This interview took place in Representative Akin's Rolla office as I took a break from emceeing the Rolla Tea Party on 10/27/12.
A video of the interview is available on www.daveweinbaum.com
Dave: Hi, my name is Dave Weinbaum and I'm honored to be here with Congressman Todd Akin. Todd, how are you?
Akin: Dave, it's a pleasure.
Dave: Todd just spoke to the Tea Party here in Rolla, Missouri and has allowed me to ask him a few questions which I'm going to be putting on daveweinbaum.com.
Dave: Congressman, you're in a somewhat tight race with Senator Claire McCaskill. What are your inner polls telling you as to the stance of this race so far?
Akin: Well the polling data we have is pretty much similar to what other people have and it's a little bit this way and that way. And, I don't really trust them. But it says that we are within a point or two - some say I'm up a couple of points, some say I'm down a couple of points - but we had the same kind of thing in the primary. We had a lot of different polls. And the best poll we had, which was one we paid for, had me in second place by a little bit. And we ended up winning it by six points, which was considered probably one of the biggest upsets in primary election history in the state of Missouri. So, I think the moral of the story is don't trust the polls, just see what happens on Election Day.
Dave: Congressman, what differentiates you from Senator McCaskill the most?
Akin: Boy that's a hard question because we're different on almost every single thing.
Dave: OK, give me the top three.
Akin: OK, top three. First would be Obamacare. Seventy-one percent of Missouri voters said, "We don't want Obamacare." We said, "No." Claire McCaskill said, "I'm going to vote for it anyway." Of course, I voted to repeal it 30 times. So, we're totally opposite ends of the spectrum on Obamacare. So that would be one place. Another place, if you want to just change radically to a different subject, would be the U.S Constitution and the Second Amendment. I have an A rating from the National Rifle Association, I'm endorsed by them. She has an F rating and is basically opposed to the Second Amendment. So, we're just completely opposites on that. And then if you wanted to go to a third item, let's see, if you do Obamacare - I'm thinking probably the other one, just in the general area of economics, is unemployment, which is really a big thing. And she voted for that incredible stimulus bill -- $787 billion of money which was supposed to get the whole economy going. And by the words of the people who were for it and voted for it, they said we were going to have five or six percent unemployment. In fact, what happened was 43 months of eight and above unemployment which is parallel only to the time of the Great Depression. So, and I, of course, voted against the stimulus bill. Now, day before yesterday it came out that, in fact, there was $20 million in the stimulus bill that went to her family business. So, those are a couple of places where there's a big obvious difference.
Dave: Congressman Akin, what are your thoughts on foreign policy, especially the Mid East/Northern Africa/Benghazi situation in Libya and Israel?
Akin: Well, let me just say in terms of the Benghazi situation, I'm spitting nails I'm so mad about that thing. The fact that we had four of our citizens whose lives were threatened and we could have done something about it and failed to do it, I think, is a tremendous breach of trust that I think should never be repeated. We should find out exactly who knew what and who made those decisions, whether it's the president himself or whether it's the Secretary of State, Hillary or whoever it is but to leave those people in the middle of a firefight when we could help - when they actually had laser designation on the mortar site that was going to kill them and we did nothing about it just makes me furious. In terms of Israel, we have a foreign policy that seems to be to try to appease our enemies and kick our friends in the shins and that's not right either. Israel has been an ally in a very troubled part of the world and I think we ought to remember that.
Dave: Recently, the president was caught in a phone conversation with an open mic - well, actually not a phone conversation but an open mic situation with President Medvedev of Russia and he said, "Wait until after my second-term election and I can show you more flexibility." What are your thoughts on that?
Akin: Well, first of all I think we need to make sure that he doesn't ever have a re-election, that he succeeds him so he doesn't sell us down the river any further. It was - I thought it was a very, very poor decision to basically ignore the policies that have been set up with Czechoslovakia and, uh, I'm trying to remember who the other - the Czech Republic and, uh - I think it was, maybe it was Romania - for the missile defense system in Europe. No, it was Poland. Poland and the Czechs. And we basically sold them down the river in order to kiss up to the Russians. And that was a very bad decision. What have the Russians done to help us? What have they done to help us in Iran? Absolutely nothing. So this is more of the same kind of diplomacy of trying to curry favor with our enemies and ignore our friends. And that's just absolutely foolish.
Dave: Going back to Obamacare, Rep. Akin, what would it take to repeal Obamacare?
Akin: Well, if you want to do a clean repeal, you need 60 votes in the senate, a majority in the house and a president that'll sign the bill. If you don't have the 60 votes in the senate, which we may not have, then what we have to do is use a thing called reconciliation where we just de-fund it. In a sense, if you de-fund it, it - to a degree - makes it to some degree go away.
Dave: You can de-fund it with 51 senators, is that correct?
Akin: That's correct but the process of getting that done is complicated and there's some iffyness to it. I'm not a senator, but the procedures on the senate floor are a little bit esoteric, to say the least.
Dave: When and if you become a senator, Rep. Akin, what would you do to protect Social Security and Medicare?
Akin: Well, the thing is both of those need to be protected and preserved and if you just take straight off from our votes, even at this point, Claire McCaskill voted to cut Social Security by 15 percent. I voted against that so I told you we're different. I voted to protect Social Security, she voted to cut 15 percent out of the funding for it. In the case of Medicare, same kind of thing. Claire McCaskill voted to cut $716 billion out of Medicare. That's a whole lot. That's hospital services, skilled nursing, it's hospice, it's Medicare Advantage - all pretty important parts of Medicare - and she voted to cut that out and I voted to leave it in. So that's the actual record. I know she's got a lot of money to spend on TV and make accusations but you check into the record and you'll find the guy who was supporting them was the guy Akin, not McCaskill.
Dave: Congressman Akin, your election to the senate actually could be a very significant thing in that - especially if you are the person that could be held responsible for the Republicans gaining the majority in the senate. In light of the fact that the top of the ticket pretty well demanded you step down as well as other conservatives demanded you step down and that was way back about three months ago. You stayed in the race and are now at a pretty close level, what would your thoughts be if you were elected based on the background of that situation?
Akin: Well, you know, I consider that this race is not about me. This race is about preserving America, preserving our freedom and our jobs and trying to stop the crippling growth of excessive big government. And that's my objective. And so, in terms of holding grudges or anything else like that, I don't worry about that. My job is to try and protect the freedom and pass it on to my kids and your kids and all of our grandchildren. That's what my job is. And it wasn't, if you check closely, conservative that were asking me to step down. It was, instead, liberals who wanted more liberal senators. And they did the same thing down in Florida with Crist as opposed to Rubio, these same senators were supporting Crist. He then spoke at the Democrat convention. How good was their taste? Instead of Rubio. And the same thing in Kentucky with Rand Paul. And so when I saw what was going on there, I thought, "Oh, OK, so you don't like conservatives. Too bad."
Dave: Alright, there also was Mitt Romney asked you to step down too. As well as people like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin. What did you think about that?
Akin: Well, most of that, there's kind of a - I made the comment, it's taken out of context and it blows up to a tremendous level and immediately a bunch of people were calling for me to step down. But then in about a week or so, what you find is people actually looked at what I said and you see an awful lot of those people sort of quieted down. But there are a few that all the way down the line have been working against me and those are the ones that are much more vocal.
Dave: Well it will be real interesting to see how this race comes out. I wish you the best of luck. And - I'm not a journalist - but I actually speak about you on my radio show - The Dave Weinbaum Show - and I gave it a bunch of thought and I said, "The guy said two words and he said he was sorry and has a great voting record" and I'd like to see you as the next senator from Missouri. Thank you for sitting in.
Akin: Thank you so much.