Hunter trum­pets de­fense, val­ues, fair trade in White House bid

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Stephen Di­nan

Rep. Dun­can Hunter con­sid­ers him­self the Repub­li­cans’ best bet to re­con­sti­tute the blue-col­lar coali­tion that helped the party win the White House in the 1980s.

Mr. Hunter, who is seek­ing the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in 2008, says he can re­build that coali­tion by cam­paigningonde­fense,tra­di­tional val­ues and fair trade.

“Keep­ing Amer­i­can jobs in this coun­try is a strong tie be­tween the Repub­li­can Party and work­ing Amer­ica, Main Street Amer­ica — that’s a por­tion of our con­stituency I aim to re­trieve, be­cause I stand strong with them,” the 13-term con­gress­man from Cal­i­for­nia said in a re­cent in­ter­view, point­ing to votes against al­most ev­ery free-trade agree­ment­dur­inghis26yearsinthe Capi­tol.

Mr. Hunter, the first to an­nounce of­fi­cially that he is ex­plor­ing a run for pres­i­dent, presents a curious fig- ure­a­mong­bet­ter-known­can­di­dates.

Com­bined­with­a­tough­stanceon borderse­cu­rity—hewastheau­thor of the orig­i­nal amend­ment propos­ing 700 miles of border fence in­cluded in the House’s 2005 im­mi­gra­tion bill — he fills a niche among the can­di­dates lin­ing up for a pres­i­den­tial run.

“I stand for a strong na­tional de­fense, strong border en­force­ment, fis­cal con­ser­vatism and tra­di­tional val­ues,and­lastly,keep­ingAmer­i­can job­son­shore,”he­saidash­es­prawled in an arm­chair in his Capi­tol Hill of­fice dur­ing the in­ter­view, prop­ping one foot on the edge of his clut­tered desk.

Mr. Hunter said he ex­pects the next elec­tion to turn on se­cu­rity. He said his ex­pe­ri­ence as an Army Ranger dur­ing the Viet­nam War and as the top Repub­li­can on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee puts him squarely in the mid­dle of that de­bate.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a dan­ger­ous world. I think that’s go­ing to haveourat­ten­tion,andI­thinkwe’re go­ing­toseeadan­ger­ous­cen­tury,”he said.

Mr. Hunter is the most con­ser­va­tive can­di­date to en­ter the field so far, and is as con­ser­va­tive as any of the oth­ers men­tioned as poten- tial can­di­dates. He touts his spon­sor­ship of the Right to Life Act, which ef­fec­tively would out­law abor­tion by spec­i­fy­ing that a per­son ex­ists at the mo­ment of fer­til­iza­tion, for the pur­poses of 14th Amend­ment pro­tec­tions.

Mr. Hunter eas­ily has won re­elec­tion­in­hisSanDiego-based­con­gres­sional dis­trict ev­ery elec­tion since his first, with the ex­cep­tion of a tight race in 1992 af­ter re­dis­trict­ing and rev­e­la­tions of over­drafts at the now-de­funct House bank.

His big­gest chal­lenges will be gain­ing name recog­ni­tion and rais­ing money. He has not been known as a pro­lific fundraiser on the scale of other an­nounced can­di­dates, but hehas­pledged­tomakease­ri­ous­ef­fort in early pri­mary and cau­cus states.

Mr.Hun­ter­made­his­pre­lim­i­nary an­nounce­ment be­fore the midterm elec­tions Nov. 7 and, in the weeks since, raised his profile on television and in ra­dio in­ter­views.

Sincethe­elec­tions,bothSen.John McCain, Ari­zona Repub­li­can, and for­merNewYorkMay­orRu­dolphW. Gi­u­liani have formed ex­ploratory com­mit­tees on races for pres­i­dent.

Mr. Hunter said he will make a for­mal an­nounce­ment later, jok­ing that this way he gets two press con­fer­ences out of it.

Mr. Hunter has been in­volved in many­bigde­fense-pol­i­cy­fight­softhe past few years. He was one of the strong­est sup­port­ers of the way U.S. troops per­formed at the de­ten­tion cen­ter at U.S. Naval Base Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba.

In one mem­o­rable press con­fer­ence at the Capi­tol, he brought a plate with lemon chicken, rice and the rest of the food that ter­ror-war de­tainees were fed.

Mr. Hunter also took on the White House over women in com­bat and helped lead the op­po­si­tion that blocked pas­sage of the intelligence-over­haul bill in 2004 un­til the White House agreed to al­low the de­fense intelligence agen­cies con­tin­ued lat­i­tude to op­er­ate.

Rep. Dun­can Hunter

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