Second District Congressman Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock) says GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney needs to show “more passion” if he’s to shore up his bid to challenge President Barack Obama in the fall.
Griffin, the first-term Republican from Little Rock, is the state chairman of the Romney campaign. In a number of recent polls, Romney, the presumed front-runner, has stumbled and he’s been bettered by a revolving door of challengers most recently Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Next week, the state of Michigan, where Romney’s father served as Governor, holds its primary and Romney has either trailed or barely led in the polls.
“He needs a decisive win,” Griffin said in a Wednesday (Feb. 22) afternoon Talk Business & Politics interview, which you can view at the bottom of this post. “I think he needs to win Michigan, I really do. I think he needs to show strength in that state where he has a lot of roots. You know, I’d like to see him win it convincingly. Certainly, I think the water will have more mud in it, be less clear if he does not win it. He will have several candidates who feel like they’ve got a stake or have a chance to win the whole thing.”
Griffin said he’s endorsed Romney early because he is “the best guy to beat Obama in the fall,” and he offered an explanation for why Romney seems unable to close the deal for his party’s nomination in early primaries and caucuses.
“The sense I get talking to people in my party is they want to see more passion. A lot of people are really frustrated by what’s going on in this administration, in particular,” Griffin said. “I think Gov. Romney gets it, but I think he needs to communicate that. I’ve said as much. I think that’s part of it because that helps you connect with people. People want you to feel what they’re feeling.”
“I think he’s got to also continue to communicate with conservatives so they feel comfortable that some of his positions years ago are going to stay in the past,” Griffin added.
The Congressman said he still thought it was likely that a consensus candidate would emerge before this summer’s national GOP convention.
As for his own election bid in 2012, Griffin will be seeking a second term. With filing period opening Thursday, Feb. 23, Griffin does not have an announced opponent.
“I totally plan on getting an opponent. I would be shocked if I didn’t. I will be ready in every way to talk about the promises I made last time and the promises I kept,” he said.
THE IRANIAN THREAT
Griffin fielded questions from online viewers in the interview.
Regarding Iran, Griffin said the Middle East country “is the next pressure point” in world affairs.
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, he said bipartisan conversations have been taking place on Iran diplomacy.
“This is one of these deals where it’s never going to be easy to do. And the longer we wait to deal with it, however we deal with it, the more difficult it will be. I think you’ve got a madman in charge of Iran,” said Griffin.
He said he’s worried that recent Iranian comments on “dealing” with Israel will force the U.S. to honor its commitment as an Israeli ally.
“This is one where the President has got to be forward dealing,” Griffin said. He advocates helping stop any blockade efforts by Iran, as well as protecting and coordinating with Israel to avoid surprises.
He said the best case scenario, although unlikely, is that a show of force would make Iran get in line with the international community.
And a worst case scenario?
“At some point military action has to be taken. And I don’t think in talking to people, constituents, and folks around the country, I don’t think most Americans are ready for that,” Griffin said. “We ought to be scared of them having nuclear weapons that they can launch to other continents.”
ARKANSAS MILITARY CUTS
Griffin said that proposed military cuts affecting Arkansas are far from decided.
President Obama has proposed reductions to military budgets in his budget submitted to Congress, but Griffin doesn’t see that having any chance of passage in the Republican-controlled House or Democratic-controlled Senate.
He suggested that the “sequestration” cuts that evolved from last year’s failed Super Committee negotiations to get control of the national budget deficit would be more threatening. It is time to act, he said, but not time to panic.
“I think we’ve got a great case to make on the 188th [Fighter Wing in Fort Smith] and the Little Rock Air Force Base. I want to be vigilant, but I am not worried,” he said.
Griffin deferred to Rep. Steve Womack (R-Rogers), whose district covers the 188th Fighter Wing unit in Fort Smith. With Griffin on the House Armed Services Committee, he said he’s offered Womack help in any capacity.
“There is a great case to be made for the A-10. The A-10 has been, not just in Arkansas, but over the years has been marked for elimination time and time again,” he said.
Griffin, a veteran of Iraq, said the “boots on the ground” want A-10 air cover versus cover from F-35’s or F-16’s. He thinks their “devastating air cover” will help it avoid closure when all is said an done.
“It works. I’m a big believer in what the A-10 can do,” he said.
Griffin said that the Air Force’s initial focus to reduce National Guard activity at the Little Rock Air Force Base instead of the active duty side will limit cuts to the facility, if they even materialize. He said the modernization of C-130’s, the primary mission of the base, provides some security.
“I feel really good about the Little Rock Air Force Base,” he said. “We’re the model nationwide. You can believe it. We’ve got a good story to tell and I feel confident that Little Rock Air Force Base is going to be fine.”
Griffin has inserted himself in a controversy over the location of a Veterans’ Administration day treatment outreach center, which is planned for Main Street in downtown Little Rock.
Griffin has joined with city leaders in opposing the location on Main Street, a corridor in the midst of redevelopment as an entertainment and residential district. On Thursday (Feb. 23), Griffin is bringing U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, to town to discuss the VA move.
Griffin says he got involved in the political hot potato because constituents asked him to. He thinks the VA did not follow proper guidelines and procedures for locating the day treatment center downtown and didn’t take into account community concerns.
“To say that the Veterans’ Administration is the same as veterans is not true. They do a lot of good things for veterans, but they also are a federal agency that needs to follow the rules,” Griffin said. “A lot of politicians are afraid to criticize the VA because ‘veterans’ is in the name.”
He said he believed that after additional discussion, “we’ll get a solution that everybody can get on board with.”