Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Ron Johnson, the Reluctant Candidate (Part II)

GOP Senate hopeful Ron Johnson recently spoke to BATTLE ‘10 from his home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This is Part II of our exclusive interview. Part I can be found here.

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How do we get the country back on track? What kinds of policies would you pursue if elected?

“We were in such a deep hole, and the Obama administration just kept digging. First we’ve got to dig out of that hole. We have got to establish an overall spending cap, institute spending discipline, something the folks in Washington have to live underneath. We need to introduce basic business budgeting principles, things like zero-base budgeting, and make these agencies justify every dollar in spending.”

“We need to pursue things like hiring freezes, spending freezes, spending rollbacks, that’s what a business does. You have tough economic times in a business, you go to your department heads and say ‘okay cut ten percent.’ I would certainly be opposed to any kind of tax increase, which is the absolute wrong thing to do when you’ve got a weakened economy. Any time you tax something you get less of it, so if you raise taxes now you’ll get less economic activity, you’ll end up with less revenue.”

“I am absolutely committed to repealing Obamacare. I really do believe it’s the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime. It’s totally designed to lead to a single payer, Canadian-style system, and it’s not theory in terms of what that results in. We see it in Canada, Britain, they have rationing. Their quality of care is not what ours is. The innovation that we’ve come to appreciated would be stifled, if not just come to a grinding halt.”

A lot of people said Barack Obama lacked the experience to be president. You have no political experience and you’re running for Senate. If you’re elected, would that put you at a disadvantage on Capitol Hill?

“I’m not sure we were criticizing President Obama for his lack of political experience. I think we were criticizing him for his lack of real world experience, private sector economic experience. I think that’s exactly what we need in this country today, somebody who has actually operated in the private sector, somebody like myself who has run a manufacturing business, somebody who has actually created real jobs and done it on a sustained basis. That’s exactly the kind of perspective we need in Washington. President Obama, and quite honestly, my opponent Sen. Feingold, they do not have that experience, and I think it shows in terms of the policies they are pursuing.”

Most polls indicate a significant enthusiasm gap favoring Republican candidates across the country, but particularly in Wisconsin. Why do you think that is?

“I certainly feel that enthusiasm on the campaign trail. There’s no doubt about it — the intensity, the passion is on our side. What I attribute it to is the issue of spending. People understand that the economy and jobs are related to this out of control spending.”

Here Johnson recalls an infamous speech Obama made five days before Election Day in 2008, in which he said: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

“You know what? We didn’t want to transform America. There were problems we wanted fixed, but we weren’t looking for a fundamental transformation of this nation.”

President Obama and Sen. Feingold held a rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently, urging young voters to turn out in November, as they did in such big numbers in 2008. What can the Republican Party do to attract more young voters?

“What I always tell young people is that it is [their] future that is being squandered, and young people who are paying attention realize that. Who is this debt burden going to fall on? Not mom and dad. It’s going to fall on [younger generations], and I think more and more young people are waking up to that realization.”

How worried should Russ Feingold be about Nov. 2, 2010?

“I’m just a business guy, you know. I’m not a political pundit. My attitude is I’m just going to keep working hard and doing the same thing I’ve been doing. It seems to be working. I’ll let Russ Feingold worry about himself.”

“That is the clear choice in this election for the voters of Wisconsin: Do you want to send a career politician, somebody who has been involved basically only in politics for the better part of 30 years to solve these problems, get the economy moving help create jobs, or do you want to send somebody who has got 31 years of real world experience in the free market, making products, exporting products, creating jobs? That is the choice I’m offering the voters of Wisconsin, and in the end I’m more than happy to let those folks decide.”

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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