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(Exclusive Interview) NC-02 Challenger Frank Roche: 'Moderate Republicanism Is Where $18T in Debt Lives'

Steinberg: Would you tie any specific votes by Ellmers to the current state of your district?

Roche: Rep. Ellmers has already taken several votes that have allowed a greater number of immigrants to enter the country. Her record is available on my site, FrankRocheforCongress.com. The truth of that is evident.

She continues to vote for other issues that are also causing problems with respect to immigration -- there, we have to talk about debt and deficits. It’s directly tied in, a bit more complex of a discussion, perhaps not ideal for this general conversation. Yet generally speaking, she seems to have a focus on business and industry rather than her voters as constituents.

And of course, that seems to relate for her desire for reelections, and the power of donations, particularly large donations from PACs.

Steinberg: Your background -- you just mentioned the complexity of the debt and deficit policy in regards to immigration -- you’re coming from two decades in international banking, you taught at Elon University … I think what’s occurred in your primary race so far, with Ellmers’ recent missteps, is that in terms of a known quantity right now, you are simply “not Renee Ellmers.”

Can you give us a better primer than that on your private sector experience?

Roche: Sure, thank you for noticing my background. That’s a key difference between myself and Renee -- my knowledge and experience. That’s a reason Renee is having such a hard time with this immigration issue, she simply doesn’t understand the issue well enough to really comment on it. That’s causing her a lot of difficulty.

My background academically is economics, and beyond that it is international banking.

What I was allowed to do in my career was apply my economic training at work every single day. In the international banking world, especially in capital markets and trading, you must be aware of all things going on around you. Economically, geopolitically, anything coming out of Congress or state houses. Then you have to be aware of everything happening internationally. Other nations, large economies, what they’re doing, how their economies are performing. You have to understand the coalitions amongst them.

Through the private sector experience I became expert on these issues, on real market economics, how the real world economy works. This is my advantage when it comes to public policy -- identifying mistakes from the past, and being able to identify the solutions to correct those mistakes.

Steinberg: Ellmers has drawn herself close to John Boehner and GOP leadership on immigration. By challenging her, you can’t avoid being confrontational with party leadership.

Are you comfortable saying your campaign is also about guiding GOP leadership in a different direction? Are you of a mindset of Rep. Louie Gohmert, who has established a PAC for the sole purpose of helping conservative candidates whom the party hasn’t been helping?

Are you trying to make a statement about the party in addition to one about Ellmers’ tenure?

Roche: I am trying to make a statement about what’s right for America -- and that involves bringing the GOP back to the right.

I often talk about the political spectrum as a circle, and six o’clock as where the GOP was politically centered in the 1970s and early 1980s. I see that line as having shifted sharply towards the left, towards nine o’clock, as Democrats have brought Republicans with them.

I think the GOP has to come back to the right based on conservative principles, based on limited government, because it’s clear now that the Republicans are just as much at fault for the challenges Americans face with regards to jobs, the economy, and unemployment as Democrats are.

Yes, this is a fight in the party. And my fight is to bring the party back to the right.