HH: Joined now by Congressman Tom Tancredo. Tom, how are you?
TT: Hugh, I’m fine, except I’m probably losing my voice. But other than that, I’m okay.
HH: I thought you were going to stiff me. Do I get you for two segments now?
TT: Well, no. Can’t do that, because we’ve got one more backed up. I mean, this has been wall to wall, back to back talk radio since 9:00 this morning.
HH: Well, you’re shortening the Hugh Hewitt Show, Tom, but nevertheless, I’ll get right to the chase. Is this a protest candidate or is this is a real campaign?
TT: No, sir, it is for real. I mean, once you make the decision to do this, to actually announce, you’ve got to do, you can do everything you can to win the race. And if you just simply say I’m running because of an issue, one issue, and I want to make a statement? Forget about it. I do want to do that, and it is certainly an issue that propels me. But no, you have to do it 100%.
HH: Okay, then let me test that out. Have you endorsed someone to replace you in the 6th District in Colorado?
TT: No, I have not, and certainly don’t have to make that decision until I see if we can actually make it through these primaries.
HH: Are you ruling out reelection in the 6th District?
HH: Well then…
TT: I’ve got to see what happens. I’ve got to see whether we can make it through this thing. And I certainly…I can’t make that decision now.
HH: So you want it both ways? You want to run for Congress and the presidency?
TT: Well, I want to do my job as a Congressman while I am running for president, let’s put it that way, and we’ll make that decision later.
HH: But you haven’t ruled out, you know, getting wiped out in New Hampshire, and going back and keeping your job in Colorado?
HH: Well, doesn’t that tell a potential supporter that you’re not really in it for good, Tom, if you’re not willing to, you know, burn the bridges and do the Sherman thing, and say I’m in it, all in?
TT: Well, all in, you can be all in, can you not, and do exactly what I’m doing? I intend to live up to my responsibilities as a Congressman, I intend to fight as hard as I can for the nomination of the Republican Party for president of the United States. I think I can do those things.
HH: Yeah, but doesn’t it hurt the party to have the 6th District on hold when Democrats will target it…
HH: …and we need a candidate in there raising money. So you’re asking the party in Colorado to just stand around?
TT: Believe me, believe me, Hugh, the party, the 6th Congressional District will be fine, and we will keep it in Republican hands. That I can guarantee you. And it will be a good candidate, should I not pursue that particular course, I guarantee you that a good Republican candidate will succeed me in that district.
HH: All right. I think that’s having it both ways, but let me move on. GOP question, just two years and three months ago, Tom, you endorsed an American Independent Party candidate over the Republican nominee in a special election out here in Orange County. Is that material to a campaign for the GOP nomination, that you threw the Republican overboard just two years ago?
TT: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve said this before, that issues matter to me greatly. And you know, I have been a Republican all of my life, Hugh. And I mean, back in high school, when we had a…I remember a mock election with…this is in 1960, at Holy Family High School, had a mock election for president of the United States, and this was in a Catholic school, okay?
HH: But Congressman, that’s nice, but two years ago, you went AIG.
HH: You threw the Republican overboard.
TT: The reason I have been a Republican all my life is because for the most part, everybody, when I’m looking for a candidate, that’s where I come down on.
HH: Congressman, you’re filibustering. You give me four minutes, and you filibuster.
TT: But I’m telling you, issues matter to me, and you make…
HH: But what about that election?
TT: What about it?
HH: What about that election?
TT: What about it?
HH: How could you vote…
TT: That person that was person was more Republican than the other one.
HH: Jim Gilchrist?
TT: He was more of a Republican on the issues.
HH: Are you still proud of endorsing Gilchrist after all the controversy surrounding the Minutemen?
TT: Listen, the Minutemen, I think, are…it’s still a great organization.
HH: No, I asked…
TT: And I’m still proud of it…
TT: Yes, absolutely.
HH: You’re still proud of Jim Gilchrist?
TT: He did, he did a yeoman’s job in putting together that organization and working as hard as he did.
HH: Have you followed the controversy?
TT: I have followed the controversy. I understand there’s a lot of controversy around it. That’s what happens to people in this life.
HH: Do you believe Gilchrist is innocent of those charges?
TT: I haven’t the foggiest idea.
HH: Can I keep you one more segment, Congressman?
TT: Yes, sir. You can.
– – – –
HH: Congressman, tough question for you. We’re going to get an immigration bill this year.
HH: It’s going to be…McCain-Kennedy is back, and I’m calling it, as radio talk show hosts are oft to do, it should be called the McCain-Kennedy-Tancredo bill, because I think your opposition last year to compromise made certain this year what is in essence rolling amnesty. In other words, you fought so hard against everything, that we’re now going to get stuck with Kennedy’s bill.
TT: Actually, I didn’t fight hard against everything, I fought hard for the passage of the House bill, and the House bill was a great bill. And it was an enforcement only bill. And it got a majority of Republican support. And of course, we couldn’t get the Senate to go along with it, but that’s exactly where we should go again, and we should fight just as hard against a McKennedy bill this time. And we should not, you know, the idea that we’re going to get rolled, and that we’re going to get this bill, I don’t agree with you. I think that frankly, we’ve got as much strength now in the House. I talked to the leadership in the House. They’re not happy with this, they’re not going to go along with it, and so the battle is enjoined. We will see what happens, but I don’t think it’s a given.
HH: If, in fact, I’m right, though, and that because the Republicans lost the House and lost the Senate, we get stuck with McKennedy again, as you call it, that’s going to be at your feet, isn’t it, Tom?
TT: Are you saying, do you believe, Hugh, honestly believe that we lost the House because we lost the Hispanic vote?
HH: No, I’m saying that we lost a majority because you scared so many people with anti-illegal immigration rhetoric into not compromising at a critical moment, that we lost all sorts of momentum, all sorts of credibility, we’re not getting the fence built, that you played to win. You tried to shoot the moon in Hearts terms, and we ended up with nothing, and we’re going to end up with Kennedy’s bill.
TT: So if you stand for principle, if you actually believe in what you’re saying, and you’re not willing to compromise on something of this nature, then of course you, in some way, have harmed the nation? Well, I’ll tell you, if that’s the case, then I do not for a moment, well, I don’t believe for a moment that that is the case. I think that if everybody in this Congress, and the past one would have stood on principle, then…and everybody in this Congress does so, and especially Republicans, we will be rewarded with a great win in the next election.
HH: I mean, that’s Goldwater rhetoric, and I appreciated Barry as much as anywhere.
TT: Well, I’m sorry. Am I supposed to be, apologize for Goldwater rhetoric? Too bad.
HH: Well, no, I mean, do you believe that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, right? I mean, not a bit of compromise, and thus, if prudence is out the window…
TT: No, not on this issue. It’s the country we’re talking about. It is the nation.
HH: I understand. I agree with you on 90% of this stuff.
TT: Can we keep this or not?
HH: I agree with you 90%, but if McKennedy ends up the bill, because of the disaster at the polls last year, do you have any responsibility in that at all?
TT: Absolutely not. I have done everything I can to stop it. That is my only responsibility…and to pass good legislation. That is my responsibility. It is not to compromise on issues of this magnitude, not when you’re talking about the fact that the country is at stake, which I believe it to be.
HH: And even when you get rolled in the end? So it’s better to lose…
TT: That could happen. That could happen. But you know, you don’t make those decisions based on whether you can get rolled or not. At least I don’t. I base the decisions on exactly what I believe to be the right thing to do, and I’m going to continue to do that throughout my political career, however long it lasts.
HH: If you score in the single digits in New Hampshire, Congressman Tancredo, or the low single digits in Iowa and New Hampshire, what will that say about the issue of illegal immigration generally?
TT: Well, it will say that perhaps I was not able to make the case strong enough out here. Maybe I can’t raise the money to get my issue out there. Maybe I am going to be overwhelmed by the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by other candidates. I’m going to try my best. That’s all I can do, Hugh, is my best.
HH: And last question…
TT: The thing is, Hugh, let me…one last thing.
HH: I’ll keep you. Do you want to stay?
TT: No, I cannot. I’ve got…I can’t do it. Again…
HH: Tom, how can you run for president…
TT: We will…unless I have to do to the next show the same thing I was doing to yours, in postponing it a minute or two. I’ve already done that.
HH: I know, but that’s, that’s not the way to run for president. If people will talk to you about the issues, why do five minute interviews one after the other, instead of…will you come back this week for an hour?
TT: This week?
TT: Maybe tomorrow…how about…well, no, I’ll be on a plane to New Hampshire. I don’t know, but I will come back for a longer period of time in a very short amount of time.
HH: So I’ve got you locked and loaded for an hour within two weeks. We’ll pretape if necessary.
TT: Okay, fine.
HH: Is that a deal?
HH: Tom, you’re a great talker. You should be talking on the radio every day.
TT: Yeah, well, you know, after a while, Hugh, you figure out this guy, no matter how long I talk to you, you’re not going to get the picture.
HH: Oh, I’ve got the picture, but I want to make sure everybody gets the picture. Tom Tancredo, www.teamtancredo.org, we’ll talk to you on round two later this week or next. I’ll be right back, America. Thank you, Tom.
End of interview.