TOP STORY >> GOP candidate for Congress
Tim Griffin, the former interim U.S. attorney who describes himself as ďa common-sense conservative,Ē was the first candidate to file for office at noon Monday at the state Capitol. He is running as a Republican for Congress in the Second District, a seat that is being vacated by Rep. Vic Snyder, a Democrat.
Although heís soft-spoken and unassuming, Griffin has a reputation as a tough political tactician who was involved in the disputed presidential election in Florida in 2000, securing a close victory for President George W. Bush, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld.
Griffin worked in the White House as a top aide to Karl Rove, who helped him become interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock after Bud Cummins, another Republican, was forced to resign, along with several other U.S. attorneys who fell out of favor with the Bush administration.
Griffin, who couldnít win confirmation in the Senate, held the post from December 2006 to May 2007.
After the Republic primary, the nominee will face the winner of a crowded field in the Democratic primary, including House Speaker Robbie Wills, Rep. Joyce Elliott, Assistant Attorney General John Adams and David Boling, Rep. Vic Snyderís chief of staff.
Griffin, a major in the Army Reserve, has been a military lawyer for 12 years. He has served in Iraq, where his assignments included prosecuting Private Nicholas Mikel, who had tried to kill his platoon sergeant and fired on his unitís early-morning formation.
Mikel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
A Magnolia native, Griffin lives in Little Rock, where he has a law practice.
Here are Griffinís answers to our questions:
Why are you running for Congress this year?
Because I, like many Arkansans, am fed up with what is going on in Washington, especially with Nancy Pelosi and Congress. We see Congress as working against us, not for us.
I believe our congressman should represent the common sense views and values of the people here in the Second District on issues like the cap-and-trade energy tax, card check legislation, health-care legislation, federal spending and the national debt.
How did you get into politics?
I first got into politics paging for Sen. Bill ďFriendlyĒ Henley, a state senator from Camden back in the 1980s. My cousin was Gov. Sid McMath. He is a man I respected greatly not only as a civilian leader but as a military hero.
When did you start at the White House?
I started working at the White House in April 2005 and worked until September 2005, about six months. (I was on military leave from September 2005 to September 2006 because I was mobilized as an Army Reservist.)
What were your responsibilities?
I was special assistant to the president and deputy director, Office of Political Affairs. In that capacity, I worked with the Office of Presidential Personnel and helped build support for the presidentís agenda on select matters, such as the nomination of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.
What is voter ďcagingĒ?
Caging is an old direct-mail industry term that means to sort returned mail.
Adding ďvoterĒ to it was an attempt to defend against the voter-registration fraud groups like ACORN committed all around the country, especially in 2004, when they were submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registrations.
Is your connection to Karl Rove a positive or a negative?
I am a fifth-generation Arkansan, and my own person with my own views and values. The truth is I worked for the president at the White House for six months when Rove was deputy chief of staff.
I am very proud to have had the opportunity to work for a president, and I will tell any preacherís kid from Magnolia, if you get the opportunity to work for a president, I donít care who the president is, you go do it. And to say otherwise is silly.
Will Rove visit Arkansas to help your campaign?
After waiting several months to win Senate confirmation in 2007, why did you resign as interim U.S. attorney?
I resigned because it was clear that the Senate Democrats were more interested in political theater than providing a fair confirmation process.
Has the political scene changed much in the past few months?
Over the past year, Arkansans (and Americans) have become more and more frustrated and concerned at what is going on in Washington.
The out-of-control spending that the Republican Congress and President Bush bear much of the blame for has gotten worse and worse under the current administration and Congress. It is time to send a common-sense conservative to Congress.
Will that help you?
Yes, I believe that Arkansans want to be represented by a common-sense conservative who will work to get the government off the backs of businesses and get the national debt under control.
I believe Arkansans understand that taking back this congressional seat might take the speakerís gavel from Nancy Pelosi. We need to focus on policies that make it easier to create sustainable private-sector jobs. And Arkansans understand that our debt is the biggest threat facing our nation. We need someone in Washington to remind Congress of four simple words: ďWe canít afford it!Ē
Will the Second District switch from representation from one of the most liberal to a conservative congressman?
Yes. This is a conservative district that voted for President Bush and Sen. McCain. I believe the voters will elect a conservative who will vote to protect them from the agenda offered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Isnít health care expensive?
Yes, we need health-care re-form, but it should be market- based. Letís allow competition across state lines for insurance providers. Letís reduce the practice of defensive medicine by passing tort reform. The Obama-Pelosi health-care bill with more government spending, more government control and forced personal mandates is not the answer.
What can we do to lessen the burden on individuals and small businesses?
First, do no harm by stopping the Pelosi health-care bill, and the cap-and-trade energy tax. Second, extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Third, eliminate the death tax.
How do we restart the economy?
We need to look at what President Reagan did in 1981 and 1982. Cut spending, cut taxes.
We need to get our fiscal state of affairs under control. We need to cut government spending: Letís send a signal to the American people, the markets and the world that we are serious about eliminating our deficits and debt.
Letís also give money back to the American people. Again, letís extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Letís reduce the corporate tax rate, one of the highest in the world. Letís enact a territoriality measure like Congress did in 2004 ó bring $1 trillion earned overseas by U.S. companies home.
Letís enact a payroll-tax holiday. Letís accelerate depreciation to encourage capital investment. Letís return domestic discretionary spending to pre-stimulus levels: freeze domestic discretionary spending and keep it there.
Letís end the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP): Stop further obligation of unpaid funds. Letís rescind unobligated stimulus funds. Letís suspend the Davis-Bacon Act on public-works spending.
Letís say ďnoĒ to card-check legislation, the cap-and-trade energy tax and the presidentís health-care proposal.
What did you think of last weekís ďhealth summitĒ with President Obama and congressional leaders?
Thursdayís health-care summit was a good idea. It is important that our representatives and senators start having an honest and transparent conversation about legislation which represents one-sixth of our economy and impacts all Arkansans.
However, the presidentís choice to use the partisan Senate bill as a starting point for the discussion seriously crippled the summit before it even began.
We have to remember, however, that the Senate bill was the result of discussions involving no Republicans. And I am concerned that the words ďtort reformĒ appear nowhere in his 11-page proposal.
Further, the Congressional Budget Office cannot determine the cost of the presidentís proposal due to the lack of specificity provided.
Additionally, there is no mention in the presidentís proposal of not allowing taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortions.
However, his plan compels an individual to purchase health insurance under the threat of a fine Ė a first in our nationís history.
I would have preferred the president walked in with a blank piece of paper and allowed a truly bipartisan discussion to take place.
Cong. Snyder has secured millions of dollars worth of projects for Little Rock Air Force Base. Will you support the base if youíre elected?
Yes, most definitely. I am a veteran and am currently in my 13th year as an Army Reservist. I understand the importance of Little Rock Air Force Base to our state, region and country. I was flown around the Middle East in C-130s and understand the critical role they play in our national defense.
I will stand with Little Rock Air Force Base 100 percent.
What does your young family think about your running for office?
They are extraordinarily supportive and proud of the campaign we are building.
Next: House Speaker Robbie Wills.