GOP Presidential candidates in Anderson


Senator Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Scott Walker

By Stan Welch

The Anderson Civic Center welcomed twenty one hundred area residents and three well known candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States Monday night.

Suffice it to say, it was no place for moderates. Third District Congressman Jeff Duncan’s fifth annual Faith and Freedom BBQ attracted a distinctly conservative crowd, who came to hear former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and political neophyte and world renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.

Congressman Duncan got the ball rolling with an early press conference, during which he conceded that the three guests he had invited were considered as insurgents by the GOP establishment. “One thing that seems abundantly clear in this primary season so far is that people don’t trust the insiders, the power structure. That is the main reason that these folks, as well as some others outside the mainstream of the party are rising in the polls,” said Duncan.

He also pointed out that many Republicans haven’t “walked the talk”, as he put it. He acknowledged, and agreed with, the disappointment that many conservatives feel over the absence of results that were promised before Republican voters reclaimed a majority in the House in 2012, and in the Senate two years later. It was a theme that would be repeated throughout the evening’s oratory.

Another issue that ran through the entire evening was the immigration question, which Duncan credited Donald Trump, the ultimate insurgent candidate, with bringing to the forefront of the campaign season. “Maybe the party needs to hear Mr. Trump on this matter. It is clearly time that we have a serious national debate on the matter, including the Fourteenth Amendment, which concerns automatic citizenship for children born in the United States.”

Matt Moore, state GOP Chairman, was on hand also, and responded to a question about Trump’s refusal to rule out a third party campaign, if the GOP’s conduct doesn’t meet his approval. He downplayed the importance of the possibility and the leverage it does or doesn’t give Trump, saying that at the end of the day, voters have the final say, one way or the other.

Duncan then added that while it would be difficult to organize and put on another event the size of the BBQ, he would be willing to sponsor smaller, more focused events for as many candidates as possible, including Donald Trump.

Cruz speaks to media

The only candidate to meet singly with the media was Senator Ted Cruz, whose star has been rising steadily since the controversial Republican debate on FOX earlier this summer. He too immediately spoke of the voters’ search for candidates and leaders who will tell the truth, and not the “campaign conservatives” who say anything to get elected and then do everything but what they promised to do once they are elected.

“I have fought amnesty, and I helped defeat amnesty in the Senate. I have fought to defund Planned Parenthood, but the Senate failed to stand their ground.” He praised Donald Trump, chiding a reporter who raised a question about Trump’s earlier positions on abortion, and how they might clash with Cruz’s. “I know you’d like to see me beat Donald Trump with a stick, but it’s not going to happen. He is shining a light on a topic that is a crisis in this country, and I applaud that.”

Following a break to let the crowds and the candidates eat some barbecue and drink some sweet tea, Congressman Duncan took to the main stage to make a few points of his own, before introducing the evening’s first speaker.”As I have been moving around my district, talking with people and hearing their concerns, one thing stands out. The people want some bold leadership, and not just at the federal level, but at every level. There is much to be done to reclaim our country, and boldness is needed.”

“A friend of mine in Congress tells me all the time, and he is right, that we cannot blame the liberals for our troubles. We have majorities in both houses. What we need is bold leadership, and it has to come from us, not to us. My colleagues in the House often ask me, Jeff, what will it take to get a yes vote out of you? Well, it’s really not that tough. I can vote yes on a balanced budget. I can vote yes to securing our borders, and doing away with sanctuary cities; and I can certainly vote yes to defunding Planned Parenthood.”

On that note, and to thunderous applause, he then introduced Governor Scott Walker.

Governor Walker

Walker set the tone for the evening, not specifically in terms of his message, but in terms of which recurring issues drew the consistently loudest applause and cheers. Those issues included defunding Planned Parenthood, which he said Wisconsin did four years ago, “before it was on television”.

The next was the protection of religious freedom, which he also equated with restoring the value of the traditional family. “This is more than a moral or religious issue,” he declared,”this is a societal and fiscal issue. Strong families make stronger children, who are more likely to finish school, to avoid drug use, to avoid unwanted pregnancies. The list of effects just goes on and on.”

Walker also drew a big response with his statements about the right to bear arms, as would the other two later. But it was consistently the question of repealing Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, which threatened to blow the roof off the Civic Center every time anyone mentioned it.

Walker also referred to his well known defeats of the big unions in his state, and the resulting fiscal benefits of those victories. He expressed his disdain for President Obama’s foreign policy and his weakness as Commander in Chief, saying that Vladimir Putin follows the old Soviet method of expansion. “He probes with a bayonet. Where he finds mush, he will push. Where he finds steel, he will stop. He has found very little steel under this president.”

But it was in his closing remarks that he most clearly made his case compared the other candidates.

“This is a talented field of men and women, and these other two candidates are fine men. But when it all boils down, there are two classes of candidates in this race. There are fighters and there are winners. Several of them have been fighting the good fight. But I have fought and won those fights. And I will fight for America every single day.”

Dr. Carson

Dr. Ben Carson followed Walker to the stage. He promised to be brief because he had a scheduled appearance with FOX News’ Megyn Kelly, and he wasted little time getting into the immigration issue, citing the sixty seven thousand illegal aliens who have been released by the Obama administration in the last two years.

“Our leaders just don’t seem to get it. These people aren’t all coming from Mexico and Honduras. A good many of them are coming through Honduras and Mexico, on their way from somewhere else. Do you really think there are no jihadists who come into this country that way? We have got to make a decision about whether we are going to sit by and watch the expansion of global jihad, or if we are going to use every single resource, covert and overt, to hunt these people down and destroy them. If I am president, we will take the fight to them.”

Senator Cruz

Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz closed the show, and appeared to be very comfortable doing so. He praised Duncan, saying that he respected his willingness to challenge his own party’s leadership. “Jeff Duncan has something that is very rare in Washington. Backbone. Science teaches us that invertebrates cannot stand upright, but politicians disprove that every day.” He went on to say that he and Duncan are easy to spot in the Congressional dining room. “We’re the ones with food tasters.”

He then went out of his way to praise Carson and Scott, saying that they were both fine men and excellent candidates. “Did you see the talent that our party had on stage at the first debate? It’s incredible. The Democrats, on the other hand, have some wild eyed socialist whose ideas are dangerous to the nation and the world. Oh, yes, and Bernie Sanders, of course.”

He then explained why the proposed early Democratic debates have yet to materialize. “It turns out the invitation was e-mailed to Hillary, and you can imagine how that worked out. “ Having gotten a few laughs, he proceeded to serve up large helpings of red meat to the overwhelmingly conservative crowd.

“In January of 2017, I will rescind every single illegal, unConstitutional executive order signed by Barack Obama in his eight years as President. I will then explain to the most partisan, lawless Department of Justice this nation has ever seen that their only allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States, and not to any political party whatsoever. I will then instruct that same DOJ to immediately begin an investigation of Planned Parenthood, and the prosecution of any illegal acts which that investigation uncovers.”

“I will end the religious persecution that is underway in this country,and I will rip to shreds the catastrophic deal this administration has made with Iran.” He also touted his proposed flat tax plan, saying that tax reforms implemented by Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, and Reagan had all resulted in great growth of the economy. Under his tax plan, citizens would supposedly be able to fill out their taxes on a postcard, and that the Internal Revenue Service would be abolished and the ninety thousand employees sent to protect the border.

He expanded his vision of reduced regulations beyond the tax arena, saying that federal regulatory agencies have become the fourth branch of government.