Republican Pete Hoekstra, who served 18 years in the U.S. House, tells Newsmax that Donald Trump is the only potential GOP presidential candidate who has “captured the imagination” and says a Trump candidacy could “resonate very, very well” with the voters in 2012.
The veteran lawmaker, who was the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, also asserts it is just a matter of time before Islamic extremists attempt another attack in the United States, charges that the Obama administration’s policy on oil drilling must share the blame for soaring gasoline prices, and says the country can’t survive another four years of Obama’s “failed leadership.”
Hoekstra was first elected to represent Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District in 1992. He did not run for re-election in 2010 and instead mounted an unsuccessful campaign for governor in Michigan. But he says he may run for the U.S. Senate in the future.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Hoekstra was asked to assess the potential Republican candidates for president in 2012.
“I think there’s a lot of candidates out there. No one’s clearly captured the imagination of the field right now except perhaps Donald Trump,” he responds.
“He’s got a business background. In any traditional year you’d say, no, he wouldn’t make a good candidate. I think in today’s world you might be really surprised.
“You can see that he clearly says what he believes, what he’s thinking. He may resonate very very well with the voters.
“I think voters are looking for a nontraditional politician in 2012. They’re looking at Washington and saying, why would we want to elect another career politician? He may be the mystery or surprise candidate in this whole mix.
“I’ve not made a commitment in the race. I think we’ll take a little while before we make that kind of commitment. From my perspective it’s very important that we select a candidate that can beat President Obama. We can’t survive another four years with the kind of failed leadership that he has provided us.”
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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has now abandoned color-coded alerts for warning levels on terrorism and replaced them with just two levels, “imminent” and “elevated.”
“I don’t think it’s much better than what we had before,” Hoekstra says about the new policy.
“Nobody knew what the different colors meant. I’ve heard this ‘imminent’ and ‘elevated’ — I mean, which one is worse? And what’s normal?
“What people what to know is, number one, is that the right mechanisms are in place to keep them safe as they get on an airplane. The other thing they want to know is how long is it going to take to go through the security line. If they change levels, does that mean they need to get there an hour and a half before boarding time? An hour before?
“That’s the real concern. How long is the line going to be? What can I take through security, and what can’t I take through security?
“The system has to be working to protect me.”
Asked about the threat terrorism poses to Americans today, Hoekstra tells Newsmax that using Napolitano’s terms, “It’s probably elevated and imminent.
“I think with the events we’ve seen over the past year and a half, homegrown terrorism, and the fixation that al-Qaida and radical jihadists have always had on airplanes, it’s only a matter of time before they try again to attack us, either on an airplane or somewhere else.
“We have not eliminated the threat. All of the propaganda that al-Qaida’s putting out there is a clear indication they are still focused on having domestic attacks in the U.S.”
Hoekstra declares that Standard & Poor’s downgrading of America’s credit rating outlook “puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the president and Congress to actually move forward.
“I came out of the business world and if the company I had been working for had its credit rating questioned or lowered, that would be a cause for serious concern. It has to be a cause for serious concern for the president and Congress. They need to act and they need to act soon.”
Some Republicans are saying they won’t agree to raise the ceiling on federal debt without a deal on long-term spending cuts. Regarding those cuts, Hoekstra says: “I think they really ought to look at where the money is, not on discretionary spending — see what they can get on entitlements. That’s where the money is, that’s where the exploding spending is going to be over the next decade.
“People have said you can’t do it in 30 days, you can’t do it in 45 days. The real answer is you can’t afford to wait any longer. You’ve got to take at least some steps to get this moving in the right direction.”
He also says a balanced budget amendment is “long past due.”
The Obama administration’s ban on new domestic drilling must “absolutely” share the blame for rising gas prices, Hoekstra charges.
“When you send out the message that America is not going to be producing any more fossil fuels, the rest of the world says, wow, what an opportunity. America is a major consumer of energy. They’re not going to be producing their own energy. We will develop it, we will sell it the U.S., and we will get America’s cash.”
Asked if voters will make Obama pay for high gas prices in 2012, Hoekstra responds: “I’m sure they will. They’ll just go back to candidate Obama and what he was saying about George Bush and high gasoline prices.
“This president’s record on managing energy, producing more energy, is much worse than what President Bush had.”
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