Mike Gallagher, Republican Candidate for the Eighth Congressional District in Wisconsin, recently asked to visit with the Chilton Times Journal for an interview.
In response to Gallagher’s request to visit, The Times Journal has put out a request to his challenger Democrat Tom Nelson to stop in for an interview. As of Tuesday the paper has not heard back from Nelson.
Both are running for the seat vacated by Republican Reid Ribble who is not running for another term.
Below is the transcript from the interview last Tuesday with Gallagher.
Chilton Times Journal: You opponent has been critical of the time you’ve spent outside of Northeast Wisconsin. How do you respond to that?
Mike Gallagher: I joined the Marine Corps the day I graduated from college. I served seven years on active duty, including two combat deployments to Iraq, which took me all over the world. Everyday I wore the uniform of the United States Marine Corps and got to defend this country (which) was an honor. I was proud to do it whether it took me to western Iraq or working in the intelligence community in northern Virginia. Unfortunately there was no Marine Corps base in Wisconsin. I didn’t get a vote when the Marine Corps was deciding where to send me, I just simply asked “How can I best serve my country?” And I was proud to do it.
CTJ: Thank you. You have been attacked by the opposition on your trade polices. But have been quoted as being “pro trade.” You have also stated you are against the Trans Pacific Partnership. So how do we create and keep jobs in Northeast Wisconsin while boosting international trade?
MG: I believe in smart trade. I believe it not only needs to be free, it needs to be fair and the standard should be a level playing field. I believe that when Wisconsin workers can compete on a level playing field that they can out compete, they can out work, they can out hustle, they can win against anybody in the world. And that’s what our trade deals, that’s the standard they need to be held to, that level playing field.
My opponent believes the opposite. He wants to force Wisconsin workers to compete with an arm tied behind their back. Saddling them with ridiculous regulations that make them uncompetitive and also supports our weak foreign policy that allows countries like China to walk all over us, not only militarily, not only diplomatically, but also economically. We have to get tougher across the board. We can’t let China cheat. We need to crack down, and above all we need to stop waging war on Wisconsin workers. We need to help make them competitive, so they have access to the 96 percent of the world’s customers that are outside the United States. We can beat anyone in the world.
CTJ: Alright, thank you. We haven’t heard any stance from your camp on this, but we did hear you denounce the comments that Donald Trump made. That being said, with no formal endorsement, just a denouncement, can you formally endorse the Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump?
MG: As I said from the start, I’m going to vote for the Republican nominee because I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. I denounced Donald Trump’s words and only he can defend them. But I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I was on duty at the National Counter Terrorism Center the night of Sept. 11, 2012, the night that four Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya. I had the night shift. From 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. my team and I tracked in real time as our brothers 5,000 miles away were fighting for their lives, asking for help and help never came. Then the Secretary of State lied to the American people about it. She looked the families of the fallen in the face and she lied about it. I’m sorry but this disqualifies her from being Commander and Chief.
Why don’t you ask my opponent why he’s been silent about all of Hillary Clinton’s transgressions? I’ve called out both candidates why I disagree with their positions. He has said nothing about her ongoing email scandal, which we just learned is a cover up.
As a counter intelligence officer, seven years in the Marine Corps: had I sent a single classified email on a private server, let alone maintained a private server then wiped that server and had a state department deputy try and cover the tracks, I would not be sitting here today. I would be in jail.
What about the Clinton campaign’s war, or systematic effort to discredit the Catholic faith? What about this Iran deal where we just paid $2 billion in ransom to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism? What about the ongoing failure of Obamacare?
I’m not running to serve the president in Congress. I’m not running to serve party leadership in Congress, unlike my opponent. I am running to serve the people of the Eighth District in Congress to honor the oath I took to support and defend the constitution of the United States 10 years ago when I joined the Marine Corps, the same oath I will take if I’m the next Congressman. I won’t hesitate to do what I think is right in defense of that oath no mater who’s in the White House.
CTJ: Okay. Regarding Social Security you have been quoted during a forum with the Wisconsin Conservative Coalition saying “I think (he) has the right answer” in regards to Republican Social Security Expert Andrew Biggs. What specifically do you like about the Biggs Plan? What don’t you like?
MG: Well I immediately then said “Here’s the problem with that proposal.” I never said you could apply it to current beneficiaries or people that are near getting their benefits. I talked about it being applied to 34-year-olds and below because career politicians continue to punt on this problem. We’re not going to have Social Security benefits. But the problem with that approach is that it would explode the deficit. The transition doesn’t work. That was part of me listing 10 different proposals for fixing Social Security. The problem with doing any single one of them in isolation is that it doesn’t fix the problem.
My opponent claims he has a plan. He has a cocktail napkin talking point that he stole from Bernie Sanders. It’s even more extreme than Bernie Sanders’ proposal. Bernie was only going to tax people who make above $250,000. He wants to eliminate the cap entirely, but even that doesn’t fix the problem. We can’t have individual talking points that don’t actually fix the problem. We need a 100 percent fix for a 100 percent problem and the first step in doing that is to stop letting these career politicians politicize the issue, because an issue as important as Social Security shouldn’t be politicized. Both my grandmas depend on Social Security to survive. My great uncle Don depends on Social Security to survive. This is the single most important promise we’ve made to our nation’s seniors, the single most effective anti-poverty program in our nation’s history. We have to preserve and protect it. And I’m the only candidate in this race that’s taken the AARP pledge to preserve and protect Social Security.
CTJ: On that same point you said in an ad that your opponent backed higher taxes on Social Security, at a rate of roughly $99.7 million per year. That figure appears to come from a tax cut in the 2006-07 state budget. While your opponent voted against the budget that included the amendment, he specifically voted for the amendment that saved seniors over $95 million. Can you cite another instance in which (Tom) Nelson voted for increased taxes on Social Security?
MG: Well this is the John Kerry defense. He voted for it before he voted against it. I’m sorry but I’m tired of career politicians telling us that they are for something but when push comes to shove, actually voting against it. I mean by that logic, no one could be held accountable for any of the votes that they take on budgets. But this is what career politicians do. They say they’re for something then they do something different. This has been consistent throughout Tom Nelson’s career. Right now he’s out there decrying every trade agreement that’s ever been negotiated, but he voted for a resolution in favor free trade when he was in the assembly. He led the effort to use eminent domain to steal private property in Outagamie County and then he vetoed the proposal at the last second. He threw his County Board members under the bus.
Here’s what they said about his leadership, the people he works with most closely. They said “In our opinion he has not demonstrated the leadership necessary of someone in his position. It is clear the county executive has allowed his political ambitions to over step, or out step, to take precedent over his duty, his administrative duty as county executive.” That’s not character, that’s not leadership, that’s a classic career politician.