniors, which is what the Democrats are allegedly going to do, in order to balance the budget? Would you be willing to say to people 45 or younger, “Hey, I know you’ve been paying into it, but we’ll have to cut payments, we’re going to have to cut that, or we’re going to raise taxes, you know, how would you handle what’s already been allotted, that’s already out of our budget?
At this point, I probably don’t need to rehash my experience interviewing Illinois gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski. I think his words speak for themselves, and Anthony Dalke did a great job summing it up. The man is a walking encyclopedia of Illinois state government, his enthusiasm is infectious, and his policy is genius – especially the plan to cut billions from the budget using executive orders rather than submitting to a corrupt, Democratic legislature.
I have yet to hear anyone question whether Andrzejewski is the best man for the job, and his policy plans draw rave reviews. The only questions I ever hear are these: can he win and why should we care.
I’ll answer the second question first – you should care because the current post-Blago climate offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to seize control and start dismantling the infamous Chicago political machine. A solid, honest, anti-corruption crusader like Adam Andrzejewski could easily take the governor’s mansion from the Democrats right now – and his election would spell doom for the deepest cesspool of corruption in American politics. Not only does he have the drive to succeed, he actually has a foolproof plan to ensure that his policies are implemented regardless of what the machine politicians want (see: executive orders, forensic audit of state government). The only problem is that, while everyone who is exposed to Andrzejewski loves him, he now has a harder primary against former state Attorney General Jim Ryan – the only man on the planet who can boast that he lost general elections against both Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris – and money-soaked state GOP chair Andy McKenna.
Essentially, he is playing the role of Marco Rubio to Ryan’s Charlie Crist, except there is much more than a vote in the Senate on the line in this race. With so much at stake, and as much as I love Marco Rubio, I fail to see why conservative insurgent groups are investing so much into Florida and so little into Illinois.
As I see it, getting Adam Andrzejewski through Illinois GOP primary should be the single most important mission for the conservative movement in 2010.
This is the biggest potential opportunity that the GOP will have in years, and we cannot waste it by selecting a member of the Illinois establishment as our nominee. Jim Ryan may be a decent guy, but he stands for big government, high taxes, and business as usual. If we are willing to invest so much in to Marco Rubio and Doug Hoffman, races that determine only one vote in huge legislatures, we should be giving twice that effort pushing Adam Andrzejewski past Jim Ryan and into the governor’s office. If there is one primary campaign in the nation that needs the help of the national movement, this is it, and we must get involved before it is too late.
The second question is whether Andrzejewski can win. And yes he can – easily. I’m not usually in favor of polls taken by campaigns – but this one was a brilliant sroke of strategy – Andrzejewski took a poll in mid-November, and found himself in second (11%), with Ryan ahead of the field (30%). He then had pollsters read a brief biography of himself and immediately poll the same people again. On the second round, the Andrzejewski vote quadrupled to 40% and left Ryan in the dust with 15%. This is a name-ID election and Andrzejewski merely needs recognition. Furthermore – in a seven-candidate circus of a primary – it is possible to win with 25-30% of the vote.
Returning to the Rubio analogy – Andrzejewski is much closer to Ryan than Rubio to Crist, and has the benefit of a crowded field. Get his name ID up and he wins – period. It’s far easier than either the Rubio crusade or the Hoffman insurgency.
So, I will repeat myself. If this arguably the most important statewide race for conservatives this cycle – if not this generation – why are we not dumping everything we have into the Andrzejewski campaign?
Call him Illinois’ Rubio, call him the Polish Palin, call him whatever you want, but Adam Andrzejewski should be the top priority for us as conservatives – and he should be getting as much, if not more, attention than we lavished on Doug Hoffman or are now lavishing on Marco Rubio. This is the fight for good government in America in the 21st Century, and not winning this for Adam Andrzejewski is not an option.
As one half of the duo that interviewed Adam Andrzejewski, candidate for the Republican Nomination for Illinois Governor, I figured I’d give my take on what Adam Brickley and I heard.
First of all, Mr. Andrzejewski certainly has done his homework. Although having no elected office experience, he rattled off a bevy of statistics, facts and policy specifics, especially with regard to budgetary issues, that would make Mitch Daniels blush.
Secondly, I have never heard a candidate put so much thought and detail into their proposals to cut spending. Adam does not simply pay lip service to reducing the budget deficit, he means business. And, as he mentioned in the interview, here in Illinois, if a candidate or elected official does not devote themselves to cutting spending, they submit to tax increases.
I would venture to say that although I would consider Adam the most conservative candidate for the nomination, he also has the best chance of winning the general election. Against the infamous Chicago Democrat machine, Republican candidates really have to go above and beyond to win in Illinois. Enter Adam and his ability to tap into the disillusionment and apathy so many Illinoisans have developed with state politics. For Republicans to win in Illinois, they must also perform strongly in the Chicago suburbs and Southern Illinois. Although those two areas have numerous cultural differences, aspects of Mr. Andrzejewski’s platform appeal to both. For the suburbanites, his obsession with eliminating waste and closing the deficit without raising taxes and then looking cut property taxes once the budget generates a small surplus should sound like music to their ears. And for the residents of the southern part of the state, Adam’s outspoken conservative stances on social issues (strongly pro-life and in favor of concealed carry) should draw support away from Quinn. As Central Illinois has consistently voted Republican in recent years and urban regions of the state (Chicago, St. Louis and Quad Cities metropolitan areas) reflexively vote Democratic, Southern Illinois and the Suburbs have become the swing regions of the state. Fortunately, Adam has the greatest potential to show strongly in those areas.
I like how Adam noted that he, like a good businessman, “looked around the country for best practices” on cutting spending. Again, this shows that he means business. His decision to focus on executive orders, instead of legislative action, makes perfect sense; the overwhelmingly Democratic Illinois Legislature (Dems hold 62.7% of the Senate seats and 59.3% in the House, giving them a virtual supermajority) would probably kill or obstruct as much of Adam’s agenda as they could if he chose to go that route. Instead, like Governor Pawlenty, he intends to take matters into his own hands.
Some of his responses in the lightning round surprised me. First and foremost, his tepid reaction to Gov. Romney and strong reactions toward Govs. Huckabee and Palin ran counter to my expectations. I thought he’d take a stronger liking to Mitt, as they both have extensive business backgrounds and primarily focus on fiscal issues. However, his warm remarks toward Huck suggests that he does place a good amount of emphasis on social issues. He did seem to show his hand as a legitimate Palin fan, saying right up front that he believes she should run for President. I imagine he would solicit and cherish an endorsement from Sarah, and she would definitely like what she’d see if she decided to check out this race.
Some commentors have questioned Adam’s criticism of Senate hopeful Mark Kirk. The harsh words likely came at least in part because of Adam’s endorsement of “other people in the primary against Mark Kirk” (presumably Patrick Hughes, Kirk’s top competitor for the nomination). However, Adam ended his comments on a conciliatory note, stating that if both he and Kirk win their nominations, they’ll “have to sit down and talk”. They don’t have to love each other, they should just support each other in their general elections.
All in all, Mr. Andrzejewski extremely impressed me. With a genuinely impressive platform for an Illinois Republican and the ability to both exude charisma and delve into policy specifics, Adam shows tremendous promise for righting the ship of the S.S. Illinois and becoming a major player in the Republican Party. I urge all of you to visit his website, read more about him and donate if you can.
Last Thursday, Race 4 2012’s Adam Brickley and Anthony Dalke were granted an exclusive interview with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Adam Andrzejewski of Illinois. Andrzejewski is an entrepreneur and clean government advocate – he built a small phone-book business into a $20 million corporation that supplied telephone directories to towns across Illinois. After selling his stake in that business, he founded “For the Good Of Illinois”, a non-profit organization that encouraged local governments to post all of their expenses online for public viewing. In the 25-minute interview, Andrezejewski fielded questions on both national and local issue, and faced a “lightning round” where he had to issue quick responses to a battery of 12 national political figures.
ADAM BRICKLEY, RACE42012.COM: First off, for the sake of our readers, we’ve got quite a few questions to squeeze in here, but we wanted to let you introduce yourself quickly in your own words. So, who is Adam Andrzejewski and why is he running for governor?
ADAM ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I’m a father. I’m an entrepreneur. I spearheaded one of the most successful grassroots good-government movements in state history, and now I want to take that into our state government. I had noticed just an abject lack of leadership and an abject lack of pushback from Republicans versus the statewide Chicago Democrats over the last number of years. And in the absence of any semblance of leadership on policy and any semblance of pushback against the patronage political class of Illinois, I decided to run for governor, and the message is resonating on the trail.
The people, in this cycle, the people of Illinois, they want reform. And my candidacy is a referendum on the simple fact – if the people are ready for real reform. I believe they are this cycle.
AB: That’s good. And then, for me as a national-level guy – I’m out of D.C. – the one thing that really intrigued me about your candidacy is, you know, a lot of candidates have leveraged the internet, people called Obama the internet candidate. But I think you’re probably the first one I’ve seen that makes the internet not only a central part of your campaign, but a central campaign issue. Your slogan is, “every dime, online, in real time.” I think you’re the first person I’ve ever seen do that. So, what excites you about the internet and its potential that made you make it a central focus in your campaign?
AA: Well, specifically to transparency – and obviously Barack Obama campaigned on transparency and has (inaudible) because he hasn’t implemented his practices and his promises. So I think , with technology, it offers limited government Republicans the opportunity to bring government into the twenty-first century. To be able(technical difficulty)
Specifically in Illinois, our state budget has grown by 45 percent, while our population has only grown by four percent, but Chicago Democrats that are in control tell us that there’s no place to cut in the budget. So, utilizing technology, by putting every dime online in real time, spending cuts can be proven – and the first step to doing that is being able to see it. So, I liken that to online banking for state government. We have it at home.
All this information is public information. In our founding documents, you know, it says that a periodic disclosure and recording of the incoming and outgoing fund of the country should be done on a timely basis. Well, I just believe, in the internet age, that it should be done – that should mean in real time. Real time disclosure.
AB: Okay, that’s good. Okay, Anthony, I think you had a few questions here.
ANTHONY DALKE, RACE42012.COM: I do. Mr. Andrzejewski, your campaign has really focused on state spending, as you were just discussing. Aside from your proposal to put the entire state budget online, what specific areas of the budget – departments, programs, et cetera – would you like to cut?
AA: Well, first of all, I can open up the books of state government through executive order. So, my second executive order would derive full measure and savings from the open books – and it’s a top-to-bottom forensic audit of state spending. I looked around the country for best practices. Kansas did it. They saved one billion dollars – they’re five times smaller than Illinois. Texas, in the early 2000s, did it, and they saved eight billion dollars. So, I believe Illinois can save three to five billion dollars through a forensic audit.
And what it will uncover is, like, a grant that was given to the Chicago Public Schools for 87 million dollars to teach disadvantaged students – and the money was completely misspent. It will also uncover what’s just turned out in the newspapers over the course of the last two weeks here, and that is the State of Illinois owns 16 luxury airplanes. They fly them around the state – politicians – at three thousand dollars an hour, and we spend 30 million dollars a year on our aircraft. Well, all that a forensic audit would turn up, and I would zero out.
A liberal professor at the University of Chicago said that five percent of all state spending is waste, fraud, corruption, and abuse – that’s the three billion dollar figure. Since Kansas is five times smaller than us and they saved a billion, that’s the five billion dollar figure. I figure, by the time we get finished with the forensic audit, we may save more than five billion dollars, because we’ll also iron out all the duplicative services. For instance, mosquito abatement in Illinois is run out of nine separate state agencies. And we’ll streamline government to such a degree that we’ll finally be able to defend the taxpayer in Illinois. So that’s my first step.
Illinois faces a ten billion dollar budget deficit. I’m running against six other opponents in this Republican primary, none of which have identified – with a menu of choices – ten billion dollars worth of spending cuts. My campaign, we’ve done the hard work, the heavy lifting, and we have that menu of choices. And I submit to you that – despite the rhetoric of my opponents – if you’re not running on spending cuts, you’re running on tax hikes, because there’s no other choice. There’s no other option. So, I’ve said, “no new taxes, and here is ten billion dollars worth of option in order to cut spending.”
So, one of the first places that I would zero out is the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Illinois ranked, last year, forty-eighth in job growth. Over a ten year period, we ranked forty-eighth. Over twenty year period, we ranked forty-eighth. This is the department with the mission of growing jobs in Illinois? They’ve had their turn. I would zero them out. That would save over a billion dollars.
State workers and government workers, at all levels of government, need to take a pay freeze – and flat pay, not a pay increase. At the state level, state workers, the union contracts – they’re getting four, five, and six percent pay increases. Flat pay. I will politically force open those union contracts, and they need to take flat pay. Flat pay in a deflationary cycle, like the CPI and the trailing twelve months, is one point five percent negative. In that environment, flat pay is a pay hike. That would save the State of Illionois two billion dollars.
Every single grant that we can put a metric to, that we can’t put a performance measure on – there’s four billion dollars worth of state grants outside of health care an education , the political hot-buttons, I would look at those four billion dollars worth of grants first. And we figure there’s probably a billion dollars that we could zero out. We’ve taken a look at a ZIP code distribution of those grants, Many of them go to Chicago – Chicago/Cook County ZIP codes and (inaudible) as we feel that that’s reasonable.
The capital bill that just passed in the last legislative session is full of – the 31 billion dollar bill. 5 billion dollars would’ve solved the immediate infrastructure need of Illinois. It’s loaded with pork. I would use my recisionary power as governor to hold back on the pork projects, let the dollars accumulate in the capital budget, and spearhead legislation to bring those dollars into the operating budget to help balance it off.
Medicaid and Medicare – the forensic audit would cover at least 1.2 billion dollars worth of fraud. An East Coast think tank says that, in any state, ten percent of that is fraud. Ours is a 12 billion dollar program, that would be 1.2 billion dollars.
The pensions in Illinois have an 80 billion dollar deficit, the Civic Federation of Chicago said that state workers work longer, pay in a little bit more, and have a little less lucrative cost-of-living adjustment once they retire. We can save 165 billion dollars over the next 35 years – that’s on the table.
10 percent of the state income tax goes back to municipalities and local governments. It only represents 2.2 percent of their budget. That’s on the table. I got a call from the Illinois Municipal League the other day complaining about that proposed cut, and I told them that I need their political muscle behind the forensic audit and behind my other causes. So, I’m going to use leverage.
Everything’s on the table. I am not from the Illinois political class, I’m running against it, and that gives me the latitude to make the good decisions to defend the taxpayer and the hardworking families of Illinois.
AD: Thank you….
AA: I’m running against the frontrunner in this race, Jim Ryan. In 2007, he advocated on behalf of the tax-swap plan in Illinois that would have raised the taxes on Illinois taxpayers 5.5 billion dollars. Today he says we can’t raise taxes, quote, “because of the recession.” Jim Ryan will not attack spending cuts, he will not attack the patronage of Illinois government, the bloated contracts, the high salaries, the bloated pensions – and the only reason he’ll hold the line on taxes now is, quote, “because of the recession.” During good times, he would have hiked their taxes by 5.5 billion dollars.
AB: Just real quick because we don’t have too much time, we let you go on the spending issues, because we know that was the focus of your campaign – but, because we have a few questions left. Gant we try to go for shorter answers? (inaudible) I’ll hand it back to Anthony.
AD: Thank you. And thank you for that answer, also. You’ve said we’ll never see another tax cut in Illinois again unless we first see spending cuts. How high would you place tax reform on your list of priorities and should you succeed in reducing state spending to a more – a level more align with the tax revenue, do you have specific taxes you would cut before some other taxes?
AA: Yes. I’d follow the model of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. He came into office in Indiana with about $1 million budget deficit – Indiana’s a much smaller state than Illinois. What he did was he first balanced the budget by cutting spending – that’s how you limit government. And then he created a small surplus, and then he cut taxes, and the first tax that he cut was the property tax. And that’s exactly my plan. I would – I’m the only candidate in the field of seven letting on my property tax cap, and it caps the levy. So basically it’s last year’s budget for a local unit of government, plus population growth, plus inflation – that’s it. Government needs to start living how we all live at home – basically last year’s salary plus inflation, and that’s very reasonable. In Illinois – if you could believe this – at the local and state level, government – every year- taxes and spends $70 billion. With only a state of 13 million people, that’s $6,000 for every man, woman, and child in the state. Government in Illinois needs to go on a diet.
AD: Okay, that’s fantastic. Thank you. And this is my last question before I pass it back to Mr. Brickley. How do you plan to pass your agenda with the entrenched powers we have in the state legislature? For instance, we have the overwhelming Democratic majorities and House Speaker Madigan.
AA: That’s why I’m running on two executive orders. The people of Illinois – when they give me their support, vote, and their mandate – by executive order I’ll open up the books to 100% financial transparency. And the second executive order – the forensic audit – saves $3-$5 billion so we can pay our bills, make our pension payments on time, and follow the Balance Budget Clause of the Illinois Constitution, which hasn’t been followed in twenty years. All the rest of my opponents – for all of their good policy that they’re running on – they’re going to need – the Chicago Democrats – nearly have super majority control of the Senate – but for one seat of the House they would have super majority control of the Illinois House as well. So they’re all – all of their good ideas – at the end of the day, it’s all dead-on arrival. My two policies of executive orders are the only policies in this campaign that, with the mandates of the people, we can go to Springfield together and reform Springfield’s spending from top to bottom. I don’t need the Chicago Democrats.
AB: Okedoke, that’s great. This is Adam Brickley again. This is the last little segment we have. I figured we’d throw you at least one curveball in this interview, and since a lot of our readers are national, not in Illinois, and are looking for people to support, give money to, etc., etc., we figured we’d try to see a little bit where you stand in the party, and so we devised what we call a lightning round. Essentially, what we’ve done is compiled a list of 12 national political figures – some Republicans, some Democrats, from various wings of the party – various wings of their own parties, and we figured we’d let you have – we’d read them off to you, and then we’d give you five to ten seconds to give us your gut reaction to each name and what you think. We’re going to try get as many of these knocked out as we can, quickly. So, you game for this?
AA: I’m game.
AB: Okay, first name: Mitt Romney. Ten seconds.
AA: Like his business background. I didn’t like his health care programs in Massachusetts and did not like the fact that he did not – that he did not say during his presidential campaign in Illinois that he would keep our federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. Patrick Fitzgerald’s our crime fighter. He’s indicted two governors – sent one to jail, and another one’s going to jail – and he’s for a long time been our only ray of hope. I was disappointed with that set of circumstances from Romney.
AB: Ten seconds: Mike Huckabee.
AA: I like Mike Huckabee. I think he’s a man of good will and strong leadership and personal backbone. He’s a man of good morals. He’s an EXCELLENT public speaker. He’s tremendous on the pro-life issue. I respect Mike Huckabee great – greatly, and I like his plan for a FairTax.
AB: Okay, this one’s going to be hard to keep in ten seconds: Barack Obama.
AA: Barack Obama was brought to you by the Illinois political class. That’s the class that I’m running against. It’s the Chicago way, it’s the Illinois way and Barack Obama’s trying to make it the national way. It’s everything that we all fight against.
AB: Alright, ten seconds: Sarah Palin.
AA: I like Sarah Palin. She put the check register – the checkbook of Alaska online. She took the old boys’ codified permanent, professional political class of Alaska, and she beat ‘em, and she should run for President.
AB: Okay, Ross Perot.
AA: I liked Ross Perot because of his business background, and because he is a leader. I liked his support of the military operation back in Iran. I like that he did run for President. I did not like the fact that he seemed to have issues with black helicopters towards the end of his Presidential race.
AA: Dan Hynes.
AB: Dan – Dan Hynes is a product of the Chicago political class. He’s a second-generation politician. Tom Hynes is his father, a Chicago alderman. Dan Hynes pays lip service to reform but at the end of the day is no reformer. He issues the comprehensive financial report of the state of Illinois a year and a week AFTER the close of the fiscal year. We get a new budget before Hynes, the Comptroller, issued the capper.
AA: Glenn Beck.
AB: Oh, I like Glenn Beck. I think Glenn Beck is that libertarian that social conservatives and libertarians – that’s the marriage that Ronald Reagan created to be the winning majority back when times were good and we brought down the Soviet Union without firing a shot. Social conservatives, like myself, with libertarian leanings, we need Glenn Beck.
AB: Governor Jim Edgar.
AA: Governor Edgar is the last Illinois Governor in the last 87 years to testify in a court of law. The nostalgia on Edgar is that he’s our last good governor. But people forget that his top fundraiser was convicted of bilking the Illinois taxpayer for $7 million, and Edgar testified at that trial. So, Edgar is the last governor in the last 85 years to testify in a court of law. George Ryan never testified, and if Rod Blagojevich doesn’t testify, Edgar will still hold his title.
AB: Okay, we’ve got four more names. Dede Scozzofava.
AA: Isn’t she a Democrat?
AB: (laughs) Well, not really, but that’s close enough. Pat Buchanan.
AA: I believe everybody has a role to play, and although Pat Buchanan didn’t win his races, his view, and his role and his leadership was good for his time.
AB: Mark Kirk.
AA: It’s been said that I’m the antithesis of Mark Kirk.
AB: And l–
AA: Mark Kirk—
AB: Oh, keep going, by all means.
AA: Mark Kirk’s not good on the life issue. He co-sponsored the hate crimes legislation. He’s not in favor of concealed carry. His votes on the Second Amendment are suspect. His fiscal conservatism is in question with his cap-and-trade vote. He voted against the Surge, so his, in my opinion, his foreign policy and military credentials are suspect, as well. I’m supporting other people in that primary against Mark Mirk. If I’m the nominee, and Mark Kirk’s the nominee, then we’ll have to sit down and talk.
AB: Alright, last name on the list: Marco Rubio.
AA: I don’t know a lot about Marco’s race, because I’ve been so involved in my own primary, but I believe that quite possibly I’m the Marco Rubio of Illinois, and this is why: I win the conservative straw polls. Marco Rubio, in Florida, wins his conservative straw polls. It’s my understanding that Marco is running against the business-as-usual, patronage Republican class in Florida, and certainly, I’m doing that in Illinois.
AB: Okay, well thanks, you’ve been a great sport, and before we go, any closing statements that anything we’ve missed?
AA: I just believe that in Illinois, and probably nationally, that the Republican Party needs to be the party of invitation. In Illinois, specifically, I got into this race with the message of it is your turn. Nobody under age 40 in the state of Illinois had been properly invited by my Republican Party to be a part of the party. That’s why we’re getting our butts kicked at every level. We need to rebuild this party with fresh faces and new ideas. Real reform requires new leadership. It’s the premise of my campaign, and I believe that that should be the premise of the Republican Party nationally. We need to welcome new and innovative and creative people with energy and enthusiasm and be able to motivate and inspire those people to be a party of this party, and we’ll start winning again.
–Many thanks to Mr. Andrzejewski for taking time out from his busy schedule to sit down for this interview. Please visit his campaign site here. You can listen to the interview in its entirety below the fold.
Former Bogota Mayor, and current New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidate, Steve Lonegan recently agreed to sit down with me to discuss New Jersey politics, the upcoming Republican Primary, and his vision of Government. He’s currently locked in a tough primary battle with former US Attorney Chris Christie. Here’s the first half the interview. The remainder will be posted at around 7 pm:
MM: First of all, yesterday was tax day and I know you spent it attending 4 tea party rallies, around New Jersey, according to your campaign website…
SL: Four tea parties, we spoke at a Republican club and then I ended up at the Rutgers Republican club, Libertarian Club at 9:30 at night.
MM: So what was the atmosphere like?
SL: (To aides) What was… what was that group called again?…Young Americans for Liberty.
SL: It’s very good to see forty conservative, Republican students , you know, in a room at 9:30 at night.
MM: Did you get to talk to them afterwards?
SL: Yeah, I spoke to them for quite awhile.
MM: Ok, cool…speaking of taxes, how has your past leadership of American’s for Prosperity affected your interest in fiscal issues?
SL: Well, my interest in fiscal issues really began back as a businessman and developed significantly as a mayor, but I really brought that experience, as a mayor, when I went to work for the think tank. So if anything, I brought my experience on fiscal issues to AFP.
Mm: Do you think that’s helped you, you know, with your message. Allowed you to project it to citizens…?
SL: Oh yeah, definitely. It gave me an opportunity to do something I’m passionate about, and that is, work on policy issues and lecture and speak on them…
SL: Because, you know, Americans for Prosperity is an educational foundation, so I had the opportunity to do a lot of writing and lecturing, teaching.
MM: Yeah, I heard you helped stop a lot of tax increases (crosstalk)…
SL: We stopped, I led the effort to stop two ballot questions in 2007. I led the effort to stop the Governor’s toll-hike plan, and a number of other policy issues. And as a mayor, before that, I actually filed a historic lawsuit back in 2000, when we had a Republican Governor, they went out to borrow 8.7 billion dollars without voter approval which was, at the time, the largest bond issue of any state in American History. They tried it without voter approval, which was required under our constitution. And I did that when I formed an organization called Stop the Debt, and I raised the money and I brought that case to the state Supreme Court.
MM. According to the Press of Atlantic City, you’ve criticized the Paid Family Leave Program…
SL: Yes, I have…
MM: Which extends 6 weeks vacation, at 2/3’s pay, to people who have for, instance, they’ve just had a child in the family…I was just sort of wondering…
SL: People could have had a child perhaps, according to the bill, a relative who has psychological, needs psychological comfort, which means that if you’re a guy working in New Jersey, in the wintertime, outdoors and you decide you’ve had enough of that and Aunt Sally down in Florida needs 6 weeks of comfort, you can take off, go to Florida for 6 weeks and get paid. So it’s really cute the way the liberal left likes to wrap up their policies in emotion-based nonsense, but somehow or other, for several thousand years, human beings have managed to raise their babies without a government program, and this is just another extension of the entitlement state and their whole cradle to grave philosophy. ..(crosstalk)…I’m not only a critic of, I fought it tooth and nail, and when I’m governor I’m going to overturn it. It’s kind of funny, they talk about New Jersey’s the second state in the country to have it…you know what the first one was? California. Now that’s a good model, right? So it’s another anti-business policy that gives businesses a reason not to come to this state, because they know that every year, every one of their employees can take six weeks off.
MM: Ok, because well, I know that are some people in the Republican Party who have promoted ideas to maybe double the child-tax credit, and things like that at the national level, to promote families and make it easier for people to raise families, and I wonder do you not see this in that mode or is it…
SL: Oh no, not at all, this is a job destroying bill that encourages people to take time off from work. It penalizes employers…(inaudible). You know people have babies without government programs. You know, when I was building my business back in the 1980’s, when I had my first daughter, I didn’t even have insurance. I’d just started my company, I couldn’t afford it, I had to- my wife had her baby- the next day I went to work, you know. So this whole ridiculous idea that suddenly, a mother having her baby wants her husband home for six weeks, I mean good Lord, I don’t know any wife who wants her husband home for six weeks (laughter).
MM: So this primary race has seen the New Jersey Republican gatekeepers basically close ranks around Chris Christie. They think he’s the only electable candidate. What do you think it says about these Republicans, that even with Corzine’s approval rating in the 30’s, they’re still concerned with nominating the most electable candidate?
SL: I don’t think these gatekeepers have a gate to keep, and they certainly don’t seem to exercise much influence, because last week we filed the state record petition signatures, 11,220. That’s more signatures than Chris Christie and Jon Corzine combined. So what that demonstrates, is we have a powerful grassroots movement, and we have the support of the voters, rather than the support of a few union-influenced, connected, party bosses.
MM: Sure, sure. Speaking of that, according to, as of last weekend, it said you’d raised 700,000 dollars.
SL: We’re over 800.
MM: Over 800? Ok. But, at the time I guess Christie had raised 1.1 million. Are you surprised he hasn’t raised more, considering…
SL: Well, let’s think about this Matt. You’ve got Steve Lonegan and a bunch of grassroots activists and taxpayers, and the entire Republican machine, all the party bosses, could barely raise more money than me. They don’t seem all that strong do they? That’s the best they could do? The entire Republican establishment. Hah! I have, I am closing in right now on 10,000 donors. That will be the state record, for any candidate. They have less than 1000 donors. So I have a massive group of donors who are giving 50, 100, 250 dollars and they have a handful of party insiders who are all getting government contracts for…(inaudible). That’s the problem with New Jersey, it’s the problem with the country. So…
MM: Do you have any idea how much money Corzine will pump into the race?
SL: No. Probably a lot. I really don’t care how much he spends. Doesn’t matter. He can’t spend enough money to sell his failed programs. The whole country’s going to, and here’s the other thing that’s got me, and see this is hilarious…the Republican bosses were actually criticizing me cause 40% of the money I’ve raised is outside the state. I’ve actually raised money from all 50 states, including Wasilla Alaska, by the way. Which is not a state, that’s just a town. I actually have a check from Wasilla, but the point is, I’m raising money from the entire country. So who’s going to be the best to raise money to beat Jon Corzine? Right, the guy who’s only source of income is a few party hacks, or somebody who can inspire people from here to Alaska to Hawaii to donate to a New Jersey campaign.
MM: Speaking of that, I guess, I watched your CPAC speech but at one point you claimed the Wall Street philosophy of capitalism and innovation was under attack. Now I understand what you’re getting at here, but don’t you think praising the wall street philosophy is something that people could take the wrong way?
SL: Well, that’s my job to educate them. But, the wall street philosophy of free market capitalism has done more to elevate this economy then any other philosophy in the world. When my opponent Chris Christies stands up and says this has caused our state’s fiscal ruin, it just demonstrates that he has no idea about economics and believes government’s going to be the answer to the state’s problems. So no, this all-out attack on wall street and free market capitalism has to stop and you were seeing that yesterday at these tax-payer tea parties. People were starting to fight back against this nonsense.
MM: What do you think of the coverage of the tea parties? Have you seen any of it?
SL: I was so busy doing them, I really didn’t get to see how they were covered…so I can’t really answer that.
MM: Because, it seemed pretty ridiculous, other than Fox News.
SL: Well, I figured that.
MM: Ok, I guess I want to talk a little bit about how you’d win in a general election. I read an interesting anecdote in the Daily Record about an independent voter who was registering as a Democrat, just to vote against Corzine in the primary.
SL: Registering as a Republican you mean.
MM: No, no. I guess Corzine has a few Democratic challengers or whatever.
SL: We last week pushed about 1000 people from Democrat to Republican.
MM: Your campaign?
SL: Yeah, we ran a radio spot. We ran a whole change of party project which ran for a couple of weeks, and we were busy for two weeks doing their change of party cards.
MM: Huh, well..this independent voter said that he wanted anybody but Corzine, but he was not so sure about the Republicans. So I guess I’m wondering, yeah Corzine’s massively unpopular, but how do you get people to vote for you, and not just against him.
SL: Well, you draw a line in the sand, and you put forth a vision for a better economic future for all New Jerseyans. Talk about limited government, lower taxes, better economic growth. That’s what people want to hear, especially today. But, if you put up a candidate who’s just going to tinker around the edges, and be vague, and sort of be Democratic-Lite, Republicans will lose again, and that’s the risk they take if they run Chris Christie, cause Chris Christie sounds a lot more like Jon Corzine than he does a Republican.
MM: Do you think that’s really his philosophy, or do you think that’s just something…
SL: I do…well it’s something else I’ve watched in politics in New Jersey over the past twenty years. It’s just, the Republican party has completely failed to stand for its principles and has not had the courage to stand up whether it be Paid Family Leave, project labor agreements, or even ballot questions. Since, the people in New Jersey have not been given an alternative, they say, we’ll just vote for the Democrats.
MM: Sure, sure.
SL: We don’t have two parties in New Jersey, we have one party…the Party of Big Spenders.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of speaking at length with writer, political commentator, and nine-time Emmy Award-winning journalist (six earned while at CBS News, three as a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel), Bernie Goldberg.
Below are excerpts from the transcript of our wide-ranging interview …
AG: If you were in Michael Steele’s shoes, how would you go about recapturing for the GOP the college graduates, suburbanites, those under 30, who’ve been migrating toward the Democratic Party in recent times.
BG: Yeah, that’s his biggest challenge, because Michael Steele understands that if you’d get every Republican vote, you will still lose every election — and I’m talking about presidential elections. You’re going to lose every election if you only get Republican votes. So, the Republican Party has to figure out how to get younger people, and different kinds of people, and expand the base. I think you need two things, basically. You need a candidate with the right message, which is the same kind of message that would attract Reagan Democrats. In other words, you’ll get Republicans with a conservative message, but you need to have it make the kind of sense that reasonable people who are not diehard Democrats, you know, who are moderates and independents, and young people, may come to you with the right message. Reagan appealed not only to fat cats on Wall Street, but to people making between 25 and 50 thousand a year. He not only appealed to Protestants. He appealed to Catholics. He had a message that seemed to make sense. And so I think the conservative message will make sense, but here’s where the second part comes in. It has to be delivered by somebody who has a great personality. Barack Obama’s magic stems not from his brilliance, which is questionable when he doesn’t have a teleprompter, and not from his politics. It stems from his personality. I mean, that’s what makes him magic — his personality. He’s immensely likeable to most people, and that’s what Reagan was, and that’s what FDR was. It comes along very, very rarely in our lifetimes. And I think the Republicans — the biggest challenge for Michael Steele is to find a Republican — and by the way, it’s not up to him to pick a candidate, but let’s put it this way. It’s incumbent upon the Republicans to find a candidate with the right message and the right persona to sell that message. Just having one and not the other will not win an election anymore.
AG: Do you see any of the potential candidates in the field, within the Republican Party, who are well-positioned?
BG: I don’t see anybody who jumps out at me. I can tell you that Bobby Jindal was popular before his sing-songy speech, and now he’s got problems. I mean, four years is a long time, so those problems may recede into a distant — may become distant memories. I think Mitt Romney has a lot of the goods that you need to win. He’s got the message. He’s got the look. He’s very smart. He’s very articulate. He’s very attractive. He stands a chance. But there’s always the possibility of somebody out there that we haven’t thought about. I mean, who the hell would’ve thought about Barack Obama, before we started thinking about Barack Obama?
AG: Right. And if you went beyond the 2004 convention speech, no one — he wasn’t even a glint in anyone’s eyes.
BG: Right. So, what’s going to happen is — somebody is going to jump out. Somebody is going to jump out, but can I answer this in a way you didn’t ask it? I think the Republicans may have problems for a very long time, and I’m going to use an FDR analogy. In 1940, the American people elected Franklin Roosevelt to an unprecedented third term — never happened before in our history — even though during his first two terms, unemployment never dropped below 10 percent; and for 21 straight months, never dropped below 20 percent. How in the world do you re-elect a president with that record, let alone re-elect him to an unprecedented third term? Because Franklin Roosevelt had this incredible ability to make the American people believe in him, and he had a Republican predecessor to blame for the economy. Fast forward to today, or to use a sports analogy, as that great philosopher Yogi Berra might say: It’s déjà vu all over again. Because now you have a politician who also has the great ability to make the American people believe what he says. And he’s also got a Republican predecessor to blame for the economy. I think there’s a good possibility of, that whatever goes wrong — and this is what I write about in A Slobbering Love Affair — whatever goes wrong may be chalked up to the Republicans and George Bush, and whatever goes right may be in the Obama column, as far as the media is concerned, and as far as a lot of the American people are concerned. Barack Obama may have the same FDR magic.
AG: Well, do you think there’s anything Obama can do, in your estimation, that — a promise he’d rescind on that would cause his disciples to depart from his flock?
BG: Not the Kool-Aid drinkers. That’s for damn sure. Maybe regular voters who vote Democratic one time, and Republican another time — you know, moderates or independents. Maybe if the economy doesn’t get better, and if they start to lose their jobs, or don’t get their jobs back, and their 401(k)’s don’t come back. They may say, ‘Hey, we gave this guy a shot, and it didn’t work, and we’re not voting for him anymore.’ But, they didn’t say that about FDR. Unemployment didn’t drop below 10 percent. That’s quite remarkable.
AG: So, you don’t think there’s a red line? Even if he were to invade Pakistan, or say he’s not closing Gitmo… (more…)
In this interview — Race42012’s second with the Congressman — I speak with Tom Tancredo about what he thinks we must do to win Hispanics, who he considers the anti-illegal immigration torch passed to in Congress, and what he thinks of the Race 4 2012.
He was speaking at the inaugural celebration of a new conservative youth group, Youth for Western Civilization, of which he is the honorary national chairman.
Sum up the purpose of your message here tonight to Youth for Western Civilization.
CPAC has become, unfortunately, has become a little too PC and needs to be yanked back into the conservative — into a conservative sort of — serving a conservative cause. And especially on the issue of immigration, they are running away from it here, they dont wanna talk about it. They accuse me of being the reason why the Republicans lost, but I suggested that if more Republicans had had my message, we would have been more successful than we were, and you cannot pander your way out of a losing position. You cannot pander your way out of the minority and that’s what one of the things is that I want to get across tonight.
Setting aside the issue of immigration, how do you propose that the GOP win over Hispanic voters?
It’s the same thing as when you ask what the Republican Party has to do to win black voters — there’s hardly anything [you can do], quite frankly. Hispanic voters do not vote as monolithically as black voters, but it’s a pretty set figure, at about 65% for Democrats, 35%-40% for Republicans. That’s the way it is, that’s really not going to change for — I get 38% of the vote in Colorado in a poll running in the governor’s race — so what the heck, what does that tell you? If Tom Tancredo can get as much as George W. Bush did — we have to try to appeal to them on the basis of family values issues and all the rest — immigration is not the issue that they find most compelling. And in fact, we can get a lot of people on our side by upholding the rule of law. And when you come here legally, you have great advantages and you shouldn’t lose those advantages to people who come here illegally.
But there was a noticeable decline in McCain’s share of the vote, when compared to George W. Bush’s —
But he lost more in white males than he lost in Hispanics! But if you look at the percentages —
So you ascribe it more to a national shift than —
We lost Hispanics for the same reason we lost white males, white females, soccer moms — you know, it was no greater — the percentage was no greater in other categories.
I’m an American University student who attended your speech the other night. As we both saw, there were several student protesters that were there not to listen, but to speak. Do you think that it’s possible to get through to such students, and how?
No. You’re not gonna get through to them, but there are, I think, students there who I believe, uh, heard at least part of the message, and to the extent that they were willing to, um, to the extent that you come in there with even a marginally open mind, I hope I was able to at least make them think a little bit about this topic, and that was the purpose. You don’t change people’s minds, especially after they have been force fed that from the cult of multiculturalism for however long they’ve been in school — 13 or 14 years of education — in that environment, you don’t change people’s minds in one speech. But what I hope I could do is make a few people think twice about the possibility to make people see that what I say has nothing to do with race, but because I believe in all my heart that we have issues in this country of major importance that have to be discussed and debated, and to the extent that they allowed me to do so without constant interruptions, I am greateful to them and I respect the fact that they did that. I know what happened the minute I started to leave — there was all this noise — but there had to be people that saw through that. I think so.
You, of course, are known nationally as a staunch proponent of Western values, a tough immigration stance, and national sovereignty. Who, if anyone, would you say, has been passed the mantle in Congress?
Steve King, from Iowa. Ted Poe, from Texas — and that’s probably it, actually.
We are Race42012, after all — any early prospects that look promising to you?
No. No. I mean, I endorsed Romney when I got out of the race — but what we are desperately looking for is a leader, and that means not just a person who has the right ideas, but someone who can actually articulate them. I was very disappointed the other night to see Bobby Jindal not articulate them. He has all the substance in the world, but he didn’t have the style — and unfortunately, you need both in today’s political arena.
Romney is the best one we have going for us right now, but I want you to underline right now. But in this business, tomorrow could mean a completely different stage to look at.
Alex Knepper sits down with Log Cabin Republican Chairman Terry Hamilton to discuss the 2012 election, what’s moving the country toward supporting gay marriage, the decision by the LCRs not to endorse George W. Bush in 2004, and more…
AK: First of all, I’d like to say thank you, both as a gay man and as a pragmatic Republican, for the work that you do, both in party outreach and in combating those who subscribe to the bunker-down mentality. I also have a special affinity toward the LCRs for their 2007 campaign against Mitt Romney, whom my readers know I have a, um, rather contentious relationship with, to say the least. (laughs) So, with that said, onward with the interview:
Well, another intra-party battle, another cycle where the LCRs get demonized in some fashion by the far right. I’m sure you kept track of how the LCRs were portrayed in the race for the RNC chairmanship. Heaven forbid a person work with Christie Todd Whitman, right? But Michael Steele did manage to come out on top! Can you give me (1) sort of background on Steele’s actual relationship with the LCRs through the Republican Leadership Council, and (2) your general thoughts on Steele’s victory?
TH: Well, first of all, let me give you my general thoughts: we’re very pleased that he was selected and we’re also ready to work and roll up our sleeves. It’s time for the Republican Party to get real. We’ve been dabbling with all sorts of separate issues that divide us and now is the time to figure out what unites us and pull us back together — or we may go the way of the Whigs.
AK: Since we’re Race42012, after all, the question must be proposed: the current crop of 2012 candidates seems less than inspiring so far for those working for a Big Tent. The Big Three — Romney, Huckabee, Palin — aren’t exactly known as party builders. What are your thoughts on the line-up of candidates so far, and which of them — not only the Big Three, but others (say, Pawlenty, Sanford, and Crist) strike you as being promising?
TH: Well, I don’t know that I have any specific comments about the ones who are the leaders now or the ones who are projected, the leaders — I really feel that there will be candidates out there who we can support, eventually. And I think that that’s why the election of Michael Steele was important.
AK: Any general thoughts on the 2012 race, though?
TH: Well, I just think that we’re gonna be ready. And our chapters are going through a state of reorganization — some of the weaker ones are being reorganized. Some of the stronger ones are becoming stronger. For example, our Utah chapter just went through some successful conversations with the Governor out there, and he has just come out in favor of civil unions as of yesterday.
AK: Right, that was big.
TH: That’s pretty significant. Especially since Utah was the state that — at least some of the people in Utah — was the state that was the most vocal in keeping marriage equality from being ratified in California.
AK: The LCRs did endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008, where they did not endorse George W. Bush in 2004. Are you content with both decisions, in hindsight, given how both Bush’s presidency and McCain’s campaign progressed?
TH: It was one of the most difficult decisions for us not to endorse a sitting president. We did not make that decision lightly. Looking back on it, it was the right decision. We cannot sit back as an organization and see prominent members of the Republican Party use other members of the GOP as a wedge issue, and that’s exactly what President Bush and his campaign did. So we made the right decision to withhold our endorsement.
We also made the right decision in endorsing John McCain. McCain and his campaign came the furthest any Republican campaign has ever come, historically. And that does not mean that there is not a lot of room for improvement — of course there is. But we’re always willing to listen and work and I think once people get to know us as people, it’s not a problem.
AK: Mainstream Democratic leaders such as Al Gore have now spoken out in favor of gay marriage, and President Obama effectively supported it by opposing Proposition 8. Additionally, a majority of Democrats now support it. Do you think that the tide is turning on the issue in general, especially given that young people support it overwhelmingly? Do you see a slide towards Republicans supporting marriage equality as inevitable?
In an R4’08 exclusive, the former New York City Police Commissioner and nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security discusses Iran, Iraq, Islamic terrorism, and Presidential politics.
KL. Which is the greatest threat from a nuclear armed Iran; providing nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations, or generating a nuclear arms race with Israel and Saudi Arabia?
Bernie Kerik: I think it is all of the above and more. There is a direct threat to the U.S. and its allies if Iran continues to support terrorism and ignore human rights, which will result in regional destabilization throughout the Arab region and Gulf States. For these reasons, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran should concern every American and should be unacceptable to the community of nations.
KL. Could you summarize the pros and cons of Senator Obama’s Iran policy (negotiations without pre-conditions)?
Bernie Kerik: I honestly cannot see the pros of Senator Obama’s approach to dealing with Ahmadinejad or Iran without preconditions, for principally one reason. I do not believe that Senator Obama has a real understanding of the threats posed by Iran or more so, by Islamic radical extremism. Diplomacy and negotiations will not work with these types of terrorists, and for some reason Obama continues to act like Ahmadinejad is a diplomatic head of state, which he is not. Ahmadinejad was a terrorist in 1979 and is still a terrorist today, sitting in the driver’s seat of a country that has more than 70 million people, which is making every attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. I am convinced, based on statements he made himself, that he will then use those weapons to annihilate his neighbors in the region.
KL: Do we risk a regional war in the middle-east if we withdraw from Iraq pre-maturely, as Senator McCain has stated?
Bernie Kerik: I believe we do and I believe we cannot afford to lose the allies we have and we need to do everything possible to acquire more than we have already. We need to have a solid base of support in the region, particularly the more moderate countries that are themselves fighting the same enemies that we are. We can also learn a lot from these countries because they understand this enemy a lot better than we do.
KL: Have the Sunni and Christian minorities in Iraq embraced US policy and the surge, and how confident are they on success?
Bernie Kerik: I can’t say that they have embraced the US policy and the surge, but I think that they have seen that it’s going to take aggressive collaborative work to win this battle, and with the odds moving in their favor, the chances of them getting and staying on board is far better.
KL: How would you characterize your relationship with General Sanchez during your term as Interim Minister of the Interior of Iraq and why did our military policies fail to achieve desired results?
Bernie Kerik: I didn’t have much of a personal or professional relationship with General Sanchez and he had almost no interaction with the Interior or the Iraqi Police. In the end, I personally don’t think he served the President and Ambassador Bremer well and I believe he was responsible for failing to remove the radical cleric, Muqtada al Sadr.
Following the release of his book, General Sanchez recently criticized the Iraqis and myself. But based on his statements it was apparent he did not know what he was talking about. I honestly believe it was just ignorance on his part, as I was appointed to rebuild and reconstitute the Ministry of the Interior. Training the Iraqi police was probably 20% of the job. Before I began to rebuild the police, I had to rebuild the academies. I do not believe Sanchez understood that every single day, dozens of Iraqi civilians would come into our offices with complaints that their children or family members were kidnapped, they were victims of auto theft, insurgents had taken over their homes, etc…… We couldn’t say, “Sorry, we’re closed for the next 18 months until we can get this place back order.” Iraqi Police under my command rescued those kids and family members, captured or killed several insurgents, and while doing so, many in the police service lost their lives or were severely injured. Sanchez stated that the Iraqis weren’t notifying his people of their operations, however they were supervised by a retired U.S. Army colonel by the name of Jim Steele who made those notifications. In fact, on nearly 80% of those missions, we had military personnel with us as part of the operational team. As for, “raiding whorehouses”, I’ve since checked and no one seems to know what the hell he’s talking about.
KL: Reflecting on the success of the surge, specifically the strategies developed by General Petraeus and the efforts put forth by our military and intelligence services, how confident are you that General Petraeus will be able to repeat his success in Afghanistan?
Bernie Kerik: When I met General David Petraeus in June 2003, it was impossible not to notice the difference between northern Iraq which was his responsibility, and the rest of the country. The security was tighter; the re-building of their critical infrastructure was moving at a faster pace, there was far more economic development going on, their shops, markets and banks were open and the communications between the U.S. and coalition leaders and the Iraqis were tenfold than it was in Baghdad. This was a guy that was getting it done.
When he took command of Iraq just over a year and a half ago, he said, “hard is not hopeless”, and “it definitely wasn’t going to be easy”, but his outlook was optimistic. He was slammed by the anti-war lobby, Move-On.Org and the democratic political machine for believing that Iraq could be stabilized and eventually turned back to the Iraqi people.
When he recently left Iraq, he did so with gains that his critics said were impossible. He succeeded in assisting the Iraqi military forces gain the confidence of the Iraqi people and begin the long effort to take back their country. He has truly launched the renaissance of the new and free Iraq.
Let’s just hope our political leadership who opposed the surge and maintained their defeatist expectations can come to the realization that they need to listen to the commanders in the field like Generals Petraeus and Ray Odierno and provide them with the resources they require to do their jobs and support them and their troops at all costs. Only then can we have the same sort of achievements in Afghanistan and the other battlefields in this war against terror.
KL: In 2004 you stated, “We should create a mechanism to hold countries accountable that promote terrorism against the United States. Such countries constitute a legitimate threat against Americans, both here and abroad.” May I interpret your comments as also including preemptive strikes, when necessary?
Bernie Kerik: I strongly believe, and I don’t use this term lightly…….strongly believe that we must be preemptive and proactive in combating terror, both at home and abroad. It is no different than fighting street crime, as you have to prevent it before it happens. In today’s world it is much more important to prevent attacks, because the consequences are much more dire. In addition, I also believe state sponsors of terrorism and countries that conveniently ignore terrorists, must be dealt with. For those countries that are intimidated into not taking action, then there may be times where we have to do their job for them.
Mr. Kerik is Chairman of The Kerik Group which provides turnkey solutions that effectively mitigate risk while demonstrating a Return on Investment. The Kerik Group specializes in Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Response and Disaster Recovery, Correction Management and Accountability, and Correction Management and Accountability as well as other critical services.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R)
GOLDMAN: I was interested in knowing – are we making progress with the building of the fence, and where things stand now, and how many miles have been…
HUNTER: Yeah, we’re going to have — we’ll have about 380 miles of what is known as pedestrian fence completed by December 31st. That’s the goal of the administration. They don’t have it done yet, but we are building in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California.
GOLDMAN: Is there any chance, should, God forbid, Obama win the election, that the program for the fence could actually cease, or is it guaranteed to proceed regardless?
HUNTER: No, you have to, obviously, you have – any program requires one thing – money, funds, appropriations. If you have a president who is not inclined to finish the fence – John McCain is committed that he will finish the fence. Senator Obama is probably not friendly with the idea of the fence project. So, if he has the cooperation of the Democrats in Congress, Obama could stop the fence construction.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R)
GOLDMAN: Do you think ANWR is on the table now that…?
GINGRICH: Look, I think that’s a conversation that President McCain and Vice President Palin will have to have after the election. But, I think for the moment – we have a commitment for drilling. We have a commitment for clean coal. We have a commitment for nuclear. I am thrilled, and I think that where we are positioned on energy is such a radical contrast with the higher cost/lower production position of the Democrats, that I am just thrilled with where Senator McCain has gotten us.
CBS News’ Chief Washington correspondent/anchor and moderator of Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer
GOLDMAN: Were there any surprises that you found in tonight’s speech?
SCHIEFFER: No, I thought he came off – this was John McCain. He was much more personal than John McCain usually is. He really doesn’t like to talk about his experiences as a POW. He just doesn’t. And tonight he shared that. And, I thought he came off very well. I thought it was a good speech. He sort of appealed to our better angels. And, I think it promises a very good campaign for America. And I’m really looking forward to it.
CNN’s Chief National Correspondent, John King
GOLDMAN: John, any surprises by tonight?
KING: I don’t know — how do you define surprises? I thought he gave the speech he wanted to give. And you can already tell by all the e-mails coming in. Republicans say it was great. Democrats say it was lousy. Welcome to politics. I think that there was a question coming into this convention just like there was with the Democratic convention. Can you bring everybody together? Will people leave with energy? I think you saw the last two nights here – there’s a lot of energy. And, if that energy carries over into the next nine weeks, then we’ve got a hell of an election on our hands. And, I was just looking up at my map, and state-by-state, Obama has an advantage right now, without a doubt. When you look at the electoral college, he has an advantage. But, two months is a long time, and a lot of the states that are in play, are states that Bush carried twice. And, they’re leaning either into the toss-up column, or some are leaning slightly Obama right now, but they’re more than gettable. They’re more than gettable. McCain has to get all the Republicans. He has to reach out to Democrats — a small slice of Democrats, and a bigger slice of Independents. Now, we’ll see. It’s going to be fun.
GOLDMAN: Is there any one single state that you think is going to make or break this election as Florida did in 2000 or Ohio in…?
KING: I was just going through a scenario – look, if John McCain doesn’t win Ohio, he’s not going to be the next President of the United States. It just doesn’t — the math doesn’t work. There are other ways, but they’re in a — you’re in such a rare scenario, a hard-to-find scenario. Republicans have to win Ohio to win the White House. I was just going through one scenario where it came down to New Hampshire. You know, a little tiny state. That little tiny state could be Colorado. It could be Nevada. It could be conceivably a Wisconsin or a Minnesota. You could get a situation where one state does it again. At the moment, the electoral map is leaning Obama, and McCain literally has to grab it, and push it back by turning some states that voted for George W. Bush that are now leaning blue. This would be one of them. This is a state that has voted Democrat that is available to a Republican if you run the right campaign. It’s a close swing state. Wisconsin is a really close swing state.
I also wanted to share with our Race 4 2008 readers a priceless moment that occurred Wednesday evening. After delivering a sharp-witted keynote address, in which Rudy Giuliani unleashed a brilliantly sarcastic, scathing attack on Barack Obama, Hizzoner, unbeknownst to most, returned for an encore performance that night at a post-convention party, to which Kavon and I were privileged to be invited.
Attendees of this soiree were treated to a selection of fine cigars upon entering. Not being much of a smoker (for which my cigar-chomping father deserves all the credit for eliciting my stogie-smoking aversion), I nonetheless decided to partake at this posh, surreal event, in which Mr. Nikrad and yours truly were admittedly, and humbly, perhaps the only two political writers there who were not (yet) nationally known. (See Tony Blankley, James Taranto, Daniel Henninger, Andrew Breitbart, Barry Casselman, Roger Simon, etc., etc.)
Moments after making his second speech of the night, Rudy made his way toward the spot I was standing. There were several people surrounding America’s Mayor, with pen and paper, seeking Hizzoner’s autograph. Despite having neither paper nor pen in hand, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to secure Rudy’s signature. Realizing the only pieces of paper I had on me were tightly-rolled tobacco leaves, I improvised, and asked Giuliani if he’d sign my stogie that had already gone out. With comedic chops on par with Dennis Miller, who we, incidentally, just missed meeting at the party by an hour or so, Rudy turned down my request, deadpanning: “I’m not signing your cigar. That’s something Bill Clinton would do.”
If he doesn’t land the top gig at the Justice Department, or decides he doesn’t want to play Paterson’s part in Albany, perhaps Rudy could parlay his star power and acerbic wit into a successful spin on the comedy club circuit, or maybe a full-time slot on SNL.
The Romney Victory Party was brimming with Campaign and GOP stars. I had the opportunity to interview three heavy weights: Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Romney spokesperson Kevin Madden.
KWN: I thought we could start off by talking about your reactions to the results of the Iowa Caucuses.
Michael DuHaime: Well, we would like to extend our congratulations to Gov. Huckabee. It was a very good win for him. He withstood an awful lot of negative campaigning. This was a very solid win for him. So first of all, we certainly congratulate him and his team
Secondly, we have always taken a long-term approach to this process. We take an approach that looks at the number of delegates at stake. We have never had a nominating process with so many states, large and small, involved in the nominating process. Our strategy has always been that we are going to get the most delegates, understanding that you can’t play in every single state and that the cost would be too great. Absent the ability to self-fund, the cost is too great for any of the candidates. You keep every race in perspective. We haven’t built our campaign around winning any one single state. So we looked at Iowa, knowing that there are not delegates at stake in Iowa at this point. we decided to look further down the road to look where we can pick up delegates. So many of the states that moved up, whether it be Florida or some of the February 5th states that have large delegate quantities like California, like Illinois, and obviously New York and New Jersey, that are winner-take-all states. Or other states Other like Georgia, Missouri, we have had a long-term approach to that.
We are trying to keep the results of any individual race in perspective. I know that the media is going to pay huge amount of attention on the early states, as they deserve to be. But we have looked at this from a long-term approach and we will continue to do that as we go forward. There have already been more absentee ballots requested by Republicans in Florida than there were voters in the Iowa caucuses. So I think we need to keep in perspective, that-how many voters there were. I mean there 114,000 voters less than what you would get in a normal Congressional election. I think Karl Rove had some interesting comments yesterday about the size of the electorate. Eight out of ten Republicans, or more than that, did not vote in the Iowa Causes. So keep the results in perspective.
KWN: What are your expectations for New Hampshire on Tuesday?
Michael DuHaime: It’s going to be interesting to watch between Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain. Gov. Romney predicated his campaign on winning the first two states. Obviously he has already hit a bump in Iowa, and is locked in a tight race here.
We have always had a very good perspective on New Hampshire. Look, Gov. Romney was the Governor of a neighboring state. Eighty-five percent of the residents of New Hampshire live in the Boston television market, so they saw his four years as Governor. He has spent millions upon millions of dollars here. Similar to Iowa, he has been outspending everyone dramatically. He has a vacation home in the state. So he came into here with some real institutional advantages that we were aware of.
Obviously, Sen. McCain came in here with a tremendous amount of goodwill from 2000, he won the state by almost 20 points in 2000. So we have always had a perspective and understanding that there are two very, very strong candidates in New Hampshire. We’ve felt that there was an opportunity to do well here. But again, we look at this from a long-term approach and looking at the number of delegates at stake here and in other states and tried to keep all the efforts proportional and in perspective.
KWN: Some critics in the MSM and the Blogosphere are skeptical that Mayor Giuliani will be able to win Florida if he does not win a primary or caucus up until that point. How confident are you that he will win Florida?
Michael DuHaime: We have taken a lot of criticism for having a bit of an unconventional approach. But The Mayor has never listened to conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom a year ago said that he would not even be a serious candidate past the spring or summer. They said that he would never be able to last in the race. Not only did he last but he lead in the race and is certainly one of the top-tier candidates here as we go forward. If he had listened to conventional wisdom, he probably wouldn’t have ran for Mayor of New York, right? Five-to-one Democrat, how could a Republican win? He probably would have never said, I can cut crime in New York. He would never had been able to reduce the welfare rolls as he did because the conventional wisdom and the pundits said he couldn’t do it. But he has never listened to that. He has always said that we have to do what we believe is right, and we are going to stick to that.
That is what we are doing with this plan as well. There are a lot of folks who say you have to do it this way. Well, Rudy has never said that. Rudy has never said that you have to live by the old rules.
We’ll see. Let’s give it some time. We will see where we all stand a month from now. We have never had so many states-there are 21 states on February 5th. We have never had a primary election like that before. It’s so accelerated. Strategies change necessarily by changing circumstances.
Not only that, you have five double-digits candidates in the race. In some states you have six double-digit candidates. Nobody has ever been in a race with that many serious candidates. Nobody has ever been in a race with this many states in such a short period of time time.
So we are comfortable with our strategy. We think its very good. I am very confident about Florida. First, Rudy has a base in Florida that is better than anyone else’s. He is very familiar with Florida going all the way back to his days in the Reagan Justice Department. We have a great operation down there. Great endorsements and a great field team. Great grassroots volunteers. We have a base of support that is very familiar with The Mayor from folks that have moved down to Florida in recent years that are familiar with The Mayor’s record.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be a very tight and close race throughout-that is understood.
KWN: But hasn’t there been too little discussion of the other coalitions he has been able to build within the state? Hizzoner is extremely popular among the Florida Cuban and Puerto Rican Communities…
Michael DuHaime: Undoubtedly. The Mayor has spent a lot of time in Florida this year. He is not just another candidate that has spent a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire. We spent a lot of time in Florida, in California, Illinois, and other states that many others have ignored. You are right, we have very, very strong support in the Cuban Community, and really up-and-down the state he has very good support. I feel good about that. He does have many different types of coalitions than the other candidates, and that has come from a lot of very hard work.
Beyond the hard work, it came from many years of service all the way back in the Reagan Justice Department and as U.S. Attorney in New York. People in Florida are well aware of the good work that he has done and the knowledge that he brings to issues. Both national and Florida-specific issues where he has gained perspective and knowledge.
KWN: It appears that Barack Obama may now have the inside track to the Democratic nomination. How do you see Mayor Giuliani matching up with Senator Obama. How would guess such a race would shake out?
Michael DuHaime: I think he has clearly struck a chord with Independent voters and did well in Iowa. It remains to be seen. I don’t want to prejudge the Democratic contest. I have a hard enough time handicapping our own contest (laughs). I think the important thing here, is that Rudy is the best candidate to take on -whether it be Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama- whoever is able to pull off the nomination. I think Rudy is the best candidate to take either one of them on. There is a very large ideological difference between Rudy and Barack Obama.
Barack Obama wants change, but remember change for the worse is not that good. Not all change is good. The change he wants calls for higher taxes. Obviously going backwards and [going] on defense on Terrorism. That [tendency] towards weakness is not good change. I give him that-it’s change. But I think Rudy go for the type of change that people want; and that is staying on offense in the terrorists war on us, having a very tough and strong foreign policy, peace through overwhelming strength. And domestically, not only Barack Obama, but any of the Democrats, they really want to raise taxes by an awful lot. The put it in the code of withdrawing the Bush Tax Cuts. But most people understand that that is an enormous tax increase. The want to vote for greater, more centralized government, where Rudy has called for much more choice in everything from education to health care. There are coming to be stark ideological differences between Rudy and Sen. Obama.
I also think, that from an electoral college point of view, Rudy is the only one who can take advantage of that match-up, because I think you have a real significant advantage for Rudy in states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut. States that are in Rudy’s geographic base that are traditionally Democrat-leaning states that Rudy could take because they are folks that are real familiar with Rudy’s record of leadership there. So I do think that we would get an advantage we would get in that match-up that would be very beneficial to the Republican Party.
KWN: You are one of the youngest people in American History to manage a presidential campaign. Does that distinction add in any pressure you may have already felt?
Michael DuHaime: I don’t think so. I don’t feel any more pressure. I feel pressure because I know that Rudy is the best candidate to win, and I know that this is a great opportunity for me to have a say in the future of our country. Folks that get involved as political operatives in both parties have a real sense of idealism. Most of us, I think, have a real sense of idealism in terms of what we do helps our country. We may not agree with each other. We may pick different candidates. But we do this, I hope, for the right reasons. I got involved with this campaign is because I know that Rudy would be a great President. So the pressure that I get-the pressure I put on myself- is knowing that I want to do my best to make that happen. I don’t want to fall short because I would feel that I would not only be letting Rudy down, but in many ways I would be letting the country down because our country deserves a leader like him.
KWN: Do you feel that, being a younger person yourself, you have a unique ability to craft a message that could reach out to younger voters that other campaign managers do not?
Michael DuHaime: I hope so. I feel in many ways we have taken a bit of an unconventional approach here. Maybe my relative youth makes me more open to that. Maybe more open to saying that you do not always have to do things the way that they were done 20, 30, 40 years ago. You are more open to change. So I hope that indicates that I do probably have a perspective on 18-29 year-0lds, or folks in their thirties, or folks with young families, I hope that from personal experience I have a good perspective on them.
More importantly, I think that Rudy, more than any other Republican, really attracts young voters . I have seen it first hand, types of crowds he attracts at colleges when he speaks. A lot of young people in their 20’s obviously remember very well September 11th and his performance thereafter. It is one of those memories that all of us have, But I suppose if you are younger that its one of your first memories of a terrible thing happening. Seeing someone that has both the toughness and the compassion to unite the country and express our grief and also help us to move on and move forward. That kind of leadership-young people really respond to that. I think they have seen it in Rudy.
There has been a lot of talk on both sides of the aisle about who could be a leader, who could unite the country, and it’s all speculation as to whether someone could with one exception-and that is Rudy. Rudy is the only person that has already united this country in a great time of crisis. People have already seen him. Not only young people, but I think especially the young people, have seen his leadership firsthand. It wasn’t a campaign… It wasn’t rhetoric… It wasn’t a TV commercial… It was real-and I think young people really respect that.
KWN: What are your thoughts on the race so far?
Danny Diaz: Well, I think it’s important when you look at the results [Iowa Democratic Caucuses], what is striking is the similarities. All of the the candidates are remarkably similar. Their solutions to most problems is to tax middle class families and to punish those who are working hard trying to fund their children’s education and pay their bills. In almost every case, their solution to any problem is some big government scheme. I don’t think you need to look any farther than health care. All of those guys: Obama, Edwards, and Hillary Clinton, are offering plans that expand government and that cost hundreds of billions of dollars-and they are not offering an adequate explanation as to how they plan to pay for it. All of them believe in some form of a weakened national security that defunds our troops, that calls for retreat, and calls for taking away important tools that are protecting us from terrorist attacks.
KWN: How good of a job are the Republican candidates doing of drawing a distinction between the Republican vision for the future and the Democratic vision?
Danny Diaz: Well, I think that obviously our candidates are engaged in a competitive primary. Obviously, their candidates are engaged in a competitive primary. Here at the RNC, our job is to prepare for the general [election] and to kind of lay out the distinctions between the two parties. Hopefully I’m doing that successfully (laughs). But at the end of the day, when we have a nominee, there are going to be very clear differences. One is in the vision for America. I think that we have an optimistic vision. One that believes that people should keep their hard-earned dollars. That they should chose how to invest that money, not the government. They earned it, they should keep their tax dollars as much as possible. We believe that bureaucracy is not the answer to every problem. I think that we believe that we need to spend the people’s money wisely. We do not believe that we need to withdraw from the world’s stage. I think that when you look at the differences between the parties, they are very real. It seems to me that the Democrats have a very negative view of our place in the world. They almost universally believe in a failed America. The economy, in Barack Obama’s, John Edwards’, and Hillary Clinton’s eyes isn’t doing enough. Our health care system is not good enough. We are not achieving enough success in the war on terror. I think we believe that we have an incredibly resilient economy. Sure there are challenges out there. But hurting middle class families by taking more of their money is not a solution. I think we believe we are achieving incredible success in Iraq. Pulling out Iraq and defunding the troops is not an appropriate response.
There are very real differences between the two parties, and my job is to communicate them.
KWN: The new apparent Democratic frontrunner, Barack Obama, seems to have been able to craft a centrist or moderate image that has the potential to have a great amount of appeal to Independents, despite the fact of having a very liberal voting record himself. Do you feel he has been getting a free pass from the media so far?
Danny Diaz: High-flying rhetoric is one thing… But how does that match someone’s record? I think that is what you are alluding to. The reality is that when you look at Barack Obama, you have to consider that he voted for the largest tax increase in American History. You have to look at the fact that he is someone who said we should play chicken with our troops. MoveOn.org comes out and says that all Democratic candidates should come right out and say that they will not fund the troops-and he comes out and does exactly that. You need to look at the fact that he is someone who does not believe we should be listening in to phone calls coming in to the United States that plot and plan to kill our children. On a whole host of issues, Barack Obama has the wrong positions. He believes in giving drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants because he believes it’s a public safety issue. Our confidence increases by the day. We feel this Their candidate’s stances on the issues are simply contrary to what the American people believe.
I think that once we have an electorate that is informed and makes a decisions based on the facts, the candidates, and their ideas, we are going to be in an incredibly strong position to maintain control of the White House. So I agree with you, [Obama] has taken positions that are very liberal, and they are way out of the mainstream. Whether it was in the Illinois Senate, or whether it’s his position on the Death Penalty, or it’s his anti-gun position. Those are stances, those are votes, that he will need to answer for should he be the nominee. We will hold Hillary Clinton accountable as well should she be the nominee. They will be judged on their record, not their rhetoric.
Sarah Huckabee was kind enough to take a few moments from her hectic schedule on the campaign trail to speak with me at the Des Moines Blogger’s Bash. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the interview cannot be presented here as the file was corrupted in the download. But here is Ms. Huckabee discussing her thoughts as the race for Iowa draws to a close:
Every campaign has these, and it’s a testament to the US political process.
It was interrupted and stopped in the middle of the interview, but will forgive the offender.
Rep. Paxon was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican in 1988, serving New York’s 31st Congressional District. He served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1992.
After leaving Congress in 1999, he served as a key advisor to George W. Bush’s 2000 Presidential Campaign, and eventually as chairman of the Bush-Cheney Transition Advisory Team.
Rep. Paxon was gracious to take time with me to discuss this evening’s GOP presidential debate.
KWN: What are your thoughts on the debates that we’ve had so far? Have you been pleased with the level of discourse regarding the important issues in the race?
Rep. Bill Paxon: Well, I’ve been honored to attend several of the debates with Mayor Giuliani, in Michigan and in Iowa, and I will be attending the one in St. Petersburg Of course I have been following them all. I am very gratified by the debates. I think the Republican base, in particular, has afforded our party’s voters with a clear choice in the race for President. I think that right from the beginning of this race back in January, Mayor Giuliani has lead in all the polls because and he’s lead because of what we’ve seen on the campaign trail and in the debates-a leader who clearly expresses the philosophical direction of what our party wants and our country needs.
Giuliani is the only Republican candidate for President that had the honor of working under President Reagan. Two very high level and important positions in his administration. Mayor Giuliani, in my view, is the linear successor to Ronald Reagan. He is an optimistic, forward thinking, visionary leader. I think that’s come across in the debates. I believe strongly that is the reason why Mayor Giuliani is leading.
In terms of the debates themselves, they brought out the candidates, all of the candidates in our party’s true positions and feelings and stands on the issues. I think that is the reason why he is leading, because he represents, for Republican voters, a clear choice and a clear distinction between our party and the Hillary Clinton Democrats.
And that’s the reason why I believe, ultimately, Rudy Giuliani will be elected President.
KWN: Leading up to the Michigan debate, the main point of contention among the candidates was economics. For this debate, crime seems to be the focus. As someone who lived in close proximity to New York City, can you talk about what you observed of Mayor Giuliani’s war on crime?
Rep. Bill Paxon: I am from the opposite end of New York State-Buffalo, New York. But as Upstate New Yorkers in the 70’s and 80’s we watched as New York City descended into total lawlessness [and] lack of order. Not just law and order & crime, but quality of life and economic disorder. It was dragging the whole state down. Literally at the eleventh-hour and fifty-ninth minute of the history of New York, when things were the darkest and the most despondent. Rudy Giuliani walked in and he took over and took charge of the streets and in a matter of almost no time had the city back on track. Crime plummeting, the economy blossoming . Everybody in the world saw it. There were articles in newspapers and magazines in every corner of the globe talking about this miraculous turnaround in New York City.
In terms of crime, it didn’t start when he was mayor. When he was U.S. Attorney, he took on the untouchables [and] the fact that it was impossible to control organized crime. Well, Rudy Giuliani proved that wrong. As U.S. Attorney, he took them on, and he beat them. He was a formidable enemy. The Mob took out contracts on Rudy Giuliani, and it didn’t stop him-he didn’t back down. His record on crime is clear. There was an almost 60% reduction in the overall crime rate according to the FBI (violent crime) while he was Mayor. Murder was down 66%, burglary-68%, robberies-67%. And I think that stands in stark contrast to the record of most other candidates.
Most of the other candidates who are running for President are legislators who had very little to do with crime and fighting crime in the streets. Mitt Romney has chosen for months to attack Rudy Giuliani on issues. We have not responded. We have tried to follow Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment to not attack a fellow Republican. But when it gets to the point of Gov. Romney misrepresenting the Mayor’s record in these areas, it’s time to respond. And we’ve pointed out this week that under Mayor Giuliani crime rate went down overall 56%. But under Mitt Romney, in Massachusetts, crime was up 8%, 7.5% up in murders, almost 6% in burglaries, [and] 12% up in robberies. If he’s going to attack Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney needs to start by looking at his own record and the woefully inadequate job that was done of controlling crime in Massachusetts under his watch.
KWN: I think its difficult for people who did not live there, or that have not studied it extensively, to understand the utter sense of hopelessness that gripped the city before Mayor Giuliani took over…
Rep. Bill Paxon: Well, I lived briefly in New York when I was going to college. In the 70’s, you couldn’t walk down the street. There were many parts of the city that the police were afraid to go into because of the utter lack of control. The lawlessness was just legendary. I can remember, as state legislator in the 80’s, often times staying in a hotel and at 8:30 walking outside with a couple of other state legislators and being accosted in the streets to the point that we had to walk down the middle of Broadway just to escape the people on the sidewalks who were literally holding you up.
It wasn’t too long ago that my wife and I took our two young daughters to the city, and at 10 o’clock at night, along with tens of thousands of others, walk through Times Square. Rudy Giuliani was able to turn this city around to the point where people from around the world can take their youngest children there and feel comfortable and feel safe.
It kind of counter-intuitive. A lot of people would say, if you are going to bring down the murder rate, you gotta start with murders. Rudy Giuliani did that. But he also decided that you couldn’t have law and order when people didn’t feel comfortable driving their cars down the streets getting accosted by squeegee men. They’d stand out there, and if you didn’t pay them to wash your windows, you know, they’d smash your window. He started with panhandlers. He started with pornographers in Times Square. Every element of lawlessness in the city was addressed because he saw this as a seamless whole. You couldn’t have one part of the city, one area not controlled, or one area where crime is not controlled, if you are going to control crime across the board.
KWN: Towards the end of Dinkins’ term, entire classes of crime were, in reality, decriminalized. Property Crime was basically legalized, with flags of surrender on some cars declaring, “radio already stolen”…
Rep. Bill Paxon: Right! Exactly! You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly what it was like. It was frightening. It was frightening for the people who lived there. It was frightening for tourists who came to the city. It was frightening for people who tried to do business in New York City. But Rudy Giuliani took them on and turned it around. He’s fearless. As I said, it takes a lot to get a Mob contract on your head when you are a public official. But they saw him as someone who is destroying their franchise to loot and pillage the city. He took them on and brought them down. That’s kind of guy I want, that’s the kind of person I want as a President of the United States. Someone who is not afraid to attack these kind of problems. Because he proved it not just in crime and turning around the city’s economy, but he also did it by restoring the kind of value sets we want as a government leader.
I think he is going to be a remarkable President.
Gov. Romney was gracious in taking time from his hectic schedule on the campaign trail in Connecticut to speak with myself and all of Race42008’s “Mitt Guys”-Jason, Matt, and Justin.
In this interview, Gov. Romney discusses his plan for defusing the Iranian nuclear crisis, reforming the federal government from the top down, providing relief to the African Continent, and how his national health care plan differs from that which was enacted in Massachusetts.
Kavon W. Nikrad: It seems that in dealing with the Iranian nuclear crisis, the U.S. is forced to choose between different degrees of loss; or perhaps instead, we are in search of the choice in which we lose the least. On one hand, do nothing and the mullahs gain nuclear weapons; act militarily and we at minimum risk enraging a generation of young Iranians that may have overthrown the current regime eventually; and at worse start WWIII. Do you feel there is a scenario where the U.S. can “win”?
Gov. Mitt Romney: Well, I was in Israel early this year and spoke at the Herzliya Conference in Tel Aviv and laid out a seven-point strategy to convince Iran to abandon nuclear ambition and to instead pursue a path towards prosperity and peace. And that plan has at its heart much tougher economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran during a time when its pursuing nuclear technology. I also believe that we should market democracy much more clearly to the people of Iran and we should make them painfully aware of the tragic course that a nuclear nation is pursuing.
Specifically, becoming a nuclear nation puts them very much at risk. Because as a nuclear nation, there is risk that fissile material that they develop would fall into the hands of terrorists, or others who would use it; and the civilized world will respond not just against the nation or the entity that uses that weapon, but also to the nation that supplies that fissile material. So I believe that it is very much in our interest to communicate these things and to show the world’s displeasure at Iran’s nuclear ambition.
And finally, of course, our military option must be one that we hold ready and that we are willing to take.
Justin Hart: Governor, you’ve spoken on numerous occasions about performing a top to bottom review of the government, an audit as you put it. What will that process look like, what will you be looking for as you conduct the audit, and what do you think you will find?
Gov. Mitt Romney: Well, first of all the people that I would bring together would not be a group of government bureaucrats but instead individuals from outside government who would take review of a particular agency or department or program area and look at all of the spending which we do in that area, all of the agencies that participate in that area, the programs that are focused upon it and we would evaluate the effectiveness of each of those programs, the effectiveness of the dollars spent, determine if there is some unintended by-product either good or bad that are coming from the agency or from the program. And on that basis we would rank/order those programs that should be eliminated, those that out to be expanded, and those that ought to be consolidated into others.
Right now, for instance, in an area like economic development there are some 342 different programs. We really don’t need that many. We ought to find a way to streamline and simplify, eliminate overhead, eliminate bureaucracy and make Washington more responsive to the needs of the people.
Matt C.: You stated a couple weeks ago that you represented the “Republican Wing of the Republican Party”, echoing Howard Dean’s statements in 2004. Could you first explain what you mean by that, and secondly, in hindsight, do you have any regrets saying that seeing the storm of attacks it brought you from Giuliani, McCain, Thompson, and others?
Gov. Mitt Romney: Well, actually the quote’s not quite accurate – which is, I said that I believe we do need to represent the Republican heartland or Republican base vote and that’s not just me, but it’s all of those that are running for office. I’m certainly not the only one that represents, if you will, the Reagan coalition but I’m one of those that does. And I do believe that to win the White House it is essential that we bring together the three branches of conservatism that Ronald Reagan assembled for his great victory – and that is social conservatives, economic conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives. I think if we are missing one of those three branches, we will not be successful in winning the White House.
So, like the others who are fighting for the nomination and establishing our bona fides, I think it’s essential to bring that group together, and I intend to speak on those topics and to try and build my support – I know the other fellows are doing the same thing – and ultimately the people will have their choice as to who they think is best able to represent those values of social, economic, and foreign policy conservatives.
Jason Bonham: A lot of America’s foreign policy focus is based on the War on Terror and European relationships. You have also specifically highlighted a need to take China more seriously. The U.S. and the UN have a past of ignoring serious problems in Africa including genocide. What are your views on the importance of African concerns to our foreign policy and what specifically would you do address these as president?
Gov. Mitt Romney: Well you make a very good point, which is that we as a public tend to focus on one hot spot at a time. And perhaps even our politicians do the same. A president and a nation must focus on all the areas of the world and understand how those areas are developing in ways that might encourage peace and stability or ways which might distract from them.
In my view it’s important for us to consider Africa on the basis of many issues. One of course is the tragic human condition of many in Africa who are subject to diseases such as AIDS, Malaria and others. A second aspect of our concern in Africa has to relate to the genocide occurring in Sudan, and then another area of concern would certainly be the spread of radical Jihadism. Whether it’s in Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, throughout Africa there are efforts on the part of radical jihadists to overthrow moderate modern governments. So we as a nation must join together with other civilized nations to help strengthen Africa so that it can reject the extreme and so that it can overcome the profound humanitarian crises which are upon it.
It is unfortunate that the United Nations has been unsuccessful in fulfilling its mission. The United Nations has not been able to stop genocide, has not stopped war, has not stopped the spread of diseases like AIDS. And so I believe it’s gonna’ take free nations coming together, working together on a global basis -and particularly with regards to a place like Africa- to help support moderate people so they can reject the extreme within them and so that we can combine to stop the spread of radical-violent-Jihadism.
Kavon W. Nikrad: Perhaps the signature accomplishment of your time as Governor of Massachusetts was enacting Massachusetts health care reform. However, while campaigning for President you have stressed that the solution that was right for Massachusetts would not necessarily be the correct one for the nation as a whole. Can you talk about the differences between the plan that was implemented in Massachusetts and the one you would champion as President?
Gov. Mitt Romney: Well I like what we did in Massachusetts and it may well be ideal for other states. But, of course, my view is that you don’t have the federal government put in place a one-size-fits-all plan for every single state. And that’s because of the differences between our state’s populations and their needs. In Massachusetts for instance, 7% of our population was uninsured. But in Texas, 25% of the population is uninsured. And therefore the plan that works in one state may not work perfectly in another. Likewise in California, a single individual can buy a good health care policy for $2000 a year. But in New Jersey, the cost is $6000 a year. So there’s going to be a needed reform of the health insurance market in New Jersey in order to provide the kind of quality insurance options that exist in places like California.
My view is this therefore-I want to get everybody in our country insured. But I do not want the government to mandate to states how they do it. Instead, I’d like the federal government to provide the flexibility to states just like they did to us in Massachusetts so that we could each craft our own plan to get our citizens insured.
Secondly, I don’t want our citizens to all get Medicare or Medicaid. In other words, I don’t think that government insurance is the right course for the uninsured. Rather, I believe that market-based, private insurance is the best course helping people who are uninsured become insured.
And finally, I do not believe that we should spend more money or require additional taxes to pay for these programs. We should, instead, redirect money that is already being used to help the poor.
So on a number of basis I take a very different course than Hillary Clinton’s. Her view is a one-size-fits-all plan. I say no, let it be done by states. Her plan is to give everybody that is uninsured government insurance. I say no, give them free market based insurance. And then her plan calls for an extra $110 billion a year in spending and in new taxes. I say no, use the money we are already spending and no new taxes.
R4’08 Bonus: Sorry to butt in on your thread here Jason. But after viewing this video, click here to read our interview with Gov. Cellucci from earlier this year.–KWN
The conclusion of Sen. McCain’s “No Surrender Tour” has seen a surge in his poll numbers in the critical early primary state of New Hampshire as well as an upswing in his national polling.
Although his third quarter fundraising trails the other top-tier candidates of Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney, the McCain campaign is confident that victories in the early primary states that know him well can propel him to the nomination.
Sen. McCain graciously took time out from his busy schedule campaigning in South Carolina for this interview where we discussed the “Petraeus Effect” on the Democratic top-tier, how he felt as he heard the general vindicate the very strategy he had advocated for years, as well as his response to certain Evangelical leaders threatening to leave the GOP if they do not find the eventual nominee acceptable.
KWN: As the Senate passed a bill which authorized an additional $150 billion dollars for the Iraqi conflict, a poll was released that showed 70% of Americans opposing the continued funding of the war. Why does it appear that there been little to no progress made in the court of public opinion even after the Petraeus Report and the news that casualties have decreased by 50%?
Sen. John McCain: You know, polls are interesting Kavon, and I’m not trying to disparage this one because I don’t like it.
If you and I were polled and it said, “You want to get out of Iraq?”, both you and I would say “Hell yes!” “You think we ought to spend one more dime on it? Hell no!” So all I’m saying I think that so much of it depends on the way the question is asked. If I asked, “Do you want to stop funding the war? And by the way, we are going to have chaos in the region in the opinion of almost every respected nation security analyst from Henry Kissinger to Gen. Zinni to Brent Scrowcroft, etc…” then I think [they would say], “Well wait a minute!”
And I am also convinced, in all due respect to my Democrat friends, that if Petraeus’ performance had not been so effective you wouldn’t have seen all the Democratic candidates saying we would be there until 2013. Before his appearance they were all falling all over each other [to say], “Get out now!”
Look, I understand (and you do too) the frustration, and the anger, and the sorrow of the American People. It’s just there and it should be there. For nearly four-years we pursued a failed policy and we piled on that by saying a few dead-enders stuff happens, “last throes”, etc… So Americans were clearly disillusioned and disappointed after nearly four-years. What I think Petraeus did was make Americans think, “Well, we really don’t want to fail unless its the only option. This guy makes a convincing case not just that we just will have our declared allegiance to the cause, but we will give it more time to see if it can succeed.”
I think that a lot of the American Public over those two-days of saturation media saw that he has had a beneficial affect. I know that’s a long answer, but I think that the Democrats frankly are taking a more nuanced pose, otherwise they would have won that vote. And I know for a fact that a month before Petraeus showed up that Harry Reid was pretty sure that he had the votes for the Webb Amendment.
KWN: Yesterday you went after Hillary Clinton pretty hard for triangulating on this issue (full quote here). It does seem like they are trying to have it both ways now.
Sen. John McCain: Oh it does… And there’s another thing that is very aggravating [which] is that after you have the debate and its made clear that Congress is not going to have the votes to force withdrawal, then you vote against the funding! When Sen. Clinton voted against the funding, basically what she was saying is that I support the troops, but I am not going to fund the mission that they’re on. And I don’t think that’s good frankly for the men and women who are serving in the military.
KWN: Can you describe how you felt as you watched Gen. Petraeus give his report to Congress and heard him vindicate a strategy that you have championed for years?
Sen. John McCain: I felt that this man is someone who makes me feel proud to be an American. It makes me proud that our military academies produce this kind of person who would devote 35 years of their life to the service of this country.
I was over there over the 4th of July, Lindsey Graham and I, and he was kind enough to ask me to say a few words at the reenlistment of 688 brave young Americans, and I was honored. I can tell you these young troops were very polite in their applause, and they said thank you. But when he spoke, I’m telling you, you could see the affection, as well as the respect and admiration in the eyes and the voices of those young people. It was quite a thrill.
KWN: Would the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq result in genocide for Iraq’s Sunni Muslims?
Sen. John McCain: Yes. But [people] people may not take my word for it. You know, “He’s just a politician”, or something like that. Ask Gen. Zinni who opposed going [in] there in the first place. Ask Brent Scrowcroft who opposed going in in the first place. Ask Henry Kissinger who is not a renowned Hawk anymore. Ask a broad array of national security experts, except those on the far liberal-Left, and they will tell you the same thing. Absolutely I believe there will be chaos and genocide.
And again, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the President of Iran who said less than two-weeks ago that when the U.S. leaves Iraq we will fill it. You don’t need any more than that.
KWN: It seems that in dealing with the Iranian nuclear crisis, the U.S. is forced to choose between different degrees of loss; or perhaps instead, we are in search of the choice in which we lose the least. On one hand, do nothing and the mullahs gain nuclear weapons; act militarily and we at minimum risk enraging a generation of young Iranians that may have overthrown the current regime eventually; and at worse start WWIII. Do you feel there is a scenario where the U.S. can “win”?
Sen. John McCain: Sure I do, and one of them is if we could get our European allies [engaged], and I’m very encouraged by Sarkozy’s comments, as they have been excellent. And by the way, I am also encouraged that the Foreign Minister of France would fly to Baghdad.
But I think, and I proposed this a long time ago, that we get together a league of democracies. Not only for Iran, but for Darfur, for North Korea, for Burma; where we have nations that share common values, common ideals, common goals, and we work together. And it has to be outside the [U.N] Security Council because we know that China and Russia will continue to block progress.
But fortunately, a tremendous amount of the economic power in the world is concentrated amongst these countries and we could make it very meaningful and very harsh on the Iranians if we impose draconian sanctions on them.
You know that there are European financial institutions today that are extending unlimited lines of credit to the Iranians who have a shaky economy. So I believe that would be an effective method.
But I would also point out to you that we cannot afford to have Iran possess a nuclear weapon, and am reminded back in January of 1981 when on the day that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President of the United States, our hostages miraculously came home who had been kept in Tehran for 400 days. So my view is that there are a number of things that the United States is capable of, and I certainly wouldn’t telegraph any of our punches.
KWN: One of the themes you seemed to stress the most during your “No Surrender Tour” was your qualifications to step in immediately as our next Commander-in-Chief. How would you state your case to your fellow Republicans as to why they should choose you to lead the GWOT over say Gov. Romney or Mayor Giuliani?
Sen. John McCain: Well, I really don’t criticize the others who are running. But I think that my qualifications deserve the consideration of the voters. I have spent my entire life involved in one way or another with national security and the military. I have served on the Armed Services Committee for 20 years… Military service… I have engaged in international forums. I have been engaged as a member of the Armed Services Committee in the United States Senate during various crises, whether they be Bosnia, Kosovo, the first Gulf War, etc… So I have spent really my adult life involved in these issues in one way or another. I am prepared to lead. I am prepared to address these challenges.
I’d like to give you the latest example. When Rumsfeld’s strategy, and it became clear to me very soon-as early as November of 2003 when I gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations condemning this strategy saying that it was failed and advocating the strategy that we are using now; and I was heavily criticized by Republicans for “being disloyal.”
So I was right. And I am the only one of the candidates who took those positions and had the foresight because of my knowledge and background and experience as to what was the right strategy in Iraq. I hope that my qualifications will lead people to believe what I believe, and that is that I do not need any on-the-job training. I can hit the ground running. And my friend, these are dangerous times.
KWN: Much has been made this week about certain Evangelical leaders finding particular candidates in the Republican field unacceptable. As someone who has received ratings of zero from both NARAL and PFAW, do you just have to shake your head at the fact that they are still looking for a candidate?
Sen. John McCain: I have developed good relationships with so many in the Evangelical community. Pastor John Hagee joined us on the “No Surrender Tour” as you know. I have developed a relationship with Dr. Richard Land and others, and I am proud to say that I had an excellent relationship with Rev. Falwell before he passed away. So I will continue to work with the Religious Right of our party.
But I would also say, and people are free to vote for who they want to and organize for who they want to; but I have always believed that we should be loyal Republicans to the extent that we should support the nominee of out party. And that is an admonition that Ronald Reagan made to us. So I hope that all people who are Republicans can engage in this spirited contest, and if it is fair and honest and open, support the nominee of our party which is determined by a process we all have confidence in.
KWN: Can you give us some straight talk on the abortion issue? Where do you feel it should rank now in the hierarchy of issues in which conservatives wish to enact change?
Sen. John McCain: As you know, I have had a consistent record. It’s really based on my adherence to the magnificent words of us all being created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights-and first among these is life! Those words apply to the born as well as the unborn.
I have fought for human rights around the world, the latest being Burma where I have advocated for that bravest of all world’s citizens, Aung San Suu Kyi. But I believe that the unborn have the God-given right to life as well. That’s the way I deal with this issue and it has been consistent.
Mr. Forbes is the editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine Forbes as well as president and chief executive officer of Forbes Inc.
Forbes was a candidate for the Republican nomination in both 1996 and 2000. He enjoyed particular success in the 2000 cycle, coming in a strong 2nd place in the Ames Straw Poll (losing to George W. Bush approximately 7,500 to 5,000 votes) as well as eventually coming in 2nd place in the Iowa Caucus itself with 30% of the vote (which was a full 16 pts. ahead of the third place finisher.)
In March 2007, Forbes was named National Co-Chair and Senior Advisor of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Forbes graciously took time out from hectic schedule campaigning for Mayor Giuliani in Iowa for this interview on Saturday afternoon.
KWN: You had quite a bit of success in Iowa in 2000, coming in a strong second place in both the Ames Straw Poll and the Caucus itself. Tell us some of the lessons you learned about campaigning in Iowa.
Steve Forbes: The key to campaigning in Iowa is spending time in the state, working at the grassroots, and putting organizations together county by county. The Mayor is coming out here for the debate on Sunday morning, but he is also spending an extra couple of days here as well. So is is putting in the time needed to make a showing in the caucus come January.
KWN: You had your pick of candidates to endorse in this cycle. Why did you choose to back Mayor Giuliani?
Steve Forbes: Of all the candidates, I think he has had the most experience in making big things happen. I saw firsthand in New York City how he turned around that city. When he took office as you know, crime was very high, the economy was in shambles, and the budget was in serious deficit. When he took office, everyone was telling him to raise taxes. He took those tax increase proposals and just tossed them aside and said we are going to exercise spending restraint; he put in real restraints so that spending grew less than inflation. He cut taxes 23 times, which is unheard of in New York City. So for the first time citizens of New York face a lower tax burden from the city rather than a higher one. He did amazing things on fighting crime, which was a huge problem 15 years ago. He put in major police reforms. Murder went down almost 70%. He also slashed welfare rolls which was also unheard of in New York-he cut those by almost 60%. And of course on 9/11 we saw that he could handle unprecedented crisis. So given what we need on national security and given what I think we need for the future of the national economy, Rudy Giuliani has proven that he can translate words into reality.
KWN: The main criticism coming from rival campaigns concerning Mayor Giuliani’s economic record as Mayor is increased debt during his tenure. Are these concerns valid when taken in context with the overall record?
Steve Forbes: I think that the city was put on a very sound financial footing. So one, you could get a much lower interest rate and deal with some of the infrastructure problems in New York. Going back to the 1970’s when the city almost went bankrupt, a lot of the infrastructure in New York was put aside or not dealt with effectively. So debt was used for capital purposes rather than the past when it too often was used to cover budget deficits. So he kept control of spending, reduced the size of city bureaucracy, and capital money was actually spent on capital instead of budget shenanigans.
KWN: These criticisms seem reminiscent of liberal attacks on Ronald Reagan’s economic record. Both had to contend with Democratically controlled legislative bodies…
Steve Forbes: Well, I think Rudy had even more success than Ronald Reagan had in controlling the growth of spending. But even with the challenges Ronald Reagan had, he was able to restore the military and win the Cold War. And the wealth of the nation during his tenure in office increased almost 17 trillion dollars. So even though the national debt went up during Reagan’s time in office the wealth of the nation went up 10 times faster.
You saw something of the same phenomenon in New York City. 400,000 new private sector jobs were added, the economy came back to life, and New York City became a tourist mecca again.
KWN: Mayor Giuliani has unveiled an aggressive plan for reducing the size of the federal workforce. Can anyone can reduce the federal civilian workforce by over 20%?
Steve Forbes: I think that by starting with his own cabinet officers and giving them the mandate to find ways to reduce the spending, and finding ways to provide services in a more efficient way which he did in New York City, and by not replacing everyone who retires-that’s the key thing. A lot of people are going to be retiring in the next 8-10 years and if you make it policy that you are not going to replace everyone you can start to make real progress. And I think that as President, Rudy Giuliani won’t hesitate to wield the veto if he feels that spending bills have gotten out of line. And once Capitol Hill realizes that there is a veto out there, and you’ll have public opinion behind him, then you can get together with budget deals that will be quite different than what you’ve had in recent years in Washington.
KWN: The campaign has yet to formally reveal the tax reform portion of Rudy’s 12 Commitments to the American People. Could you perhaps give us a little preview as to what we can expect in this area?
Steve Forbes: Well, I thing you have already gotten a little of a forerunner of what’s he going to do on the tax side. He’s already proposed reducing marginal tax rates, he wants to simplify the tax code, and reduce business taxes as well. So I think it’s going to be very much in line with the philosophy of simplification and reducing tax burdens. And he’s demonstrated in New York that this won’t be just rhetoric, he will deliver.