Senator Conrad Burns from Montana
HH: I’m linking Senator Burn’s website at Hughhewitt.com. You can contribute there. www.conradburns.com. And Senator, it’s not a very expensive place to advertise, but I think the Democrats are raising millions against you, aren’t they?
CB: Well, they’ve got two or three organizations that’s raising a lot of money. Not only the committees, but all your 527’s are in there, MoveOn.org, and Dailykos have raised quite a lot of money for my opponent. So he’ll be able to match me. Then the trial lawyers, as you know, traditionally support Democratic candidates in this situation. They’re also in this race, also.
HH: Now Senator Burns, you’ve got a Democratic colleague, Max Baucus. But he’s not a radical. He’s been around for a long time. He’s kind of an old-style Democrat. Jon Tester’s different. Tell us about him.
CB: Well, Jon…really, he hasn’t run into a tax bill that he really didn’t like. He expanded, as president of the senate up here, he expanded the spending in the Montana state legislature over a billion dollars in one session. And of course, you’d have to collect from taxes to make sure you can pay for all of that, because the state law says you’ve got to balance the budget in the state of Montana. But you know, he just believes that we should repeal the whole Patriot Act, and I’m just the other way around. I don’t want to weaken families, and I don’t want to weaken our security.
HH: He wants the Patriot Act gone?
CB: That’s right. In a debate in Butte on Saturday night, I made the comment, I said he wants to weaken the Patriot Act. And he said I’ll not only weaken it, I want to repeal it. So that’s pretty radical.
HH: Senator Burns, that is radical. That rebuilds the wall that allowed the CIA, or forced the CIA not to share information with the FBI about the approach of 9/11.
CB: That’s exactly right. And also, in that particular piece of legislation is the methanphetamine control act. There’s a lot of things in the Patriot Act that helps us control, or try to run down these drug and drug kingpins, and that kind of situation. So he sounds like…he just wants to give free reins to the terrorists who are trying to kill us.
HH: Now Senator Burns, what about the economy in Montana? How’s it doing?
CB: The Montana economy’s doing well. We’ve got about a 3.5% unemployment, in that area, more people working now and owning their own homes in the history of the state. In fact, one county has a 1% unemployment rate. In fact, even McDonald’s is paying $12 dollars an hour, so…and I went down and filled out an application.
HH: (laughing) Now Conrad Burns, how long have you been in public life in Montana?
CB: Well, I was first elected to the county board of commissioners in Yellowstone County in 1986.
HH: And so, you’ve been doing this for twenty years. You’ve been in some tough races before. What’s it come down to in Montana? Is this retail politics like John Thune in South Dakota?
CB: You bet it is. It is boots on the ground, and talking to the people. And next week, we’ll be able to do that.
HH: And do you have the organization that is necessary in these years…
CB: Oh, yeah. We’re…our voter I.D., and our 72 hour programs are already in place. They’re paid for. And we’re trying to define Jon. Jon’s a farmer from up in Big Sandy, and I’ve known him for a while, and we’re going to define him as who he really is.
HH: Now President Bush took Montana by 20 points. Do you expect the President to be in Montana for Conrad Burns between now and the election?
CB: Can’t say that, but I wouldn’t mind having him.
HH: I’ll bet you wouldn’t mind having him. Does Montana support the war?
CB: Well, we don’t support war. Nobody supports war. But they support winning, once you make the committment. They support winning. And that’s the important part.
HH: And is that shared in the media outlets of Montana?
CB: No, it’s not.
HH: Is it significantly, is the media in Montana significantly to the left of the mainstream, as it is, say, in the country as a whole?
CB: Oh, yes. It is.
HH: Now how do you campaign against that? You’re getting hit by these people day in and day out. I don’t know if you’ve got much talk radio up there.
CB: Well, you just…I’ll tell you what. You just outwork them.
CB: You just outwork them. And you never lose faith in your people. And the people understand it. I’ve been in business up there a long time, and I’ve been around a long time. I’m kind of like an old shoe, too, you know?
CB: But anyway, we’ll just outwork him, and that’s what we’ll do. But we’re organized. We’ve got boots on the ground, and getting our people to the polls, and that’s why they’re telling us…right now, the people are just starting to focus on this race. But if we get our people out, we’ll win the race. Now if our people stay home and don’t vote, then we’ll get beat.
HH: The Republicans, the national Republicans, not your campaign, have brought to the attention that Jon Tester voted in 2001 against Senate bill 139. This was to put internet filters in libraries to stop pornography being available to children.
CB: That’s right.
HH: Why would he vote against internet filters?
CB: Well, I’ll tell you what. Now you can make the case over there, but I’ll tell you what. I think we ought to make the libraries…the reason I voted to do that is to make sure that they’re aware that they’ve got young people using computers in libraries. And if you don’t have a filter, you better start watching those computers. And I really believe that…I voted with the families. He voted with the ACLU. And that’s the end of that story.
HH: Now last but not least, you are an environmentalist. I know a lot about habitat conservation plans. I know that they don’t work when there’s no money, and that people’s property rights suffer as a result. You’ve obtained about 2.7 million for a habitat conservation planning in Montana. Do the greens support practical conservation like you’ve pioneered, Conrad Burns?
CB: Well, they do, and you’re referring to the Blackfoot Challenge.
CB: We put that together up there, which is one of the largest land and conservation programs. And we did it with ranchers. We did it with people on public lands. We did it with Plum Creek Lumber. And we kept our land open, and the ranchers kept their grazing and their private property rights. And now, this completes the cycle of completing the habitat for wildlife in Montana, because they’re very important to us, too.
HH: Is Montana a 2nd Amendment state, Conrad Burns? I think it is.
CB: Oh, you bet. Strong 2nd Amendment.
HH: Well then, how does a Jon Tester, who will be allied with the Carl Levin’s and the Chuck Schumer’s, and the Hillary Clinton’s, hide the fact that his party is anti-gun?
CB: Well, I asked him that, and he didn’t have a very good answer. (laughing)
CB: He got…in fact, he got a little testy about it.
HH: Any doubt in your mind he would have voted against John Roberts’ confirmation?
CB: There is no doubt in my mind. He came out and opposed John Roberts and Sam Alito both.
HH: And does that register with Montanans?
CB: It does. And we remind them. But that’s how far to the left that Jon Tester really is. And so we will continue to define him, and tell the people of Montana just exactly where he stands.
HH: Senator Burns, great to talk to you. Conradburns.com, if you want to get involved. It’s going to be a tight race. He’s going to need a lot of effort. He’s going to need the Hugh Hewitt audience to help him, so trot on over to Conradburns.com. I just linked it at Hughhewitt.com.
End of interview.