An Exclusive Mini-Interview With John Jacob

In Utah’s Third District, John Jacob is taking on the incumbent, Chris Cannon, in what’s shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested primary races in America.

Cannon, a 5-time incumbent, is a huge supporter of the amnesty bill in the Senate and to give you an idea of how pro-illegal immigrant Cannon is, just take a look at this quote from him back in 2002:

“We love immigrants in Utah. And we don’t make the distinction very often between legal and illegal.”

Now that immigration has become the biggest issue in the primary, Cannon has started talking tough about enforcing the borders, but it seems to be a little late for Cannon to get his credibility back on the issue.

Still, Cannon is a 5-time incumbent, has the support of most of the Republican establishment, including George Bush, and was ahead 48-28 in a poll of Third District residents done in mid-May. So, can he be beaten? Maybe. There are some indications that an upset may be in the works.

Jacob beat Cannon at the Utah GOP Convention in mid-May, 52-48. Also, Jacob’s staff told me that their last internal poll of registered Republicans, which was taken last week, has Cannon at 34% & Jacob at 28% with 38% undecided. With the primary less than a week away, those are scary numbers for an incumbent who should be pushing 50% or higher by now.

That’s why, yesterday, I was pleased to get an opportunity to do a short interview with John Jacob, a man a lot of conservatives would like to see as the next Congressman in Utah’s 3rd District.

What you’re about to see below is an edited, partial transcript of my conversation with John Jacob on Tuesday. Enjoy!

John Hawkins: I heard that Bush came out for Cannon. I guess he felt like he had to back the guy who was backing his immigration policy.

John Jacob: …The Wall Street Journal came out with an article that said (the House) was going to dig in their heels if I get elected. If the President coming out for Chris Cannon doesn’t put that in cement, I don’t know what does.

John Hawkins: Your opponent, Chris Cannon, who’s the incumbent in your district tries to say that he’s tough on illegal immigration. Do you think that’s the case and if not, why not?

John Jacob: (Laughs) He’s only tough on illegal immigration because he knows that if he’s not, he’s going to lose to me. So, he has flip-flopped more than John Kerry has. There are too many things on his record that show he’s not (tough on illegal immigration).

…Laura Bush has got a phone message to vote for Chris. I’ve heard the phone message; it’s not a bad one. It says that he supported the war in Iraq, which I would have done and that he’s trying to (secure) our borders. For 10 years, I don’t think he has tried to (secure) our borders…. The point is that the President is now supporting him and this President is not tough on illegal immigration.

…Chris can have it one way or the other, but he can’t have it both (ways). He can come out and say, “I’ve always been against illegal immigration,” or he can be on the President’s side of immigration.

Now, I think the President is great and I like him in a lot of ways. But, at the same time, on immigration, he has not been strong on it. The country is saying, “We’ve got to secure our borders,” and we’re not doing it. No matter how much they’ve said they’re thinking about it, they haven’t done it and until we do that, we can’t fix this problem.

John Hawkins: What kind of message do you think it would send in Washington if you were to defeat a 5-time incumbent like Chris Cannon with an issue like illegal immigration being the deciding factor?

John Jacob: …There’s no question that we can send a mandate to Washington, D.C. that we must fix this problem. We’re not replacing a Republican with a Democrat, we’re replacing a Republican with a Republican that is saying, “It’s time to listen to the people.” …Imagine a Congressman actually representing the people. Can you imagine how much synergy that would (produce)?

John Hawkins: If a voter said to you, “OK, give me 3 differences between you and Chris Cannon that would convince me to vote for you,” what would you say?

John Jacob: One is my contract with Utah. If they go to, under issues, the first one is a Contract with Utah. I put 4 things in there that my constituents picked — education, immigration, energy, and the 2nd Amendment….What I did is I put it in writing, I signed it, and if they vote for me, they’ve signed it. That is a major difference between me and anyone in Congress. I’ve actually put it in writing. You don’t have to remember, “What was he really saying?” because it’s in writing. I’ve said that if I don’t work on these things when I’m in Congress, then I’m not going back in the next election cycle.

Obviously, we’re also on very different sides of the illegal immigration issue. Finally, it is working with the voter…instead of (thinking) I am this intelligent person who has all the answers and it’s too complicated for the average voter. What I’ve found is that if the majority of the people are asked on items, they usually pick what’s right.

John Hawkins: One thing a lot of people are probably saying to themselves is, “Sure, I’d love to see Jacob knock off Cannon. But, there hasn’t been any polling done in the district lately, that we’ve seen publicly. So, how do I know he has a chance to win?

John Jacob: Actually the polling that was done by Dan Jones, for a newspaper, just polled everybody. It had Democrats as well as Republicans….What’s interesting is that if you poll a person who votes (in the primary), the Republican voter, he was at 38%. His own camp told us last Saturday that he had dropped to 34%. Now Laura Bush and the President have come out (for him) and that may take him back up to 38-40%.

John Hawkins: One last question: despite the fact that a lot of people are unhappy with their representatives, we don’t see a lot of strong primary challenges to incumbents. Why do you think that is?

John Jacob: Oh, you’re under attack. Any good person who tries to get involved in politics…I’m a businessman. I haven’t been a professional politician. I knew it was going to be rough and I used to be an air traffic controller and stress really doesn’t bother me. But, when I met with Senator (Bob) Bennett, his first question was, “How strong is your marriage?” — because it’s hard on your wife. It’s hard on other people who love you to see you under attack because they know the type of person you are.

John Hawkins: I thank you for your time and…

John Jacob: Let me answer a couple of questions that you didn’t ask…

In my mind, when 70% of a country votes, in a country where if you go to vote, you could be blown up or shot — and you stick your finger in an inkwell and when you go away from the safety of the polling…anybody could know you voted — and 70% of that country votes…? That tells me we’re winning that war and I support the President on that 100%.

As far as spending in Washington, D.C. goes, I think that illegal immigration is one of our biggest expenses. It’s costing our nation more than we can imagine. This cheap labor we’re supposedly getting? It’s the most expensive labor you can possibly pay (for). They call this a one issue situation? Illegal immigration affects our jobs, our schools, our hospitals, crime.

…If we don’t get this fixed, if we don’t work on this now, immediately, and do it right — not just put a band-aid on it, not give up and say, “Ok, you can stay here,” — our country is headed for one of the biggest disasters we could possibly have.

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