CEDAR RAPIDS – Introductions are over and, now, five-term U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter is selling himself and his message to caucus-going Iowa Republicans.
At a meet-and-greet in Cedar Rapids Aug. 26, the Michigan congressman dismissed his 10th-place finish in the Iowa GOP Straw Poll earlier this month, explaining his goals weren’t the same as others seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The straw poll may have been a test of organizational strength for his rivals, “but we had always said it was an introduction.”
“We have too much respect for the people of Iowa to think we could just drop in and win a straw poll,” said McCotter, who also met voters in Davenport Friday. “We viewed it as the best way to get with as many Iowa voters as possible.”
That introduction earned him 35 votes out of the 16,892 cast at the straw poll. So while the introductory phase of his campaign has been largely dismissed by the national media, McCotter is upbeat.
“I’m not trying to be the president of the pundits. I’m trying to be the president of the people,” he said.
Iowa, he added, is the perfect place to sell his message.
“The beauty of Iowa is they expect you to get in front of them and explain yourself and then they’ll consider you.”
So McCotter, an attorney, former community college trustee and state legislator, stood in front of a handful of people and answered questions about U.S. policy toward China, the United Nations, manufacturing, farm subsidies, bailouts for automakers and bankers and whether the guitar-playing congressman plays anything but rock ’n roll.
In a nutshell, McCotter wants to “deal with transformational challenges and seize the opportunity to restructure the federal government for the 21st Century fix the economy by forcing the big Wall Street bailout banks that failed to recapitalize for the future and make sure America is protected from her enemies.”
Unless the U.S. takes a more aggressive approach to protecting itself, especially its manufacturing sector, against trade violations, China will be the “ascendant country of the 21st Century,” McCotter said.
Unlike many of his Republican colleagues, McCotter opposed the bank bailout but supported bailing out automakers. The nation needs a manufacturing sector and couldn’t afford the social cost of letting automakers fail, he said.
“If you support the Wall Street bailout,” he asked, “how do you tell the people on 90-foot lots – the people who have to shower after work, not just before they go to work – that it’s OK to go bankrupt and it’s good for you?”
The bank bailout has failed because it was a redistribution of wealth upward without consequences for the people who created the problem in the first place, he said.
“When you tell banks they can make money without lending money, what do you think is going to happen?” McCotter said.
He would scale back U.S. support to the United Nations and step up efforts with what he called the “Liberty Alliance” to promote democracy.
“This is no longer Franklin Roosevelt’s dream,” he said of the UN. “It’s devolved into a place run by un-free nations and they want us to pay the bill.”
He would scale back farm subsidies, too, but said ending them immediately would create chaos in the ag sector and be costly for consumers.
And his musical repertoire includes country western as well as rock ’n roll