A discussion with Presidential candidate, Congressman Duncan Hunter

Tonight I was invited to participate in a conference call for supporters in the Maryland and Virginia region, so I accepted the invitation and found out a few interesting things going on with the Hunter Presidential bid. I also got a question in as you’ll read below.

Duncan started out by talking about the “great momentum” his campaign was building, from winning the townhall.com Texas Straw Poll earlier this month to a enthusiastic reception (he was “overwhelmed”) by Michigan Republicans last weekend at their conference on Mackinac Island. A key factor in his reception among Michiganders was his tough stance on trade, vowing to stop allowing China to “cheat” on our existing trade agreements and devaluing its currency. Further, China was using these ill-gotten gains to purchase military hardware that (in my personal opinion) will be used against us in the next couple decades.

While the Congressman is low-ranked on most polls, at this point Duncan saw the race as still one predominantly based on name recognition, where candidates like Fred Thompson have an advantage. Once the campaign got more into issue mode, Hunter thought he’d start moving up the ladder. To that end, beginning next week Duncan would start buying TV time in key states – one thing that surprised me was how inexpensive commercial time is in certain early primary states ($100 for a spot on Fox News, as one example.) Also Hunter pointed out that these commercials would be featured on his website.

This was in response to the first question that was asked. I asked the second one addressed in the twenty-minute call. It was one I’d ask any Republican candidate given the situation here on the Eastern Shore: what policy do you feel is your best for attracting the conservative Democrats to our side to vote for you?

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The Congressman likened the situation to that which attracted the Reagan Democrats in 1980, and it was about the same key issue – jobs. There’s pressure on good jobs in this country coming from two fronts – China cheating on its trade agreements as discussed above and illegal immigrants undercutting wages. Hunter gave an example of a drywall contractor who he met in Iowa that employs all American workers getting underbid constantly by unscrupulous contractors employing illegals. Further, Duncan claimed that the established Hispanic community in our country is dead-set against amnesty. I think he qualifies as an expert since he represents San Diego in Congress.

So I thought he gave me a good answer to my question. Then he went further into talking about his efforts to secure the border – Rep. Hunter wrote the law authorizing the double border fence to continue along the entirety of our Mexican border. This is a fence style that has cut smuggling 90% in the San Diego area where it exists now.

Finally, Congressman Hunter urged us to tune into tomorrow night’s Baltimore debate. Locally, it’s on cable channel 22 – for the rest of you it’s the proverbial “check your local listings.”

I’m a bit concerned about that debate. First of all, most of the so-called “top tier” aspirants are skipping out. Participating are Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Hunter, Alan Keyes, and Ron Paul. Secondly, the focus will be on “minority” issues and the audience likely will be less-than-friendly to the GOP. According to the Sun:

Debate planners have been working behind the scenes to produce a program that won’t be overly hostile to the Republicans, including an effort to seat an audience that is as neutral as possible, according to a person with knowledge of the preparations.

Still, the candidates who show up will expect tough questioning on issues such as immigration, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and their party’s dismal standing with black and Hispanic voters.

Personally, I’d love to see Hunter or someone else turn the tables and ask why minority voters continue to vote for a party that has promised them so much yet delivered so little over the last 50 years. I don’t believe in “minority” issues, I believe in American issues.

We’ll see what Duncan and the others say tomorrow night. It’ll be a rare PBS viewing for me, that’s for sure.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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