Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Ron Johnson (Part I)

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Almost one year ago today, Ron Johnson gave a speech at a Tea Party rally in his hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Johnson, owner of local plastics company, had been invited to speak about government regulation of business. He said he’d be happy to speak, but he wanted talk about something different.

 

In that speech, Johnson described a “life changing experience” he had 27 years ago when his daughter, who was born with a heart defect, had her life saved by a state-of-the-art emergency procedure, and how that experience shaped his views on the health-care reform bill, which he calls “the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime.”

 

“What that experience taught me, is that the United States has the finest health-care system in the world. It’s not a perfect system there are some fixes that need to be done, but my daughter had a chance at a full life because my wife and I had the freedom to seek out the most advanced surgical treatment at the time, to give her that chance,” Johnson tells Battle ’10.

 

“We have a free market system in medicine that innovates and creates these medical miracles that quite honestly the rest of the world feeds off of. It really is in America where life-saving new drugs, new medical devices, are created, and that’s what I saw was at risk with this health care bill,” he says.

 

That speech prompted many in the audience to urge Johnson to run for the Republican Senate nomination. Johnson, who had never considered running for political office, was hesitant at first. But then several months later, the 111th Congress passed a health-care reform bill that most Americans opposed. “That was the final straw,” Johnson says. He decided to run.

 

Now, almost one year later, after beating several well-know candidates in the Republican primary, Johnson leads 18-year incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D) by a hefty margin in the polls, and is strongly positioned heading into November.

 

Johnson spoke to BATTLE ’10 from his home in Oshkosh.

 

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What’s at stake in this election?

 

“I hate to be overdramatic, but I think our nation’s at stake, that’s why I’m [running]. Look, I love my life in Oshkosh. This is not my life’s ambition. I’m doing this because I don’t want to see our heath-care system destroyed and I do view America as something very precious and I see it being squandered. We simply can’t continue down this path, it’s the wrong path.”

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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