Iowa Public Television

 

Sen. Sam Brownback

posted on May 11, 2007

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Borg: THE NEXT STEP A BIG ONE. WITH LEADERSHIP ROLES DATING BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE, U.S. SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK OF KANSAS IS CAMPAIGNING NOW FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. WE'LL QUESTION HIM ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, MAY 11 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: SAM BROWNBACK LIKES TO LEAD: IN HIGH SCHOOL, STATE PRESIDENT OF THE KANSAS FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA; KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT; CLASS PRESIDENT, THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAW SCHOOL; AT AGE THIRTY, YOUNGEST PERSON EVER TO BE KANSAS SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE; BEGINNING HIS CONGRESSIONAL CAREER IN 1994, FIRST IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THEN SNARING FELLOW REPUBLICAN BOB DOLE'S SEAT IN THE SENATE FOR HIS PARTY. NOW AMONG A CROWDED FIELD SEEKING THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION, SENATOR BROWNBACK IS HOPING IOWA'S REPUBLICAN STRAW POLL IN AUGUST LAUNCHES HIS CANDIDACY TO THE TOP TIER. SENATOR BROWNBACK, WELCOME TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Brownback: THANK YOU, DEAN. PLEASURE TO JOIN YOU.

Borg: NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE. ACROSS THE TABLE I THINK TWO GENTLEMEN YOU'VE SEEN OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.

Brownback: I AM VERY FAMILIAR, YES.

Borg: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, LET'S START OUT WITH A LITTLE DUST UP YOU'VE GOT GOING BACK AT HOME IN KANSAS. YOU HAD TORNADO -- A TRAGIC TORNADO IN KANSAS. IT DID A LOT OF DAMAGE. THE GOVERNOR OF KANSAS COMPLAINED THAT THEY HAD SOME PROBLEMS RESPONDING TO THAT BECAUSE A LOT OF THE NATIONAL GUARD EQUIPMENT AND PEOPLE WERE DEPLOYED TO IRAQ. YOU DISPUTE THAT. HOW CAN YOU ARGUE THAT NATIONAL GUARD UNITS AREN'T PRESSED BECAUSE OF ITS DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ?

Brownback: WELL, THAT WASN'T THE QUESTION. THEY ARE PRESSED. WE'VE GOT A FULLY UTILIZED MILITARY TAKING PLACE, WITH PEOPLE EXTENDING DUTIES AND PEOPLE GOING IN. THE QUESTION WAS DO WE HAVE ENOUGH GUARD THERE AND DO THEY HAVE THE EQUIPMENT THAT THEY NEED. AND I ASKED THAT SPECIFIC QUESTION ON MONDAY WHEN I WAS IN GREENSBURG WITH THE KANSAS ADJUTANT GENERAL PRESENT, WITH THE GOVERNOR PRESENT, BECAUSE I WAS SAYING IF YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH EQUIPMENT AND MEN, I'M GOING TO START BANGING ON SOME DOORS AND MAKE SURE WE GET THE PEOPLE WE NEED HERE FOR THIS DISASTER. THE KANSAS ADJUTANT GENERAL SAYS, NO, WE HAVE ENOUGH EQUIPMENT FOR THIS, WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED. BECAUSE I WAS SAYING IF THERE'S A PROBLEM HERE, I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT BECAUSE I WANT TO START BANGING ON SOME PLACES. WE'VE GOT FORT RILEY IN THE STATE. WE'VE GOT OTHER NATIONAL GUARDS THAT ARE AROUND. IF WE NEED THE EQUIPMENT, WE'LL GET THE EQUIPMENT. HE SAID WE HAVE ENOUGH. AND I THINK IT'S KIND OF AN UNFORTUNATE THING THAT STARTED MOVING FORWARD BECAUSE THE ISSUE ISN'T THAT. THE ISSUE IS THAT WE'VE GOT A CRISIS IN THE STATE IN GREENSBURG. WE'VE GOT A HUGE TORNADO. WE HAVE A CLEANUP THAT'S NEEDED BY THE PEOPLE, AND IT SHOULDN'T BE INVOLVED IN IRAQI POLITICS. AND WE'RE GOING TO GET THE EQUIPMENT, AND WE HAVE THE EQUIPMENT WE NEED.

Glover: SO WHERE DO WE GO IN IRAQ? WE'RE COMING UP ON, WHAT, THE FOURTH OR FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WAR IN IRAQ? WHERE DO WE HEAD FROM HERE?

Brownback: I THINK WE HEAD WITH A MUCH MORE AGGRESSIVE POLITICAL SOLUTION AND REALIZING THAT THE TIME FRAME IS SHORT FOR US TO GET SOMETHING DONE.

Glover: AND HOW LONG SHOULD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE TO HAVE PATIENCE WITH THIS WAR?

Brownback: NOT MUCH LONGER, I DON'T THINK. BUT I DO THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE A U.S. FORCE PRESENT IN IRAQ FOR SOME PERIOD OF TIME. AS YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN PUSHING THIS THREE STATE-ONE COUNTRY SOLUTION ALONG WITH SENATOR BIDEN. HE AND I MET AGAIN ON THE FLOOR THIS WEEK, AND WE'RE DISCUSSING THE SPECIFICS OF HOW WE COULD PUT THIS FORWARD IN A RESOLUTION FORMAT. THAT'S KEY. BUT REMEMBER THE BOSNIA ACCORD -- DAYTON ACCORDS IN BOSNIA? AND WE STILL HAVE TROOPS THERE FIFTEEN YEARS LATER. I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THIS GET MUCH MORE CONCENTRATED OF A SUNNI AREA, A SHIITE AREA, AND A KURDISH REGION THAT ALREADY EXISTS, AND YOU'RE GOING TO SEE U.S. TROOPS PRESENT FOR SOME PERIOD OF TIME. THE KEY IS US GETTING THE TROOP LEVELS DOWN AND, MORE PARTICULARLY, THE DEATH LOSS OF U.S. NUMBERS WAY DOWN.

Glover: AND THAT HAPPENS QUICKLY?

Brownback: I THINK IT HAS TO.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO STEP BACK AND TAKE A BIG-PICTURE VIEW. MANY IOWANS AREN'T FAMILIAR WITH YOU, SO WE ALWAYS LIKE TO GIVE CANDIDATES A CHANCE TO GIVE US THEIR COMMERCIAL, IF YOU WILL. WHO IS SAM BROWNBACK AND WHY SHOULD THEY SUPPORT YOU?

Brownback: YOU KNOW, YOU DON'T GET THAT IN THESE DEBATES, WHICH I THINK ARE MORE LIKE JEOPARDY ROUNDS THAN THEY ARE LIKE A DEBATE.

Yepsen: WE DO GIVE YOU MORE THAN SEVEN SECONDS.

Brownback: THANK YOU. THAT'S KIND, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE TO LEAD THE LARGEST -- THE MOST POWERFUL NATION IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND WITH A SEVEN-SECOND ANSWER IS PRETTY TOUGH. I THINK THEY SHOULD SUPPORT ME BECAUSE OF MY POLICY STANCE AND MY BACKGROUND. I'M A FULL-SCALE ELECTABLE CONSERVATIVE. I'M AN ECONOMIC, FISCAL, AND SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE. I'M PRO-LIFE AND WHOLE LIFE. I BELIEVE EVERY LIFE IS SACRED AT ALL POINTS IN TIME. THAT'S THE CHILD IN THE WOMB, AND IT'S THE CHILD IN DARFUR. I'M ALSO SOMEBODY THAT HAS HAD A RECORD AND HAS A VERY EXTENSIVE RECORD, AND IT'S A CONSISTENT CONSERVATIVE RECORD. I'VE CAST NEARLY 4,500 VOTES IN EITHER THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE. I'M MARRIED. WE HAVE FIVE CHILDREN. I'VE LIVED IN THE MIDWEST, AND I THINK I'M THE RIGHT PERSON WITH THE RIGHT MESSAGE AT THE RIGHT MOMENT. AND THAT'S, I THINK, WHY THEY SHOULD DO IT. AND AT MY HEART AND SOUL, DAVID, I REALLY THINK WE'VE GOT TO REBUILD THE FAMILY AND RENEW THE CULTURE OF THIS COUNTRY FOR US TO MOVE FORWARD AS A COUNTRY, CONTINUING TO HAVE ANOTHER AMERICAN CENTURY.

Yepsen: SENATOR, YOU'RE WORKING HARD TO COURT THE VOTES OF SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES INSIDE YOUR PARTY. THERE ARE OTHER REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES WHO ARE DOING THE SAME THING, MIKE HUCKABEE, FOR EXAMPLE. WHY YOU OVER THE OTHER SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES IN THE RACE?

Brownback: I'LL LET THEM SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, BUT I HAVE A CONSISTENT RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENT AND LEADERSHIP IN THIS FIELD. I'VE WORKED ON THESE LIFE ISSUES FOR SOME PERIOD OF TIME, WORKED ON THE ISSUES LIKE PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION, WHICH THE SUPREME COURT RECENTLY UPHELD. AND I'VE WORKED ON SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, HELPING GET SAMUEL ALITO AND JOHN ROBERTS INTO THE SUPREME COURT. I'VE GOT A TRACK RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THOSE FIELDS, BUT IT'S NOT JUST ON THAT. I THINK THE KEY IN MOVING THE LIFE MESSAGE FORWARD IS TO EXPAND IT FROM BEING JUST PRO-LIFE AS BEING, OKAY, THAT'S THE CHILD IN THE WOMB THAT'S SACRED TO SAYING IT'S WHOLE LIFE. THAT MEANS THAT SOMEBODY IN POVERTY IN THIS COUNTRY IS SACRED AS WELL, AND WHAT ARE WE DO THERE; AND WHAT ARE WE DOING FOR THE CHILD IN DARFUR WHO IS SACRED AS WELL; AND WHAT ARE WE DOING IN PRISONS -- FOR EVEN THAT GUY IN PRISON OR LADY IN PRISON WHO HAS COMMITTED A TERRIBLE CRIME. THAT LIFE IS SACRED AND WE SHOULD REDUCE ITS RECIDIVISM -- THAT PERSON'S RECIDIVISM RATE. WE SHOULD HELP THAT PERSON IN POVERTY. WE SHOULD HELP THE CHILD IN DARFUR AND THE ONE IN THE WOMB.

Borg: AMERICA'S EYES RIGHT NOW ON FOCUSED ON THE GAS PUMPS.

Brownback: I'LL SAY!

Borg: OVER $3 A GALLON. I GAME THROUGH WICHITA JUST LAST WEEK, AND YOU HAVE SOME OF THE HIGHEST GAS THERE IN WICHITA, OVER $3 A GALLON. AND IT'S IN IOWA TOO. WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

Brownback: YOU KNOW, DRIVING HERE TO THE STATION, $3.09 I SAW. AND I WAS GOING, WOW. I THINK THE KEYS FOR US ON DEALING WITH THIS ARE TO GET MORE PRODUCTION AND TO HAVE MORE CONSERVATION IF YOU'RE LOOKING AT A NEAR-TERM ISSUE. THIS IS A SUPPLY/DEMAND -- OVERALL, IT'S A SUPPLY AND DEMAND ISSUE. WHAT DO WE DO TO GET MORE PRODUCTION? AND I THINK HERE ETHANOL, BIODIESEL, THINGS LIKE THAT HELP ADD, BUT YOU'RE ALSO GOING TO HAVE TO DRILL HERE IN PLACES LIKE ANWAR, SAFE, ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND. BUT YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL OFF OF DRILLING AND PRODUCTION, BECAUSE THERE IS SOME SUGGESTION THAT WE FOUND -- AND WE'RE PEAKING ON OIL PRODUCTION GLOBALLY, SO WE'VE GOT TO GET MUCH MORE CONSERVATION MINDED. THESE HYBRID VEHICLES ARE COMING OUT NOW. WE'VE GOT TWO IN OUR FAMILY. I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE WAYS THAT YOU CAN EXTEND THE LIFE BY GETTING MORE MILEAGE OUT OF THESE VEHICLES.

Borg: ARE YOU SAYING WE HAVE TO HAVE, JUST LIKE A ROCK, PATIENCE?

Brownback: WELL, IT'S NOT JUST PATIENCE. IT'S A SUPPLY/DEMAND SITUATION AND SO YOU NEED TO INCREASE YOUR SUPPLY AND DECREASE YOUR DEMAND. AND THAT'S PART OF WHERE YOU COME IN WITH ALTERNATIVE FUELS. THAT'S WHERE YOU COME IN WITH CARS THAT MAKE 50 MILES TO THE GALLON, DRIVING THEM WISELY AND CAREFULLY. I THINK IT'S ALSO WHERE YOU LOOK AT ALTERNATIVE FUELS LIKE ETHANOL AND BIODIESEL. IT'S GOING TO TAKE A WHOLE COMPLEX. THE OTHER THING IS, ONE OF THE THINGS I'M REALLY PUSHING ON -- WE'VE GOT A BILL IN AND I'D LOVE TO SIGN IT AS PRESIDENT IF WE DON'T GET IT DONE BEFORE -- IS MORE PLUG-IN TECHNOLOGY TO WHERE YOU DO THE FIRST 20 MILES ON YOUR CAR OFF OF ELECTRICITY, AND THEN IT SWITCHES OVER TO GASOLINE OR ETHANOL AT THAT POINT, BECAUSE HALF OF THE COUNTRY DOESN'T DRIVE OVER 20 MILES A DAY. NOW, NONE OF THEM LIVE IN KANSAS OR IOWA, BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE, THEY DON'T DRIVE OVER 20 MILES A DAY. THAT COULD RADICALLY REDUCE OUR GASOLINE CONSUMPTION.

Glover: LET'S GO TO ANOTHER TOPIC WHICH HAS DIVIDED THE CONGRESS FOR YEARS, AND THAT'S IMMIGRATION. THE PRESIDENT IS GOING TO LIKELY PUSH ANOTHER IMMIGRATION BILL. THE KEY ISSUE, IT STRIKES ME, IN IMMIGRATION IS WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE 12 MILLION OR SO PEOPLE WHO ARE HERE ILLEGALLY. WHAT DO YOU SEE THE SOLUTION TO THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE AS?

Brownback: WELL, IT'S AN ENORMOUSLY TOUGH ONE, MIKE. AND IF YOU LOOK BACK AT THE HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION POLITICS IN AMERICA OVER THE LAST CENTURY, IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A TOUGH TOPIC. IT'S ALWAYS HAD A VISCERAL RESPONSE FROM PEOPLE: I DON'T WANT THIS GROUP OR I DON'T WANT THAT GROUP. AND THAT'S THE NATURE OF IT. EVEN THOUGH WE'RE A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS, EVERYBODY AROUND THIS TABLE TRACES THEIR ROOTS FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. I THINK THE KEY ON THE 12 MILLION IS GETTING THEM INTO A LEGAL SYSTEM AND OUT OF AN ILLEGAL SYSTEM. YOU CAN TRY TO DO THAT ONE OF TWO WAYS. YOU CAN EITHER TRY TO ARREST PEOPLE OR YOU CAN TRY TO COAX THEM OUT TO GET INTO A LEGAL SYSTEM. I THINK THE ONLY PRACTICAL WAY TO DO THIS IS TO TRY TO COAX PEOPLE OUT AND GETTING THEM INTO A LEGAL SYSTEM. THEREFORE, WHAT I THINK YOU NEED TO DO AND I THINK WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS PROVIDE SOME SORT OF WORK VISA PROGRAM FOR PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO GET INTO THAT ARE IN THE COUNTRY OR EITHER ENTERED THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY OR HAVE STAYED OVER THE LENGTH OF THEIR VISA, AND HAVE THAT FOR A THREE- TO FIVE-YEAR TIME PERIOD. DURING THAT TIME PERIOD, LET THEM GET IN THE BACK OF ANY LINE THAT THEY CURRENTLY QUALIFY FOR. AND IF THEY DON'T QUALIFY, THEN OVER THAT PERIOD OF TIME THEY WOULD NEED TO RETURN HOME.

Glover: AND WHAT DO YOU SAY TO YOUR FELLOW CONSERVATIVES WHO SAY THAT'S AMNESTY AND YOU'RE REWARDING PEOPLE FOR ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR?

Brownback: IT'S NOT AMNESTY. IT ALLOWS THEM TO WORK LEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY FOR A FINITE PERIOD OF TIME. THAT'S NOT AMNESTY.

Glover: HAVE YOU TALKED TO TOM TANCREDO ABOUT THAT?

Brownback: TOM AND I HAVE TALKED A NUMBER OF TIMES ABOUT IMMIGRATION. IT'S A TOUGH TOPIC. IT'S A VERY TOUGH TOPIC IN IOWA. I GET PEOPLE HITTING ME UP ALL THE TIME ABOUT IMMIGRATION. AND YOU RUN A CROSS CURRENTS TO TWO OF YOUR BASIC PHILOSOPHICAL POINTS IN A REPUBLICAN PARTY, BEING A RULE OF LAW PARTY. IF YOU BREAK THE LAW, THERE'S A PENALTY FOR IT, THIS IS ILLEGAL. TRYING TO BE A COMPASSIONATE, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: WHAT DO WE TRY TO DO FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE HERE? SO YOU'VE GOT THIS RULE OF LAW, AND YOU'VE GOT A DESIRE TO BE COMPASSIONATE. THAT MIXTURE CREATES A REAL TENSION ON A VERY TOUGH TOPIC.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ONE OF THE CANDIDATES IN THE RACE, GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY, IS A MORMON. AND THERE'S A BIG DEBATE GOING ON -- A LOT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT WHETHER THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS WILLING TO NOMINATE SOMEBODY OF THE MORMON FAITH. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

Brownback: I THINK THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS WILLING TO DO THAT. WE DON'T HAVE A RELIGIOUS TEST IN THIS COUNTRY, AND THANK GOD WE DON'T, IF YOU DON'T MIND ME PUTTING IT THAT WAY. WE'RE A FAITH-BASED NATION. OVER 90 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY BELIEVE IN GOD. AND I THINK WE NEED TO HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE AND OF PEOPLE STEPPING FORWARD, IDENTIFYING WHAT THEIR FAITH IS. I THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING.

Yepsen: SO YOU DON'T THINK A LOT OF THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES AND SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES WHO DO OBJECT TO MORMONISM, THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE A DEAL BREAKER FOR THEM?

Brownback: I DON'T THINK SO. BUT I DO THINK WHAT WILL BE DEAL BREAKERS IS IF YOU FLIP ON CORE ISSUES, ISSUES LIKE LIFE, TAXES, SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. I MEAN I THINK THAT'S WHERE YOU GET AN ISSUE THAT ARISES.

Glover: HAS HE FLIPPED ON LIFE? HE'S BEEN ACCUSED OF IT. HE WAS PRO-CHOICE WHEN HE WAS GOVERNOR, AND NOW HE'S PRO-LIFE. HAS HE FLIPPED ON THAT ISSUE?

Brownback: WELL, IT WOULD SURE SEEM TO ME THAT HE'S BEEN IN DIFFERENT POSITIONS ON THAT TOPIC, BUT I WOULD LET HIS OWN WORDS SPEAK FOR HIMSELF. AND HE HAS DECLARED THAT AT ONE POINT HE WAS ONE PLACE AND ANOTHER POINT AT ANOTHER PLACE. BUT MY POINT IN SAYING THAT IS THESE ARE TOUGH TOPICS.

Glover: BUT IS THAT A DEAL BREAKER?

Brownback: I THINK IT WILL BE FOR A NUMBER OF PEOPLE. IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T TRUST THE PERSON IN THE FUTURE, BUT THE BEST INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE IS PAST PERFORMANCE. AND THIS IS WHAT'S HAPPENED IN THE PAST, AND SO IT LAYS SOME QUESTION.

Glover: AND THERE'S ANOTHER CANDIDATE IN THE REPUBLICAN FIELD, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, WHO IS PRO-CHOICE. CAN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINATE A PRO-CHOICE CANDIDATE AS A REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT?

Brownback: THEY CAN. I THINK WE HAVE GREAT TROUBLE WINNING IF WE DO. THIS PARTY HAS HAD A PRO-LIFE PLANK IN ITS PLATFORM SINCE 1980. IT HAS HAD A DISPUTE WITHIN ITSELF OVER WHERE THE PARTY STANDS ON LIFE, BUT THAT'S BEEN RESOLVED, THAT IT IS A PRO-LIFE PARTY WITH A PRO-CHOICE WING TO IT, IF YOU WILL. IT'S A DOMINANT PRO-LIFE PARTY, AND WE'RE WINNING THE DISCUSSION. AND TO ME IT'S A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE BECAUSE IT GOES TO THE CORE OF AN ISSUE OF HUMAN DIGNITY, WHICH I THINK IS TOO DIMINISHED IN OUR SOCIETY.

Glover: IF YOU GET TO THE DEAL BREAKER QUESTIONS AGAIN, IS RUDY GIULIANI'S PRO-CHOICE STANCE A DEAL BREAKER WITH THE REPUBLICAN BASE?

Brownback: I THINK HE HAS GREAT TROUBLE WINNING OFF OF THAT POSITION.

Yepsen: SENATOR, DOES 9/11 CHANGE ANY OF THAT? AND WE'RE TALKING A LOT ABOUT SOCIAL ISSUES HERE, AND HISTORICALLY THOSE HAVE BEEN IMPORTANT INSIDE YOUR PARTY. BUT NOW WE'RE FIGHTING A WAR IN IRAQ. AMERICANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT TERRORISM AND THE FORT DIX SITUATION HERE JUST RECENTLY. DOES 9/11 CHANGE THE IMPORTANCE OF THESE ISSUES? AREN'T ISSUES LIKE WAR AND TERRORISM NOW REALLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SOCIAL ISSUES THAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT?

Brownback: I DON'T THINK YOU COULD PUT THEM AS MORE IMPORTANT, DAVID, I REALLY DON'T, BECAUSE FOR MANY PEOPLE AND MYSELF INCLUDED, I THINK FOR US TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT THIS WAR ON TERRORISM -- AND WE'RE GOING TO BE IN THIS FOR SOME PERIOD OF TIME -- YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE STRENGTH AS A SOCIETY AND A CULTURE TO BE WILLING TO DO THIS. WHERE DOES THAT STRENGTH COME FROM? TO ME IT COMES FROM FAMILIES AND A CULTURE THAT'S WILLING TO FIGHT AND TO STAND FOR WHAT IT BELIEVES IS RIGHT AND NOT JUST IGNORE IT OR LOOK THE OTHER WAY. AND THESE ARE BASIC CULTURAL ISSUES. THEY'RE BASIC FAMILY ISSUES. FAMILIES ARE GENERALLY THE INSTITUTIONS, ALONG WITH FAITH, THAT PASS ALONG VALUES. AND AS A CONSERVATIVE, I HONESTLY VIEW THE ISSUES OF CULTURE AND FAMILY AS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF THE SOCIETY AND ITS ABILITY TO CONDUCT A WAR ON TERRORISM OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.

Yepsen: SENATOR, YOU OBVIOUSLY THINK YOU CAN WIN THE WHITE HOUSE, OR YOU WOULDN'T BE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

Brownback: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: BUT HOW DIFFICULT IS IT GOING TO BE FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY? YOU TOOK A BEATING IN THE 2006 ELECTION. PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL IS, LIKE, 28 PERCENT. HE'S ARGUABLY GOING TO BE A DRAG ON WHOEVER THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE IS. THE WAR IS VERY UNPOPULAR. HOW CAN ANY REPUBLICAN WIN IN THIS KIND OF ENVIRONMENT?

Brownback: I THINK IT'S DIFFICULT TO IN THIS KIND OF ENVIRONMENT, BUT THAT'S THE KEY POINT. AND IT'S THE WAR IS WHY WE LOST THE 2006 ELECTION CYCLE. IT WASN'T THAT DEMOCRATS HAD A SERIES OF IDEAS THAT WERE DEEMED SUPERIOR TO REPUBLICANS. IF ANYTHING, MANY DEMOCRATS RAN AS REPUBLICANS, CERTAINLY ON SOCIAL ISSUES AND MANY OF THEM ON FISCAL ISSUES. THEY WEREN'T TOUTING A LEFT AGENDA. THEY WERE STILL TALKING AND PRESENTING THEMSELVES AS CENTER RIGHT. IT WAS THE WAR. AND THAT'S WHY WE'VE GOT TO GET THIS WAR TO A POLITICAL STABLE SITUATION THERE. AND YOU CAN'T FIGHT A WAR IN THIS COUNTRY WITH ONE PARTY FOR IT AND ONE PARTY AGAINST IT. YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHY I SUPPORTED THINGS LIKE THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP PROPOSAL, WHICH WE'RE TRYING TO UNITE THE PARTIES BACK TOGETHER. AND I MET AND VISITED WITH THE PRESIDENT THE OTHER DAY ABOUT THE DESPERATE NEED FOR US TO GET TO A POLITICAL STABLE SITUATION IN IRAQ.

Glover: SENATOR, MOST PEOPLE WHO OBSERVE THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE SAY THERE ARE TWO TIERS OF CANDIDATES IN BOTH PARTIES. THERE'S THE TOP TIER ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE; THAT'S PROBABLY JOHN MCCAIN AND RUDY GIULIANI AND MITT ROMNEY. AND THEN THERE'S THE SECOND TIER THAT'S THE OTHER CANDIDATES. YOU'RE GENERALLY PUT IN THAT SECOND TIER. WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN TO GET YOU FROM THAT SECOND TIER TO THE FIRST TIER?

Brownback: WELL, WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN IS I'VE GOT TO GET OUT AND GOT TO GET MY MESSAGE TOLD AS A CONSISTENT CONSERVATIVE THAT CAN WIN AND THAT HAS WON AND THAT THE MESSAGE IS A STRONG MESSAGE. IT'S STRONG ON THE SOCIAL ISSUES. IT'S STRONG ON FISCAL ISSUES, OF PUTTING FORWARD -- TAKING THE MILITARY BRAC PROCESS WITH BEING ABLE TO CLOSE MILITARY BASES. APPLYING IT TO THE REST OF GOVERNMENT SO WE CAN ACTUALLY GET GOVERNMENT SPENDING UNDER CONTROL. IT'S LIKE WE LOSE INDEPENDENTS PARTICULARLY OFF OF FISCAL ISSUES, BECAUSE THEY LOOK AT US AND SAY, WELL, AT LEAST THESE GUYS CONTROL THE PURSE BOOKS -- OR THE PURSE STRINGS. AND WHEN YOU DON'T, I THINK YOU REALLY START LOSING THEM. I THINK I'M GOING TO BUST THROUGH IT. I THINK I'LL BE BUSTING THROUGH IN IOWA AND PARTICULARLY IN SOUTH CAROLINA, AND I THINK I'VE GOT A VERY GOOD SHOT OF DOING THAT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE GOING INTO THE SUPER-DUPER TUESDAY.

Borg: WAS I RIGHT THEN IN SAYING THE STRAW POLL IN AUGUST IS KEY FOR YOU, IT'S A MAKE OR BREAK?

Brownback: IT'S NOT A MAKE OR BREAK, BUT IT IS IMPORTANT. THE OTHER THING IS -- AND I HOPE YOU'LL LOOK AT THAT -- AND YOU GUYS ARE ON THE FRONT LINE OF THIS -- YOU COULD HAVE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINATION PROCESS GO FOR A LONG TIME. IT'S NOT BEEN THIS OPEN IN A GENERATION OF WHO'S GOING TO WIN THE NOMINATION. I THINK YOU COULD SEE THIS THING REALLY DRAG ON FOR A LONG TIME, SO IT'S WHO STAYS IN LONGER WILL BE -- IT WILL BE A BENEFICIAL THING.

Glover: THAT'S COUNTER TO MOST OF THE THINKING I HEAR. MOST OF THE THINKING I HEAR IS THAT THE NOMINATION IS GOING TO BE SETTLED FEBRUARY 5.

Brownback: THAT WOULD BE BASED ON WHAT'S HAPPENED IN THE PAST, AND ONE WOULD CERTAINLY VIEW THAT SAYING THAT WOULD BE LOGICAL. BUT LOOK AT HOW THIS FIELD SHAPES UP. I MEAN YOU HAVE PEOPLE THAT YOU PUT IN THE FRONT TIER OF CANDIDATES, WHICH I WOULD DISPUTE. BUT EACH HAVE SOME SIGNIFICANT INCONSISTENCIES WITH THE BASE OF THIS PARTY. AND THEN PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE LOOKING, WELL, WHERE DO I -- WHERE DO I GO. AND YOU COULD ALSO SEE EACH OF THE FRONT THREE OR FOUR CANDIDATES GETTING A PIECE OF THE PIE BUT NOT ENOUGH TO PUT THE WHOLE THING TOGETHER.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE COULD TALK POLITICS ALL DAY ON THIS SHOW, AND SOMETIMES WE DO. BUT I WANT TO SAVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT A COUPLE OF ISSUES WITH YOU. SOCIAL SECURITY. YOU'VE OFFERED SOME IDEAS ON WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO TO DEAL WITH SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. TALK ABOUT THEM.

Brownback: THANK YOU FOR ASKING THAT BECAUSE WE TALK TOO MUCH POLITICS AND NOT ENOUGH POLICY, AND THIS IS A KEY ONE. I THINK ONE OF THE CLEAR THINGS WE NEED TO DO FOR SOCIAL SECURITY'S FUTURE IS CREATE AN OPTIONAL PERSONAL SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT, NOT REQUIRED OF ANYBODY. AND IF PEOPLE WANT TO STAY IN THE CURRENT SYSTEM, GOD BLESS THEM, YOU CAN DO THAT AND USE IT. BUT THE SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK WELL FOR MY CHILDREN. THEY'RE EACH -- THE THREE OLDEST CHILDREN ARE PAYING SOME SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES NOW AND IT IS A LOT AND THEY DON'T SEE THIS AS VERY BENEFICIAL. WE CAN START THESE PERSONAL SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNTS. IT INCREASES THE SAVINGS THAT WE NEED IN THE COUNTRY THAT WE WILL HAVE. IT INCREASES THE RETURN. WE ONLY GET ABOUT A 1.5-POINT RETURN ON SOCIAL SECURITY SURPLUS NOW. I'D GET IT UP TO 5 PERCENT, MAYBE 6-PERCENT RETURN. AND THE GOVERNMENT CAN'T SPEND THE SURPLUS AS IT DOES NOW, AND IT SHRINKS THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT OVERALL, WHICH IS GENERALLY ONE OF THE KEY MEASURES ON KEEPING YOUR ECONOMY GROWING, THAT YOUR GOVERNMENT IS NOT TOO BIG SITTING ON TOP OF YOUR ECONOMY. THIS IS A KEY ONE. MEDICARE I FIND INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TO LOOK AT DOWN THE ROAD ON ITS FUTURE. I THINK WE HAVE TO DO SOME MAJOR REFORMS OF HEALTH CARE IN THE SYSTEM FOR US TO MOVE FORWARD ON MEDICARE OVERALL. THERE I'M SUPPORTING STRONG HSAs, MEDICAL LIABILITY REFORM. BUT ALSO, CREATING MARKET MECHANISMS, INDEPENDENT MEDICAL RECORDS THAT YOU TAKE WITH YOU, RATHER THAN STAY AT THE OFFICE; DISCLOSURE OF PRICING AT WHAT MEDICARE IS PAYING FOR HIP REPLACEMENT IN DES MOINES OVER THE INTERNET BY ZIP CODES, SO PEOPLE GET SOME PRICE INFORMATION AND WE CAN START GETTING MORE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE CONSUMER AND THE PROVIDER IN HEALTH CARE.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE, SENATOR, IS TAX POLICY. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO ABOUT THE INCOME TAX?

Brownback: I WANT TO TAKE THE CODE BEHIND THE BARN AND KILL IT WITH A DULL AXE. THIS SYSTEM DOESN'T WORK. IT IS INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING TO PEOPLE. IT IS INCREDIBLY ANTIGROWTH AND WE NEED TO CREATE GROWTH.

Yepsen: HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

Brownback: CREATE AN ALTERNATE FLAT TAX AND LET PEOPLE CHOOSE.

Yepsen: HOW WOULD THAT WORK?

Brownback: YOU PUT IT IN PLACE AT A SET RATE. AND WE'RE WORKING ON THE SPECIFICS. WE'VE LAID OUT THE SPECIFICS ON THE SOCIAL SECURITY. WE WILL LAY OUT THE SPECIFICS ON AN ALTERNATE FLAT TAX. YOU PUT AN ALTERNATE FLAT TAX AND SAY THIS IS THE RATE, NO DEDUCTIONS, NO CREDITS, NO EXEMPTIONS, NOT EVEN ANY OF THEM, THE POPULAR ONES, UNPOPULAR, THIS IS THE RATE AND THEN YOU CHOOSE. WE'LL PROBABLY HAVE A LIMITATION OF EVERY FIVE YEARS SO THAT PEOPLE CAN'T GAIN THE SYSTEM AS MUCH. THAT FLAT TAX HAS CREATED GROWTH WHEREVER IT'S BEEN PUT IN PLACE, AND IT'S INCREASED GOVERNMENT REVENUES.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU SAY --

Yepsen: EXCUSE ME, MIKE. WHEN YOU SAY YOU CHOOSE, THE TAXPAYER WOULD CHOOSE BETWEEN THE FLAT TAX SYSTEM OR THE CURRENT SYSTEM?

Brownback: YES. LET ME FINISH. WHY? BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO ELIMINATE THIS TAX CODE, BECAUSE WHEN YOU GO AT IT, EVERYBODY HAS GOT SOMETHING STUFFED IN THE TAX CODE AND EVERY LOBBYIST IN THIS COUNTRY WILL BE FULLY EMPLOYED TO TRY TO MAINTAIN THAT. SO LEAVE IT IN PLEASE AND LEAVE IT IN THE SYSTEM AND CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE.

Glover: WE HAVE A TAX CODE BECAUSE PEOPLE WANT THINGS IN THAT TAX CODE THAT ARE IN THAT TAX CODE, BUT I'D LIKE TO GET TO A MORE BASIC QUESTION. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE -- YOU TALKED ABOUT HEALTH CARE. YOU TALKED ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY. YOU TALKED ABOUT THE TAX CODE. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO JUST SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO DEAL WITH THESE, THEY'RE JUST TOO TOUGH?

Brownback: SIGN UP WITH MY CAMPAIGN IS WHAT I WOULD SAY TO THEM. THAT'S -- THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT WE SHOULD BE DOING. AND REPUBLICANS WIN WHEN WE BUILD ON OUR BASE AND WE PUT FORTH BIG IDEAS. THESE ARE BIG IDEAS. AND YOU -- AND WHEN YOU WIN ON BIG IDEAS, YOU CAN DELIVER. IF YOU DON'T RUN ON THEM, YOU CAN'T WIN AND DELIVER IN THE CONGRESS ON THEM.

Glover: ANOTHER ISSUE THAT'S KIND OF DOGGING PEOPLE OUT THERE IS THE ENVIRONMENT. WHAT DO YOU DO TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT? A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT LIKING THE ENVIRONMENT BUT PEOPLE DON'T VOTE ON IT. HOW DO YOU RESPOND ON THAT ISSUE?

Brownback: WELL, I WOULD DISAGREE THAT PEOPLE DON'T VOTE ON IT. AND ENVIRONMENT TO ME IS INEXTRICABLY TIED TO ENERGY. YOU'VE GOT TO TIE THESE TWO POLICIES TOGETHER. EXCUSE ME -- AND THAT'S WHY I MENTIONED ABOUT CONSERVATION. IT'S ALSO WHY I MENTIONED ABOUT ETHANOL AND BIODIESEL. IT'S ALSO WHY I TALK ABOUT FLEX FUEL CARS. AND I'VE CARRIED MY PIECE OF CARPET AROUND IOWA TO SHOW CORN-BASED CARPET, THAT YOU CAN DO MORE SUBSTITUTING OF NONRENEWABLES FOR RENEWABLE SOURCES. I THINK -- AND THIS IS A GREAT STRATEGY, AND IT'S A BIG WIN FOR US. AND WE CAN BE MORE DEPENDENT ON THE MIDWEST INSTEAD OF THE MIDDLE EAST. THIS IS -- THIS IS -- WE COULD REALLY BE ENTERING A GOLDEN AGE FOR MIDWEST AGRICULTURE BASED ON ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, EDUCATION. IT'S ALWAYS A BIG ISSUE IN THE MIDWEST. WHAT DO YOU DO TO IMPROVE IT, AND WHAT'S THE FEDERAL ROLE IN EDUCATION?

Brownback: I THINK THE FEDERAL ROLE NEEDS TO DIMINISH AS FAR AS DIRECTING WHAT IS DONE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL. I THINK THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND HAS PRODUCED OVERALL SOME PRETTY GOOD RESULTS. I THINK IT'S BEEN TOO PRESCRIPTIVE, SO I WOULD OPEN UP THE SYSTEM AND ALLOW STATES TO SAY HERE'S WHAT WE WILL DO TO MEET THOSE OBJECTIVES. THAT SETTING THE OBJECTIVE, WE'RE GOING TO DESIGN IN IOWA AND KANSAS HOW WE'RE GOING TO MEET THOSE OBJECTIVES AT THE K-12 LEVEL. I THINK THOSE ARE KEY FOR US, MOVING FORWARD AT THAT LEVEL. WE'VE GOT TO GET BETTER AT EDUCATION. WE ARE UNDERPERFORMING AS A SYSTEM ON EDUCATION FOR OUR CHILDREN.

Glover: AND THE DEMOCRATIC SOUND BITE IS THAT NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND LEFT A LOT OF CHILDREN BEHIND BECAUSE IT'S NOT PAID FOR. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Brownback: WELL, I THINK IT SET GOOD OBJECTIVES. AND THE KEY THAT THE LATE SENATOR MOYNAHAN TAUGHT ME WAS THAT GOVERNMENT RARELY FINDS A WAY TO CHANGE SOMETHING UNTIL IT FINDS A WAY TO MEASURE IT. I THINK THIS PUT MEASUREABLES IN PLACE, AND NOW I THINK WE NEED TO OPEN IT UP TO GREATER OPTIONS FROM THE STATES. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOESN'T OVERALL PAY THE MOST FOR EDUCATION. THAT'S MOSTLY PAID FOR STATE AND LOCAL, AND I THINK THAT'S REALLY HOW IT SHOULD BE.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE GOT LESS THAN A MINUTE LEFT. HOW WOULD PRESIDENT SAM BROWNBACK RESTORE AMERICA'S STATURE IN THE WORLD?

Brownback: I WOULD TRAVEL AND I WOULD LISTEN AND I WOULD WALK HUMBLY AND WISELY. I THINK THOSE ARE THE KEYS FOR US MOVING FORWARD FROM THIS POINT. I ALSO THINK WE NEED TO REENGAGE OUR VIEW OF CONTAINMENT AND ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES THAT HAVE BEEN HISTORIC HALLMARK OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICIES, LOOKING MUCH MORE AT CONTAINING PLACES LIKE IRAN, ENGAGING PLACES LIKE PAKISTAN AND EGYPT. I THINK THOSE ARE GOING TO BE MORE KEY FOR US IN THE FUTURE.

Yepsen: VERY QUICKLY, WHAT IS AMERICA'S ROLE IN THE WORLD.

Brownback: WE'RE THE LEAD COUNTRY. TONY BLAIR I THINK PUT IT BEST WHEN HE SPOKE TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS AFTER 9/11. HE SAID OF THE UNITED STATES, 'A LOT IS REQUIRED OF YOU, BUT IT'S YOUR TIME AND IT'S YOUR DESTINY.' AND I BELIEVE THAT FOR US.

Borg: THANK YOU, SENATOR. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

Brownback: THANKS, DEAN.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' AN UPDATE FROM THE IOWA BOARD OF REGENTS WHICH, OF COURSE, ADMINISTERS THE DIRECTION OF IOWA'S THREE STATE UNIVERSITIES AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS. BONNIE CAMPBELL AND DAVID MILES ARE TWO OF THE FOUR NEW BOARD MEMBERS RECENTLY APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR CHET CULVER. THEY'LL BE HERE TO DISCUSS THE BUSINESS OF THE BOARD, INCLUDING THE ONGOING SEARCH FOR A NEW PRESIDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA. SAME TIMES NEXT WEEKEND: THAT'S 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. THAT'S THIS WEEK'S EDITION. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.


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