Candidate Vetting Interview Summary
Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Candidate Vetting Questions
Candidate U. S. House of Representatives
Interview Date: May 10, 2016
Party Affiliation: Republican
Interviewed: In Person
Hal James, Bob Griswold, Mary Griswold
1) Name, Address, Phone, E-mail
310 Village Green Drive
New Bern, North Carolina
2) Educational Background
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Appalachian State University
Minored in Philosophy and Religion
Senator Jesse Helms staff on Foreign Relations Committee and Deputy Press Secretary
Treasury under George W. Bush
Worked on Bush campaign in 2004 and McCain campaign in 2008
Founder and Managing Partner of Hamilton Place Strategies
Demonstrations of Leadership
I believe that the job of U.S. Representative is about servant-leadership. The job of a Representative is to express the point of view of the people you represent.
3) Memberships and Associations
Lifetime NRA Member
Republican since the age of 18
Christ Church in New Bern
Carolina Ca—a non-profit that advocates for Charter Schools and school choice
4) Why are you running for this office
I was influenced by Senator Jesse Helms—Senator Helms set an example of how to be a principled conservative
There has been a shift in Washington away from conservatism that began with George W. Bush. For example, deficit spending, no child left behind, reaching out to Democrats to build the Republican party. They left conservatism behind.
I am a fiscal conservative who feels that the party and its congressmen have deviated from the proper course.
Walter Jones voted with President Obama in 2013. He is no longer effective. I feel I could do a better job. Career politicians are a problem. Politicians choose between their career and their responsibility and hard things don’t get done.
In 2013 I decided to run. I lost narrowly.
Congress needs to do the hard thing and realign what we expect of the federal government. There is too much “kick the can down the road” today.
5) What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
As of today, I have raised $310,000 from 435 donors.
Jeff Hauser is my Political Director; Guy Harrison is in charge of media, ads, etc.
6) Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
James Madison – because he had the ability to lead the drafting of the Constitution, the greatest document every penned. The Constitution improved lives. Also George Mason, who argued for term limits.
7) Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree?
No. A member of the House of Representatives is a leader when trying to accomplish something. You need to have a majority consensus to pass something. When everyone agrees on something, something is wrong—the hard things have probably not been considered. Ronald Reagan exhibited leadership.
8) Which President do you most admire?
Ronald Reagan because of his leadership and his sense of purpose and principle. He had clarity and purpose. He had a clear vision of government in America.
9) Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
An evolving document whose meaning changes with time?
A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
The Founding Fathers intended the federal government to reflect the Constitution as ratified. The Amendment process was added as the proper way to make changes. Judicial review is not in the Constitution.
Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened?
I received a $500 contribution from Renee Elmer’s husband.
How did you resolve it?
I decided not to take contributions from sitting members of Congress. I returned the contribution.
10) Where do individual rights come from?
God. Rights are divined from our Creator. One of the great innovations of America was that rights are guaranteed. America put John Locke into practice.
11) What do you know about Common Core?
If Craven County wants Common Core, they should have Common Core; however, it is not a good idea. I object to the federal government imposing standards on states through coercion with education funds. Education is not an enumerated power under the 10th Amendment. Education is a state issue, not a federal issue.
12) What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
I believe strongly in the right to carry and the right to bear arms. As far as gun free zones, I believe if a person wants to make his private property gun free, he has that right. I make a distinction between public and private property. I think a publically armed populace is a good idea.
13) What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
Separation of Church and State is not in the Constitution. It is based on Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Convention. The Founders wanted religious liberty—not restrictions on religion. The Founders supported freedom of religion—not freedom from religion. The Founders did not want an established state church.
14) If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
The debt. Currently we are paying 230 billion in interest a year, that is about what we spent on our military last year. This is unsustainable. By 2021 it will be 600 billion.
We need to cut mandatory spending—the entitlements that make up 86 percent of the federal budget. These are hard cuts.The SNAP program had gone from 37 billion under President Bush to 74 billion under President Obama.Local issues are VA reform, bases, and fishery issues.
US Senate and House of Representatives Only:
- What are your views on International Treaties and their impact on Constitutional rights?
I am reluctant to enter into treaties because they are binding on the United States. One example would be the International Criminal Court, which would make American citizens subject to international tribunals.
2.Do you believe withholding funding for programs is an ethical way to prevent their implementation?
Yes. Withholding funds can be used as a check on executive power.
Read the Constitution, Congress always has the right to limit spending.