Candidates Get Platform With GOP Weekly Address
Every week after President Barack Obama delivers his weekly address, the Republicans get a chance to respond. Because they don’t, of course, have a singular figure who would naturally address the nation each week, the speakers vary. So far in 2014, 11 Republican candidates — four House hopefuls and seven vying for Senate seats — have had the honor to take to YouTube and spread their party’s message.
In the fall of an election year, the GOP weekly address is an opportunity for Republicans to showcase some of their hopefuls on the ballot to a broader audience than the candidates can normally reach themselves — because not everyone pays attention to every Senate race, or to New York congressional campaigns.
“The weekly address is a great opportunity to showcase our diverse and talented group of candidates to the country,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which coordinates the speeches. He said the party’s “tremendous slate” allows the GOP to contrast its record with the president’s.
There are some common themes mentioned time and time again: dissatisfaction with the president’s job approval, the desire to expand domestic energy production, repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting government regulation.
Saturday’s address, posted at 6 a.m., will feature Will Hurd, the GOP nominee for Texas’ 23rd House district.
Here is a summary of the others.
Oct. 18: Lee Zeldin (New York’s 1st District)
Zeldin, a state senator, Iraq war veteran and current major in the Army Reserves said there are two reasons he’s running for Congress: his twin daughters, and the future he wants to ensure is waiting for them when they grow up.
He expressed concern for those affected by Ebola and outlined three problems with the trajectory of the United States as he sees it: spending, problems with caring for veterans and job creation.
The former Army paratrooper listed his four solutions: focusing on “making good, private sector jobs,” fighting for veterans, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and improving the education system.
“I know we can do this. It’s going to take hard work, tough decisions and embracing the duty we all share to protect and pass on the blessings which our country was built,” he said.
The former senator from Massachusetts, ousted by Elizabeth Warren, spent his address tapping into concerns on national security and the future of the country’s role abroad.
“It’s starting to feel like the world is on fire,” he said, speaking against a Manchester, N.H., backdrop of brick row houses and the Jefferson Mill clock tower and fretting that there are “so many challenges, so many threats and problems and all at the same time.”
Brown criticized the political status quo in Washington, calling for an “independent” senator to address issues such as the Islamic State terror group, Iranian nuclear capabilities, Russia’s occupation of Ukraine and China’s regional “bullying.” That person, he noted, wouldn’t just support the president’s policies.
His plan would include securing the border and stopping talk of amnesty for undocumented immigrants, so that ISIS terrorists — which he referred to as both “thugs” and an “army” in the address — can’t enter the country. He also would reverse the shrinking of the U.S. military.
Stefanik used her time to oppose the Affordable Care Act, detail her support for domestic energy production and for reforming the tax code, all the while drawing attention to her youth and the fact that she is a millennial.
Stefanik worked in the George W. Bush White House and as an aide to Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s vice presidential campaign. In her weekly address she mentioned that she is 30, and said she “decided to run for office because my generation can’t just complain about these problems.”
Her family’s small business in Central New York was forced to cancel its health care policy and pay more under a new plan thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she said. Stefanik also talked about expanding energy exploration, developing more alternatives like “solar and wind” and using nuclear in an “all of the above energy policy that promotes energy independence.”
Sept. 27: Thom Tillis (North Carolina Senate)
Tillis got personal right away — disclosing he grew up in a trailer park with parents who took extra jobs to put food on the table and clothes on their back. He has been a paper boy and a short order cook and said that he worked for minimum wage “for years” before getting his first full time job as a warehouse records clerk. Now the state speaker, Tillis said said he worked his way up in the business world to be an executive at IBM and a partner at a law firm.
He criticized Democrats and Obama for what he sees as failed economic policies and accused the president of “leading from behind” because of a lack of ISIS strategy, Iran is “getting closer and closer” to developing a nuclear weapon, Russia continues to “infringe upon the sovereignty of the Ukraine” and Israel has been tagged by terrorist groups.
Sept. 20: Rep. Cory Gardner (Colorado Senate)
Gardner sounded a note of compromise, saying he thinks things get done and get done better when people “work together.” The Senate hopeful said he learned that lesson from growing up on the Eastern plain of Colorado watching his parents work with others.
He criticized the Democratic leadership in the White House and Senate, saying the party has missed opportunities to create jobs by delaying the Keystone XL pipeline. Gardner said he he backs a bill that would expedite liquid natural gas exports and create 45,000 jobs, and also open up energy production to public lands. He maintained that energy independence will make the United States safer from terrorism.
Sept. 13: Andy Tobin (Arizona’s 1st District)
Tobin, the state speaker, started his address by talking about recent flooding in Arizona and thanking first responders.
With a cowboy hat, no tie and a spectacular desert mountain as his background, Tobin said Washington is over-regulating. H said the Navajo Generating Station coal power plant is threatened by Environmental Protection Agency mandates.
He called for repealing the Affordable Care Act, citing his firsthand knowledge as a small business owner the law causes rate increases that “push” workers towards part-time employment.
Tobin cited his time in the Arizona legislature, when he “cut government by 25 percent, balanced the state budget” and provided the largest tax cut in the state’s history, all by “finding common ground,” he said.
He briefly mentioned the border and the need for immigration reform, and rounded things out by blaming Democrats for the gridlock in Washington, saying Republicans are making a “good faith” effort by bringing “real ideas” to the table to help the economy.
Sept. 6: Dan Sullivan (Alaska Senate)
Sullivan quickly outlined his résumé as a 20-year Marine veteran who is currently serving, and as the former attorney general and natural resource commissioner.
His address stressed federal government regulations are limiting energy production potential, and obstructing job growth in Alaska.
The federal government needs to loosen regulations and allow for offshore gas drilling, open up national resources to energy production, and build roads in Alaska, he said. He also wants to authorize building the Keystone XL pipeline, and create enough domestic energy resources to export to places like Ukraine.
Aug. 9: Mike McFadden (Minnesota Senate)
McFadden said in his address he would bring jobs back through “smarter” regulation not “over-regulation,” so that the “free enterprise system can innovate.” As an example he cited untouched copper and nickel resources in Minnesota with seven different regulatory agencies responsible for “making this decision . . . which is crazy.”
He said he would approach education from a local perspective and lauded his own work with a school in Minneapolis.
“The students come from some tough neighborhoods, and very hard backgrounds,” he said. “Our typical freshmen test one to two grade levels behind when they enter our school, yet, for the past two years, we’ve had a 100 percent graduation rate.”
Those students, he said, have generally gone on to college or the military after graduation.
July 7: Joni Ernst (Iowa Senate)
Ernst used her time to talk about her military involvement as a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander in the Iowa National Guard and said that an agricultural trip to the Soviet Union while in college inspired her to join the armed services.
“I saw with my own eyes what a nation without freedom looks like,” Ernst said of the trip. “I saw what happens to people when they loose their liberty.”
She criticized Democrats for expanding government programs and regulation, the Affordable Care Act, education and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Government tells us what doctors to see, what kinds of light bulbs to use and in some places even how much soda we can drink,” she said.
Her plan: a balanced budget amendment, job creation and increasing security by “responsibly” tapping into America’s domestic energy supply. Ernst said she would “strengthen” local schools by taking power and money away from Washington and giving it to parents, teachers and administrators.
June 28: Rep. Bill Cassidy (Louisiana Senate)
Cassidy, a doctor, said he sometimes has to tell his patients, “Time out: Let’s talk about you,” when they want to talk about Washington instead of their health.
He used his address to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Energy begins it all,” Cassidy said, saying that specifically steel production jobs would grow, and the pipeline project would bring in 42,000 direct and inderect jobs while also promoting safety. He said there are fewer accidents on pipelines than other modes of transportation like trains or driving.
Cassidy accused his political rivals of opposing the pipeline for ignoble reasons.
“Democrats would rather let families struggle than offend their base,” he said.