Congressman Jack Kingston On The National Security Plank Of His Senate Campaign In Georgia
HH: It’s endorsement day on the Hugh Hewitt Show. Last segment, I endorsed Senator Lindsey Graham, and was glad to have the great senator from South Carolina on my program in his reelection. Now I have on Congressman Jack Kingston. He’s in a three-way primary, four-way primary, I guess, in Georgia, and I’m endorsing him. I hope all my listeners down in Augusta and Atlanta and throughout the Peach State just do the right thing and vote for Jack Kingston. Congressman, how are you?
JK: Hugh, great, man. I really appreciate it. I tell you what, campaigns are rough stuff, and having a good endorsement like yours and an intro and those kind words, that’s good for the soul. I can promise you that.
HH: Well, let me tell you very bluntly and get your reaction. I’ve been reading a lot from Robert Kaplan in Asia’s Cauldron. I talked to Lanhee Chen about Defense this week. I talked to Bret Stephens about Defense. Robert O’Brien is coming up later. He wrote in the National Interest today. We have to put our most serious Defense-minded conservatives in the Senate, because we’re getting killed abroad. And you’re one of those.
JK: Well, I’ll tell you what, you know, when you have a President whose first debut to the world is to apologize for America, a guy does not believe in American exceptionalism, who has really sent signals all over Iran and the Middle East and Muslim Brotherhood and Syria that we’re not serious. North Korea’s watching, certainly Putin movements and decisions in Crimea were influenced by watching what Obama does and what he does not do. And what he usually does is talk, and what he usually does after that is nothing.
HH: So when you get to the Senate, do you want to be on Armed Services? I think you’ve represented most of the military installations in Georgia, haven’t you, Jack Kingston?
JK: I have, Hugh. We have eight installations. I have represented five of the eight, and represent four right now. Every branch of the military, one of the battles that we’re involved in right now is keeping the A-10 in the Air Force, which this administration wants to eliminate completely. And so we’re always having one skirmish or the other with this administration as they try to cut the Defense. And you know, what they’re doing, they’re ramping up social programs and tamping down Defense spending.
HH: Now how in the world, do people care about this in Georgia? When you’re out there and you’ve got a free-for-all primary, people want to talk about Obamacare, and you’re for a repeal and reform. I know that. And they want to cut about spending, and no one is more to the right of you on that. But do they care about the Defense issues? Do they get it, yet?
JK: They do care, but not as much as I would like them to care. I’d say Georgians have a pretty good track record on being hospitable to military, and yet at the same time, it’s not the number one, two or three issues that are out there. And as you said, you know, it is more Obamacare, cutting spending, it’s economic issues, jobs, and oh, yeah, keep the military strong. But you know what I’ve been saying is look, you cut the military too deep, too fast, all you’re doing is emboldening our enemies, and then they’re going to make a play. And you’re going to have to backfill everything that you’ve cut, and it’s going to cost you twice as much.
HH: Now Congressman Kingston, we share a common friend, a guy named Glenn Viers, lives down in Atlanta, and I’ve asked Glenn to call me if he sees Democrat money coming in for one of your opponents. Now they’ve done this to us before. They’ve tried to nominate for the Republicans their weakest candidate. Is that happening, because you’re the strongest candidate, and all of the people understand that who follow the national Senate map. So I’m afraid they’re going to come with a lot of money attacking you at the end like they did in other races in order to take you off the board. Has that happened, yet?
JK: It has not happened yet that we can see, but we do believe it’s going to happen. We have 40 days to go, and what we have seen is the emergence of some superPACs in this race. And right now, we’re not sure…you know, they come sometimes out of the blue, sometimes you’ve never heard of them. And they will either attack me for being too soft on Defense or conservative issues, and then they’re going to, they might even attack one of these other candidates for being too hard. But the focus of their ads will be to manipulate voters to throw us off our message, and to put a little confusion in there. But right now, we feel like we’re in a very good position, and so the likelihood of an attack is great.
HH: When do people start to vote in Georgia? Do you have 30 day out voting?
JK: Yes, we do. April 28th begins early voting, and there’s already been a number of applications sent in for absentee voting, and so I think it’s going to be, you know, maybe a 10%, it could be higher, but Georgia’s just shy of 10 million people. We’ll probably have about a million people vote in the Republican primary, and maybe another half million in the Democrat primary.
HH: I’m talking with Jack Kingston, Congressman from Georgia who I have endorsed in the Georgia primary down there, and my listeners in Atlanta and across Georgia, I hope you’ll make sure to remember Jack Kingston when you go to vote. And I’m just curious if the technology, if you think you’ve got the technology to the level that Republicans across the country have to have. And we didn’t really have that edge in 2012 and 2008, Congressman Kingston.
JK: Well, we have dedicated a lot of our resources to social media. We’re at 145,000 likes for social media, which is more than the state party or more than the incumbent governor, and twice as many as the next Senate candidate. However, beyond that typical social media, further identification and moving voters through electronic communication, that’s something that we still have to catch up on. I believe we’re a lot closer in terms of voter ID than we were in 2012, but it worries me, because so many of the high techies are Democrats and willing to do this pro bono for the other team.
HH: I’ve got to tell people the story. The first time I met Jack Kingston was at a tiny conference room in the House when he summoned a bunch of bloggers and Congressional staffers. I think it was in 2004, 2003. You were very early to this, Jack Kingston. I hope that served you well in this campaign, but you know how important it is to be on every platform every day all day.
JK: It’s extremely important, and it is a 24 hour news cycle. You know, Hugh, Mike Pence and I, who is now governor of Indiana and a good friend of yours, he and I started the first blogs in Congress. And I remember trying to get President Bush to have a bloggers’ conference, a press conference with bloggers. And they really liked the idea at first, but they warmed up to it. And I do think that in terms of technology, Republicans have to be out there. We advertise, for example, on Pandora. And not all Republicans do it, but it’s a 15 second ad, and it’s just a quickie way to get out there. And you’ve got to be where the listeners are, and where the viewers are, and where the voters are.
HH: You know who listens to Pandora are young moms. They are, I read an interesting piece on Pandora and young moms. They use it with their kids for a variety of reasons. They trust it. That’s obviously a demographic that’s important to a Senate candidate like you, Jack Kingston. But more generally, if you’ve got the right Pandora stations, you get your right demo.
JK: Well, that’s right. And you can, you know, focus it to country music audiences, or to rock and roll, or just about anywhere. And so it’s just one of those other tools that we as conservatives have to get out there on.
HH: A minute left, how’s the money versus your colleagues who are running against you? Are you ahead of them?
JK: Yes, I’m proud to say we’ve led the money chase, and we have a whole lot of small checks which I’m really excited about, a lot of people who have sent in $25 dollars. And you know, of course, we can accept checks from all over the country. so if anybody wants to get involved in a good Senate race, we love those $10 and $15 dollar checks.
HH: And involved in a national security significant Senate race. Don’t let the Democrats dictate who’s going to be the next Senator from Georgia. Let’s get someone to carry the banner for national defense and for fiscal sanity. Jack Kingston, good luck in the closing 40 days. It’s got to be tiring, but keep up the kick.
End of interview.