Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hunter is Different

This column ran in local newspapers July 19th in association with the Hunter interview posted below

Congressman Duncan Hunter is running for president and I had a chance to interview him last week for a web site I’ve been working at called Family Security Matters. My experience with candidates running for national office over the years has been what I’d have to call underwhelming and I was bracing myself for more of the same, but I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that Duncan Hunter is different. Here is a man who knows exactly what he thinks and he states it plainly. I wasn’t ready for that, but I found it refreshing - very refreshing. If this man gets more exposure, I suspect that many other Americans will like it too. Every time I asked a question, I got a straight answer. He didn’t equivocate. I don’t think it’s in his nature.

Hunter is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, a former Army Ranger. He’s been a congressman for twenty-six years and was chairman of the House Armed Services for four years until Democrats regained majority control last November. Although lacking in name recognition, Hunter is strongest on the two issues that have emerged as those which concern ordinary Americans most - national security and illegal immigration. I’d never heard of Duncan Hunter until I saw him debate the rest of the Republican candidates on television. He stood out and I wondered, “Who is this guy?”

Two weeks ago, the president and the Congress were trying for the second time this year to ram through an illegal alien amnesty bill. Although it had bipartisan support, a vast majority of Americans strongly opposed rewarding people who violated our laws by sneaking into the United States and giving them priority over other immigrants who waited in line and went by the rules. As a vote for cloture came up in the Senate, their switchboard short-circuited due to an unprecedented volume of calls, nearly all in opposition. Twelve senators switched their votes at the last minute and the bill failed again. I began to realize that Congressman Hunter has been out front on this issue for years - and nobody in government has done more to stop the invasion across our southern border than he has.

When I asked him how, as president, he would deal with illegal immigration, he said: “You know, I wrote the bill that mandates a border fence that was signed into law by the president. That’s the 850 miles of border fence that is now mandated to be constructed across Arizona and New Mexico and Texas . . . it’s a double fence with a border patrol road in between. I built the fence in San Diego which has reduced the smuggling out there of people and narcotics by more than ninety percent. The 854-mile fence is mandated to be constructed across the major smuggler’s corridors in those three states . . . That will go a long way toward enforcement of the border, which is key not only to the immigration issue, but also to the security issue. So . . . I’d just simply carry out the very law that I wrote as a congressman . . .

He believes the United States will prevail in Iraq and defines victory as “ a country that is a friend, not an enemy of the United States - a country that has a modicum of freedom and which will not be a state sponsor of terrorism.” When I asked him how important the propaganda war is in our struggle against Radical Islam, he responded: “Here’s what I would say: with the emergence of mass media since [World War II], the emergence of things like the internet, the proliferation of television stations and radio stations around the world, has minimized the ability of any one entity to shape the news. Now I would say that what I call the “American example,” that is, just the basic decency and goodness of the American people that is manifested in lots and lots of activities, like the fact that we undertook - in the tsunami - we undertook an airlift that was bigger than any airlift since the Berlin Airlift. We responded with the American fleet to humanitarian requirements in a way that was totally unprecedented. I think the world takes note of that. I also think that in Iraq, al Qaeda for example, in driving these bomb-laden trucks into crowds of women and children, has damaged its image in the Muslim world. I think that’s been evidenced by the new move by the Sunni population in Anbar Province against al Qaeda leadership and the turnaround that we’ve seen in cities like Fallujah and Hamadi.”

When I asked him how he interprets the Second Amendment, he said: “Well, the right to keep and bear arms - I think that’s a very important part of homeland security. The ability of a person to own and maintain a firearm and to protect his house and his community and his country is an important part of our national security. I’m also a big hunter but I think hunting is not the reason you’ve got a right to keep and bear arms. [It’s for] personal security and the security of our community and our country.”

Here is a genuine conservative candidate. Republican conservatives disappointed with their party’s performance of late will find Congressman Duncan Hunter very refreshing. You can read the entire interview on my blog here.

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