By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, July 31, 2013, the Wetumpka Tea Party held what they billed as a top three Republican candidates forum. Based on polling that has been made public, they invited only the top three candidates out of the Republican field of nine: former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Congressman Mo Brooks, and US Senator Luther Strange.
Wetumpka Tea Party founder and President Becky Gerritson said that Strange has a Senate confirmation vote Monday night, so only Moore and Brooks were actually on stage.
The Strange campaign said that the Wetumpka Tea Party should have worked with them on the date of the event.
The two candidates had opening and closing remarks and fielded questions from moderator, Montgomery area radio host Dan Morris.
US Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) opened up the forum with a blistering attack on Senator Strange. “If you don’t put your country in front of your personal interests, you should not be in office. If you don’t put your state in front of your personal interests, you should not be in office. Brooks said that the Special Election which is costing the taxpayers $15 million was necessary because there was an ethical cloud over the appointment process by which then Governor Robert Bentley (R).
Rep. Brooks said that there was a conflict of interest involved with then Attorney General Strange interviewing for a job appointment by Gov. Bentley, while Bentley was the subject of a criminal conduct investigation headed by Strange. Then Strange compounded it by refusing to acknowledge that there was an investigation of the Governor. We did not know for certain that there was an ongoing investigation until Bentley appointed Steve Marshall (R) as AG and he recused himself and appointed a special counsel to head the Bentley investigation. Brooks accused Strange with unethical conduct and dishonesty.
Brooks said that Strange is not here today because he is at a $10,000 per plate special interest fundraiser tomorrow sponsored by Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky) and the special interests.
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) said of Strange, “We haven’t seen him too much because he doesn’t want to face the people,” and have to answer certain questions.
Moore acknowledged that he has been removed from the Court twice. “I have been removed twice for standing up for the people: for standing up to same sex marriage and acknowledging God.”
Moore said that people voted for change when they elected Donald Trump in November; however, “We haven’t seen anything happen in Washington. Everyone knows something is wrong.” Moore blamed DC culture where the Senators are afraid to do anything because they want to stay forever. Moore voiced his support for ending the filibuster rule which requires that it take a 60 vote majority to shut off debate to vote on almost any issue.
Moore said that McConnell has spent $4 million already (to elect Strange) and has committed to spending $6 to $8 million in the runoff.
Moore warned that “America is great because America is good, but an America that is not good cannot be great.”
Brooks said that he has faced more re-elections: for State House, for County Commissioner, and for Congress than any other Republican in the State and that voters keep supporting him because they like the job that he does. The closest any opponent has ever gotten in a re-election is 30 points. Brooks said that he and John Ricer were some of the leaders in fighting the $1.4 billion Bob Riley tax increase. Brooks said that Strange and the special interests are running ads accusing him of not supporting Donald Trump’s agenda; but in fact he had voted with the Trump administration 95 percent of the time on over 300 votes. “That is an A on anybody’s score card.”
Brooks said the he, unlike Luther Strange, agrees with President Trump on getting rid of the 60 percent rule.
Moore said that we need to get away from the political correctness and inclusiveness of transgenderism which is hurting morale in the military. Moore promised to work to grow the economy by stopping harmful regulations and to work for a return to the Constitution of the United States. Moore said that Congress can impeach these people, Judges who do not follow the Constitution. Moore urged people to read his book, Abuse of Power.
On most of the issues the two were in agreement.
On the healthcare bill, Moore said, “We need to repeal the healthcare bill and replace it with removing Mitch McConnell.” We need to repeal the Mccarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 which restricts selling healthcare across state lines.
Brooks said that he favors a full repeal and go back to the laws in place in 2009 which gave us the best healthcare system in the world.
Brooks said that while he thinks full repeal is best, if he had been in the Senate last week he would have voted for the skinny repeal plan as that was the only way to send it back to conference with the House.
Moore said that he wouldn’t vote for anything other than a complete repeal. Under the Constitution they (the federal government) should not be in healthcare and the same with education.
On the Presidents decision to ban transgender persons from serving in the military….
Moore said that transgenderism in the military will not work. “As a combat veteran you don’t want to be in a fox hole and be wondering if the soldier there with you is a man or a woman or if they don’t know what they are. There are two genders: male and female. And it is a scientific impossibility to be anything other than to be the gender you were born with, male or female. I back his proposal 100 percent and I backed it two months ago before he made it.”
Brooks said that this became an issue when the Socialist Democrats demanded that the military pay $100,000 per surgery and thousands of dollars in hormone treatments to transgender persons for the rest of their lives. It created a funding crisis so the President just banned transgender individuals, “And I support his decision.”
Both thought that civil asset forfeiture was being abused by the courts and needed to be restricted.
Both expressed their support for Jeff Sessions remaining as Attorney General of the United States.
Moore that that there was too much spying electronically on the American people and that the FISA courts should be repealed and domestic spying outlawed.
Brooks said that he was torn on the subject because on one extreme you would have no privacy from domestic intelligence gathering and on the other hand not collecting intelligence when there are groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS trying to kill us would put American lives in jeopardy. Brooks said that he has seen the intelligence and that thousands of lives have been saved by thwarted terror attacks due to this electronic surveillance.
Moore said that if we controlled who got in this country and only let in people after they have been thoroughly vetted there would be less need for domestic intelligence gathering.
Brooks warned that debt and deficits are the biggest issue in this race and that we need Senators with the the intellect to understand the problem and the backbone to do something about it.
Candidate Randy Brinson (who is running fourth or fifth in the polls) attended the forum but was not allowed to participate on stage.
Brinson told The Alabama Political Reporter that this forum was a “farce” and that neither candidate had a plan for healthcare. Brinson said that repealing Obamacare without having a plan to replace it would not pass and if it did pass hospitals would go bankrupt all over the country. Brinson said that Republicans need to show that they can actually govern or the GOP will lose its majority.
Brinson (who is running fourth or fifth in the polls) said that it is too early in the race to narrow the field down to just three candidates. Brinson also accused the Alabama Ethics Commission of trying to steal this race for Luther Strange by postponing their decision about alleged campaign finance law violations by the Strange campaign until after the August 15, Special Primary Election.