A One on One Interview with Former Senator Bob Smith PART 1
The Valley Patriot’s Tom Duggan and Justess Jacobson sat down with former US Senator Bob Smith who is once again running for the Senate. He will face former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in the Republican Primary. THIS IS PART 1. PART 2 is HERE
TRANSCRIBED BY KATHLEEN LAPLANTE
TD: Let’s just start with some of the easy stuff. You’re a New Hampshirite, born and raised, and you’re running for Senator. Right? And the guy you’re running against…
BS: I wasn’t born [in New Hampshire]. I was born in New Jersey, but I’ve been here since 1970, with a little interruption…
TD: And you’re running in a Republican primary, against a guy who’s got a lot of national attention, a lot of money. How do you go about trying to level that playing field, where Scott Brown is coming into the state with a lot of money, a lot of consultants, he’s got all the national media attention following him. I noticed CNN, MSNBC, all tweeting stuff out when he declared the other day. You don’t see that for every Senator across the country, every challenging candidate across the country.
BS: You don’t see it for every Senator.
TD: Right. So how do you first break through that and get your message directly to the people?
BS: Clearly, money is important, but it’s not the only thing. Dollar bills don’t vote. I’ve campaigned in this state now, eight or nine elections, both primaries and general elections since 1979. So I think I know the state well. I know the interest groups. I know the pattern of the voters here in the state. I know it’s a trite term, but grassroots politics is what I do best, and there are a lot of people, in New Hampshire, and in other states, but we’re just talking about New Hampshire now, who are committed to the cause they believe in, whether it be Tea Party, or Pro-Gun, or Pro-Life, or anti-tax, or whatever their interest is, and it’s important to just work with those groups and Scott Brown is not right on those issues for those kinds of people. So I don’t think it really matters how much money he spends.
I’ll tell you a funny story. A guy came up to me the other day, I was at a gun show, and we were talking about Scott Brown. He was talking about the money. I mentioned to him, I’d appreciate a donation because Scott Brown is probably about 5 million dollars. There was a TV screen on one of the booths next to me, and he pointed to the TV screen and said, if Scott Brown sat me down in front of that TV screen for six months, and gave me all the food and drink that I wanted, everything that I asked for, and had me watch that for six months, I still wouldn’t vote for him, because he’s not Pro-Gun and I’m Pro-Gun, and that’s what I do. I don’t vote for candidates that don’t support me, and what I believe in.
So I think what most of the time, people with the big money, in politics we use the term carpet bomb. There are two ways to reach voters. One is carpet bombing. You throw a big bomb out there and everything. You just flood the air waves. You catch everybody, the ones that don’t vote and the ones that do vote. You know, the other is the more right, target. You focus on those groups specifically, that supports you, or supports the ideas that you believe in, and do it that way. So that’s how you have to do it when you don’t have a lot of money.
TD: How do you get the word to people, and what do you tell people when they ask you how are you going to beat Governor Shaheen, when your position is so much further away from hers? What makes you different? If you were to win the primary why should people vote for you over Jeanne Shaheen? Why would someone vote for you over her? We know what the ideological difference is. What about constituent services, and some of these other things that the Democrats seem to think are their strengths?
BS: I had eighteen years in Congress, twelve in the U.S. Senate, representing the same seat that Jeanne has, and also six years in the House. I did a lot of constituent services well, and I had a very good track record on it. I was highly praised for the constituent services I had, especially with Veterans and seniors. I took a lot of pride in it, getting the traditional services Veterans benefits, or a medal that somebody deserved that they didn’t get. I’ve heard she does a fairly good job at it too. That’s our job. That’s what we do, so if you get elected, you should do that job, but what I think, what I believe, given what I’ve said in my remarks here at the coffee, there has to be a bright line distinction, between two candidates so that voters have a real choice as to which direction they want the country to go. As I said, central planners, someone to plan your life, or Brigham. I don’t think that the people of New Hampshire want somebody who is going to give them the right to have their own doctor. I think people want to vote for somebody who says, “You have the right to pick your own doctor. You have the right to pick your own insurance company. You have the right to do these things. You have the right not to be spied on. This is our Constitutional right. These are our Constitutional rights. You have the right to own a gun. So these are very critical issues. They’re not given to us by some central planner or bureaucrat in the federal government. And that’s the difference between Jeanne Shaheen and Bob Smith. It would be a… She’s a nice lady. I like her. We’re both friends. I don’t think we have any personal animosity. I like the fact that people can go to the polls with a bright line distinction, a clear demarcation: Who is the person that best represents my values? Whereas if you take a Scott Brown, he and Shaheen are close. He’s closer to Shaheen than he is to me, on the issues. That’s not political talk. That’s a fact, if you look at the records. So I don’t see the bright line distinction. He’s not going to give them a reason for them to vote against her. Whereas, I will. I’m going to make people think when they go into the booth. I want them to think, “Do you want your grandchildren to have less freedom or more?” That’s the bottom line, because it’s not that she’s out there conniving, to take people’s rights away, but she’s promoting policies that do just that. She’s promoting policies that take away our Constitutional rights, basic rights, and therefore, I think once people get it, especially young people, technically, the fact that we’ve run the debt up larger and larger. When you allow that debt to grow, and spend more and more money, you make people more and more dependent, on the government. That’s not what America is all about. The Constitution was written to protect our freedoms from an abusive government. It wasn’t meant to allow the government to abuse our freedoms, or take them away.
TD: I want to touch on an issue, on foreign policy, because that’s what the Senate does. What is your position on Israel and the settlements? Do you have a position on the Palestinian occupied territories in Israel?
BS: Clearly Israel is threatened like it’s never been threatened before. It’s basically the only democracy in the Middle East. It’s surrounded by terrorist countries who attack them on a day to day basis, in one way or another, through individual bombers, suicide bombers, or rockets, fired from the Golan Heights or the west or from wherever they decide to fire them, into Israel … the settlements have always been a controversial issue because of the fact that those settlers, when Israel was created in 1948. There were Palestinian settlers who were pushed out of there, but when the ‘67, I think it was the ’67 war, then Israel took some of that back and they settled in there. So that’s a controversy, but those are to me, those issues were always, right now as we speak, we’ve got the United States trying to broker a deal to deal with those prisoners, and to deal with those exchanges, that power that, that Israeli spy, who is spying against the United States. He’s in the mix, and all these terrorists that [Benjamin] Netanyahu has brought in, has captured, they’re on the prisoner exchange, and if we have the United States in the mix and trying it with Kerry and trying to negotiate a settlement, but to me, that’s all smoke. It’s not what the real issue is. The real issue is that these countries have said, and they believe, in their core, that Israel does not have a right to exist as a nation, and that killing Israelis, or any Jew, is their responsibility. It’s that the Jihad is a sacred thing for them. It’s a sacred obligation to kill Jews, to drive Jews out. They have no right to exist. So, to me, settlements, it doesn’t matter. Israelis would pull all their people out and then the Hamas, or somebody, would move up a little bit closer and fire a few more rockets. It’s not going to stop.
TD: I always say that if every Jew left Israel tomorrow and moved to the North Pole, the Muslims would celebrate for three days, sleep for the fourth day, and immediately plan their attack on the North Pole.
BS: Exactly. And it’s so true, and we’ll just go up one more notch on this, since you brought it up. Is the issue of the nuclear weapons, the possible nuclear bombs in Iran. When you have a nation, where the leader of that nation says point blank: ‘the Holocaust didn’t happen, and Israel must be destroyed’. They’re sitting on a nuclear bomb, or at least working on the capability to build one, that’s pretty intimidating. I met Netanyahu. He came to New Hampshire.
BS: I met him, years ago, actually, it was 2002. He was not Prime Minister at the time. He had been, but he wasn’t at this time. We had a nice talk. He came and did an event for me, not a political event (wink wink). He did come. I think it was at Saint Anselm’s, and he sat there, and just held people in the palms of his hand for three hours. I’m sitting in a chair with him, like I am sitting now. I didn’t say a thing except here’s Benjamin Netanyahu … He talked for three hours. I was just a wall flower. Nobody knew I was there, but he was incredible, talking about … I mean the knowledge of the guy, and the experience and the toughness of him. It makes you think, “Wow. If I could only have Netanyahu’s in the White House today, with the kind of guts and courage and forcefulness that he has, but Israel’s in deep trouble. I spoke at a synagogue two nights ago, and I spoke to a bunch of people who were both Christians and Jews. It was a group called “New Hampshire’s for Israel”, or something like that. We talked about this very thing, and the fact that it’s so dangerous now for Israel, where you have these expressed desires of these countries to destroy Israel. And you know, the left always says, you know, these terrorists, they’re a minority [of Muslims]. They’re not a minority. The Arab League, they take votes. They had a … This is Kuwait. This is Saudi Arabia.
These aren’t supposedly territories. They’re voting to say Israel doesn’t have a right to exist. So, there’s nothing there and the reason why Israel is in deep trouble is because the United States is basically the only friend they have. It’s the truth, and if we go down economically, and thus militarily, there is no one, and when I spoke to this Pro-Israel group the other night… when I stood up, I said, “Before I start my remarks, I’m going to throw a question out for you, and I want you all to think about it. As I go through my talk, at the end, we’ll come back to it and I want you to tell me what you think. So I started by saying, “Who is the only true friend of Israel in the world?”
That’s what I said and then I started, and we talked. Fifteen, twenty minutes later, I came back and I asked the same question. And they said, “America”. And I said, yes, but half of America isn’t here. It will be here, but how about if America can’t respond. [If] we’re a third rate economic power. We don’t have the military capacity because it’s been taken away from us. What happens to Israel then? They were shocked when they started thinking about it. And yet, every single time something happens over there, it seems like they blame Israel, and they’re not the ones that are doing the attacking. It’s true the settlements are an issue. There’s no doubt about it. When a country was carved out of basically a tribal area, that was clearly a problem.
TD: They probably should have thought about that before they invaded Israel in 1967.
TD: They can’t claim UN, UN, UN, and when the UN rules says … if you take a land, through a defensive war, it’s your land (and then complain).
BS: Exactly. Well, every time Israel gives back… The previous Prime Ministers have given back land, what did they get for it? Nothing.
TD: They get attacked more.