By Megan Poinski
Six Republicans vying to challenge U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin in November sparred over foreign policy, Supreme Court nominees and Obamacare at a debate sponsored by the state GOP and the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee.
Almost all of the candidates on the Republican primary ballot were at Thursday’s night debate at Anne Arundel Community College, days away from Tuesday’s primary. Dan Bongino, Robert Broadus, Rich Douglas, Rick Hoover, David Jones and Corrogan Vaughn all participated in the forum.
While the candidates had varying views on issues, they all agreed on one thing: It’s time for established incumbent Democrat Cardin to go home.
“The only reason I’m here is to beat Ben Cardin,” said Douglas in his opening statement, invoking Cardin’s name more than any other candidate.
Democrats out of control
Bongino, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who has been on the campaign trail since last summer, said that Cardin and the Democrats are overusing their power. That’s why he’s running for office, he said. The Democrats, who Bongino said are trying to turn everything into a government-run program, are getting out of control. Beating them back, he said, is “the fight of our generation.”
“These people know no limits,” he said. “They will never give you a number on fair share because their fair share is everything. If you believe you and your family should have a say over your lives, they will follow you everywhere. Cede no more ground.”
Bongino said that he believes the “fair share” is a 16% corporate tax, and instituting a “fair tax,” which eliminates income taxes and payroll taxes, replacing them with a higher sales tax.
But taxes, which were a major component of the debate, are something that Broadus does not believe in. He shared his philosophy with the crowd: Get the federal government to stop taxing the people. Broadus, who called himself a former independent who used to vote Democratic – until he saw “that the Democratic Party was betraying me” – said that taxes are only permitted in the U.S. Constitution under the 16th Amendment.
He said that Congress should repeal the 16th Amendment, which would leave the American people with more money to invest in the economy. As for government programs funded with tax dollars, Broadus said that the U.S. should find private sector replacements.
“We really have to make some sacrifices if we’re going to save our country,” Broadus said.
Jones, a single father who decided to run for the Senate to make his voice heard, had another strategy to save the nation’s economy. While he said that simplifying the tax code would be a good thing to do, Jones said that the problem runs deeper than that.
Many inexpensive products that Americans buy nowadays at discount retailers are made in other countries known for cheap labor costs. Jones said that if those products were made in the United States, it would create more jobs for Americans and stimulate the economy. He recommended people stop buying non-American-made products.
“If you buy American, that takes care of a lot of problems,” he said.
Douglas, a military veteran who has worked as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, said that Cardin and what he called his “amateurism” in the Senate – especially in the area of foreign affairs – were the biggest problem that needs to be fixed. Douglas said he’s running so he can “bring dignity back to our Senate,” and summarized the race like someone who’s been involved in politics for a long time.
Asking different questions
“You should be asking your candidates different questions: about party loyalty, job security, and bucking your own party,” Douglas said. “You want to make sure who you send to Washington will do that and not fall apart at the moment of truth.”
Hoover brought a pocket-sized version of the U.S. Constitution with him to the debate. He said he favored stripping down the government to what was covered in the Constitution, including several government agencies he said were not doing their job.
“I’m not afraid of Ben Cardin. I am not afraid of President Obama,” Hoover said, holding up his constitution. “I answer to a higher calling.”
Vaughn told the debate audience that he also answers to a high calling. In fact, he said, he is the only electable candidate who can easily cross party lines. And, he said, he’d figured out the secret to why Republican candidates in Maryland tend to be unsuccessful.
“We overshadow the liberals here, and we are afraid to take them on,” Vaughn said.