Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of question-and-answer sessions with candidates for the office of president. Today, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., praises President Bush for working to prevent another major terrorist attack on the United States, and says the best way to maintain that is to keep up the pressure on terrorist leaders worldwide.
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
WND: What do you think of Tom Tancredo’s idea of establishing a deterrence against nuclear terrorism by establishing targets for possible retaliation?
Hunter: I haven’t reviewed Mr. Tancredo’s idea. What I think we’re going to have to have in this long war against terrorism is the ability to pre-empt the development of weapons of mass destruction, whether it’s the continuing progress that the Iranians are making with respect to refinement of weapons grade material that one day could result in a nuclear device or other nations moving toward the development of weapons that could give terrorists enormous leverage against Americans and their interests. That means we’re going to have to have a strong intelligence capability with an emphasis on human intelligence. We’re going to need a reactive capability manifested in our line forces and our special operations forces and also have the ability to make deep strikes and long distance strikes in very remote parts of the world. Those are some of the things I think the United States will have to acquire during this period that I call terrorists with technology.
WND: You and Ron Paul were the only two candidates at the Values Voter Debate Sept. 17 to indicate you would not consider impeachment as a remedy to judicial activists who inhibit religious freedom. Would you elaborate?
Hunter: Well, they gave a shorthand case of a judge they said was framed as having made an outrageous decision, and I simply don’t think you should recommend impeachment unless you’ve read the case. And I had not read that case. That was a very general question, and I think you have to be careful and thorough when you draw conclusions and make judgments. Having just heard about or seen that case come up on a screen with no background information whatsoever, I think that this is the type of job that requires careful analysis before decisions are made. I don’t believe in drawing a judgment on a case unless I’ve read the case, and I have not read that case.
WND: At the Values Voter Debate you answered no when asked as president would you protest Christian persecution in Muslim countries with trade sanctions. Would you protest such persecution and if so, how?
Hunter: Actually, the question as I recall [was] because mosques are being established in the United States, at least this is the way I interpreted the question, would you retaliate with trade sanctions for the establishment of Muslim places of worship in the United States. That was the way I viewed that question, and as I recall it didn’t reflect on the establishment of religious persecution outside the United States, but rather was based on what Americans would do because of the establishment of mosques inside the United States, and there’s not necessarily a connection between trade, trade sanctions and the establishment of a mosque.
Now if people in the United States are advocating the overthrow of our government, or undertaking terrorist activities, they should be dealt with very sternly.
WND: If elected president what would be your priorities for your first 100 days?
Hunter: I think the first thing you do as president is establish communications with your adversaries and your allies, and let them know what your positions are. That’s obviously receiving all of the requisite intelligence briefings, analyzing the [schedule] of meetings, international meetings, treaty obligations that are imminent and putting together a game plan to meet those schedules is an important thing. I think one extremely important factor for our economy will be, for example, communicating with the government of Communist China and informing them that you’re no longer going to allow them to cheat on trade, which right now is resulting in a major exodus of American jobs and American businesses to China. At some point that’s going to affect the national security capability of this country as well as, obviously, the long-term economic health of the United States.
So I think moving fairly quickly with respect to a trade agenda that will result in American jobs staying in this country, and perhaps bring back jobs to this nation. Part of a jobs agenda in my administration would include not only stopping China’s cheating on trade, but also would include an agenda of tax breaks for American manufacturers who would stay in the United States. I would be inclined to pull down taxes on American manufacturers to either zero or close to zero for American manufacturers who stay in the U.S. and hire American workers rather than move overseas. That’s what I would call a jobs agenda [and it] would be an early part of my agenda.
Another part would be energy independence. The United States needs to do several things to empower the U.S. and to reduce the leverage that other nations are now acquiring over the United States because of our dependency on offshore energy sources. That would include, of course, the development of more fossil fuels production capabilities in the United States including Alaska, but also include an aggressive program of developing alternative energy sources including geothermal, wind solar and also ethanol, biofuels. Also exploring the prospects of developing methods of utilizing the vast coal reserves we have in the United States as well as the vast shale reserves, oil shale reserves and increasing the partnership with Canada, with respect to the oil sands that are located in Canada, which by some analyses have a greater potential than even the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. So energy independence would be a very, very important part of my administration, and would take a high place in my priorities.
WND: Describe your position on the status of the U.S. border security and those who are in the United States illegally. What should the U.S. do?
Hunter: I get to answer the last part of that by talking about that I have committed that I will build the border fence that I wrote into law in six months. Last Oct. 26 the president signed my bill, the bill that I wrote that mandates 854 miles of San Diego style border fence. That’s the fence I built in San Diego, Calif. Double layer fence with a Border Patrol road in between, and the extension of that fence for 854 miles across the smuggling corridors of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California will be a priority, and that, incidentally, will be one of my first initiatives as president. That, I think, will have a salutary effect on illegal immigration problem, as well as the crime problem in this country. When we built that border fence the crime rate in the city of San Diego dropped by 50 percent. I think the crime rate will drop in every state of the union upon completion of the border fence.
WND: Would you support an amendment to the Constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman?
Hunter: Yes. I think that the family is perhaps the most important institution in this country, and the center of that institution is the traditional marriage. The answer is yes.
WND: Please share your perspective on the issue of abortion, and Roe v. Wade.
Hunter: I would like to see a judiciary overturn Roe v. Wade, but if it doesn’t I would push strongly for the legislative initiative that I’ve carried for years, which is the life begins at conception bill, which would protect unborn children within the boundaries of Roe v. Wade. So if Roe v. Wade was not overturned, the definition of personhood is manifested in my life begins at conception bill which would have the same effect.
WND: At what point do agreements with other nations begin endangering the sovereignty of the United States, such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership, NAFTA highways and the like?
Hunter: I think when agreements begin to blur the sovereignty of this country, then they tend to have a deleterious effect on American independence. I have in fact passed the Hunter amendment, that I offered on the House floor, which passed fairly overwhelmingly by about 360-60, which bars the administration from utilizing the Department of Transportation money to plan the so-called NAFTA highways, and so I think that the United States should maintain its sovereignty not only in terms of security but also in terms of its economy.
WND: What is your belief about the terrorist threats than U.S. citizens are facing within our own borders? Will there be another 9/11 type attack?
Hunter: I think the aggressive posture of this administration in going after terrorists and particularly in going after their leadership has kept them off balance and has prevented over the last five years, six years, an attack on the United States. I think the president should be credited with maintaining that aggressive posture. And I would continue to aggressively pursue terrorist leadership. The best way to deter an attack is to have solid intelligence. There’s no better way to stop a plan to attack the U.S. or its interests than to have somebody in the room when that attack is planned. That requires a strong intelligence capability and particularly human intelligence, an area which has diminished in importance to the U.S. security apparatus over the last 15 years. I would restore, particularly, our human intelligence capabilities.
WND: Give us your perspective on the nation’s economy.
Hunter: I think that the key to a steadily growing economy and to solid wages is to maintain the American industrial base, particularly our manufacturing base, and perhaps retrieve parts of that manufacturing base that has left our shores. We’ve lost three million high-paying manufacturing jobs in the last five years. Right now this bad trade deal we made with the rest of the world that allows them to export to the United States without taxes while American exporters pay double taxes has accrued to our detriment, and the fact we’ve allowed China to cheat on trade by devaluing its currency massively has also resulted in the exodus of major American industries, and the jobs that attend those industries. I would restore America’s manufacturing pre-eminence. That will accrue to the benefit of working families in the country. It will also have a salutary effect on America’s security interests.
WND: How would you like to direct the national discussion during your campaign?
Hunter: A strong national defense obviously is the major obligation that any country owes its citizens. That would be an emphasis. So maintaining a strong national defense, and enforcing our borders including building the border fence and ensuring that we have enough Border Patrol to maintain it, to know truly who is coming into our country and what they’re bringing with them and lastly, the restoring of high-paying manufacturing jobs to this nation and the restoration of our industrial base are three pillars of my campaign.
I [also] think it’s important to maintain a strong preservation of our 2nd Amendment rights. In the wake of 9/11 it’s more important than ever that Americans possess firearms and know how to use them effectively, so that law-abiding Americans can protect their families, their community and their country. That’s an important issue.
I’d also like to be the outdoor president. I believe we need to get our kids’ heads out of the television and get them into the great outdoors where they can hunt and fish and camp and boat and hike and I’d like to see in America where we have more participants and fewer spectators and I think that’s not necessarily the result of legislation, but I think we need to using that bully pulpit of the White House to encourage Americans, to inspire Americans, especially young people, to be active, to take advantage of this great outdoors we have and to leave the television sets and computer games and become active in the outdoors. I think that would make us a healthier nation and a nation that’s more vigorous and more energetic. We want to see a next generation with enormous energy and enthusiasm.