Conservative titans at Restoration Weekend discuss the path forward after Obama's re-election.
Editor’s note: Below is the video and transcript of a special session of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2012 Restoration Weekend dedicated to the 2012 election. Restoration Weekend took place Nov. 15th-18th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
PAUL ERICKSON: Ladies and gentlemen, pals and gals, children of all ages, welcome to After the Election, What Lies Ahead with Congressman Louie Gohmert and Congressman Allen West. And we have a bonus walk-on. Who is that strange from Minnesota? My name is Paul Erickson. I'm a private businessman. I build cities all over the world, but in my private -- in my avocation, I make things come out right within the vast right-wing conspiracy. These panelists with our addition make me happier than General Petraeus running a six-minute mile while interviewing a nude biographer. I've been to Afghanistan many times in the last several years and had heard that Broadwell's time with Petraeus was there. She was embedded with his unit. I was just assuming the wrong unit.
Onto the election. In retrospect, I should have known the general election was over the moment that Dick Morris predicted a Romney landslide. Dick Morris is like the infamous Seinfeld episode, opposite episode. He wants to succeed is the opposite of whatever Dick predicts. I've gotten more accurate predictions out of slumber parties of 12-year-old girls using Ouija boards. I've got a prediction as we handicap the 2016 presidential field, no candidate from 2012 will run. It will be -- the 2016 presidential primaries will be free of primogeniture. It will be no one's turn to be president. It will be 2000 all over again.
Some of the smartest people in politics I know that are in this room this morning, and I'm counting on that. I want you to help me with three quick points and the first question to our panelists. Each of our panelists will then speak and we'll open it up to your Q&A for insightful comments or questions, and maybe even some Q&A for Pat Caddell from yesterday morning, for many questions have arisen in the wake of his comments. Briefly, I wanted to make three quick points to kind of set up the direction I'd like the panel to take this morning. Let's start with a quick Romney post-mortem. I've spent six years in Romney world and wrote Governor Romney's presidential transition plan, which I've worked on in Washington over the last five months. That came to a crashing close a week ago Wednesday. In fact, if you want you can ask me about what would have been his fantastic cabinet. Ann Coulter was right last night. It would have been a fantastic presidential administration, one that we all would have loved.
We have to talk about the strategic versus the tactical. Casting the general election as a referendum on Obama, rather than a choice, election was strategic. Not putting Romney's bio out in the spring was tactical. Setting vote goals that underestimated Obama's turnout numbers was stupid. The Romney campaigns and associated Super PAC's decision not to air Romney's personal bio story in the Spring of 2012 will haunt me and the nation for a very long time. What few people knew outside the campaign was that the Romney campaign went broke the day after Rick Santorum dropped in the primary. And the Super PAC's polling and focus groups continuously showed the disappointment with Obama was the winning theme. It was the perfect storm, a campaign that couldn't speak and a Super PAC that was speaking perhaps in the wrong direction.
Did Romney's refusal to self-fund his campaign this time doom his chances in the spring? Was the Super PAC reading their data incorrectly? We'll never know. One year ago, Pat Caddell and I sat right here and made a very different call. Pat Caddell was right. The story should have been told early and often. I tried and I failed. I had access. I had undue influence and I'm sorry. I take no joy in admitting that, but I do take responsibility as we move forward. In modern politics, it appears that making a case against the incumbent is necessary but insufficient. In modern politics as in business, telling an engaging personal story can make all the difference. The future may be more about the pitch and the positions. Tell me a fact and I'll remember. Tell me the truth and I'll believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. If stories are issues, what Lindsey Graham had in mind when he gave an interview to JMart and Politico the day before the election when he said infamously, "If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn't conservative enough, I'm to go nuts. We're not losing 95% of African Americans, two-thirds of Hispanics, and voters under 30 because we're not being hard ass enough." The message I think got out.
On your tables, point number two, is a brief handout that I think summarizes something that I want to keep top of mind as we go through the analysis this morning. These statistics I have in front of you are from one week ago. So the numbers are perhaps a little dated, but they're still fairly accurate. I want to take a look at the raw vote count in 2008 versus 2012. You've heard of this but it pays to know the numbers precisely and at least the ratios that we're talking about. Obama did indeed hemorrhage votes from 2008. This presumption that he would not garner the same number of votes in his first election was true. He lost nearly nine million votes. The Republican nominee hemorrhaged, by extension, only 2.5 million, a seemingly small number. But Obama's cushion was enough that that was sufficient to win. Over 23 million unemployed Americans and yet nearly 12 million fewer Americans voted at all in the 2012 elections. To win the White House, we're going to have to manufacture over 5.5 million new voters, while simultaneously holding our existing low water turnout mark from 2008.
Here's the homework question that I need your help with today and perhaps the panelists can help us answer. How could Romney get fewer votes than McCain, who wasn't even a Republican? Or did Romney get fewer votes because he was a Republican? I await your judgment. After $2 billion in combined campaign spending, the swing state numbers largely didn't move at all this year. We may have finally exhausted the limits of television advertising post-Labor Day. We found ourselves in a world in which for the first time in my adult life, campaigns and PACs literally had more money than they could spend in the swing states. And if you were unfortunate to live in Virginia, Ohio, the local news teams in Washington, D.C. delayed the start of Leno and Letterman by five minutes every night the last month of the campaign to sell five more minutes of standard commercial blocks for the campaigns. There was no sigh of greater relief than the day after the primaries in Ohio when people could start to find out that they were still selling cars and pizza in their neighborhoods.
It came to me, what the numbers do suggest, however, is that although television advertising may be on the way out as a means of moving votes, it does suggest that funding a permanent infrastructure of voter turnout, a ground game, what was mentioned last night by a couple of speakers might be the best investment for our future. It pains me to quote David Brooks. I've learned to never trust a man whose nipples get hard describing Mayor Bloomberg's conservatism, but Brooks November 9th New York Times column was prescient. In it, he discusses the ethos of our founders, the Protestant dissenters and their belief, our belief that more government equals less individual liberty and civic vitality. But he goes on to note that the emerging critical swing voter group is not comprised of Obama Marxists, but instead hard working minorities that are frustrated that harder work doesn't lead to higher wages, that there are banks that can hurt them from afar, and that "chaotic neighborhoods" can't be saved by the drawing (ph) government programs. In the ends, Brooks issues this cry, "Let democrats be the party's security defending the 20th century welfare state. We should be the party that celebrates work and frames (ph) enterprise." My frustration is that wasn't that the Romney message? Wasn't that the Paul Ryan message? We were saying these things.
Bobby Jindal a week after the election offered a biting comment that I agreed with and he pleaded with us not to dumb down our message. It's a fine point but it doesn't address an electorate that worships Honey Boo Boo. Valla (ph) makes the Halla (ph), but it doesn't make you vote. Issues can be critical, but in the end, voters mainly focus on competence and warmth when deciding between two candidates. Certainly that's true for the undecideds. Obama was introduced as smart. Romney was clearly smart. The question came down to who was warmer or who gets me. Since 1948, presidential candidate with the sun in his face has won every presidential contest. Governor Romney was sunnier, but the critical numbers of voters simply didn't believe it and Obama turned out voters seemingly untouched by current issues, but only guided by past electoral loyalty, the numbers you hold before you on the table.
Final point. Kids say the darndest things. Obama bet his entire reelection on nine states and four voter groups, blacks, Latinos, youth, single women, and while we were largely the GOP, grumpy old people, we fought valiantly and won most of these demographic groups. But I wanted to focus on a group that has not been discussed this weekend, but I think is uniquely determinant of our future other than Latinos. The under 30 voters that we lost by 59 to 37, Obama got 59%, Romney got 37%, that cohort in the (inaudible) comprised 19% of the total electorate on election day. We'll have a debate about what message points we should be reaching out to those people, but there's a more fundamental issue that I wanted to point out to you that goes off our radar screen. On the back of your sheet, you'll see a ratings chart. I randomly plucked from the wires how America got its news for one day ahead of the general election, on November 1st. Take a look at some of the programs. Find your viewing habits here. You'll notice that the nightly network newscast will have the lion's share of daily content, but as you move down, even Nightline, who is now being replaced by Jimmy Kimmel Live, still holds and speaks to more viewers than even Bill O'Reilly on a given night. But look at the comedy centers, look at the comedy shows that are on this list. We have Letterman, Hannity, our favorite scientologist, Greta Van Susteren, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart. What these numbers show are total viewership for that one night. What I've omitted is the target demographic of 18 to 39 year old votes, the sweet spot for TV voters. Those people watch and got most of their news from these comedy shows at night. But here's the takeaway. We might have a message problem with millennials, but we do have a pipeline problem. 65% of the millennials that watch these shows watch them on YouTube. Television advertising simply doesn't reach them. Whatever we're going to say to voters we're going to have to say it through a different pipe.
Political veterans know that nearly 94% of those are registered to vote when they're 18 never change the party registration, but we also know that if a person under 30 votes three times in a row for the support of a political party, they become a lifetime supporter of that party regardless of registration. Americans under 30 have now voted overwhelmingly for Obama twice. One more time and we've lost them forever. My question to the panelists to kick things off as we enter into the fiscal cliff negotiations is this, are we Greece? Half of America is now married to the government and it will be too late for a divorce when the coastal populations that reelected Obama realize that they paid (ph) for a modicum of economic security with their liberty and impoverishment of their nation. In fact, I remember giving a 12-volume set on this phenomenon. Rich Lowry two days ago correctly pointed out that half of the Latino voters November 6th were from single mother households. Trust me, amnesty was not their driving issue. There's a holiday name for anyone believing otherwise. I call it Cinco Denio (ph).
One last factoid. Obama beat Romney among households earning less than $50,000 per year by 20 points. Romney won every other income quartile. Atlas may have already shrugged. So is reform of the American social contract a fool's errand? Can Paul Ryan's dream of entitlement reform ever occur before an entitlement runs out of money? Can we achieve a grand bargain that avoids the fiscal cliff? I'm haunted, in closing, with this story from a few months ago. In my work with the Presidential transition, we were deeply immersed in negotiations with the leadership in both the House and the Senate on how to avoid a fiscal cliff. Everyone agreed what the problem was. Everyone knew the consequences and the price, what America would pay for going over it. And yet, nearly 100 members of the (inaudible) House, led by Paul Ryan, critical democrats in the Senate were more than happy to go over the cliff for this reason, unrelated to the merits of the policy. They came up with the phrase we started to hear a lot in the last six weeks. They don't want to be TARPed. Meaning, in 2008, they did the right thing, they saved the nation from a global banking collapse and for the next three years were beaten about the head and shoulders for that vote by people that didn't understand what was on the other side of that ledge. They told us now that they'd rather have the bad consequences come and have the American public see them being saved by their Congress rather than to avoid a problem that no one can either define or anticipate.
Our question to the panel, we start with Congressman Louis Gohmert. Louie, Congressman Gohmert is serving us for a fourth term in the U.S. Congress and the Fighting First District of Texas, which includes 12 counties north of Houston, an Eagle Scout and a three-term district judge. It was easy for Governor Rick Perry to appoint Louie as the Chief Justice of the 12th Circuit Court of Appeals before Louie first ran for Congress. He's a proud Texas A&M graduate, still basking in the glory of last week's football triumph, and the hardball Aggie t-shirt that proclaims, Alabama Can Suck It. He and his wife Kathy and their three daughters attend Green Acres Baptist Church, which contrary to TV Land legend, is not located in Hooterville, Texas. Last year, Congressman Gohmert sponsored a bill in the U.S. House that would allow a congressman to carry guns on the floor of the House and throughout the District of Columbia. This of course terrified liberal weenies from coast to coast, but gave Louie the priceless ability to tell Congressman Barney Frank that no, it really was just a gun in his pocket.
Congressman Gohmert is the Vice-Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. He is a friend of the American Conservative Union and will always hold a special place in my heart for sitting by my side at the funeral of our friend, Andrew Breitbart. Ladies and gentlemen, Congressman Louie Gohmert.
CONGRESSMAN LOUIE GOHMERT: Thank you. Thank you. Wow. What a treat. You know, I feel after hearing speakers last night, including my friend, Michelle, Monica, all the wonderful speakers on the panel just before, knowing who's coming ahead, when I got invited to speak I felt kind of like the donkey that was entered in the Kentucky Derby. Comparatively, I don't have a chance but the company is wonderful. So anyway, it's good to be here. But as far as the way forward, let me just tell you, like Monica was talking about earlier this morning, after the election I've gone through some real depression. And I know there may be some people here that thought TARP was a good idea, but I'm telling you I was so depressed after that vote passed because I don't care what anybody says, if you have to set aside free market principles to save the free market, it is not worth saving. But that's not true. There are other solutions. So the first thing, and by the grace of God, he's given us a sense of humor, not all of us, but most of us. And it's what has helped get me through. And I appreciated the comments earlier about God. It was an honor to read on the House floor, the last speaker yesterday when we were in session, to read proclamations and thanksgiving to almighty God, and I appreciate that.
But I get a little bumps in the head sometimes. In East Texas, east side of my district borders Louisiana, and by the way after Hurricane Katrina and we had a couple hundred thousand people come to and through East Texas, I had a lot of people come to me and go, I think we've been guarding the wrong border. But anyway, that's a different thing. But anyway, you spend $1.5 million to unseat a democratic incumbent in East Texas and we have three TV stations in my hometown in Tyler, and people get to know who you are. They see you on the news and stuff, and I was driving home one night and I like to travel in jeans, and I had my shirttail out. It was 2:30 in the morning. I was only 40 miles from Tyler, but I needed a break, and I was out of Dr. Pepper so I pulled in a little fast food place and go in, and I see a girl, looked like she was in her 20s and then there was an elderly gentleman at the back stocking some stuff. And I went back, got my Dr. Pepper, got me some chocolate, and she comes over to the register, and I set my stuff down, and she looks at me and I'm going, here it comes, and she says, "May I ask you a question?" I said sure. She said, "Are you James Taylor?" Well, anyway, so I got in my car. I thought about singing Sweet Baby Jane or something, but anyway, I knew that wouldn't go.
But I got in the car and go, okay God, I got it, I got it, I'm not the big shot I thought. But if you will notice the lessons we get, as you go through life, and observe the humor, but also take note of the lessons. I ran for district judge in East Texas, and looking back, it was preparation for where I ultimately in. As Ed Poe (ph) and John Carter have said, have you noticed how those of us that have been district judges before have very little problem standing up, calling things like they are, and I'm not talking about it. But if you're going to send somebody to death you can't say, I'm really sorry, the clerk made me do it, the court reporter. I mean you've just got to look people in the eye and calling them like they are. That was good preparation. But I'd run against an incumbent who had never been beaten in 32 years and after he (inaudible), I never brought this up in the campaign and it was one of the reasons, my mother had passed away a year and she had told me for years, you know God meant you to be a public servant. You be good judge and mother, I'll make a lot more money than judges. I don’t want to be a judge.
But anyway, I had a breach of contract case before this judge. He was 69 and there were all kinds of rumors about personal issues, but he called me after the preliminary hearing. We had the trial coming up on the contract case in ten days, and he said, that was a mighty fine looking woman you had in my court the other day. Do you think she would go out with me? It was my client. And you may not be aware, but that's not appropriate, okay. So anyway, I knew we needed a new judge. I told him I couldn't help him. I tried for six months to find somebody to run against him. Nobody would and my wife and I, Kathy, bless her heart, she's back here, but she -- we just finally concluded, okay, your mother's right, this is your lot in life. And so I ran, and one of the things I said, I'm going to eliminate the thousand case backlog, people out on bond. And the way you do that is you have a hearing. We had a hearing and it was like a cattle call because you've got to get them on the record. They know when their trial date is. If they don't show up, you issue a warrant, get them arrested, and when they're in jail they're a lot quicker, more quickly ready for trial.
So anyway I called a case one after another. Guy comes up. I called his case. He and his lawyer came up and I'd say, are you so and so, and before he could answer his lawyer said, Judge, my client is deaf and we're going to need an interpreter for the trial. And I said, that's fine, we'll have an interpreter for the trial, but all I need to do today is make sure that your client understands his trial date, and time, and that it'll be here. So I looked his client in the eye and I said, can you read my lips? And he looked me in the eye and went (makes gesture). Now, that was good preparation for Congress because people will look you in the eye and just lie to you. I don't know why the Attorney General and Secretary Napolitano come to mind, but anyway, these things happen. But we can leave this town, we can leave this conference and be depressed because, as you've already heard, as you know, our work got harder on election day in trying to say the greatest gift God has ever given a people. More liberty than Solomon's Israel for individuals, more assets individually around this country, the first country in the history of mankind where the number one health problem for our nation's poor is obesity. That's never happened before. I'm really not kidding, it is a major problem.
So how do we address this? What's the way ahead? I keep telling some of our friends, including our Speaker, we have got to think outside the box. So a few years ago, actually it was four years ago I had heard that we may end up spending as much as $3 trillion to $9 trillion just trying to get the economy going. I said, good grief. So I made an official inquiry, how much did we expect for 2008 to receive in individual income tax and the answer came back, $1.21 trillion. I thought, wow, what a savings. Can you imagine if we told everybody in America, no income tax this year, just keep it and spend it. Let's get the economy going. Can you imagine what would happen to this economy? It would go crazy. So that was the origination of the payroll tax holiday and I emailed the idea to five different people, one of them Newt Gingrich. He fires back, this is brilliant, I'll push it. I thought, wow, okay. Well, I didn't find a lot of people in Congress that would support a year's payroll tax holiday, but a number of people went along with two months and Newt suggested, why don't you add a payroll tax holiday for the employer not having to match the social security.
Now, some said, well, won't that bankrupt social security like this president has done lowering 2% for employees, and I said no because the $324 billion it would take to give two people -- give people two months of every dime of their own income with no federal withholding of any kind, $324 billion, that includes the employer's share of social security, and that was going to be paid for with $324 billion of the remaining $500 billion of TARP. Because it seemed to me that people would do better if they -- they could decide which car manufacturer to bail out by which car they went and bought when they had their money. They could decide -- they could bail themselves out of their problem with their mortgage because we were told on average there'd be $5,000 or $6,000 additional for every family on average in America if we had done that. But that wasn't the idea. My own party pooh-poohed the idea and said, no, no, no, we're going to adjust the cap gains this, we're going to adjust this, that. Let me tell you, folks, we've been playing on their arena, in their arena since the 1947 democratic post-Watergate Congress came in and they set the rules. They built the arena we've been playing in for nearly 40 years. So that when we have a really good bill and maybe it involves tax cuts, the rules of scoring that they set up will not allow us to have a good score on a bill. It'll come back devastating to America and to the Treasury instead of using historical reality to show this is going to bring more money into the coffers.
Now, that's back when a guy named Arthur Laffer decided he liked my ideas and he invited me to have lunch at his house in Nashville. Why does he live in Nashville? He used to be in California but they kept raising taxes, so he moved to Nashville. And so anyway, he liked some of my ideas and he added some other ideas. And one of my ideas is we have got to change the way bills are scored. And so, last spring I had already made a deal a year ago with Paul Ryan and it was a zero baseline budget. What it was, if we took the majority in '95 and here's another rule the democratics created, automatic increases in every federal department's budget every year. Who gets an automatic increase in your personal or business budget? Nobody. Why should the government? Wouldn't that sell in America if we made it an issue, but our leaders say no, we don't want to make that an issue. But a year ago, I got a promise from Speaker Boehner that he would bring it to the floor and I got a promise, he said, but I can't promise what Paul Ryan will do. I mean it's his committee. Well, Paul was a co-sponsor on my bill and I said, Paul, will you bring it -- absolutely. So I got promise last February and I made them a promise. I don't care whose name is on here, because frankly, y'all, when you stand and put, I'm going to use you all, I try not to, look, the language needs a second person, plural, get over it. So anyway, you and you, singular and plural, come on, but I try not to use it. And (inaudible) right, people hear a Southern accent, they immediately deduct 50 IQ points from how smart they think you are. But anyway.
So we got the zero baseline budget passed. I had promised them both, I don't care whose name is on it. It doesn't matter to me. I have had the bill filed in all four Congresses I've been in. I've got the language. I don't care and they did the smart thing. They took my language, put it in a bill, added some other stuff, and gave it to one of our greatest freshman and he worked it through with Paul through the budget committee and it passed. That should have been an issue for the Senate. We have 47 republicans. It should have been a demand to the senators, look, you know how your people are struggling in your state and you're demanding an automatic increase to every federal budget. Are you kidding? Let them keep that money. Don't build up the budget of every federal department. And yet, we didn't do that and Paul told me, I'm not getting to decide the issues we're arguing about. And I understand the Romney camp didn't appreciate me last spring when we were at a press conference and somebody said, you conservatives don't seem real thrilled about Romney being the nominee. And one of the freshman said, look, we're going to support whoever the party nominee is and one of the other reports said, yes, but you don't seem excited. And I said, look, let me tell you, it doesn't matter whether you're a liberal, a moderate, a conservative, it doesn't matter what issue is most important to you or which side of that issue you're on, you ought to be excited about Mitt Romney because at one time or another, he's been on your side. Well, they didn't appreciate that all that much.
But anyway, it's time to have a candidate next time that knows where he stands, knows where she stands, and is not waffling about those positions. That’s why I love these two people I'm here with. They're dear friends. They know where we stand. They know where we've got to go. But there are these ideas and one of the things I did by committing the heresy this week of nominating somebody besides the Speaker to be Speaker, that kind of interrupted the -- but it gave me a chance to give a speech to tell the freshmen to remind others of the institutional memory of all the promises that have been made and broken by our current leadership. Well, that's smart. But you know what, I believe I'm doing what I'm supposed to. If I don't get elected it'll hurt my pride but that night I'll go, well it hurt my pride but thank God I don't have to do that anymore. But in the meantime, we've got to think outside the box. So that's one area.
Another area, you have heard the President say over and over, it is the mantra, everybody has got to pay their fair share. Are you sick of hearing that? We're not sick of people -- we'd love people to pay their fair share, right? But they're not. So how do you deal with that? You don't try to go democrat light and oh, well let's negotiate. No, it's time to be on the offensive and yes, I'm very offensive, I get that, but it's time to be on offense and to take good ideas. Oh, you want everybody to play the fair share. You know what, Mr. President, fair share will be our slogan for the next four years and that's why we want a flat tax. Everybody pay the same thing across the board, everybody. And you know what, what you propose protects your buddy, Warren Buffett, from having to pay the same rate as his secretary. What we're proposing, I'm proposing to you ought to be, you know what, capital gains 15%, income tax 15%, youth tax 15%, it's all 15%. Corporate tax, 15%. It doesn't matter, you're going to pay your fair share. We're going to eliminate all the deductions, mortgage interest, and also charitable deduction. Why charitable deductions? Because they do a better job of getting help to those who need it. Take their words. They have good words. Take their words and use them for good ideas.
Another thing, they created the committee structure that is forcing us to fund stuff we don't want to fund. We've got a new freshman from Florida, former Speaker of the House here, Dan Webster. I love Dan. He's a friend. Well, he reorganized the House in Florida, saved millions of dollars, eliminated all of the subcommittees, created more committees, made every member of the House important because they were one of a small number on more committees, but they had power and their vote counted, their position counted. It wasn't top down, this is what you have to do. And Dan took it on himself, and I haven't heard him talk about it publicly, but he took it on himself, I love transportation, I'm going to find out how many agencies are charged with getting people to appointments. You know how many? Eighty-seven are charged. Now, as each committee's appropriation comes up, if you try to eliminate one, you hate women, you hate children, you hate veterans, you hate the elderly, whatever. You're a hater. No, we love people. But the only way we're going to fix that is to eliminate the redundancy. We've got to reorganize the committee structure and have a public assistance committee where they're all in one committee where you say, no, I love all those people but we don't need 87. It's time to rebuild the arena that was built from '74 on. It's time to think outside the box and when you've got good ideas, step up with them and help people get elected that will take those ideas and run with them. And if they want, you run.
We can make a difference because I'll leave with you a final thought, the adage is true, democracy ensures a people are governed no better than we deserve. You may not like Barack Obama. I'd like to have had another president, but believe it or not, he's what this country deserved right now and we have got to do better, and this, as I step aside, in Washington, this is the byword, no matter how cynical you get, it's never enough to catch up. Thank you.
PAUL ERICKSON: Congressman Allen West is in his first term representing the 22nd District of Florida, right outside our doors, a district so patriotic, the democratic residents of Port St. Lucie vote 141% of the time. Congressman West is the first black congressman elected in Florida since 1876 and upon his arrival in Washington, D.C. promptly joined the Congressional Black Caucus as its only republican just to show the other members what a truly free black man looks like. Allen is married to Angela and began his career in the United States Army in 1983. He was a highly decorated officer who by the end of tours in Kuwait, and Iraq, and by the end had received the Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor, and a Valorous Unit Award. But as this college football season comes to an end, Allen fondly recalls his year as the U.S. Army ROTC instructor of the year at Kansas State University. Looking ahead to the Kansas State National Football Championship in January, I reminded Louie on the way in that the easiest way to get an Alabama graduate off your doorstep is to pay him for the pizza.
A friend of the American Conservative Union, the good conservatives of the state of his home and native Georgia remind Congressman West that if things don't work out with the Florida recount, there's an Atlanta Congressional Seat all warmed up with his name on it. Ladies and gentlemen, Congressman Allen West.
CONGRESSMAN ALLEN WEST: Thank you very much and just to share with you all some good news, they are currently doing a full recount of all the (inaudible) votes. Thank you. And of course, interestingly enough, the democrat, my opponent, his lawyers provided a motion to stop the retabulation of those votes because that is the party, if we understand, of voter suppression. If you go back and you study history with the poll tax, and literacy taxes, and things of that nature, that's who they are and the fact that they don't believe that every vote should be counted fairly and accurately, that lets you know the type of party that we are facing.
But as we are today, this is restoration weekend. So this is not a time for you all to sit around and have long sad faces, or to be depressed, or be despondent, or be in dismay. Because if you want to be in that way, I want you to remember one simple vision. Remember the vision of the man who were there at Valley Forge in the winter, cold, starving, diseased, but they did not give up on the United States of America. They did not give up on the dream that has made us the longest running constitutional republic that the world has ever known. What they did is they looked to a great leader and that great leader, if you remember that picture kneeling beside his horse in the snow. Praise the Lord God Almighty. And when they came out of Valley Forge they had a great, a resounding success when they crossed the Delaware River. We can cross the Delaware River and we can once again have victory and make sure that we continue on the generations that have given us liberty, freedom, and democracy for our children and grandchildren. That's what this weekend is about.
And when you talk about the way ahead, this is some of the things that I think we need to consider. First and foremost, every great commander would tell you that you do not go into a battle without knowing the opposition's battle plan, without studying them and understanding who they are. If each and every one of us has never read Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals than we're not prepared for this modern 21st century political battlefield in which we find ourselves. We can continue to go out and use the frontal assault as the means by which we are trying to win political elections in the United States of America and we will continue to get mowed down just the same as you saw at Fredericksburg, as you saw in Gettysburg. We have to come up with new tactics and new strategies, but the strategies and tactics that we develop have to be based upon realizing there's a marine first sergeant that once taught me Camp Lejeune, if you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it is all because your tactics suck.
When you sit down and you study and understand the Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, when you understand those tactics they are using and employing, then you can start to begin to develop the right type of strategic game plan, which can then filter down into the tactical level, which will enable us to get this country back on the right track. Because as you see what has happened since the election, what has happened to the Dow Jones industrial average, what has happened to the weekly jobless claims, I know a lot of people say tsunami weather, whatever. I mean we've heard that before, but more importantly look at what is happening in Gaza Strip and with Israel because all of a sudden there is a group of individuals that really do believe, ever since the 11th anniversary of September 2011 when we had countless embassies and consulates attacked that there was a green light. Because the United States no longer believes in peacely (ph) strength. The United States now believes that weakness is provocative. The United States believes in leading from behind. So you must recognize the other side.
The second most important thing when you study those tactics out of Saul Alinsky, you will understand that the United States of America is being balkanized. There's a new sense of collectivism that is happening in the United States of America whereby as you go in and you identify different types of groups in this country, then you start to look at the things that you can provide to those different types of groups, which will provide you enough votes to be able to be successful. My fear is that right now in the United States of America you almost see a permanent national majority that is being established. When you look at the electoral map from 2012, you look at all of that red that is out there, but then you start to look at that blue, you see very targeted areas where this blue is, down to the county level, down to understanding what is that pressure point that we can bring to certain collective groups, war on women, female contraceptives. You go into the Hispanic community, they're going to deport you. You look at the black community, they're going to put you all back in chains. All of these different types of thing that are being used that push the buttons in these respective groups. We have got to understand that we have got to break down the balkanizing of the United States of America. Because as America becomes balkanized, as America becomes pitted in this collective mentality then we're not going to be able to penetrate our message. So we have to realize that and that is also part of that Saul Alinsky tactic.
I think the greatest thing that we failed to do in the way ahead is to clearly articulate who we are and what conservatism is. We have never made a strong case of what conservatism is. We have never really pitted it against what this liberal progressivism is. We have been horrible as proactive messengers. As Louie said, we are always on the defense, never on the offense, never getting our message out there, allowing them to dominate the message, to dominate the battlefield, to establish themselves first and foremost and then we are, once again, in a react mode. So clearly, we have to start explaining to people what is limited government, what is fiscal responsibility, what is individual sovereignty, what is the free marketplace, what is a strong national defense. And we have to be able to take that message to every single person in the United States of America and get them to understand why that benefits them down to their personal level. It has to be personal. When you go in and you talk to your businesses, you have to talk to your employees, you have to tell them what is going to happen with these tax rates. You have to tell them what is going to happen with the healthcare law. You have to tell them what Dodd-Frank is doing as far as small community banks being driven out of business and that being a lifeblood to small businesses. Small businesses are 75% to 80% of our economy. We have to talk to the American people on three basic fronts, economic security, energy security, and national security.
But people want to talk about a war on women. It's very simple. Women want their children to grow up in a secure America. Women want to believe that you have a commander in chief so that when their son and daughter go off into war that that son and daughter will be protected. Women want to know that when they have to pick up the children and take them to lacrosse practice, or soccer practice, or whatever and they have to fill up that minivan that they're not going to have to drain their entire savings. Women want to know that when they go to the grocery store that they can afford the milk, the gas, and things of that nature and not see this sort of inflation that we have because we have horrible monetary policy. That's how you take these very complex issues and you have to be able to break it down to a very simple level for every American to be able to understand. Too often, we talk in very grandiose terms that is like an F16 flyby for most of the people in the United States of America. If you've ever served in the military they will tell you this as a commander, you have to be able to go out and talk to Joe and Jane Six Pack. We don't do a good job of talking to Joe and Jane Six Pack. We do a good job talking within this echo chamber, but then we don't translate that message effectively out across this country.
Now, when you look at the other side, we need to be able to explain what nationalizing production means when you look at the healthcare law and what that's doing to the healthcare industry. When you look at the EPA and what they're doing with the regulatory environment, what that means to our energy sector, when you look at Dodd-Frank, what that's doing to our financial sector, when you look at the National Labor Relations Board, who would have ever thought we'd live in an America where a government agency would tell a private sector company where they could relocate in the United States of America. We don't make those points to the American people very succinctly and the means by which they can understand. America is about the individual sovereignty that allows people to have the ingenuity, the innovation, and the investment with an idea to grow a business. Right now, that's not the America that we're heading on and we have to be able to explain that.
When Papa John's comes out and talks about what the healthcare law is going to do to him, about reducing the amount of hours for his employees, that's how you make it personal to people and look at what is happening, he's getting attacked because he's telling the truth. The truth is a very powerful thing. We need to continue to tell that truth starting right now to make sure that we can turn this situation around in our country. Because if not, then my fear is that there will be a new definition of what the United States of America is and it is not the definition that is congruent with the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, or the United States Constitution. We've got to make sure that we're teaching those things in our schools, teaching those things in our homes because too many of our children don't understand our foundational documents. Too many of our children don't understand the difference in philosophies of governments, to understand what a republic is. If you go out and ask someone what is America and they tell you America is a democracy, they have lost it. They don't understand what America is. America is a constitutional republic and if we're not careful, those fundamental principles will be taken away from us.
Now, another thing that we have to do on the way ahead. We have to protect minority conservatives. Okay, if you think about what has been happening, and I know Pat Caddell is sitting on a lot of those (inaudible) up there and (inaudible) this, it drives me nuts when I hear the liberal pundits and the liberal media says that the republican party is just a party of old white guys. Well, hell, every time you try to get someone that's not an old white guy, think about what they do, they viciously come and attack that person. Am I right, Michelle?
MICHELLE BACHMANN: Yes, you are.
CONGRESSMAN ALLEN WEST: Okay. Now, you go back and you look historically at what has happened. Go back and think about to Clarence Thomas, to Condoleezza Rice. You look in this recent election cycle. Kiko Canseco out in Texas, an Hispanic conservative. You look at Sarah Palin. You look at my colleague, Michelle Bachmann, you look at Mia Love out in Utah. You look at Vernon Parker out in Arizona. You look at even myself. When there are ads that are being run against a 22-year military veteran that has an honorable discharge calling him a war criminal, this is what we have to stand up against. Because the thing is it comes back to that collectivism. It comes back to that balkanizing. If we become this monolithic face, which they are forcing, because they will attack anyone that is different from that "monolithic" face then they're able to dominate the message in these collective groups. They're able to say that the republicans don't like women because we will eliminate people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann. They will be able to say that republicans don't like Hispanics because they will be able to eliminate someone like a Kiko Canseco or other Hispanic conservatives like Alberto Gonzales and the vicious attack they brought up against him. They will be able to say and go into the black community that those republicans don't care for you even though the history of the republican party was that it was established for one single purpose, to abolish slavery. And when you look at the civil rights legislation that came in the '60s, I mean much of it mirrored exactly what the Republican congress was trying to do in the 1870s.
We have got to protect minority conservatives, or else we will allow the other side, the liberal progressives to paint conservatism, to paint the republican party, and furthermore, you will have people that will be unwilling to step up to the challenge because they know exactly what's going to happen to them. What is happening down here in St. Lucie County is something that has never really I think happened before. Finally, republicans have stood up to say, we're not going to allow you to take away elections because of corrupt electoral processes. That is what's happening and the people are waiting for that. And if this can be the first time, if this can be the breach, if this could be the opening then we need to continue to do that. We will not allow and Al Franken and Norm Coleman to happen down here in South Florida.
Now, what do we need to do if we understand the strategic level down to the tactical level? We've got to turn things around in our local governments, in our city councils, in our county commissions. We've got to turn things around with our school boards. We've got to turn things around when we look at our judges that are getting appointed. We've got to start micro targeting just the same as the other side does so very well. We've got to know people down to their name and their address. When you go back now, I want you to go back and start sitting down with the people who were precinct captains and start looking at the rolls and the rosters in those precincts, and go back and do a canvassing of every single person and ask them, did you vote, did you not vote, who did you vote for, what were the preeminent issues for you. Because that's what we have to do between now and 2016 if we're going to be successful. That's how you take developing your strategy and understanding your fundamental principles and values, understanding the other side's game plan and battle plan. Now, you've got to transition it to a tactical plan of execution.
This is our Valley Forge. The question is, just the same as my mother would always say to me, it's not an issue of how many times a man gets knocked down. It's how many times they stand up. Enjoy your restoration weekend.
PAUL ERICKSON: And now an unexpected pleasure. Joining us on the podium this morning, our Congresswoman from Minnesota. I think you may have read about her in the news. I'm fairly certain that she ran for president the last time around. Let me take a point of personal privilege and share with you something that normally I would never even bring up but for the fact that we have someone of her reputation and public service in the house. You and I do not understand and cannot understand the personal sacrifices made by presidential candidates. During the presidential primary debate here in Florida, I was backstage when Congressman Bachmann was about to head out on a day in which she'd been up for almost 24 hours. She had not eaten I think in recent memory. She was not feeling well and to watch backstage, one of the things that happens with presidential candidates, you do not understand what it means to have to be perfect 24/7, to always look ready, to always look happy, to always be rested when you are none of those things. And what drives them to the breach. I watched Congressman Bachmann get up from the floor backstage at this debate, force herself to her feet, walk onto the stage, and look into the cameras as if nothing was wrong because it was more important for her in that moment to stand up for what she believed even when she could barely stand.
Understand what they give up, those that seek to lead us. And now, to share a little bit of that gumption and inner fortitude, Congressman Michelle Bachmann.
CONGRESSMAN MICHELLE BACHMANN: Thank you. Paul, thank you very much and I want to say I was not on the floor because I was drunk. So I just want to make that perfectly clear and I want you to know that Louie Gohmert was not only voted the most fun congressman to spend time with, also he is the best looking in our class. And I just want to say on behalf of everyone in this room, Allen West, congratulations on your reelection to the United States Congress. I believe it will happen. We're with you brother. We love this man. We're going to make sure we do everything to make sure that he wins this reelection, whatever amount of money you need, whatever amount of support you need, whatever amount of legal challenges you need. We are with you until the very end because we believe you won this vote. And no, I am not a media whore that I have to be up here and be a part of this event who is some kind of interloper up here. David did really ask me to be a part of this panel this afternoon and what I wanted to offer was this.
If you consider prior to the election when Barack Obama was elected, what was the narrative that had been spun by the left? And it's very clear. Ann Coulter wrote about this in her column. Pat Caddell understood the importance, fundamental importance of establishing a narrative and the left did this very well. How can we forget Bush lied, kid died. Remember that? That was the narrative over, and over, and over. We would roll our eyes because we saw through it. For how many people was that a truism? Bush lied, kid died. It's establishing a narrative. Here's another one. Big oil owned George Bush. Remember that one? That was another one to get the anger going about the president. Here's another one, Bush tax cuts killed the economy. We are still dealing with that narrative today and I would just like to submit for you my personal belief that I think we as a part of our narrative have to overcome that going forward. Because there are some historical narratives that still haunt us with the electorate that we are trying to reach. And so, we are going to have to do some of our own historical revisionism. The left is very good at revising history, aren't they? Now, we have that as our challenge to, to say, no, no, no, no, no.
I heard Ann Coulter on The View, I think it was this week on her new book on Mugged, and she was going through and as much as she could as the girls who were up there were trying to claw the flesh off of her skin while she was up there, she was making the very pointed case of what it's been like to go through the Civil Rights argument and all the rest. She was right in everything she said. She never backed down once and she went back and she rewrote history correctly that it was the conservatives who were trying to stand up for the African-American community throughout the United States and she was right. And that's why one thing that republicans do all too often is if someone is identified as toxic, Louie, been there done that, Allen, been there done that, Michelle, been there done that, and many of you in this room, been there done that, we have to make sure that we not only don't just agree with that person who's been labeled toxic. It's kind of like the target has been painted and now the laser is on them to destroy them, we have to go and hold their arms up, and if need be, rehabilitate them. Because you see, part of what the left does is so destroy, whether it's a member of Congress, or a Pam Geller in the media, or someone else, the media does whatever they can to so destroy that no one will ever want to be like them. No member of Congress will ever want to get a whooping like that or a pistol-whipping like that ever again. They make us examples and that's why whatever it takes to stand up with those brave souls right here in front of you, we stand up and we stand with them.
I just want now just for a few moments that I have left, what I'd like to do is just drill down deeply on something that has captured my attention for all of this year in 2012. And it's been an absolute debacle by the President on national security failures, on what happened most recently in Benghazi, but there's a predicate that was laid to that with a very bad national security policy. You can go all the way back and we don't have time to go through the whole litany of all of his foreign policy failures. I believe there's an absolute mistake of historic proportion, and during the presidential election I said so on stage, what a mistake it is for the President to unilaterally go in and bomb Libya. Now, no one thinks that Gadhafi was -- should have been awarded man of the year. That was -- no one thought that that's what he should have been. But at the same time, he was so yesterday as a terrorist. He was a benign dictator. George Bush took care of that, by the way. He was not our immediate threat. We didn't need to go into Libya because going into Libya and bombing destabilized this country for on the Eastern portion of Libya there was known Al-Qaeda, known Al-Qaeda training camps and the number one area of recruitment to kill our soldiers in Iraq came from Eastern Libya. So if you destabilize a region and you don't have a secure government that's going to take over, and you know you could have chaos, and you know you could have Al-Qaeda and terrorist elements ensue, why would you go into a situation like that? That's the decision, the calculations the president made.
Also, when you have oil revenues in a country like that, think about this. So you could have a country that terrorists would eventually run and then they would have a virtually unlimited supply of oil revenue to do what, presumably to fund global jihad. Think of that this destabilization means. Think of the black Islamic flags that are flying over Libya today, over Tunisia today, that are in Egypt today, that are about to be in Syria very soon if efforts continue to go the way they are. This president has lit a match in the Middle East. He has been the catalyst in the Middle East, not of Arab Spring, of Sharia ascendancy, and not just in the Middle East, we're seeing it all across the world. And I am privileged to sit on an intelligence committee, and this week we had our first closed door hearing in intelligence, and we had it first with a number of various agencies and then we also had it on Friday with General David Petraeus. Now, of course that is classified. I would never reveal anything that is classified but I was so smoking hot mad after the last two days that I went back to my office and I dictated a press release to make sure that I say everything right and don't say something that I shouldn't say, unlike the President of the United States, by the way, and his administration, which leaks intelligence information all the time. I'm just going to stick to what I put out yesterday and I'll just end with this.
The hearing with General Petraeus further underscores the need for a thorough investigation in what happened during the recent terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya September 11th and 12th, 2012. From beginning to end, the American people are still without knowledge of what happened on that tragic day. The hearings that we have held to this point have not produced answers to the questions of the victim's families and the American people deserve to have answers. The various committees and proper oversight of these matters in Congress have yet to hear from the principal decision makers who responded to what occurred September 11th and 12th when American lives were placed in peril. We did not hear, now think of this, in intelligence committee, we didn't hear from the National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon. He didn't come to brief us. We did not hear from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was not there to visit us. She may be in Australia on her wine tasting. We aren't sure. We did not hear from the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta. We did not hear from the FBI Director, Robert Mueller. We did not hear from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey. We did not hear from the UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, nor did we hear from the Attorney General, Eric Holder. Nor did we hear from the subordinates in the respective chain of command who carried out any and all directives, if directives were given, we don't even know other than what the President said in his mealy-mouthed, excuse me, with all due respect, press conference this week at The White House.
What we should have had was every one of the principles, every one of the decision makers and everyone in the chain of command that went down to find out was there a directive given and was that directive carried out. All of them should testify before Congress so that we can get Expedited Hearing answers we deserve. And while the DNI Chief Clapper and General Petraeus came before the committee, that was only a toehold. There are three particular areas that need further investigation. First is the lack of security of the Benghazi mission prior to the September 11th attack. We now know there were numerous reports of a deteriorating situation with security in Eastern Libya prior to the attack. With that knowledge, why were the repeated requests for additional security by State Department employees at the Benghazi mission reportedly denied, leaving the protection of Ambassador Stevens in the hands of local Libyan militia making about $4 an hour. We also need to address why UN Ambassador Rice was sent on the Sunday morning TV shows after the attack and stated that there was a substantial security presence with Ambassador Stevens when that clearly was not the case.
The second line of investigation needs to be regarding the call for security assistance from the American personnel in Libya that day to the Obama administration. Report states key decision makers knew almost immediately within minutes from the cables, emails, and phone calls that Ambassador Stevens and other Americans were in peril at the mission. We deserve to know, why did it take 20 hours for the U.S. military to land at Sigonella Air Base in Italy and at what point was there any military at all in Benghazi? The question needs to be answered. Why did it take the FBI until October 4th, this happened September 11th, why did it take the FBI until October 4th to get on the ground to secure the sovereign soil of the American compound? And why the delay in U.S. access to the site of the deadly attack both at the mission and the annex, so much so that reports stated that CNN was able to secure Ambassador Stevens' personal library? If they were able to obtain such a private document, what others sensitive documents went missing? We don't know.
Third, why did the White House consistently embrace the false narrative that the deadly attacks were a spontaneous event motivated by an anti-Islamic video? The President in his remarks before the United Nations, September 25th, stated no less than six times that the anti-Islamic video was the motivating factor behind the attack. Why did he continue to give this false narrative? September 25, two weeks after the attack, when we clearly knew the video was not the primary motivation for the attack. Today, they're trying to change their narrative. They think this is Alice in Wonderland. They think that we -- they can have it both ways on their story. These are important questions. In fact, consider this and I'll end with this, I really do promise I will. Almost immediately after Bin Laden was killed, the Obama administration started releasing specific details, including some classified information, about the operation and timeline of events. They couldn't get more information out to the public. By contrast, two months have lapsed since this terrorist attack in Benghazi with the ambassador and three other Americans dead, and we have very little knowledge at all of what the President knew and what his actions were. The families of these victims, the American people, and members of the United States Congress cannot give up on this until we get those answers. Help us get those answers.
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