This week, we begin a series of conversations with three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination in the U.S. Senate.
We start with Bob Smith, who represented New Hampshire in the Senate from 1990 to 2003.
Scroll down to find the full, unedited audio of our interview with Smith. Here are excerpts of his responses to some of the issues discussed, with his full answers (and more questions) in the audio.
What would an overhaul of the federal tax system look like?
Most significantly, I would say cut corporate taxes, cut capital gain taxes on businesses because that would spur economic growth, cut the individual tax brackets, and make it as easy as possible for people to retain their income and use it at their own discretion as opposed to more and more of it going into the Federal Treasury or any treasury for that matter. But the income tax itself is a mess. The whole system is a mess. It has to be simplified.
How does your health care proposal compare to the current Affordable Care Act model?
This is the problem with the whole plan is the sense that you're directed and you're told that you have to buy something. That's not right, number one. I would like to see us have the opportunity to opt out. If I don't want to be part of Obamacare, it's still a free country, we should have the free choice here to say "this is not for me." I don't want to be in a one-size-fits-all-system.
If you want to really have a fair system under the American way, its bring the competition in, increase the competition and bring the rates down and have individuals have the right to choose the right plan for them.
You've said that the problems in the Middle East can only be solved by the people in the Middle East. How does the U.S. ensure its strategic interests in that region while also adhering to that goal?
The mistake that has been made by two Presidents, both Obama and his predecessor President Bush is the issue of nation building. That is not the job of the United States and not the job of the U.S. Military for sure.
And so the question really gets down to this: is nation building what our armed forces were trained to do? The answer is no.
What about a situation like what's going on in Central America, were there have been calls to boost countries like Guatamala by sending aid. Is the calculus of the situation different where the U.S. has a very clear strategic interest in trying to address a situation before it comes to the United States?
I think the issue here is we understand the squalor and the poverty and the class system that exists in some of those Central American countries, and I understand a person being locked up in that and wondering how in the world they're ever going to get out of it. However, why are these people - whether they be children or in many cases adults - why are they coming here?
They're not going across hundreds of miles of Mexico and stopping at the border and coming across with nobody to greet them. Now, if they know that they're going to be received here illegally in violation of U.S. laws, which they are, if they know that, well of course, they're going to do it, they're going to try and get here. The U.S. is saying, "Come on, it's okay."
So, these are not political refugees. This is not Cuba. To say to these people, "Come on in and break our borders down" is a terrible mistake. It violates U.S. immigration laws, it violates all immigration laws in my view. All it does it take our borders down. They're now not porous, their aren't any. It basically says, "Look, if you're poor and you live in Guatamala and you want to come to America, come on, it's okay."
Say you win the nomination and the Senate seat. What do you point to in 2020 to say "This is the change Bob Smith brought to the country."
I think what your role is as a senator is not only to vote, but to lead, it's to take a leadership role and try to correct things that are wrong or reinforce things that a re right. I think if we could turn the debt around, in the sense that when we watch the debt clock it's going down instead of up, if we could say in six years that Bob Smith had a role in leading to balance the budget. Energy - we're just ignoring the energy that we have in this country, which is making us depending on foreign oil, specifically Middle Eastern oil.
Form a personal perspective, I'd like to see us get to the point in this country where we didn't have to be dealing with the abortion issue. I'd like to see a country that respected life, and that was that.
And I think finally, if you look back on it from a personal perspective from me, there are a lot of assaults now on our freedoms, and I hear it everywhere. The NSA, where people are being spied on, their emails, their computers, you name it, their phones, that's wrong. It has to stop. And also, the harassment of people because of their political beliefs. I know Senator Shaheen wrote some letters on that, looking into people because of their political beliefs. That's a very short-sighted thing to do, it's a big mistake.
I want to see respect for the Constitution again, respect for Fourth Amendment rights. Those are a few things that if I could look back and say I played a role by talking about those issues on the floor and taking a leadership role and pointing out to my colleagues that we need to change this for the good of America and to save America, I think all in all it would be a very good six years.