Showing posts with label 10.5 Questions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10.5 Questions. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent Talks Asphalt, Politics & Green Bananas With GMP1

Former Senator Jim Talent of Missouri is co-chairman of The Alliance for Improving America’s Infrastructure, a broad-based coalition founded in 2007 “to address the urgent need to modernize the nation’s rails, roads, ports and airports.”

On the anniversary of last summer’s Minneapolis bridge collapse, Mr. Talent sat down with GMP1 to talk about America's crumbling infrastructure and Missouri politics.

As always, our interviews are run in their entirety and without editorial commentary.

We thank Mr. Talent for his time.


1. You are the co-chairman of the Alliance for Improving America’s Infrastructure, what is the AIAI trying to accomplish?

Nothing less than preserving America’s future. Our infrastructure is crumbling – ¼ of our bridges are deficient; 1/3 of our roads need repair; our locks and dams are almost literally falling apart. And the air transportation and rail systems are in crisis. Meanwhile, other countries are building modern transportation networks. This effort is an urgent necessity. I’m very proud of the National Association of Manufacturers for taking a leading role. I encourage people to visit to learn more.

2. So, bottom line, you are pushing Congress to appropriate more money for our nation’s infrastructure. How much money do you think we need to spend on bringing existing infrastructure into good repair/our future needs? And why should taxpayers feel ok about footing the bill in today’s environment of outrageous budget deficits and “Bridges to Nowhere”?

Estimates are that 1.4 trillion dollars is necessary for a complete overhaul including building new infrastructure. But we shouldn’t let that number frighten us. The key is for Congress to understand that these are capital assets that we pay for over time and that pay back the investment we make in them. For every dollar invested in transportation, America gets almost six dollars in economic growth.

The Alliance isn’t attempting at this point to lay out a complete funding program. We are still in the process of learning from Americans about what they think. But as a first start Congress should pass the “Build America Bond” Act sponsored by Senators Wyden and Thune. That would provide 50 billion dollars for immediate use; if matched by states, it would be enough to repair the deficient bridges in the country.

About the “Bridge to Nowhere” issue - Americans were right to be angry about wasteful spending. We want transportation dollars to be spent on projects that have been professionally vetted and cost justified.

3. Is there a role for the private sector to play in all of this? Why or why not?

There’s a role for everyone to play. The Alliance, under the leadership of Gov. John Engler and NAM, will partner with congressional leaders, manufacturers and other associations to aggressively seek solutions and resources to upgrade and modernize the transportation infrastructure system. These efforts will include advocating for traditional and innovative financing to increase infrastructure funding, developing a 21st century interstate system focused on moving goods to market, supporting tax incentives and expanded use of technology to increase transportation capacity and reduce congestion, expanding airport capacity, upgrading our inland waterways systems and improving our rail capacity. I encourage people to visit to learn more.

4. Correct us if we’re wrong, but isn’t our” sprawling” transportation infrastructure built around the idea that oil (and energy in general) would always be plentiful and cheap? Isn’t that a big problem in today’s expensive (and getting more expensive everyday) energy marketplace?

We’re not talking about building a new interstate highway system of 1950 vintage. We want a multi-model system, including rail, water transportation, and different highways that will be environmentally friendly and safe for moving goods to people. That’s the future.

5. Switching to presidential politics, the state of Missouri is considered by many politicos as a legitimate battleground. As a former Senator from Missouri, what should we look for over the next 90+ days to figure out what’s really going on in the state?

We should look for a huge struggle that goes to the wire. I don’t think we’ll know anything reliable about Missouri until the last two weeks of October.

6. Would you like to make a prediction of which candidate – Obama or McCain – wins Missouri? And by how much?

See my answer to number 5.

7. Finally, there has been some talk of you eventually running for Governor of Missouri, would you care to announce your candidacy on this blog?

There’s no place I’d rather make an announcement if I had one. But I don’t. I never plan too far ahead. I don’t even buy green bananas.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jeanne Shaheen, Candidate For U.S. Senate, Does 10 & 1/2

[We cross posted this interview at NOW!]

Jeanne Shaheen, the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire (in 1996, ’98 and ‘00), is running against John Sununu for the opportunity to represent the Granite State in the United States Senate.

The 2008 contest between Governor Shaheen and Senator Sununu is a re-match of their 2002 campaign for Senate (Senator Sununu won that contest 51% to 47%).

Mrs. Shaheen most recently served as Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Mrs. Shaheen lives in Madbury, New Hampshire with her husband, Bill.

We thank Governor Shaheen for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions. As always, our interview is run in its entirety, with no editing or snarky commentary.

1. Governor Shaheen, this is your second run for the United States Senate and your sixth campaign overall – how has politics/campaigns changed since you first ran for elected office in 1990?

One of the biggest changes is how the Internet has allowed me to connect with so many New Hampshire families in a new way. With the Internet, voters can interact with the campaign much more directly, voters can read about issues at greater length with greater ease, and we can invite more people to an event in a shorter amount of time than if we call. Direct contact with voters is still our primary focus, but the Internet is just one more tool we can use to reach them and discuss the biggest challenges facing New Hampshire’s families.

2. You surprised some people in September of 2007 when announced that you were running again for the U.S. Senate. At the time, you held a great job at Harvard and had already served three successful terms as Governor. What motivated you to run for the Senate this time around?

I decided to run for Senate again because I saw the direction our country is heading in and I wanted to stand up and help us get things back on track. Our country is mired in a seemingly endless war, families in New Hampshire are paying skyrocketing health care costs and too many families can’t afford to send their children to college. I’m running for Senate because New Hampshire’s hard-working families need someone in Washington who will stand up for them, not the special interests.

3. What is a “typical” day like on the campaign trail?

I’ve been traveling to all corners of our beautiful state talking with New Hampshire’s families about the changes we need in Washington and what we can do to strengthen our middle class. Very few days are typical, but the thing I enjoy most is talking with people all over our state and hearing what’s on their minds.

4. You have spent a lot of time traveling around New Hampshire talking to voters, what do you think NH voters top four concerns are?

The four concerns I hear the most about are our health care system, investing in and developing clean energy, ending the war in Iraq, and restoring fiscal accountability in Washington.

5. If you are elected to the Senate, what is the very first thing you would do on your first day?

I will meet with the rest of the New Hampshire delegation to discuss how we can help New Hampshire’s families and small businesses.

6. Both you and Senator Sununu supported regime change in Iraq in 2002. We believe that almost everyone wants American troops out of Iraq as quickly and as responsibly as possible. How would Senator Shaheen handle the Iraq War issue differently than Senator Sununu?

First and foremost, I would hold the Bush administration accountable for their actions and spending. For the past five years, Congress has given Bush a rubberstamp on this war—giving no-bid contracts to Halliburton and refusing to conduct significant oversight. We are spending $343 million a day in Iraq with very little accountability in terms of where that money is going and how it is being spent. Too much is at stake for Congress to sit by and allow Bush’s failed agenda to move forward. We need new leadership in Washington that will end this war and ensure that we are spending our resources as best we can to strengthen our economy and support middle class families.

7. Name one decision that Senator Sununu has made that you agree with.

I appreciated Senator Sununu’s work to recognize the veterans, also known as the Pease Greeters, who mobilize at a moment’s notice to welcome or send-off our brave soldiers.

8. Name one decision that Senator Sununu has made that you disagree with.

There are many issues that are important to New Hampshire’s families on which I disagree with Sen. Sununu. I think we should be expanding student aid, not cutting it. We should be expanding middle class tax cuts instead of giving $13 billion in tax cuts to America’s wealthiest oil companies. Rather than blindly following George Bush’s agenda, we need someone in Washington who will stand up and put New Hampshire’s middle-class families, not the wealthy special interests, first.

9. What is one political truth today that if someone had told you would be true 12 months ago you wouldn’t believe him or her?

That the Bush Administration and its allies in Congress would still be pushing for an open-ended commitment in Iraq.

10. As a high profile figure in the Democratic Party, would you like to comment on the Clinton/Obama contest and guarantee that this interview gets front-paged on The Page?

We’re very lucky to have two excellent candidates running for president, either of whom will do a great job in the White House. I’m very excited to watch whomever we nominate win on Election Day.

10.5 Finally, in the interest of bi-partisanship, please say something nice about a Republican elected official in New Hampshire.

I had a good working relationship with Judd Gregg when I was governor and I look forward to working with him in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mike Duncan, RNC Chairman, Does 10 & 1/2

Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, a 30-year political strategist and veteran of Republican politics, was elected the 60th Chairman of the Republican National Committee in January of 2007.

We would like to thank Chairman Duncan for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions.

As always, our interview is run in its entirety, with no editing or additional commentary.

1. As Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) what are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Anything and everything that’s necessary to elect Republicans across the country. On any given day, you could find me meeting with staff to discuss our strategy, our message, and our fundraising; speaking to a blogger like yourself or appearing on cable news; or any number of other things designed to put Republicans in a position to win.

2. What do you think the most important quality of a good RNC Chairman is?

I’d say there are three, actually.

First, you have to be committed to the party and have a deep understanding of where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Abraham Lincoln, who was born in my state, was the first Republican president, and the principles he advocated 150 years ago remain the foundation for what Republicans believe today. As RNC Chairman, you’ve got to be committed to promoting those principles every day.

Second, you have to be good at bringing people together. Though the Republican Party is a big tent, there are certain basic values Republicans share, and to succeed as RNC Chairman, you need to be able to keep everyone focused on advancing ideas connected to those values.

Third, you need to be a multitasker — especially with the country getting ready to elect the next president.

3. Give us a snapshot of where you think the Republican Party is in April of 2008.

I think we’re in good shape. We have a presumptive nominee, John McCain, around whom the party is united. Barack Obama and Senator Clinton continue to fight it out for the Democratic nomination, and the longer that fight goes on, the more both candidates get dragged to the left. John McCain is talking about issues that matter to the people, and offering common sense solutions that have wide appeal across America. That’s one reason why he’s earning the support of many Democrats and Independents — he has the kind of crossover appeal that Barack Obama and Senator Clinton lack, and polling backs that up. Added to all of that, the RNC’s fundraising remains strong. We have about $31 million in cash on hand, the DNC by contrast has only about $4.5 million, and our state parties are showing comparative strength in fundraising as well. All in all, Republicans should feel good.

4. Why do you think 2006 was such a tough year for Republicans? And why do you have hope that 2008 will be better?

I’ve said before that in the run-up to the 2006 election, we focused more on the fact that we were in the majority instead of reminding people why we were, and what our basic principles were. Our brand was damaged, and we didn’t do a good enough job of explaining to the American people why they should vote for us.

This year, that won’t be the case, however. First of all, our candidate, John McCain, is talking about the issues that matter most to Americans — keeping government growth in check, the economy, health care, national security — and he’s outlining solutions based on clearly center-right principles that reflect Americans’ priorities. And as I said, the Democrats have been dragged so far to the left that we’re seeing a starker contrast than ever before in my lifetime between what the Democratic candidates are proposing, and what the Republican, John McCain, is proposing. The Democrats’ primary process has been so extended that they’ve been forced more and more towards the liberal fringe, and independents and conservative and moderate Democrats are seeing a lot to like in John McCain, especially when contrasted with Senator Clinton and Barack Obama.

5. What is one “truth” that you wish Republicans better understood?

Basic Republican principles really do have timeless appeal. What Lincoln talked about 150 years ago still reflects what voters care about today. Big dreams and smaller government, strength and unity, liberty and victory.

6. How will the Republican Party attract younger voters moving forward?

First of all, we’ve been making a major push on reaching younger voters, especially online. We have an RNC Facebook group, and it has over 8,000 members. Our eCampaign Director, Cyrus Krohn, who came to us from Yahoo and who launched Slate at Microsoft, is always working on strategies to reach out more and more to our youth. We’re also conscious that a lot of younger voters get their news and information about the presidential race online — probably a lot of your readers are under 30. So, we work very hard at blog outreach, as I’m sure you know, firsthand.

But also, we’re blessed with having a nominee, John McCain, who is focused on issues that young voters care about, like entitlement reform, and keeping spending in check and taxes low. McCain’s understanding of environmental issues and foreign policy also appeals to them.

7. Why is John McCain the candidate most qualified to be President?

Quite simply, John McCain has devoted his life to serving America, and his career first in the Navy and since in Congress has given him the breadth of knowledge and experience necessary to handle the toughest challenges facing this country. He’s the only candidate offering real solutions and forward-thinking policies where the economy, national security, and a whole host of other major, national issues are concerned. He also has a demonstrated and well-known track record of leadership, which is another essential characteristic voters are looking for.

8. Why are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama not qualified to be President?

Barack Obama has served just three years in the U.S. Senate, and by his own admission, much of that time he has spent running for president, instead of doing the work of a senator. He has not managed in that period to convene one policy hearing as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs — that’s the subcommittee which incidentally oversees NATO, which is engaged in Afghanistan. He has a generally thin record, including on issues like the economy. And he is the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, and doesn’t have much of a record as a bridge builder, contrary to what he often suggests.

Senator Clinton, for her part, has succeeded in convincing the American people that she is thoroughly untrustworthy and will say literally anything to get elected. Over the course of this campaign, we’ve seen many examples of her changing her tone and policy proposals on everything from funding for our troops to driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and that’s not the kind of president Americans are looking for.

The bottom line with both of them, though, is that they represent a tired, tax-and-spend, government-as-the-solution, liberal special-interest-driven agenda that frankly would be more fitting to the 1970s than 21st century America.

9. What is one issue that the Republicans and Democrats must work together to solve in the next year?

Cutting wasteful spending in Washington, D.C., would be one. Despite the fact that we’re not hearing much out of Senator Clinton or Barack Obama on this front, Americans of all political stripes can and do agree that the government has a responsibility to use taxpayer dollars wisely and on genuine national priorities instead of pet projects and schemes benefiting special interests. I’d add that John McCain has an excellent record where that is concerned — he has never requested an earmark and has been crystal clear that he will veto bills containing pork-barrel projects. The same cannot be said of Senator Clinton or Barack Obama — they’ve both requested millions worth of them, and that’s something that doesn’t sit well even with some Democrats who resent the waste that earmarks can entail, and also the lack of transparency surrounding them.

10. When you are not working you are doing what?

Most likely I’m reading, and probably about history — in addition to being RNC Chairman, I’m also the President of the Executive Board of the Kentucky Historical Society.

10 & 1/2. In the interest of bipartisanship, say something nice about someone from the DNC.

I’ll give my counterpart, Chairman Dean, some credit for attempting to make even the most deeply red states competitive for Democrats. I will also say that I don’t envy his task, though. I simply don’t think states like Idaho or Oklahoma are going to be competitive for Democrats any time in the near future. By contrast, we’re seeing polling that shows John McCain is competitive across the country, including in some traditionally blue states, and that’s something we’re going to keep working hard to progress, all the way to November.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lanny Wiles, Legendary Advance Man, Does 10 & 1/2 Questions

There is advance. And then there is Lanny Wiles.

Just ask any political operative or Gang of 500 member worth his or her salt.

Mr. Wiles was gracious enough to sit down with us earlier in the week in New Hampshire to answer our questions. He currently works as a "volunteer" for the McCain campaign.

As always, our interview is run in its entirety and without any extra commentary.


Q: You assist the McCain campaign with advance, what does that mean and what are your day-to-day responsibilities for the campaign?

A: Well, I’m a volunteer for the campaign. You could say that I’m a volunteer with institutional memory. I like to think of myself as a Mr. Fix It. I look at events, read between the lines of the events and then go out and help with the event.

Q: What makes a good advance man (or woman)?

A: There are different segments of doing advance. There are some people who are fantastic crowd raisers, which has always been a responsibility of advance, especially as you get closer to the general election. And there are those who are just really super at logistics.

I like to think that I am really good at logistics and that I also understand the photo, the shot of the day, which supports the campaign’s message. If people can’t see it then people don’t know that it has happened.

The news cycles have changed, but I used to judge my work by the network’s three nightly newscasts. If you got ABC, CBS and NBC to run your event at the top of the newscast and if you got the front page, above-the-fold photo in the newspaper the next day, those can’t be bought. You’re probably making the campaign one to two million dollars a day in earned media. And that’s the job.

When you’re trying to get a photo that supports your day you pick out your best event of the day and you help orchestrate that photo.

I used to take the producers of the networks out, this is when I worked at the White House, and I would say to them, “Ok guys, what works best for you all?” If you know the shot that they want then it’s easy logistically to give them that shot. Which almost guarantees that you will get the coverage that you want.

Q: How did you get into the campaign business?

A: I was a volunteer motorcade driver for Ed Meese. They liked me and we just moved on from there.

Q: How has technology (Blackberries, cell-phones, email etc.) changed the business?

A: I think the best example I could give you is that back in 1970s we would write schedules out long hand, then type the schedule up and then I would go down to the Secret Service office and I would qwip the schedule back to Washington. The old machines took 3 to 4 minutes a page, and when you had a 20-page schedule you spent a hell of a lot of time with schedules.

There was no Fed-Ex back then. Or cell phones. Or email.

Q: What’s a funny campaign story that you can share?

A: During the Reagan transition in California President-elect Reagan wanted to buy some exercise equipment. So he disappeared with a few Secret Service without telling anyone. Meanwhile, I’m sitting at this stoplight by the house when all of a sudden a blue LTD pulls up next to me, the window comes down and Reagan is sitting there waving and smiling at me (noted: Lanny’s impersonation of the President-elect waving is what makes the story).

Q: What is the most nerve-wracking work moment you have ever had?

A: I was in Austin Texas the day Reagan was shot. I was down there with Vice-President Bush who was addressing the Texas Legislature. After Reagan was shot my instructions came from the White House - take everyone off the plane, put the Vice President on and you can leave everyone else on the ground. That was nerve wracking. You’re looking at the worst. We flew back to Washington, taxied into a hanger at Andrews and I went straight to the hospital.

Q: We hear you are a BBQ connoisseur, is that true and where is the best BBQ you have ever tasted?

A: I like to think that I am a BBQ connoisseur. And I would have to say that Ralph’s BBQ at mile marker 173 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina probably has the best BBQ. I get their pulled pork sandwiches and put coleslaw on top.

Q: What do you do when you are not on the campaign trail?

A: I’m a lobbyist and I represent really tough clients like the PGA Tour.

Q: If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be?

A: I’d like to have dinner with Ronald Reagan again. I think it would be nice to have dinner with Gandhi. And Dwight Eisenhower.

Q: What’s the best bar in the world to get a drink in?

A: It all depends on your wallet. Harry’s Bar at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City is world famous. Of course, there is nothing better than a cold Bud from the B&D Quick Stop in North Carolina

Q: In the spirit of bi-partisanship, say something nice about another staffer.

A: Ron Walker, who was with Nixon, is a terrific guy. His great story was when President Nixon was coming back from China and Ron looked through the camera at the airport and saw this bulldozer in the shot so he sent someone racing across the airport, cranked up the bulldozer and the last time anyone saw that bulldozer it was going into the Pacific Ocean.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mark Halperin, Mr. Conventional Wisdom, Does 10 And 1/2

GreenMountainPolitics1 interviewed Mark Halperin by email last week on the eve of his new book tour.

We would like to thank Mark for his time and for being one of the first 500 Pound Political Gorillas to take this blog seriously (way back in January '07).

We wish our friend well with his new book (we'll most certainly be buying a copy).

And, as always, our 10 & 1/2 Interview is run in its entirety and without commentary.


Earlier this year you left ABC News and joined Time Magazine as an editor-at-large and senior political analyst. What are your day-to-day responsibilities for the magazine?

MH: I’m writing for the magazine (I have a piece in the current issue with an overview of the candidates.).

I’m writing for (This week we are launching The Page, which will become many a Monday Morning Clacker fans’ homepage, I hope. You can find it at – and it is the ultimate site to know 24/7 “what’s going on?” in the presidential race).

And I work with TIME on other political projects. I also continue to appear on TV and radio, including in my continuing role as a political analyst for ABC News.
GMP1: In 2006 you co-authored The Way To Win: Taking the White House in 2008. What is the most important lesson (trade secret) that a rising political operative (or candidate) should take from your book?
MH: There are a lot of lessons in there – “trade secrets” as you rightly point out we call them – but I think the most important is “never lose control of your public image.” It seems obvious and simple, but we lay out HOW Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did it in winning four straight elections, and how their opponents failed.
GMP1: You have just completed a new book The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Where They Come From, and How You Can Choose, which goes on sale on October 16. Tell us a little about the book, why you wrote it and what you hope readers will take from it.
MH: The Way to Win is about who makes the best CANDIDATE. This book is about what I think is a more important question: who would make the best PRESIDENT. I used to think there was a pretty heavy overlap between what makes the best candidate and what makes the best president, but I’m not so sure any more.

As I travel around the country, I am meeting an extraordinary number of undecided voters. The new book has chapters on all the candidates, exploring their biographies, their records, their positions, and their quirks. My hope is that under one literary roof, people who want to make a smart choice will buy the book and be able to compare the candidates side by side.

There isn’t a lot of time left to pick, and a lot of the information that will come at voters in the next three months will be about campaign tactics and strategy, and not about, again, who would be the best president.
GMP1: Ok, so who did you find would make the best President? And, if we assume that no other candidate is going to jump into the 2008 race, is it a ominous sign for the eventual winner that so many people are undecided on his (or her) candidacy at this point?
MH: (That seems like two questions to me, putting the whole premise in doubt, but ok.) I found that if each voter looks at the candidates from different perspectives (as the book does), it is possible to make the best decision.

It isn’t my place to actually decide for others – although I am sure that some readers will suggest I have tipped my hand. It is not an ominous sign that there are still so many undecideds – as long as voters buy the book and start to pay attention right now – or, at least, before the start of the World Series.
GMP1: Give us a snapshot of where you think the 2008 presidential race is in October of ’07.
MH: On the Republican side, I think there are four candidates with a greater than 20% chance of being the nominee, which is totally unprecedented and, thus, defies analysis.

On the Democratic side, the puzzle of how to take down the formidable frontrunner keeps returning to four letters: I-o-w-a.

How’s that for snapshotty?
GMP1: What political reality is true today that if someone had told you a year ago would be true you would not believe him or her?
MH: That Rudy Giuliani would be 95% in control of his public image.
GMP1: User generated content (Blogs, podcasting, digital video, wikis etc) is fundamentally altering the way that political campaigns operate, true or false? And why?
MH: “Semi-fundamentally,” because the old rules still apply to more than 85% of campaign business. But the change is inexorable.
GMP1: Outside of GreenMountainPolitics1 (which we know you check several times an hour) what 4 non-MSM political Blogs do you read? And why?
MH: I love all my children equally.
GMP1: Snarky, inside baseball question: Klein, Allen or Todd first in the morning?
MH: In the spirit of The Page: in whatever order they publish.
GMP1: If you weren’t writing about politics what would you be doing?
MH: Living in Tokyo.
GMP1: Finally, would you like to say something completely inflammatory to guarantee that this interview takes a ride on the Freak Show conveyor belt and ends up on Drudge?
MH: Would telling a story about Steve Merrill and the breadbasket at Richard’s Bistro get me onto Drudge?

How about the URL of the YouTube video of Scott Spradling and me at a marathon karaoke session in Boston not too long ago?

If not, I guess the answer is, “no.”

Friday, June 08, 2007

John Weaver, McCain's Senior Political Advisor, Does 10 And 1/2

GreenMountainPolitics1 interviewed John Weaver in New Hampshire before the GOP debate on Tuesday.

We would like to thank him for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us.

As always, our 10 and 1/2 question segment is run unedited, in its entirety and with (almost) no extra commentary.

And, as always, we tried to ask questions that every other Clacker in the world isn't already asking. Which explains the picture of the bait store. And the laughter.


GMP1. You are Senator McCain's senior political advisor. What are your day to day responsibilities for the campaign?

JW: I'm responsible for general oversight of the strategic interests of the campaign. This involves resource allocation, which is a fancy political union term for scheduling, where we spend our money and how we spend our time.
GMP1: Give a snapshot of where you think the McCain campaign is today.
JW: We are ahead of schedule in some of the early primary states. We are taking this just as you would match play in golf, one hole at a time. With a real focus on the January '08 states. Every other campaign would trade places with us and we wouldn't trade places with them.
GMP1: What is the secret of John McCain's popularity?
JW: That he is a - sometimes lonely - truth teller in politics.
GMP1: You have been with Senator McCain a long time, what is a favorite campaign memory from New Hampshire?
JW: Besides primary night, our two town halls in Peterborough. The first one we had to bribe people with free ice cream to get them to come meet the Senator and only 12 people showed up. And the last one, just prior to our Primary victory in 2000, a couple of thousand people showed up.
GMP1: What political "reality" is true today that if someone had told you a year ago would be true you would not believe them?
JW: That I would be here talking to you. (laughter)
GMP1 follow-up question: Political blogs are really taking off?
JW follow-up answer: To the point that I'm standing here talking to you. (more laughter)
GMP1: In your opinion, the two greatest challenges facing America are?
JW: Winning the war against radical Islamic fundamentalism is the most critical issue we face as a country.

Our second great challenge is improving our nation's schools so that we remain economically competitive with the rest of the world.
GMP1: You have been described as the "sledgehammer in McCain's bag". Is that an accurate representation of who you are and, if so, what does that mean?
JW: I don't know why I have that reputation. (laughter)
GMP1: Many campaign staffers who read this blog aspire to end up where you are. What words of wisdom do you have for them?
JW: Run away as fast as your little legs can carry you.

Seriously, I've been very fortunate to work and get paid in a business that I would volunteer to be in.

Its easy to be cynical. And, when you look at how some campaigns are being run, that's almost enough to make you cynical.

But I think the people who work in politics are by and large honorable. And I would say that 90% of the people I have been associated with in my career are people who I like and who are decent people.
GMP1: What is the first thing you read in the morning and the last thing you look at before you go to bed at night. (We misstated the question. We meant to say "read" twice)
JW: I read several blogs first thing in the morning. I read Real Clear Politics first thing. I occasionally read your blog first, but I do look at it everyday. And, obviously I read mainstream media.

If I'm not traveling, hopefully the last thing I look at before I go to bed is my girlfriend.
GMP1: If you weren't working in politics you would be doing what?
JW: Probably selling bait at some store. (laughter)
GMP1: Finally, would you like to say something completely inflammatory to guarantee that this interview ends up on Drudge within an hour?
JW: No.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Governor Huckabee Does 10 & 1/2

Even we can be serious.


GreenMountainPolitics1's 10 & 1/2 questions with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is the first of many interviews we will conduct with New Hampshire Primary candidates, campaign staff and Granite State opinion leaders.

Answers to our questions are unedited and run in their entirety.

We encourage our readers to email us questions that they would like us to ask candidates.

We would like to thank Governor Huckabee for volunteering to be our for first victim and for taking the time to answer our questions.

1. Governor Huckabee, you are the official Dark Horse GOP Candidate of ’08 (at least according to GreenMountainPolitics1) with stronger grassroots support in New Hampshire than what your poll numbers currently suggest. What do your supporters know about your candidacy that you hope the rest of us will find out?

My supporters have focused on my overall record of accomplishment while Governor of Arkansas. They are proud of my leadership on critical issues facing our country such as improving student achievement, facing down our health crisis and managing government for the long haul.

I love “retail” politics. I love small towns and meeting new people and visiting with voters in their homes. That’s how I campaigned in Arkansas in my two races for the Governor’s Mansion. Many candidates just want to sit in a TV studio and reach people by media. That’s part of the game, but I sure prefer being live in the living room, not live on the TV in your living room!
2. Given the celebrity status of certain candidates these days, how important is New Hampshire’s retail politics approach of “getting to know candidates” and do you support New Hampshire in the battle to keep their primary first in the nation?
Primary Season without the first one being in New Hampshire is like the Fourth of July without the Stars and Stripes. I support New Hampshire’s effort to lead the primaries.
3. You describe yourself as a “paradoxical Republican” what does that mean?
I used this expression because I have often taken stands that many people do not frequently associate with Republicans. For example, I believe passionately that music and the arts play a critical role in our school curriculum. Music and the arts help kids develop critical thinking skills that lead to progress in other core subjects such as math. Also, I consider myself an ardent Conservationist. I believe that we need to leave the natural areas and heritage sites in our wonderful country to our kids and grandkids in better condition than the way we found them. This conservation conviction comes both from my boyhood experience as a Boy Scout and my faith which reminds me that “the earth is the Lord’s” and that we are not its owners; merely its caretakers.
4. What role does faith play in your personal and professional life?
I tell people that my faith is my life. It defines me. I see no separation between my faith from my personal and professional lives. Real faith should make us humble, mindful not so much of the faults of others but of our faults. It should not make us more judgmental, but rather less judgmental, as we see others living a life with the same frailty we acknowledge within ourselves. Hopefully, faith gives us strength in the face of injustice to our fellow man. I believe that our Nation was birthed in a spirit of faith – not a prescriptive one dictating how we were to believe or even that we were to believe, but one acknowledging there is indeed a providence that pervades our world.
5. You received a lot of quiet praise for the way you handled the Katrina disaster and the refugees. What did you know that other affected Governors/governments did not? What did you learn?
In the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, government at all levels failed the American people. It obvious who watched the disaster of New Orleans unfold that on day one we could get a television camera to the victims but we seemed incapable of a getting lifeboat or even a bottle of water to them. I was ashamed of what appeared to be an uncontrollable natural disaster met with an incomparable incompetence to respond to it.

I immediately called an emergency cabinet meeting of the heads of all the major state agencies. We set up a 24 hour command center in the Governor’s Conference Room outside my office in the State capitol. I knew from my years of church and faith-based work, that there were hundreds of beds in church, civic and boy/girl scout camps all over the state. These would afford comfort and privacy and a sense of place – far better than a sterile hotel room. I was governed by the Golden Rule…”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and I challenged our volunteer teams and the camp leaders: “If this were your grandmother, how would you want her treated?” I learned that even if government failed, the American people did not. While government fretted over paperwork, ordinary citizens became extraordinary heroes simply by giving help and hope to the homeless.
6. You have a celebrated story of beating gluttony. What regimen would you recommend to the other candidates so that they can avoid packing on the “Campaign 15” (pounds)?
My first advice would be for them to read my book, “Quit Digging your Grave with a Knife and Fork.” Seriously, chronic disease is costing our Nation a fortune in lost work time and health expenses. All of us need to lead by example. My advice would be to maintain your exercise routine; avoid fried food and sugar; and try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. In other words, you better pack a lunch because no fundraising lunch, dinner speech or airport fast food spot is going to make the high bar for healthy eating!
7. What do you think Republicans should make of Mitt Romney’s shifting stands on social and tax issues? Should voters be able to trust a candidate whose positions shift? How important is consistency?
I will let the voters review the records and make their choice.
8. You are from Arkansas, what is your most vivid memory of Hillary Clinton’s life there?
Senator Clinton is a very strong candidate and Republicans underestimate her at their own peril.
9. You are conducting this interview by email with a “Blogger” (although we prefer Citizen Pundit). What role will New Media play in your campaign? What are the potential benefits that you see? What are the potential pitfalls?
Blogging is a key force in national communication. One can see it in product reviews, sports, stock picks and of course, national politics. To me it is exciting as it is a national conversation. Bloggers have to argue their case and let the world respond. In many ways, while the method of transmission is new – the Internet – blogging itself is an old art form in anew package. The 18th century pamphlet writers during and after our American Revolution were fundamental to the political discourse of the day. The benefits include the political discourse across many time zones and providing a way to communicate a message quickly. The pitfalls are the same as in the days of the pamphleteers: responding to some scurrilous, false rumor trumped up by an opponent. But, this sort of school yard behavior has been with us in form or another for many years and will continue in the future.
10. The “Gang of 500” has trouble understanding how you will be able to compete in the Money Primary. How will you compete and how much money do you expect to raise this quarter?
Well, let’s see, if the Gang of 500 each wrote me a check for $2300, that would be good start! I have my team coming together and we are making calls. Thus far, I am pleased with response, but we have a lot of work to do. I believe that if the American people like my message of hope and my ideas that the money will flow over the course of the year.
10.5. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, say something nice about one of your opponents.
That is easy: Senator John McCain is a true American hero.