A Mini-Interview With Mike Whalen

One of the hottest congressional races in America right now is in Iowa’s first district where Rightroots Endorsed candidate Mike Whalen (R) is going toe to toe with Bruce Braley (D) for a seat currently held by Jim Nussle (who’s running for governor).

Yesterday, I did a short interview with Mike Whalen and what follows is an edited transcript of our conversation.

John Hawkins: Before we start getting neck deep in the issues here, tell us a little about your background. You’re an entrepreneur, aren’t you?

Mike Whalen: Yes, I am. …I opened a 100 seat restaurant called the Iowa Machine Shed in 1978…and it built up to a business that operates in 6 states.

…Over the course of the years, I got more involved in politics and I joined the board of what I think is the best conservative think tank in the country, the National Center for Policy Analysis. …(I) became the policy chairman there for a while before I became a candidate (and)…I felt compelled to enter the arena.

John Hawkins: If a voter from your district walked up to you and said, “Give me three differences between you and Bruce Braley that would convince me to vote for you,” what would you say?

Mike Whalen: …I am a pro-growth conservative. He is an anti-business, liberal trial lawyer. We disagree fundamentally on the future of this country.

I think we have two big battles in the 21st century: the fight for jobs and the fight for freedom and against terrorism. He thinks we should immediately cut and run, pull the troops out of Iraq, and withdraw from that fight on terrorism. I disagree.

On the fight for jobs, I believe (in) a lower, simpler tax code that puts investment first. (We need to put) the consumer in charge of health care, rather than Hillary, we need to reform entitlements before the baby boomers retire, and we need to have lawsuit reform.

On all those issues, we have fundamental differences of opinion…

John Hawkins: Now, as you know, you’ve been endorsed by Rightroots, a group of bloggers, including myself, that have picked competitive races around the country that the GOP needs to win. So, because of that, there are going to be conservatives reading this interview from all over and trying to decide whether to chip in a few bucks to your campaign. Give those people an idea of what they could expect Mike Whalen to be like if and when he gets into Congress.

Mike Whalen: Well, first of all they’d have a consistent, conservative voice in Congress. I think that we need to be working on fundamental issues, whether it’s getting a simpler, fairer tax code that puts investment first….We need to reform health care by putting the consumer in charge with health care savings accounts and association health plans.

…So, if you go right on down the line, conservatives are going to see somebody who’s there to get a job done, not to have a job. I already got a job. I think conservatives…want someone not only with my views, but who’s there for the right reasons. Not to be part of political Disneyland, but to try to get some things done.

John Hawkins: Now, I notice there’s an immigration split between (you and Braley). Can you tell us a little bit about your positions on immigration?

Mike Whalen: Well, mine’s simple. We have to stop the jobs to stop the flow. …I’ve also said that we need to tighten our borders. We need to do both of those things and we need to go to it now.

When I talk to people, I don’t hear racism, I don’t hear xenophobia, I don’t hear any kind of negative thing. What I hear from Iowans is that they want the rule of law to be (in effect again). They think that sovereignty is something that counts. They think it’s not unreasonable to have to show an ID to get a job, the same way that you should have to show one to vote….

John Hawkins: We sort of touched on this earlier, but tell us a little more about Bruce Braley, about some of the positions of his that you find objectionable.

Mike Whalen: ..Bruce wants to…be part of the Nancy Pelosi, left-wing crowd. …He’s a former head of the Iowa trial lawyers. …He suggested, in a televised round table, that we immediately cut off funding for the troops and force them all to come home. He doesn’t take the global fight for freedom and against terrorism seriously. I do.

…On the economy, he’s pretty much the opposite of me. He wants to put government in charge of health care. He thinks that the tax cuts are bad and that people need to pay more taxes. He tries to pretend that Social Security and Medicare don’t need any kind of a fix. Finally, you know trial lawyers, they never saw a lawsuit they didn’t like. He thinks that the current system is just fine.

John Hawkins: Last question. Last month, the National Journal ranked your district as the Democrat’s number one pick-up opportunity in the country. So, you’ve got a big political target on your back. How do you think things are going right now? Are you ahead, behind? How do you see the race right now?

Mike Whalen: When I talked to Tom Cole, a Congressman from Oklahoma, he said, “In my district, a Democrat can beat a Republican. But, a conservative can beat a hard core liberal.” I think the (best way to sum it up) is that when conservatives stand on pro-growth, pro-freedom, and pro-family issues and don’t back down, we can win. (Our internal polls) show I’m winning. Contrary to what you see written in the national press, my pro-growth, conservative ideas seem to be resonating.

John Hawkins: Mike, I appreciate your time. Thank you!

If you’re so inclined, you can donate to Mike Whalen’s campaign through Rightroots.

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