Salmon, whose previous stint in Congress ended 12 years ago, said he learned from his first go-round and has gained perspective during his time away from the Capitol.
Salmon re-enters the House this year with Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman, who served one term after winning in 1994. There are 10 members of the GOP currently in the House from that 1994 freshman class, including Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, who keeps a framed copy of the Contract With America on his desk. Salmon says he’s excited about the work of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who was also a part of that House GOP class, on issues of waste, fraud and abuse.
This time around, Salmon said, “the numbers are bigger, a little bit more daunting, but I truly do believe that if we all work together, we will get it done.” Salmon liked the Republican Study Committee’s budget proposals during the 112th Congress and wants to see a revamp of Social Security and Medicare that includes a change to the retirement age.
Fascinated by travel and fluent in Mandarin — he was a Mormon missionary in Taiwan in his youth — Salmon played a role on foreign policy issues during his previous terms. He’s the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and will look for ways that the United States can assist in strengthening security and law and order measures in Mexico, notably against cartels. He also wants to gain perspective on economic development initiatives and pension privatization from places such as Brazil and Chile. Chabot is chairman of the Asia subpanel.
“A lot of time we use our foreign affairs to preach to everybody else on how they should be more like us,” Salmon said. “I think there are some opportunities for us to learn how to be more like them.”
After he left the House, Salmon worked as a lobbyist in Arizona, was the unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial nominee against Janet Napolitano in 2002 and then served as Arizona Republican Party chairman from 2005 until 2007. When Rep. Jeff Flake announced he was running for the Senate, Salmon said the calls came in for him to run. It was his wife’s support that tipped the scale.
Notably, Salmon said he learned from his previous term limits pledge. “I was a lame duck from the first term,” he said. Instead of granting him freedom, it took him “out of the game.” This time around, Salmon has no intention of staying out.