Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of question-and-answer sessions with candidates for the office of president. Today, Chicago businessman John Cox explains he believes the U.S. should be in the business of training more intelligence agents, not building more federal agencies, to battle the threat of terrorism.
Chicago businessman John Cox
WND: How would you like to direct the campaign?
Cox: I have a lot of things to say, and I have a record of business success as a chief executive. I’ve been very involved in my community. I’ve been very involved in the Republican Party, and I didn’t seek to be included in these debates by the major networks without doing some work myself. I started 18 months ago, traveling all throughout every single county in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, speaking to Republican groups, visiting small towns, talking to Rotary and Kiwanis and all these other kinds of organizations, really gaining a measure of what Americans believe and what they want changed in Washington.
I think I touched a chord there and I spent about a million and a half dollars of my own money doing this. But they’ve [media] just chosen to cover who they want to cover. If you want an issue to cover I think that’s the first issue that really the American people need to address is whether they’re willing to continue to just have celebrities and career politicians and political families like the Bushes and the Clintons as their representatives or are they going to reach out and get some people who have some substance from the business sector and from the real world to help out with the problems in Washington.
WND: What will be the impact on the American public if they do not get past existing gatekeepers for the information that they need to have about their candidates?
Cox: You wouldn’t think that would exist today with the Internet, with 24/7 cable news, with the reach of talk radio, but it’s amazing to me that so much emanates from the major media, especially on the East Coast. The New York Times and the Washington Post really have such a great amount of power in terms of gatekeeping. I’ve had so many national radio producers, I mean people who are producing national radio shows, Laura Ingraham and Hugh Hewitt and people like that, they tell me, ‘You know, you’re not listed as a candidate by the New York Times, You’re not listed as a candidate by the Washington Post. You’re not shown as a candidate by CBS or ABC, therefore you just must not exist, and I would be destroying my ratings by having you on my show to talk as a presidential candidate, because you’re not recognized by the media out in the Beltway echochamber and the New York media.’
I’ve got to tell you … the media has to exercise some discretion. They can’t put everybody on the front page who wants to run for president, no matter what level of substance they are. We can’t turn this into a circus. But I’m far from that. I’m a businessman. I’m a person of some relative means. I’m not Bill Gates. I’m not Michael Bloomberg which may explain one reason why I’m not being included. I don’t have billions of dollars to buy the TV ads that those guys did or would. But I have a long record of community involvement. I’m on the board of the USO. I’ve been a school board president. I’ve been president of the Cook County Republican Party. It’s not like I came out of nowhere and I have absolutely no substance. And of course I’ve traveled all over the place. The Republican Party of South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa all have put me on their stages. They all have given me speaking slots. They didn’t do that with everybody by the way.
The [local] Republican Party put me on their annual Lincoln Day dinner on April 14. I was the only candidate who was on that stage but who was not included in the debates. The same with the straw poll in Iowa. I was on the stage at the Iowa straw poll and it wasn’t because I bought my way on. It was because they, the people of the Iowa Republican party, the people who run it recognized that I had made a strong commitment to Iowa, that I had been all over the place, and was viewed by many, many people in Iowa as credible in my communication skills as well as the ideas I bring. They chose to put me on their ballot. Despite the fact that I was on the straw poll ballot, George Stephanopoulos and his producers basically decided that I shouldn’t be in the debate that they held on Aug. 5, despite the fact that two former Republican governors, Robert Ray and Terry Branstad both called ABC on my behalf to try and ask if I should be in the debate.
This is a real problem for our future and for our democracy. Why am I bringing it up now? Because I was supposed to be on a debate on MSNBC. Iowa State University has invited me on Nov. 6. That debate was just cancelled late last week. Just out of nowhere. I was planning to be in that debate. I was preparing for that debate, hoping it would be national exposure to the ideas I’m trying to bring, and we’ll get to those in a second. It’s just disappoint to see MSNBC cancel this thing and I’m going to get introduced to the American people.
WND: If elected president what would be your priorities during your first 100 days in office?
Cox: The first thing is if we’re not out of Iraq, if we still have the same miserable slog that we have right now, I’m going to introduce ideas to the Pentagon that basically talk about doing whatever we need to do to get the Iraqis to stop their political fighting, political infighting, get an oil agreement, get the oil pumping, and in a matter of days, not weeks, not months, not years. Get that oil out of the ground, get it sold on the world markets. It’ll bring down the price of oil of course but more importantly it will provide the wherewithal to allow the Iraqi to start paying for their own security. It’ll provide the wherewithal for the economy, for the investments in their economy that are needed to get people whole, so they stop joining the militias, so that they stop giving support to the insurgencies, so that that country ultimately gets economically stable, which I believe it has to be before it can be stable in a security fashion, and we get our troops home. But we get them home with a stable economy there that will mean that we’ve got a friend and an ally in that region, and I think that will spread to other nations in that region.
The other major domestic priorities that I’m going to put forth, first of all I’m going to introduce legislation, work with Congress to get the legislation introduced, to get the Fair Tax introduced and get rid of this Tax Code which is an absolute disgrace to our people, as well as a drag on our economy, and putting us behind the world on a competitive level. And the other thing I’m going to do is appoint U.S. attorneys, there will be a litmus test for these U.S. attorneys, and that is they are going to be required to finally and truly enforce the law on immigration. They will be putting chief executives of companies that violate the law in jail. At the same time I will appoint a head of Homeland Security and citizenship department that will break the logjam, that will get people into this country who want to become Americas legally, who are waiting and waiting and waiting to come to this country legally. So good-bye to the people who came in illegally. We’re going to say hello and welcome to the people who are waiting to come to this country legally.
WND: Would you support a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one woman and one man?
Cox: Absolutely. No hesitation whatsoever. And you know what? What you don’t hear a lot of these other guys talking about is the process of actually doing that amendment will be a very good debate and a very good discussion in the country, because we’ve got to have that discussion, because courts are taking this decision away basically from the people and the legislatures. So fine, 75 percent of the states have to a constitutional amendment in order for it to become a part of the Constitution as we know it. Let’s have that debate. Of all 50 state legislatures, debating this constitutional amendment, we’re going to have arguments put forth for and against. And we’ll have a national debate. I hope and I pray and I believe that we should protect the institution of marriage. It makes sense, protects children, it’s about money, it’s about protecting children, and supporting the institution of marriage is something this country has always done and should always do.
That doesn’t mean I want to go into people’s bedrooms. That doesn’t mean I want to snoop into people’s private lives. They’re free to do whatever they want to do as long it doesn’t hurt anybody else. I don’t want people to force government to validate their relationships. I don’t people to force government to pay, or businesses to pay for their relationships. If they want to have their relationships, go ahead and do it.
WND: Share with us your position on Roe v. Wade and when life begins.
Cox: I’m the son of a single mother. If abortion had been legal, had been the law of the land in 1955, I wouldn’t be talking to you. My mother was a single mother. My real father left her with me, and she struggled. But she took responsibility. It was tough. There are tough things that go on in this life. But you know what, we’re a society that doesn’t want to take responsibility. We want to pass it off and blame somebody else for everything that happens that’s bad. We cannot continue to do that. We have to take responsibility. I believe life begins at conception. I believe life should be respected. We should take responsibility for what we do in life. That’s part of my religion, but it’s also part of my belief in a just society. A just society takes responsibility for all of its life, not just the unborn but also our elderly, our disabled, the people who need our help.
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?
Cox: I believe in the sovereignty of the United States. I believe that competition, I believe the fact that there’s numbers of countries that compete is a very, very good thing. Competition promotes efficiency, it promotes quality, it promotes advance of civilization. The fact that the U.S. competes with Britain and France and Germany is a good thing, and we’re all sovereign nations. We should retain our sovereignty. The European Union has gotten together and they’ve tried to create a competition that is stilted, where they’ve come under the guise of one government. They call it the European Union. I don’t think that’s a good thing for competition. I don’t think that’s a good thing for the advance of their people. I don’t think that’s a good thing for those people to give up their sovereignty, but they chose to do it, that’s fine. I’m not going to suggest that the U.S. do that. I don’t want to be under the same government as Canada or Mexico.
You know this is not just going on with this so-called partnership. This is also going on with the Law of the Sea Treaty, which is now being debated and you’ve got some people from the Bush years, Bush 1 as well as Bush 2 are advocating that we go with this thing. And it’s a prelude to one-world government and people think that that sounds good and we’re going to be able to navigate the seas very well and all these kinds of things
But you know what, competition among nations, as long as its not on battle fields, is a very, very good thing. If we try to limit that competition, that’s not going to help us advance. I believe in free trade, though, so if we break down barriers to trade with Mexico and Canada, I’m all for that. But I am not for the idea that there be one union, and one government that would basically run all three countries.
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?
Cox: I think it’s a very serious danger now. We’re using our resources, we created this behemoth called the Homeland Security Department and put billions and billions of dollars under it and thought that a bureaucracy was going to protect us. Bureaucracies don’t protect us. CIA agents protect us, NSA agents protect us, FBI agents protect us. The military protects us. Inspecting little old ladies at the airport doesn’t protect us, yet we spend billions of dollars doing that.
What I believe is we absolutely have a threat to this nation and we have to go after the conspirators. That doesn’t mean I believe we ought to listen to the phone conversations of every citizen. But what we ought to do is go after terrorists likely to be doing these conspiracies and let’s face it, there’s a radical Islamic sect that has gotten hold of oil revenues or oil profits. They’re using those vast resources to pay people to infiltrate our country and a lot of other countries around the world. What we’ve got to do is train more CIA agents, more NSA agents in Arabic and Farsi and other languages, make sure we infiltrate as many of these conspirators and conspiracies as we can, break down their financial network, break down their communication networks. Again respecting U.S. citizens.
Focus our limited resources where it’s going to do the most good. And like I said not inspecting the 80-year-old grandmother at the airport or every bus, or every office building, or every cargo container. Go after the conspirators, the people who would put the bombs and would be interested in hurting Americans and disrupting our economy and our future.
WND: Give us your perspective on the nation’s economy.
Cox: We’ve got a great economy and it’s the largest and best in the world. It’s not going to be that way if we don’t pay some attention to growing our economy and taking more opportunities. We’ve got some major impediments we’ve got to address. First of all, we’ve got to address the litigation crisis in this country. We’ve got a litigation lottery. We need a loser-pay system like Britain and Japan and other countries that have vibrant economies but don’t have the level of trail lawyers and jackpot justice we have. We’ve got to reduce the level of regulation. We’ve got to get an attitude in government that business is the customer of government and not the other way around. We’ve got to have regulations that make sense, consolidate a whole list of these agencies that require businesses to report to many different organizations. You’ve got to get rid of the Tax Code, which is a major impediment to economic growth. It would enhance our economic growth, it would enhance our freedom of speech. It would certainly enhance the ease of our living, not having to fill out these forms and comply with the ridiculously complicated and obstructive Tax Code. Those are things that are no-brainers.
We also have to do something about the health care and education systems in this country because those have a direct bearing on the future growth of our economy. Our education system is in the hands of a government- financed teacher union driven monopoly that’s not dedicated to competition, that’s not dedicated to efficiency, it’s not dedicated to quality, it’s dedicated basically to funding the teachers unions and keeping them in power and employing teachers basically as union employees and not the professionals they deserved to be treated [as].
Health care is a huge burden on American business and our economy. It makes us less competitive around the world. Our health care system is a tribune to bureaucracy, because it basically puts the big insurance companies and the government into the role of being the gatekeeper. The consumer, the patient and the doctor ought to be the ones to call the shots. That’s not what happens now. It’s in the hands of big insurance companies dictated to by the big employers, because we have a employer-deduction for health care. That ought to be changed. We ought to be able to get a bigger supply of doctors and nurses to compete with each. That would reduce the cost of health care, thereby making the U.S. economy a lot more competitive.
WND: What other issues do you focus on?
Cox: The campaign debate ought to be about ideas, about issues. It ought not to be about name recognition and celebrity. The surest example of that is Fred Thompson. I mean, why are we talking about Fred Thompson as a challenge to this presidential race? It’s because he’s known. He’s on TV, and the movies. In the world’s most advanced nation which is what the U.S. is, we ought to be able to select our leader based upon the ideas and the experience, and the competence level, not upon how many people know his name or know his face. In a world of 24/7 communication where the Internet just permeates every part of our life, it ought not to be an issue that somebody like myself just doesn’t have the name recognition. It shouldn’t be just a race to get name recognition, it ought to be about listening to the ideas, listening to the ability to communicate those ideas and looking at the background and experience of putting together a team and executing the ideas and getting the results the American people deserve. We’ve had Bushes and Clintons for 20 years. We’re at another possible four to eight years of Clinton. That’s a tribute to the idea that the mainstream media dictates who our candidates are. It’s not based upon ideas, it’s not based upon actually achieving results, frankly in the last 20 years we haven’t had much in the way of results, and I think that’s why the American people are very cynical about their political leadership.