August 21, 2011

Republican Senate candidates face off in Orlando

One voice absent from the following referenced debate in Orlando was Allen West who is considering a run for the Senate.

By Bill Cotterell, Florida Capital Bureau:  Four Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate competed for the votes of Central Florida conservatives Saturday with promises to vigorously oppose gay marriage and abortion, fight for a balanced budget and federal spending cuts, stop the United Nations from imposing any global initiatives on Americans and seek a simplified, fair tax system that favors business growth.

They also vowed to block any environmental or financial initiatives sent to Washington by the United Nations -- with the prospect of pulling out of the world organization -- and to vote against confirmation of "activist" federal judges. Internet gambling also has to be curtailed, the four men generally agreed.

Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, ex-state Rep. Adam Hasner, retired Army Col. Mike McAlister and business executive Craig Miller were applauded frequently by about 250 activists from the Florida Family Policy Council and West Orlando Tea Party, which organized a debate in the auditorium of a middle school near Lake Eola. They were forewarned not to go negative or attack each other, although shots at President Obama, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democrats who controlled Congress in the past two years -- and still run the Senate -- were fair game for the two-hour session.

George LeMieux
LeMieux, who was appointed to the Senate in 2009 for 16 months to complete the term of ex-Sen. Mel Martinez, said he supported a balanced-budget constitutional amendment and the concept of "cut, cap and balance" in the current congressional debate on fixing the economy. Like others, LeMieux said he would have voted against this month's debt-ceiling deal, if he were in the Senate now, because it did not cut spending enough and a 12-member "super committee" set up to make recommendations might come back with tax hikes.

"It was a Band-aid on a bullet wound... It was illusory, we've got to do better," LeMieux said. "Florida's Bill Nelson has no plan and that's why we need to get rid of him. Any one of the four people on this stage would be a lot better than Bill Nelson."

Adam Hasner
Hasner, a former state House Republican leader from Boca Raton, alluded to the Tea Party's strength in electing Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and grabbing 87 House seats with Republicans who vote the anti-tax, budget-cutting line. Hasner has focused on LeMieux in trying to mold his image more like Rubio's -- a blunt newcomer who happily bucks the GOP establishment.

"In 2010, the people in this room sent the first wave to Washington, D.C.," said Hasner. "In 2012, we need to send reinforcements."

McAlister, a Plant City palm tree merchant, held up a breast-pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and said Congress, federal judges and executive administrators should be forced to strictly to adhere to it. That includes the 10th Amendment, he said, citing a tea party mainstay that conveys to the states all powers not specifically vested in the federal government.

"Any judges need to follow and defend the law of the land, or they need toe replaced," McAlister said.

Craig Miller
Miller, a Winter Park restaurant executive, said "activist judges" have made law from the bench instead of just interpreting the acts of Congress and clear intention of the Constitution.

"Activist judges dominated the court and we ended up with things like Roe vs. Wade," said Miller, citing the 1973 case that legalized abortion.

LeMieux, an attorney from Lighthouse Point, recalled that he voted against Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, drawing applause from about 250 attentive spectators -- many of whom wore t-shirts with tea party slogans.

"Our judges should interpret the law as written," he said. "They are not legislators on the bench; they are there to call balls and strikes."

Hasner sparked a burst of applause by saying the "activist" problem is not limited to judges, but to administrators in federal agencies that impose education, environmental and regulatory burdens on the states. He said bureaucratic activism "puts our nation's sovereignty in jeopardy.

"I'm just very hopeful that we're going to have a Republican president who's going to appoint strict constructionists," said Hasner.

All four voiced strong opposition to abortion and promised to vote against any federal funding of Planned Parenthood. When asked about New York's recent legalization of gay marriage, the four Republicans said they supported the federal "defense of marriage act," which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

"I think that's how God intended it to be," said Miller. "This direction, this slope we're on, takes our country in a direction that we need not go."

McAlister said that, as a 10th Amendment advocate, he would prefer to leave marriage to the states "but it has to be protected." He said variations of the issue have been on the ballot in 32 states -- including Florida, which outlawed gay marriage in a 2008 referendum -- and that "tens of millions of people have voted" to define the union.

Orlando attorney John Stemberger, a founder of the Family Policy Council, ran the constitutional amendment campaign on marriage three years ago. He said the four Republicans articulated strong conservative positions in the debate and that support of social conservatives and tea party activists was crucial to electing Gov. Rick Scott and Rubio last year, along with some members of the U.S. House and local governing boards.

"If history is any indicator, if the social conservatives and tea party can get on the same page as a candidate, they can determine the nominee," said Stemberger. "They are the largest and most cohesive voting bloc of the Republican Party."

All four voiced strong opposition to abortion and promised to vote against any federal funding of Planned Parenthood. When asked about New York's recent legalization of gay marriage, the four Republicans said they supported the federal "defense of marriage act," which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

"I think that's how God intended it to be," said Miller. "This direction, this slope we're on, takes our country in a direction that we need not go."

Mike McCalister
McAlister said that, as a 10th Amendment advocate, he would prefer to leave marriage to the states "but it has to be protected." He said variations of the issue have been on the ballot in 32 states -- including Florida, which outlawed gay marriage in a 2008 referendum -- and that "tens of millions of people have voted" to define the union.

Orlando attorney John Stemberger, a founder of the Family Policy Council, ran the constitutional amendment campaign on marriage three years ago. He said the four Republicans articulated strong conservative positions in the debate and that support of social conservatives and tea party activists was crucial to electing Gov. Rick Scott and Rubio last year, along with some members of the U.S. House and local governing boards.

"If history is any indicator, if the social conservatives and tea party can get on the same page as a candidate, they can determine the nominee," said Stemberger. "They are the largest and most cohesive voting bloc of the Republican Party."

Tags: Florida, US Senate, 2012 election, Republican candidates, George LeMieux, Adam Hasner, Mike McAlister, Craig Miller, Allen West To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to America's Best Choice. Thanks!

No comments: