September 12, 2006

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With Senator Bill Frist retiring and leaving his seat open, Tennessee is one of the handful of states where Democrats have a chance of picking up a Senate seat this fall, making it crucial to Democratic efforts to recapture the Senate. (According to recent polls, it’s very close). Earlier this year we interviewed the Democratic candidate, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis.

Now we’ve got the other side of the story, with Republican candidate Bob Corker. Corker answers questions on Iraq, the war on terror, the Second Amendment, immigration, and more. Plus, questions about earmarks and pork!

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Music is by The Opposable Thumbs.

UPDATE: A transcript of this interview is now available. Click “read more” to see it.


The Glenn and Helen Show: Tennessee Senate Candidate Bob Corker

September 11, 2006

With Senator Bill Frist retiring and leaving his seat open, Tennessee is one of the handful of states where Democrats have a chance of picking up a Senate seat this fall, making it crucial to Democratic efforts to recapture the Senate. (According to recent polls, it’s very close). Earlier this year we interviewed the Democratic candidate, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis.

Now we’ve got the other side of the story, with Republican candidate Bob Corker. Corker answers questions on Iraq, the war on terror, the Second Amendment, immigration, and more. Plus, questions about earmarks and pork!

by Glenn Reynolds

Transcribed for use only by Instapundit.com

by eScribers, LLC

(Music intro)

GLENN: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Glenn & Helen Show. Now brought to you by PJ Media’s POLITICSCENTRAL.com. I’m Glenn Reynolds.

HELEN: And I’m Helen Smith. A while back we had Representative Harold Ford on the show. You can hear that interview in our show archives at GlennandHelenShow.com. Now, we’re talking to his Republican opponent in the battle to fill Bill Frist’s Senate seat, Bob Corker.

GLENN: Corker is the former mayor of Chattanooga and won a three-way battle for the Republican nomination. The Corker/Ford campaign is very close right now, according to the polls, and it’s turning into a bit of a mud-slinging contest. John Hawkins of Right Wing News calls it a dog fight but we’re going to focus on the issues, not the in-fighting. It’s a campaign that may determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, so stay tuned.

(Music)

HELEN: We’ve got Bob Corker on the phone now.

HS: Hi, Mayor Corker. How are you?

BC: I’m fine. Great to be with you today. Thanks for letting me do this.

GR: Thanks for joining us. So, we’re coming to the home stretch here now. It’s after Labor Day and what’s your sense of how the campaign’s going?

BC: Well, I think it’s going great. We’ve been in all ninety-five counties in our state now. We have fifty-seven days left. We have a great plan, have tremendous — a tremendous effort underway, a great team and, hopefully, a good candidate. And I really believe we’re going to win this race.

HS: Well, now, we’re recording this interview on September 11th, so it seems appropriate to ask you something about national security.

BC: Right.

HS: What makes you different from your opponent on questions of national security in the global war on terror?

BC: Well, I’m very committed to making sure that we do everything we can to enhance our intelligence gathering abilities, to ensure that we support in every way our men and women in uniform who defend us, to do everything we can to ensure that homeland security is streamlined and works for all of us. And, obviously, we had a couple hundred veterans today who formed a coalition, or announced a coalition in support of me because they know of my strong support.

My opponent has been soft on so many of these issues, whether it’s the Patriot Act, which helps us get engaged in anti-terrorism to intelligence gathering, whether it’s cutting defense spending. And I think that people know that difference in us and that’s why that so many people who want to make sure that we first keep our citizens safe and secure support me in this race.

GR: Well, we interviewed Judge Richard Posner a couple of weeks ago and he’s arguing that we need new laws giving the president more authority to detain suspected terrorists without trial for several weeks, as they have in Britain, and to allow surveillance like that NSA intercept program that intercepted calls between suspected terrorists in foreign locations. Would you support that sort of thing if you were elected to the Senate?

BC: Well, there’s no question that the laws that are in place today reflect an old view towards where the threat is and who it is. You know, we used to engage in issues that had to deal with countries and had men and women in uniform. And we were opposing a regime or a country.

In this case, our enemy are people who from youth are raised to despise our way of life and our democracy and engage in activities today that are very, very different than in the past. So, for that reason, I do think that the laws that govern how we go about processing people who’ve done things against us, how we go about intelligence gathering needs to evolve, not just because of the enemies we face, but the technology that exists today in the world and the way people are able to communicate. So, there’s no question in my mind that we do need to enhance the laws and on the books to really take into account where we are today in this world and where the threats are.

HS: Well, we recently interviewed Harold Ford, Jr. and he called for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. What do you think about that?

BC: You know, at the end of the day — look, we’re in the height of a political race and I know that people try to say things, if you will, to gain some kind of attachment to people. I think at the end of the day, that is a decision that obviously the president makes. I think that we need to listen to the people who are on the ground in Iraq. The military leaders there know best what we need to do there. And, to me, that’s where the true information about what we should be doing on the ground should come from. I know that Congressman Ford is trying to make a place for himself, is trying to gather some emotions in saying that. At the end of the day, I really do believe we need to listen to those commanders on the ground as far as what we need to do next in Iraq and they know best, as far as troops’ strength, what ought to happen.

GR: Ford also talked about a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. Do you support that?

BC: I don’t. I think that until we are in a situation where the Iraqi people can support themselves — they’re trying to draw a line in the sand saying that we will withdraw period on X day. It’s just the wrong thing to do. I have a hard time envisioning what Iraq would look like if we were to withdraw our troops prematurely and leave the Iraqi people in a situation where they couldn’t secure themselves. To me, that is an incredibly short-sighted view of a risk of having a destabilized Middle East. I think we’d be right back over in the Middle East with an even bigger issue on our hands if we were to leave prior to them being able to secure themselves. And I just think, again, that’s short-sighted.

I’ve never had anybody explain to me

what — people who want to see an immediate withdrawal, want to see a timetable for withdrawal — I’ve never had them explain to me what Iraq would look like the next day if we left there prior to them being able to secure themselves.

HS: Well, what do you think we should be doing about countries that support or export radical Islamic thought, like Iran or Saudi Arabia?

BC: Well, I was in Israel a year ago just before disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza strip in early August and was able to sort of see how people right across the border were training young children to hate their way of life, to hate our way of life, and it’s something that is being learned at such an early age. I think, over time, I think democracy does help dampen that in a tremendous way. And I think people having an economic stake in the future where they believe that their lives can be better through hard work. Those kind of things are things that don’t exist in many of these countries and it’s going to take many, many, many years for us to counter what is being taught to young people about who we are and what are roles together should be.

GR: When we talked to Representative Ford — and I promise you, this is the last question we’ll ask you about Representative Ford — but he did seem very big on dialogue and said he thought the president should get together with the leaders of China and Russia and persuade them to cooperate with us on bringing Iran to heel. Do you support that approach?

BC: Well, I think, certainly in Iran, what does need to happen is those countries that are economic traders with them, that have a great deal to do with their economy moving ahead, certainly should be at the table. I mean, they’re going to have a much greater impact from the standpoint of sanctions, threats in the way of economic sanctions. Obviously, we don’t have as much to do with them in that regard and if those countries that are their major trading partners stand with us on sanctions at the U.N., then certainly that’s going to be of much greater impact.

I will say this, though. One of the most destabilizing things, maybe in the world but certainly in the Middle East, would be Iran having access to nuclear weapons. I think it would change the situation in such a negative way that we have to do everything we can as a country to ensure that that doesn’t happen.

HS: Well, let’s shift gears from national defense to self defense. What’s your take on the second amendment and the right to arms?

BC: Well, I’m a strong supporter of the second amendment and people around the state know that. My opponent hasn’t received just one F but two Fs in Congress by the NRA, which obviously looks after this issue on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, my opponent is the most liberal member of our congressional delegation. For ten years he has served. He’s the most liberal member and certainly very, very soft on the second amendment, something that’s dear to my heart and certainly dear to many Tennesseans across the state.

HS: Would you support legislation that will require states to recognize gun carry permits from other states?

BC: You know, I’d like to know the details of that more. I think that I would. But I’m sorry I wasn’t prepared to answer that detail of a question. But certainly a very, very strong supporter of the second amendment and would get right back to you on that, if you’d like for me to.

HS: Okay. I have one more question on guns.

BC: Okay.

HS: What about legislation prohibiting state and local officials from confiscating firearms after a disaster, like that in New Orleans did after a federal court stopped

them. Do you support that?

BC: You know, that is a scary situation for those people like me that value the right to have arms and certainly would think it was a bad step to take. It leaves people in situations where they’re very vulnerable. Obviously, the people who are carrying weapons at that time are people who wish other people ill will and are not going to obey the laws.

GR: Are there are some other second amendment related issues you want to talk about here?

BC: Well, I just want to say that the second amendment is something that is very important to me. It’s very important to people across the state. It’s something that we need to protect. There seems to be an ebb and flow where, from time to time, it is attacked, it has tried to be weakened and I want to make sure that we do everything we can to at least keep the status quo, if not protect our second amendment rights even further.

HS: Now, have you ever received a rating from the NRA?

BC: I have not, not having been in Congress.

HS: Okay.

BC: You know, as a mayor they don’t rate you –

HS: Right.

BC: — but the NRA I know is very, very warm towards my candidacy and I hope to be talking about that a little bit more over the next few days.

GR: Would you look at these kinds of issues in deciding how to vote on a judicial appointment, say?

BC: Well, you know, I think, obviously, what we want to make sure we do in judicial appointments is appoint people who respect the constitution. People who do not legislate from the bench. Obviously, our country was set up in a beautiful way where we had a balance of power and legislation was supposed to take place in the halls of Congress and the judicial branch was supposed to interpret the laws that were legislated. And so, what we see when we appoint activist judges is we do have erosions, not only to the second amendment but other kinds of laws and just values, if you will, here in our state and in our country. So, yes. I mean, what I would want to do is make sure that we appoint people who only interpret laws that are on the books and do not use a judicial seat to create legislation that they — you know, from the bench that they feel like our state or country needs to go by. So, very much so. Yes, sir.

GR: One criticism that your primary opponent raised against you was that you were too moderate and not conservative enough on social issues. To me, that’s more a plus than a minus but do you want to answer that?

BC: Well, you know, in a race a lot of things get said and people are always — people are just trying to create an angle, if you will, to gain a place in a race. My opponents have been wonderful since the primary was over. Ed Bryant has campaigned with me in West Tennessee, Van Hilleary campaigned with me in middle Tennessee. They have been both outstanding and, again, I think a lot of things get said in campaigns and the fact of the matter is that we won this race not only with physical conservatives and base conservatives but social conservatives and middle-of-the-roaders who want — across the board and I really believe that at the end of the day my values more closely reflect those of Tennesseans than my opponent in the general election by far and I think for that reason I’m going to be the next United States senator from Tennessee.

GR: Well, what’s your stand on immigration? Are you part of the fence crowd, the open borders crowd, the amnesty crowd or what?

BC: You know, I don’t know much about the labels. I can tell you I’m definitely not for amnesty. I think that as it relates to illegal immigration there’s five things that need to happen. Number one, we do need to secure our border. Number two, we need to only allow people to work in our country if they’re legal. And there are certain things that need to be done to adjust levels for temporary workers and we need to certainly cause it to be more streamlined in some of these migrant worker programs that sometimes can get weighted down with bureaucracy. Thirdly, though, if people are working in our country illegally, I really do believe that they should return home and only come back through legal channels. Fourthly, I think there ought to be an instant certification process for employers so they know whether people are here legally or not. I’ve visited a lot of companies and been to a lot of places throughout the state of Tennessee and there’s a tremendous amount of fraudulent documentation that takes place around this. But then, if people abuse those laws, if employers abuse them, I think they ought to be punished. And then, fifthly, I think that anybody who ends up trying to become a citizen in America certainly should learn what it means to be an American and learn the English language first.

HS: Well, I hear Democrats complain about stagnant wages for blue collar workers. To the extent that’s true, do you think illegal immigration is the reason?

BC: Well, there’s — you know, when there’s a supply and a demand issue of — and what I mean by that, when there’s more workers to fill jobs, I mean, it’s been a law that we’ve known about economically for years and typically, when there are less people to fill a particular job, the wages go up and when there’s more people than are necessary, wages don’t go up as much or maybe stagnate or go down. So, I don’t see how we could not say that having twelve million additional people in our country does not in some way affect wages.

GR: Well, a recent Wall Street Journal poll said that the three big issues for voters are the war, immigration and earmarked spending or pork, which actually was number one. We’ve already done the first two but if you’re elected to the Senate, what will you do to control pork barrel spending?

BC: Well, I do think what has been happening in most recent times is almost beyond belief. When we have a deficit today of 8.5 trillion dollars that’s moving towards ten trillion by the year 2008, the culture of having especially earmarks that take place in the dark of night in conference committees where in many times members of House and Senate don’t even know what they’re voting on. Equally important, the people of the country don’t know that these items are being voted on. And so, that’s where a lot of the pork, as you mentioned, takes place. It’s through this earmarking process. Some earmarks actually go through the process where House members, you know, hear about these in committees. Those are far different than these in the dark of night conference meetings where so much of the pork that really just drives our citizens into a frenzy, and should, because they see it of such abuse. Things like the bridge to nowhere in Alaska. I mean, serving fifty people, maybe some of the things that happened around this most recent emergency appropriations bill and at the end of the day, this is our taxpayers money. That culture emanates through everything that happens and to have people abusively getting pet projects in their state, projects that really should be way back burners to some of our other national interest is something that not only infuriates our citizens but me as a candidate running for the Senate and I want to make sure that we do everything we can to live within our means and not pass on future generations even more debt.

Q. Would you favor structural reforms in the Senate rules or by statute that would make secret earmarks impossible?

BC: Absolutely. I mean, I think that there ought to be some process where those things have to be posted and people know about them in advance of voting so that they can be aired so that people like you who play such a role today in being watchdogs and making citizens aware have the opportunity for the public to use blogs, newspapers, any type of media outlets to let people know what’s taking place. Certainly, people in Washington respond to that. But there’s no question, there needs to be structural reforms. Absolutely.

Q. Well, how does it feel to be sort of at center stage nationally? I mean, the Democrats are trying to take over the House and the Senate and this race is one of the Senate races marked as a potential toss-up. So, are you feeling the pressure and do you feel like it’s more of a national race than it would be otherwise?

BC: Well, there’s no question it’s a national race. And it is because of the closeness and the balance of power. So, you know, I feel a tremendous — first of all, it’s an honor and a privilege to be carrying the banner for Tennesseans who want to see our country stronger. They want to see our country safe and secure. They want to see our country living within its means. They want to see our country doing those things as far as economic policy so that we continue to grow a standard of living for all Americans and that we preserve those great traditions of faith and family. And I think that’s not just a partisan issue. I think there are certainly Republicans, there are Independents and conservative Democrats who want someone like me carrying that banner. So, as I mentioned, it’s an honor and a privilege to be doing that. But in addition, as you just mentioned, the stakes are so high that every day I want to make sure I’m doing everything I possibly can to ensure that I do everything I can to win this race. Because I know the importance of it. I know it could actually determine the direction of our country. And it’s really, here in Tennessee, about do we want to continue the great traditions of Howard Baker, Bill Brock, Fred Thompson, Lamar Alexander and Bill Frist or do want to take a detour in another direction that is most fully represented by people like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy, which is exactly what would happen if Congressman Ford were elected. And at the end of the day, I just truly believe that Tennesseans will choose the type of leadership that we’ve had in the past with Howard Baker and Fred Thompson and Bill Brock and Lamar Alexander and Bill Frist, which, as you mentioned on the front end, I exemplify in this race.

HS: Well, what is this new direction ’cause I’ve seen that a lot with the commercials and things like that? A new direction by the Democrats. I’ve never really understood what the new direction was. Do you?

BC: I think what it is, and of course, I don’t know what the new direction is either. I know that Harold Ford certainly is portraying himself as somebody totally different than who he is and I know the citizens of our state will see through that over the next fifty-seven days. I think it’s actually a bad tactic for him because he’s also — he alienates his natural very, very liberal base. I know that’s not a very big base in our state but that’s who he really represents and now he’s stepping over and acting like he’s a Republican and certainly people will see through that very, very clearly. That’s one of the jobs we have in this race is to make sure that people see that and know that it’s not true. But the new direction, I don’t know. I know that people are concerned about the direction of our country and in his case, certainly it’s a cliché that I think is very hollow and I just don’t think that, again, the people of our state are going to buy.

HS: You know, I do have to ask you one question about it. I saw an ad the other night and I was kind of surprised. It was on some 911 calls — and I imagine you’re familiar with this –

BC: I am.

Q. — but I saw that and it said that 31,000 911 calls had not been answered and that was under your watch as mayor in Chattanooga. Could you speak to this?

BC: Yep. Actually, there was a study done, and really nobody even knows the accuracy of the study, but there was a study done in ’05. I was mayor for three months and two weeks of that time which talked about unanswered calls. And there’s a lot of questions about it because sometimes people will call in, it will ring for two times and then they’ll call back and that’s considered a dropped call. But, certainly, the time period under which this ad is being run, I was only mayor for a little over a fourth of the year and certainly is not representative, if you will, of my time in office as mayor.

HS: Well, isn’t that usually handled by the City of Hamilton County, something you aren’t involved with?

BC: Well, it’s complicated. What happens is that there are different jurisdictions that actually work within this 911 office which is all of the county. Okay? And so, what needs to happen and what’s moving towards happening there is a unified command where everybody works under one entity. The problem with the 911 office is that there were multiple jurisdictions in their answering calls and to really get to the root of the problem, what needs to happen, as you just mentioned, is unified command. But, yes. I mean, we had people from the City of East Ridge, from the City of Red Bank, from Hamilton County, from the City of Chattanooga, and many other jurisdictions and they’re all answering calls and that’s what makes this study, if you will, very confusing.

HS: Okay.

GR: Well, thank you so much for joining us. Before we go, are there any final comments you want to make for our listeners?

BC: No. I appreciate so much the extensive nature of it. I hope to be back on and look forward to working hard over the next fifty-seven days. As I mentioned, we’ve been in ninety-five counties, all the counties of our state. I don’t know of anybody who’s working any harder in this race and I do believe by the time this race is over people are going to see the clear choice between somebody who’s lived in Tennessee all their adult life and has actually used conservative principles to make things happen. In other words, I’ve been a doer. I’ve actually made things happen. Versus somebody who’s lived in Washington since they were nine years old is a talker. It’s really hard to see any public record of making a difference. It’s hard to see where Congressman Ford has weighed in and truly made a difference in our country and certainly someone who could not be more liberal for the citizens of our state. So it’s one of those races that there’s a clear, clear choice in and, you know, it’s — sometimes we have Democrats and Republicans running against each other and it’s hard to tell the difference. But in this race, there’s a tremendously clear choice for our citizens where they can choose people that are very, very different from each other and I look forward to working hard to win this race.

GR: Well, thank you so much for joining us.

HS: Thanks a lot.

BC: Thank you very much.

HS: Have a good day.

(Music)

GLENN: Well, that was interesting. I hope the people listening to this broadcast and to our other interview with Harold Ford will get a better sense of what these guys are about than they can get from thirty second attack ads.

HELEN: I should hope so because watching these TV commercials is so depressing. I think it turns people off from politics in general.

GLENN: I actually talked with a guy who said he’s so disgusted that he’ll probably wind up voting against whosever commercials he sees last.

HELEN: Yeah. I can understand that. I just wish people would stick to the issues more.

GLENN: Well, we hope you feel that this broadcast stuck to the issues. We’ll be back with more of whatever we feel like it. You can check out our show archives for updates and GlennandHelenShow.com or you can subscribe via iTunes or other Podcast subscription services. Until later, have fun on the internet.

HELEN: Talk to you next time.

(Music)

(Time ended: 9:12 p.m.)

Transcribed by: Lisa Bar-Leib

Transcribed for eScribers, LLC

www.escribers.net