Mike Rogers: I Can Have 'Bigger Voice' Away From Washington

Friday, 28 Mar 2014 01:52 PM

By Lisa Barron

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers will retire from Congress at the end of this year and begin hosting a talk radio show on Cumulus Media, he said Friday.

"Sometimes you can have a bigger voice outside, unshackled in your ability to communicate issues that are important, like American exceptionalism and our national security posture around the world, and we've got both Republicans and Democrats that are creeping back to this isolationism, thinking that if we hide under our desks, then the whole world will be better off. It was a hard decision, but it was an important one," he told Newsmax TV's J.D. Hayworth and David Patten on "America's Forum" Friday.

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Rogers, who has represented Michigan's 8th Congressional District since 2001, said the show will begin in January.

"The date has yet to be determined but it's going to be January of 2015, so I'll finish up my chairmanship on Dec. 31 and then begin a new chapter and hopefully a broader audience to talk to about the issues that are important."

He downplayed suggestions that his brother Bill might run for his seat.

"I'm not sure that's going to happen. There's a gentleman who has great experience and who is very, very interested in going through that contemplation process, a guy named Mike Bishop who was the former state Senate leader for the Michigan Legislature, and he's in the right spot in the district and has the right skill set. So it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out," he said.

As for talk earlier Friday that it was a foregone conclusion that his brother would enter the race, Rogers said, "I've had great conversations with him. This does impact your quality of life and where he's at, I'm just not sure this is the right fit at the right time, and I think he's going to pass on the race.

"And as I said, this former state Sen. Mike Bishop from the Oakland County part of the district, which is about 50 percent of the vote now, is going to step up to this thing. We're continuing to have conversations with him. If he decides to run, he is going to be a great candidate and the candidate to beat."

Asked whether partisan gridlock played a role in his decision, Rogers said, "Certainly the polarization was a factor. It wasn't the factor. I've been able to work in a bipartisan way with my counterpart, Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat from Maryland, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, to put together a bipartisan, national security agenda in the last four years where we have enjoyed bipartisan support.

"I do see on the broader set of issues this polarization, the discussion about it's either everything I want or nothing that I want and nothing in between. Certainly isn't the Reagan Republican politics that got me fired up to come here and be a productive conservative."

But Rogers acknowledged the biggest factor was the opportunity that Cumulus offered him.

"Someone walked in and said, we're going to give you a national stage to present issues of importance leading into the 2016 elections, and if I could move the needle on the debate, the conversation, the dialogue, that seems pretty attractive to me," he said.

Cumulus, which owns 460 radio stations across the country and syndicates its programming to thousands more, is already home to talk show hosts Michael Savage, Don Imus, Mark Levin, Carson Daly, and Mike Huckabee.

Rogers also said he is keeping the door open to a possible return to public office. "I am not closing that door, both in government service or public office. I haven't closed the door to either one of them. This is just a transition. I believe in citizen legislatures. Somebody is going to find a way to fill this slot. There'll be plenty of talented people who can step into it.

"It gives me an opportunity to talk to people all over the country about American exceptionalism, the future of America, the issues of the day, national security, and foreign policy in a way I just don't hear interjected into the public debate. And this would be a great opportunity for me to have that public debate, change that, move that needle a little bit and get America moving to a more self-confident, self-appreciating position as we go into 2016, understanding that America's role in the world is critically important and so is a strong national defense."

Rogers said the move from Capitol Hill to Cumulus was not something he had contemplated over a long period of time.

"It came together rather shortly, but it was one of those freak things; happened to meet somebody who was in the radio business who worked for Cumulus, happened to be their CEO, who initiated the discussion about the possibility of radio. Had never thought about it, wasn't seeking it out, wasn't something I was interested in at the time," he explained.

"Over the course of time and continual conversations, they were able to present the opportunity again to have that national stage, that national platform, to talk about the issues that I think are missing from the national debate in any way that's meaningful.

"In the last few weeks it just got to the point where I had to decide, do I do my last two years as chairman … or do I try to move the needle nationally on these kinds of issues on a national platform? It just made sense to me to pick the latter."

 "I look at it as a very large town hall meeting of which I've participated in for the 14 years I've been in Congress," Rogers added.

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