The time has come for the Republican presidential candidates to stop sniping at each other and get President Barack Obama and the Democrats in their crosshairs, Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
And though it is clear that Mitt Romney will be the nominee, a continued race could even be good for the party as it would keep the candidates in the spotlight without having them tear each other apart, he added.
“If Rick Santorum and Newt [Gingrich] and Ron Paul believe they can be part of this process and enhance the Republican brand, they’re talking about big ideas,” said Hoekstra who is hoping to win the GOP Senate nomination for Michigan, so he can challenge incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow in November.
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“Using the last few months of this primary process to attack other Republicans, that becomes problematic. The issue here is holding President Obama, holding Debbie Stabenow accountable for their performance – or really their lack of performance – in the White House and in the U.S. Senate.
“If Mitt and Newt and Ron and Rick are all talking about that, that’s good. If they’re tearing each other apart, I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong target in place.
“Sure, there are slight variations, but there is a lot more that brings these people together than what separates them. We’ve got to start drawing the contrast between our vision for America and the vision that President Obama has.”
Hoekstra and Romney have endorsed each other for their respective GOP primaries.
Hoekstra painted a stark picture of the differences between him and Stabenow, pointing out that when he was on the House Budget Committee, he helped produce a balanced budget every year. “Debbie Stabenow hasn’t passed a budget in the U.S. Senate for over 1,060 days,” he said.
“Debbie Stabenow votes against the Keystone pipeline. She wants to raise taxes on energy companies, saying if we raise taxes maybe we’ll lower prices – well that’s not going to happen. When you tax something more, you get less of it. Energy prices will go up.
“I’m all about empowering the private sector, unleashing the potential of the private sector. She’s all about bigger government, Obamacare, the stimulus plan, more government spending, government making decisions for us. I’m all about giving people this authority to make decisions for their own lives, giving them that power back.”
Hoekstra became chairman of the House Intelligence Committee during his nine terms in the House of Representatives. He decided not to run in 2010 so he could challenge for Michigan’s governorship, but he lost the GOP primary to Rick Snyder who went on to win the general election replacing the term-limited Democrat Jennifer Granholm in the governor’s mansion in Lansing.
Now, after two years out of elective office, he is favorite to win the Republican nomination where his closest challenger in the August primary is long-time Republican operative Clark Durant. But he still faces a tough fight against Stabenow, who holds a double-digit lead in opinion polls.
One of Hoekstra’s main concerns is population flight from Michigan, which he said was the only state in the nation with a smaller population in 2010 than at the turn of the millennium. But he said under Snyder’s Republican leadership, things are turning round in the Wolverine State.
“It was because of the decisions that the leaders in Lansing made that created a disincentive to create jobs and to have business in Michigan. It was our own fault and we can work our way out of this by creating a positive business climate.
“Michigan has done a lot of things wrong and we’re starting to turn them around,” he said. “Under Gov. Jennifer Granholm, we passed probably the worst business tax in the country; it was complicated and it was expensive. We have now reformed our corporate tax code.
“We had a regulatory burden on business that was unbelievable, it was a disincentive for people to invest in Michigan. We had a government that was spending out of control.
“Gov. Snyder, and our legislature fixed many of those things.”
He said he would like to see the day when the state takes on Michigan’s strong labor unions and become a right-to-work state, but he said that time has not yet come. “It’s a matter of how you’re going to do it and when you’re going to do it. There are still a number of things that Michigan needs to do before we take a serious look at that issue.”
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