This is the third in KUAR's series of interviews with each of the three candidates in the contested Republican 2nd Congressional District Primary comprised of Conway, Faulkner, Perry, Pulaski, Saline, Van Buren, and White counties.
See here for the interview with Ann Clemmer.
See here for the interview with French Hill.
Kauffman: Hello, I’m Jacob Kauffman with KUAR News. I’m joined by retired US Army Colonel and 2nd Congressional district hopeful Colonel Conrad Reynolds. Thanks for joining me.
Reynolds: Thank you, this is great.
Kauffman: Most pundits and economists agree the economy is slowly, but regularly growing. A study this month from the London School of Economics shows that since the 1960s the richest one-thousandth of a percent of US households has doubled their share of the national wealth from 10 to 20 percent. Is the increasing concentration of wealth to the few a problem or a sign of a healthy economy?
Reynolds: It could be both it depends on which side you’re on. I guess if you’re part of that one percent, or that top percentage, it’s good. I think that too many people at the top for whatever reason the regulations tend to favor whether it’s bankers or lawyers, and that’s what we have a lot of in Congress. I think they’re tilting it a little bit to ensure that they make their profits. Look at the bank bailouts, my goodness. Most of them made tons of money. Yeah, we’ve got problems in that regard but I believe that when I go up there we change a little bit of that maybe.
Kauffman: Many Arkansans are noticing an influx of out of state money and campaign ads not coming directly from campaigns. How would you address growing discontent with campaign finance laws?
Reynolds: Well, I don’t know how much of it is coming from out of state. I know in my own personal case, of course I was in the military…most of my time was oversees, different locations, I know a lot of people around the country. Of course, they wanted to donate to me and of course I’m not the one with all the money. You’ll have to ask the guy that’s got all the money why he’s getting money from outside sources but I think you will find it’s probably not good, close friends.
Kauffman: Well, do you believe that Congress should act though to address campaign finance laws and what sort of changes would you advocated for?
Reynolds: I think we need to look at all the laws when it comes to campaigning. Too often it seems like the people that raise all the money can buy all the air time and squeeze out people who are really and truly trying to do the right thing for the country. We can look at all of those aspects and I intend to do that.
Kauffman: The oil spill in Mayflower has some Arkansans re-assessing their views of the safety practices of that industry. Would you pursue regulations moving pipelines away from sensitive areas like watersheds?
Reynolds: That sounds like a great idea to me. I think we ought to explore all that, whether we move it away from watersheds…one thing’s for sure, we need oil. We need to make sure there’s a safe way to transport it all the way from the production site to the refineries and that’s what we’re doing. But yeah, I would look at that as a measure to do the right thing.
Kauffman: Is that a condition you’d also want to impose on the Keystone pipeline going through the Ogallala aquifer?
Reynolds: Let me say this, we need the Keystone pipeline. I honestly believe that. As a nation we need it. What people don’t understand is that the central United States, all our strength, economic strength, comes from trucking. We bring things in and out with trucks so gasoline, fuel, is a major component. As far as where the Keystone pipeline will go I haven’t looked at the exact details but we need to make sure we keep our environment first and foremost, yes.
Kauffman: There are seemingly endless hotspots and trouble areas internationally that the US wants to help shape. What are your thoughts on the crisis in Ukraine and when is using force abroad a sound strategy?
Reynolds: I mean using force abroad is a strategy if you have to use it. There are bad people in the world. I’ve been to over 50 different countries; I just came back from Afghanistan last December. I spent five months there last year, overall I’ve spent probably three to four years in war zones and not everybody, it’s not like America. So yeah, we need a good foreign policy that has engagement as one of its main goals. You must engage other countries and we must protect and stand up with our allies whether it’s Israel, Great Britain, or Poland, or the Czech Republic. We need to make sure that they understand that we’re a strong ally and if it involves force then we must be prepared to do that.
Kauffman: The Obama administration has continued his predecessor’s use of drones in countries we are not at war with and do not have troops in. Some argue their use, while helpful in killing dangerous extremists, ends up causing more harm than good, by creating more anti-US sentiment. As a congressman how would you want the drone program used?
Reynolds: I think we need to be very careful when we use drones in any circumstance you want to make sure that they’re used in the most appropriate way. But I will tell you as a military veteran, war veteran, combat veteran, I will tell you that it’s not easy fighting those types of wars, those non-traditional type of wars, and those environments. We have found that the drone has been a very effective tool to keep our young men and women safe. As long as we’re going to be there I think that it’s a smart thing to do and I support it.
Kauffman: What are your thoughts on the NSA’s collection of at least some telephone and e-mail data from nearly every American? Would you keep in place current domestic surveillance practices? Reynolds: That’s a great question and I will tell you from a cyber security standpoint it’s a complex question the way that our world is structured now versus what it was back in the ‘70s when a lot of these laws came out. But I believe that I’m the only candidate probably in the country that’s running that understand NSA and what its mission is. It is a foreign intelligence collection mission not a domestic collection mission. I will make sure when I go up there that this government does not overreach and use the NSA, or any other federal government entity, against its own people. But to answer your specific question I want to look at what the laws are currently. I do maintain a top secret clearance now but I don’t have access to that but I’d like to see what they’re doing. But spying on the American people is an absolute no go and we should never allow that.
Kauffman: Immigration legislation has largely stalled in Congress. What is your plan for addressing continued immigration as well as those currently here attending school or working?
Reynolds: I disagree with this idea that we need to lump border security and immigration all together. That’s the first thing. The American people want some confidence that the leaders than come up with whatever immigration policy we come up with can be supported. They can’t trust anybody in Congress right now because our border’s still not secure. Bush, President Bus, was talking about it in 2000 and here we are 14 years later and we still don’t have it secure. The people that I talk to on the campaign trail tell me it seems like nobody is serious so I think step one, secure the border. Once that’s secure then we can talk about what we’re going to do with the people that are already here but I think we’re getting the cart before the horse when we start talking about what measures we’re going to take and we still haven’t even fixed the problem.
Kauffman: There is a wide consensus that Congress’s is unable to act on what many perceive as simple issues. Tell us about your leadership style. Are tactics like a government shutdown, and filibustering without having to actually speak something you’d support?
Reynolds: I’ll tell you what I support and that’s doing what’s best for the American people. We’re at a really tough time in our country. We do have people that locked in their heels one each side. Something I’ve done my entire career is bring people together and have solutions to problems even though we don’t have a solution when we start. But, you bring people from all different backgrounds to do that. I did that in the military, I did that with other countries, other soldiers and folks that were assigned to me to just complete the mission. I think we can do that in Congress. I’m a likeable guy and I think people will be able to come talk to me and I think we can do good work there and I intend to do that.
Kauffman: I’ve been speaking with Colonel Conrad Reynolds, who faces Ann Clemmer and French Hill in the 2nd Congressional Republican Primary. Thanks for being here.
Reynolds: Thanks a lot, I enjoyed it.
Kauffman: I’m Jacob Kauffman, KUAR News