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

Steinberg: Part of the confrontation now within the party is among people who don’t believe conservatism is viable nationally, who believe moderation is acceptable as strategy. Do you believe consistent conservatism is the best strategy, or do you consider “pulling your punches” a reasonable way to lead?

Roche: David, I am an unabashed conservative.

I believe moderate Republicanism is where $18T in debt lives. $1.3T in annual trade deficit lives. A decaying economy, a labor participation rate at its lowest since the 1970s. I believe moderate Republicans and Democrats are the cause of America’s problems, the cause of the bad policy we’ve had over the past 45 years.

So I deliberately and unabashedly will continue to talk as a true conservative focused on the correct principles to guide America to greater strength and prosperity.

I’m not interested in battling with moderates. They’re wrong. We want to convince them to come back to the right.

Steinberg: What I was looking to address indirectly there -- Ellmers won her seat in the 2010 election pitching herself as a Tea Party conservative. I’m looking to see if you can give voters a means to differentiate your behavior now from hers prior to her getting elected.

Roche: Sure, that’s a fair line of questioning. I get that quite a bit. Unfortunately, I can’t prove the end result until I get a chance to demonstrate that. You’re right, Renee talked the talk of a Tea Party conservative in 2010, and even in 2012. Of course, you have to look back -- the district was never expected to be won by Renee. She was thought of as a placeholder, not really the perfect candidate, or the perfectly qualified candidate. So she talked the way she needed to talk.

I will talk the way I have been, as a conservative, and I will govern in Washington, D.C. as the same. Now there’s a whole bunch of skepticism around that conversation, because we’ve seen repeatedly over the years, people do this. Renee is just the most recent example.

So I encourage people to pay close attention, and kick my butt out of there if I do the same thing.

But no, my background, my experience, my rhetoric, the way I write, or talk in my videos, there is a clear distinction between my rhetoric and Renee’s, and the distinction is that my positions reflect my knowledge and my experience.

Steinberg: Thanks for your time Frank, I look forward to following the rest of your campaign.

Roche: Thanks. Great to speak with you.