LOPEZ: Can a pro-life woman really win in New York?
LONG: Yes. First of all, abortion, euthanasia, and the whole spectrum of “life” issues are properly matters of state law, not federal law, and I’m running for federal office. Foremost on the minds of New Yorkers in this federal election are jobs, federal debt and deficits, taxes, energy prices and independence, health care and insurance, and over-regulation by Washington. I am far more in line with mainstream New Yorkers on issues of limiting government and creating jobs and economic growth than Kirsten Gillibrand is. But once you get past labels, I’m closer to most people’s views on the life issues, too. I don’t think that seniors should be denied the kind of care they will be unable to get under Obamacare. I don’t think care for the elderly, sick, or disabled should be curtailed and rationed because some panel of bureaucrats says so. And even on abortion per se, Senator Gillibrand’s views are far more extreme than most New Yorkers’. She would not permit even very mild and reasonable restrictions on abortion that most New Yorkers, and most Americans, support. She is trying to throw labels at me because she has no facts, reason, or arguments to support her views. If you ask people if they support late-term partial-birth abortion, or sex-selection abortion, or regulations ensuring safe and sanitary conditions for women, or laws that protect a baby who is born alive but is unwanted or disabled — a child who Barack Obama said was properly subjected to infanticide — people do not agree with Kirsten Gillibrand. So the answer is yes: I can win, because my views are actually mainstream, and what New Yorkers don’t know about Kirsten Gillibrand is hurting them. This campaign will help to shine light on her record and views, which most New Yorkers simply don’t know about.
LOPEZ: What’s so special about Mary Ann Glendon, whom you studied under?
LONG: Where do I start? She’s brilliant, brave, and generous with her intellectual and spiritual gifts. I studied under her for my last year of law school at Harvard, and I was received into the Catholic Church in Boston that year. I’ve continued to learn from her ever since. For example, I observed how she handled her position as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and how she in 2009 declined to accept Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal because the university decided to give the stage to President Obama for a commencement speech. She said at the time that she could not accept the award from Notre Dame, because in honoring President Obama, Notre Dame disregarded the U.S. Catholic bishops’ express request that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.” Talk about a profile in courage, and a prophetic one at that. Three years later, I hope Notre Dame sees its error in putting Obama instead of Glendon on its commencement stage.
More recently, Mary Ann and I have worked together as legal advisers to Governor Romney’s presidential campaign. It’s a privilege to be engaged with her in the most important election of our lifetime. And her most recent book, The Forum and the Tower, inspired me when I was weighing whether to get into the U.S. Senate race in New York. The book examines the intersection between philosophy and politics — questions that Aristotle examined — but she goes through history and looks at the lives of great men to reexamine some of those ancient questions. She discusses how Cicero’s friends tried to dissuade him from going into politics, for the same reasons that many of us — myself included — hesitate: The Roman Forum was full of schemers and bribe-takers, they said. One’s reputation will be assaulted. One’s family may be attacked. It might get so nasty that my children will cry. One has to either give up one’s principles or else be marginalized and unable to accomplish anything. To digest her broad sweep of perspective, across the political and philosophical history of the Western world, is to be comforted that these are not new problems. Mary Ann discusses that Cicero pondered all the same things that I wondered about before plunging into politics, and she recounts that he concluded: “What better reason could brave and high-minded men have for entering politics than the determination not to allow the state to be torn apart by the cowardly and the wicked?” I want my children and other young people to learn that lesson, and not to be dissuaded from engaging in self-government.
LOPEZ: Would Maureen Dowd like you if she got to know you?
LONG: I don’t know. I’ve never met her, but from reading what she writes, it seems she cares about things deeply. She has a great, sarcastic, entertaining sense of humor. We obviously differ tremendously on many significant issues in the public debate. I hope she’d be open-minded enough to have a rational discussion with me, instead of just ripping me for having views different from hers. Maybe we would learn a thing or two from one another. The one thing that really bothers me, however, is the way she has written about Justice Clarence Thomas, who is one of my great heroes and is my former boss. He is a deeply honorable man — a brilliant man, who understands the Constitution and does his best every day to be faithful to it, and to be generous to every other human being who crosses his path in life. She’s really wrong about him. We all make mistakes — what she has said about Clarence Thomas is one of hers.