Five of the six Republican candidates running for U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s 1st Congressional District seat met Wednesday for a forum sponsored by the Savannah Area Republican Women.
Conservative TV and radio personality Bill Edwards was master of ceremonies for the forum, which attracted state Sen. Buddy Carter, state Rep. Jeff Chapman, Dr. Bob Johnson, Dr. Earl Martin and John McCallum. Darwin Carter was unable to attend.
The forum began with candidates’ opening statements. Chapman said he was honored to be invited by the group, saying that men talk about voting, but women actually vote. Johnson, a retired cancer surgeon, quoted from former Defense Sec. Robert Gates’s new book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” then asked himself a rhetorical question — “Why would I want to leave the most esteemed profession in America to the most reviled profession in America?”
He answered, saying the country is “going to Hell in a hand basket,” and charging America’s leaders with stealing $14 billion from our grandchildren by increasing in the national debt.
The other candidates also pointed to the national debt as one reason they were running. McCallum said the nation is at a tipping point. Martin cited the debt and the military, which he said is for national defense and not social experiments.
When Edwards asked Johnson how he felt about the new budget taking cost-of-living allowances from senior officers and noncommissioned officers, Johnson, who is a retired Army Ranger, said, “How dare they attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our military?”
Carter was asked what his first significant piece of legislation would be if elected. He said it would be better to repeal recent legislation and enforce other laws. Guests’ response was loud applause.
McCallum was asked about farmers and the Farm Bill. He said most of the Farm bill is about welfare and food stamps now, not agriculture. He said he wants to get “sanity” back in the bill. When asked about a balanced budget amendment, Johnson compared Congress to a crack addict.
Being a pharmacist, Carter said he’d like to be on the House committee that oversees the Department of Health and Human Services.
Martin was asked what he didn’t like about Obamacare. He responded by paraphrasing a line from a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
“How do I count the ways?” he said. He also said he disagreed with Supreme Court, saying the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. He then asked Edwards which Obamacare he was referring to, noting the president has amended the legislation several times without Congressional approval. The president’s acts only add to Obamacare being unconstitutional, he said.
Each candidate was asked why he was the best candidate. Martin said he didn’t want to rock the boat. He wants to flip it. Johnson said Congress needs leaders with “fire in their belly,” men and women willing to do what is necessary to return to a constitutional government.