Yesterday evening, as the Republican presidential candidates warmed up for their debate during the Presidency 5 convention in Orlando, I had the opportunity to sit down with former U.S. Senator and current Republican primary candidate George LeMieux , who is running to replace Democrat Bill Nelson in the 2012 election. Below are his answers to a series of questions of concern to Floridians and to all Americans. Due to the length of the interview, it is being published in three segments. Please, be sure to read every part, to learn more about his position on the issues.
Blas: What, if any, changes would you like to see in U.S. Middle East policy? What should the U.S. do about the Palestinian Authority’s bid for U.N. Membership?
LeMieux: Well, I think this President has been the lowest President in terms of our relationship with Israel of every president since Israel was born in 1948. This President wants Israel to go back to its pre-1967 borders, which has resulted in a tremendous setback to our relationship with our friends, our brothers and sisters in Israel. They are a beacon of light in that region of the world. They believe, like we do, in God-given rights, in democracy, in the right to religion, in freedom of worship, and we should support Israel in every way we can. So, I would be a much bigger friend and have been a much bigger friend of Israel than has this President. I would strengthen our relationship with the people of Israel. I believe we should promote those countries that allow freedom. And that should be our policy, not just in the Middle East, but around the world. And those governments that treat their people badly and don’t let them exercise their God-given rights shouldn’t have any help from our country. We had a policy during the Cold War that those who were against the Soviets were our friends. That’s not the world today. We ought to be on the side of freedom. We have to be tough. We have a very difficult situation in the Middle East. We have Iran who is building nuclear weapons, who is trying to put them on intercontinental ballistic missiles, trying to become a nuclear power. We have Syria with Assad having his own people killed. We have a destabilized Egypt, a very dangerous situation in Yemen where Al-Qaeda has gone and poses a threat to our country. So we have to be vigorous and we have to be prepared.
Blas: What should the U.S. response be to the U.N. General Assembly recognizing the Palestinian Authority with observer status?
LeMieux: If that happens we ought to exercise our veto power in the Security Council. The Palestinian Authority has not come to the table in good faith. They are aligned with Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group. I’m in favor of a two-state solution, but a two-state solution that allows Israel to be an independent state and a vibrant country, not an Israel that is cut up to a size that’s less than 1967. We have to remember who our friends are, who believes in the same values that we believe.
Blas: Do you believe that having worked as Chief of Staff for former Governor Charlie Crist, and having been appointed by him to complete Mel Martinez’s Senate term hurts your bid for the Republican nomination in the current race?
LeMieux: I don’t believe so, because I have a conservative track record during my term in the U.S. Senate. I voted against Obamacare and for spending restraint. When Governor Crist withdrew from the race for the Republican nomination I immediately endorsed Marco Rubio.
Blas: Were you surprised about Governor Crist’s decision to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent?
LeMieux: I was disappointed. I advised him against doing it.