Exclusive interview with Pete Hegseth: Ready to challenge Amy Klobuchar

Last night, my radio partner Mitch Berg organized our semiannual (or so) Minnesota Organization of Bloggers social event at Ol’ Mexico in Roseville, and attendance was higher than ever.  Our fellow NARN radio host and now state Representative King Banaian paid us a visit, fresh off a redistricting decision that has him in a new (and more Republican) district, and a dozens of bloggers and even more blog readers and followers came to socialize with us.  We had a surprise guest among us — our old friend Captain Pete Hegseth, one of the founders of Vets for Freedom and just two weeks after returning to his family from Afghanistan after his third overseas tour of duty with the US Army National Guard — the other two tours being Guantanamo and Iraq.

For the past few months, there has been a movement in the state to draft Pete into running for the US Senate.  As an active-duty member of the armed services, Pete couldn’t participate in that effort or encourage it at all.  Now that he has been discharged from active duty, however, Pete has embraced the idea and will announce this week that he will run in the Republican primary for the nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. It’s a tough assignment, although hardly the toughest Pete has faced. Klobuchar has the power of the incumbency, plus a reputation as a moderate (which her voting record belies) and as a genuinely nice person (which is much more true).

Fortunately for me, I brought my camera rig to the MOB party to take a few pictures of the event, and managed to get Pete into a booth at the restaurant for an impromptu interview.  Unfortunately, restaurants are pretty loud places and not known for bright lighting, so the interview is a little noisy, and the cinematography looks like something from a film noir of the 1960s.  Still, the audio is plenty good enough to hear Pete talk about issues such as the budget, entitlement reform, military spending and policy, and how to campaign against a likeable incumbent like Amy Klobuchar.  I promised Pete I wouldn’t take more than four minutes for the interview, but we had such a good conversation that we went almost twelve minutes:

Some highlights:

  • On running against Klobuchar: “The first thing you do is remind people how she actually votes. … She voted with Senator Obama 92% of the time, and Senator Franken 93% of the time.”
  • On the moment: “These are times of incredible consequence.  There’s a lot of big, important things happening in our country. And we need representation that’s willing to roll our sleeves up and get dirty on those tough issues.  Often with Senator Klobuchar, you have her taking on the easy issues.”
  • Taxes: “Reform and simplify. … The only people who understand the tax code are the regulators … and the people who can take advantage of that tax code are the people who can afford to pay the lawyers.”
  • Entitlements: “We’re driving off a cliff.  Either we make the tough choices now, or they’re going to be made for us.”
  • ObamaCare: “Complete repeal.  Replace it with something that’s patient-centered, market oriented … We don’t need government making those calls for us and mandating [them].”
  • Defense cuts: “Across-the-board blanket cuts are not the way to go. … There are places — we could look at how we procure our weapons systems, for instance.  I think it takes someone who has been there, seen it — seen how our military works. … The world’s still a dangerous place, and if not America, then who?”
  • Global security mission: “The unfortunately reality, as you know, is that most of the Western world has checked out.  Europe is piggybacking on our defense infrastructure. They don’t have the ability to project power or defend interests around the world.  So if we check out, then freedom and democracy around the world in many ways checks out.”

Be sure to watch it all.  If you want  to support Pete Hegseth in the primary, be sure to visit his campaign website, PeteForSenate.com.  While you’re at it, thank his family who only got Pete to themselves for two weeks before he volunteered for his next service tour for his state and nation.

Update: I originally wrote that Pete was “founder of Vets for Freedom,” but of course he was one of the founders, and not the only one, as a commenter rightly points out.  I’ve fixed the reference above.

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