New Bern, NC – Complete text of interview follows profile transcript...
INTRO - Seven term incumbent Walter Jones is facing a challenge this year in the Republican primary for the U-S House 3rd District. Army vet, financial advisor and Onslow County commissioner Joe McLaughlin is seeking his party's nod. George Olsen has more.
Walter Jones' swing from Iraq war advocate to Iraq war doubter is what raised McLaughlin's initial interest in challenging the incumbent.
00:31 The 3rd District is home to many military installations who have tens of thousands of men & women deployed in the War on Terror, and his positions that he took I don't think represented their needs or desires. So that's what first drew me to the race a year ago.
McLaughlin is a supporter of the current actions in Iraq, stating that there has been tremendous progress in the battlefield and detects political progress there as well. He sees Iraq as one prong in a multi-faceted struggle against radical jihadists across the globe and feels success there is crucial in an overall war on terror.
02:30 Most things are a matter of will, and by conveying to our enemies as well as our allies that we'll see them through a difficult struggle, I think hastens political reconciliation I think is needed in Iraq and hastens the loss of will on the part of our enemies. Just in the last week or two, the number two man in al-Qaeda al-Zawhiri blasted his Islamic jihadist compatriots for their lack of helping them in Iraq, so it's important we convey willingness to stand by our allies, whether it's in Afghanistan, Iraq or other fields of endeavor that we're going to uphold the principles of democracy that we've known since the birth of our country.
McLaughlin is also an advocate of better control of our borders, stating it's an absolute disgrace what's happened on the Mexican border over the last three decades. He hopes to find solutions for those who continue to need immigrant labor, but would also like to see some of those jobs come back to Americans.
05:46 For those markets or businesses that truly can't fill their areas, let's find a way to perhaps make legal the workers that they need. I'm not convinced that, if you allow market forces to operate, the prevailing wage might not rise here in many parts of the country, construction trades have pretty much gone out to the illegals. I don't think it's appropriate for the construction trades to now be outsourced to illegal immigrants. It doesn't bode well for our country.
He's also concerned about what he terms the breakdown of the family, which he says is behind much of the problems we have today. Toward that end, when asked about whether he would vote for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, he answered succinctly yes though he leavened that answer when asked how he would address those who feel being denied the right to marriage would relegate them to second class citizenship.
10:16 We all deserve equal protection under the law, but that institution of marriage, that word, I think is special between a man and a woman. We have to find a way to foster and preserve the stability of families. It's what's killing us as a society.
On other issues of interest, McLaughlin said he would probably not support federally mandated health care coverage for all Americans and thought the current tax rebate economic stimulus package was a feel-good effort by both parties, preferring to have seen an investment in improving infrastructure that would've put people into jobs. Joe McLaughlin is a Republican candidate in Tuesday's primary for the 3rd U-S Congressional District. I'm George Olsen.
Joe McLaughlin, Republican candidate for the U-S House 3rd District
What was your fire in the belly moment that spurred you to run?
My main reason for initially entering the race was that Mr. Jones was not representing the interests and concerns of the Republicans in the district. The 3rd District is home to many military installations who have tens of thousands of men & women deployed in the War on Terror, and his positions that he took I don't think represented their needs or desires. So that's what first drew me to the race a year ago, and the more we dug into Mr. Jones' voting record, the more we realized that he absolutely was not the conservative Republican we thought we sent to Washington in 1994.
What's your current take on the war in Iraq and the direction it's taking?
The war in Iraq is just one part of a multi-faceted struggle against the radical jihadists who are challenging us across the globe Iraq, Afghanistan, terror bombings that happen with far too regular note in capitols around the world. Iraq is just one theatre in that operation. A year ago, Senator Harry Reid went to the Senate floor and declared the war is lost even before the surge had taken effect, and we've seen now over the course of the last year there has been tremendous progress on the battlefield especially in Iraq, and we're even seeing signs of political progress as well, so we've made tremendous strides, especially from where Mr. Jones and those on the far left thought we would be.
What other steps need to be taken for success in Iraq?
Nothing succeeds like success in war and in life in general. Most things are a matter of will, and by conveying to our enemies as well as our allies that we'll see them through a difficult struggle, I think hastens political reconciliation I think is needed in Iraq and hastens the loss of will on the part of our enemies. Just in the last week or two, the number two man in al-Qaeda al-Zawhiri blasted his Islamic jihadist compartriots for their lack of helping them in Iraq, so it's important we convey willingness to stand by our allies, whether it's in Afghanistan, Iraq or other fields of endeavor that we're going to uphold the principles of democracy that we've known since the birth of our country.
If elected to Congress and facing a decision to vote for entering into another pre-emptive war, how would you vote?
We need to go back to the state of our country in October 2001. Our cities had been attacked, our greatest buildings had been knocked down, and the President articulated a concern that we can't wait until the first blow lands on our country. Our enemies, especially non-state entities, who have the ability to procure weapons of mass destruction, whether it's an airplane or a vial of anthrax, we can't wait to absorb the first blow, and when there are potent signs that states or non-states are preparing to attack the United States, then action needs to be taken before hand, but it must be built on credible, verifiable intelligence, and, because when you send our men and women to war it's the most difficult and important step a president can take, and you've got to be very careful.
What would you like to see done to secure borders?
I think the best adjective is control our borders. Nothing quite works like physical control. It's an absolute disgrace what's been allowed to happen on our southern border especially over the last three decades. We must be able to control who physically comes across our border. There's no substitute for that.
Many people say we need those immigrant workers to operate our business. What do you tell those people who say they depend on immigrant labor?
For those markets or businesses that truly can't fill their areas, let's find a way to perhaps make legal the workers that they need. Right now we have the worst of a lot of worlds. We've got people who are breaking the law to get here, putting a tremendous strain on local emergency services I'm not convinced that, if you allow market forces to operate, the prevailing wage might not rise here in many parts of the country, construction trades have pretty much gone out to the illegals. I don't think it's appropriate for the construction trades to now be outsourced to illegal immigrants. It doesn't bode well for our country. So control the borders, get a better grip on the construction trades, especially in our country, where honest American hard-working kids can earn a trade in the skills and trades like that instead of outsourcing it to illegals who will work for the lowest possible wage and no benefits, and ultimately overtax our emergency services.
Economic stimulus rebate checks are just starting to go out. What was your opinion of this package?
I think the economic stimulus rebates I would chalk it up mostly to an election year gimmick. With the average American family having thousands of dollars in credit card debt, a several hundred dollar check rebate is mostly a feel-good effort by both parties. I would've much rather seen an investment into things that we chronically need, especially here in the third district infrastructure, upgrades to our roads, things that actually put Americans to work rather than paying off credit card debt or debts owed overseas.
What should be the federal role in education?
Less is better. Education is first and foremost I think a state issue, and the problems that we have in education are problems at the local level, not necessarily the state level. The federal government can have a role in encouraging scholarships and affordability, but I think education and the solving of problems in education are a state and local issue.
Would you renew the No Child Left Behind Act if elected to Congress?
The No Child Left Behind act and its focus on accountability is a good thing. The school system I went to in high school at the end of the year you had an exam and if you didn't pass that exam at the end of the year you didn't get promoted, and so accountability through testing is not necessarily a bad thing. There are probably aspects of No Child Left Behind that need to be tweaked, but that's something we'll get more into when we get to Congress.
There have been various proposals for constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man/one woman. Would you vote for that?
Yes. I believe that so much of the problem that we have today, even in education, is the breakdown of the family, so I would support any and all legislation that preserves, strengthens and honors this institution of marriage between a man and a woman.
What do you tell those who would be denied the right to marry and say it relegates them to second class citizenship?
I think that they're entitled to equal protection under the law but I think that the term marriage is one we should reserve for that relationship between a man and a woman.
So something along the line of civil union?
We'll address that when it comes before us, but I think that word marriage I think is reserved for a man and woman. We all deserve equal protection under the law, but that institution of marriage, that word, I think is special between a man and a woman. We have to find a way to foster and preserve the stability of families. It's what's killing us as a society.
Your website mentions tort reform and stemming illegal immigration lessening the demand on emergency room care as part of a health care plan. What else do you propose to lower the cost of health care in this country?
Healthier living is a good start. So much of the health bill in America today is the result of individual choices that aren't healthy, whether it's smoking or drinking or eating too much. Probably one of the greatest health problems in America stems from obesity and its related impacts. We just have to do much more to encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle, through education, through incentives. There's a lot of health problems that people can't control but so much of what we're facing is a problem results from individual choices we have to tackle. We've got to get frank and candid about the health issues of America.
Would you support universal coverage mandated by the federal government?
Probably not. The promise of America is the promise of freedom, equality of opportunity, and anytime we start talking about mandated requirements from the federal government, that's something we've got to look at cautiously. Allowing people choice, giving them the freedom to choose, incentivizing good choices and disincentivizing bad choices that's the founding principles upon which America was based, the freedom to make choices and be responsible for your choices. When government mandates a program it often turns out poorly.