At Friday’s First Congressional District debate, I asked the seven GOP candidates in attendance to tell what type of conservative they are. The answers sparked some sparring between State Rep. Matt Gaetz and State Sen. Greg Evers over Obamacare.
“I’m a freedom conservative, a liberty conservative,” said Gaetz at the end of the response to the question. “That is why I led the fight in Florida to block Obamacare expansion. I wish that my dear friend, Greg Evers, had joined me. Unfortunately, Senator Evers voted to put more than a million more people on the Medicaid roles and have Obamacare in Florida. I’m on the other side of that issue. I have fought Obamacare here and I’ll fight it in Washington.
Evers responded, “I said in the beginning that I wasn’t a lawyer and I’m not a great debater. I just tell it like it is. I have fought against Obamacare all the way.”
He continued, “What I did do was move to put Florida back in control of the Medicaid system that we were being forced down by Obamacare. By doing those restrictions and expanding healthcare coverage for your children, to cover the VA that’s in our hospitals If you call that wrong, then I was just wrong. I’m sorry about it.”
Cris Dosev considered himself a Reagan conservative.
“Ronald Reagan imbued most of the qualities that Americans find honorable in a statesman like he was,” said Dosev. “He understood the place of America in the world. We were that shining city upon the hill that the rest of the world looked upon for not only guidance, but as the goal.”
James Zumwalt brought up his military experience.
“When I signed up to defuse bombs in Iraq it wasn’t because of, frankly, the party or the what have you, like the Republicans, the Independents, or the Democrats,” he said. “It was for the Republic.”
He added, “Frankly, the biggest problem I see on Capitol Hill is the fact that even the Republicans have gotten away from our constitutional values. It’s very simple, the two main duties as prescribed in the Constitution for Congress, the two main things, provide for the common defense and appropriate funds.”
Matt Gaetz is the kind of conservative “that wants the government to leave us all alone.”
“A group of brave Americans got together and made a promise, not only to each other and not only to those living at the time but those who would come in future generations of Americans, that we would be successful in a different way than the rest of the world,” he said. “We would give America the promise of limited government where we get to make the decisions, not people in Washington and certainly not bureaucrats somewhere in a windowless cubicle.”
“The promise has been broken by Washington politicians,” said Gaetz, who promised to eliminate the Federal Department of Education. “Trust me. I have seen the inside of government. You don’t want those folks making any decisions for you. I’m a freedom conservative, a liberty conservative.”
Mark Wichern described himself as a constitutional conservative.
“I believe that the government should not interfere with the individual, his ability to work, and definitely not get involved in the free market,” he said. “We need to make sure our limited government keeps their promises to the states. This entire country has turned itself upside down to where the people are now on the very bottom and the federal government is on the top.”
Wichern said,”We need to go back to the Constitution and actually read it. I think there should be a qualifying test for any congressman to step up here that has to actually read the Constitution of the United States.”
Brian Frazier said, “I’m absolutely a constitutional conservative. I took an oath to defend that Constitution, and I’ve planned on defending it my whole life with my life if need be.”
He cited in experience in Washington working with various agencies.
“I understand that the departments and agencies of this government are so far outside the Constitution that they have become the definition of tyranny,” said Frazier. “That means that they have usurped the power of the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, all into one place. Then you get no due process which is guaranteed to us under the Constitution.”
He added, “The founders worked so hard to separate our three branches of government, and we’ve let it go. It’s become out of control. If you send me to Washington, I will not operate outside the constitutional box. To do that is to be a part of an unprincipled and unlawful government. It is the foundational document of our way of life and our legal system. If we don’t get back to it, we will never recover our country.”
Greg Evers said he is a Reagan conservative “with some constitutional twist in there.”
“Here’s the thing I want to uphold the Constitution, but I want to build back our military. I want to take care of the veterans that some gave some and then some gave all. I want to see that they are taken care of. I want to balance a budget, just like we do in Florida, in Washington DC. That’s what kind of conservative I am,” said Evers.
“You take and cut the fat out of the agency budgets, but you increase our military spending to where terrorism you don’t have to worry about going home and going to sleep at night,” he said. “Then we can increase our economy. Those are the things that we need to be looking at. Increasing our economy, dealing back on the terrorism, so we can stop the illegal immigrants from coming across the border. To me, that’s being conservative.”
Rebekah Bydlak called herself “an all-of-the-above conservative.”
“I’m a Reagan conservative, a constitutional conservative, fiscal conservative, liberty conservative,” she said.
Bedlam explained, “I was home schooled before I went to college. I grew up from the early age, and I’m proud my mother is here in the audience today, knowing that government is not the solution. It is the problem. The federal government has no business in most of the things that it is doing. We have to have advocates who will push back.”
She added, ” I’m proud to have been in endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus and the National Association for Gun Rights. I’ve been endorsed by them because I believe in individual liberty, small government, constitutional conservatism.”