Republican candidates for Florida's 4th congressional district debate

Six republican candidates answered questions Thursday


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The republican candidates vying to become the next Congressman representing Florida's 4th District met Thursday night for a debate.

The debate was hosted by the Jacksonville Bar Association and the JBA Governmental Relations Committee.

In attendance were Stephen Kaufman, Bill McClure, Deborah Katz Pueschel, Lake Ray, John Rutherford, and Hans Tanzler III.

The topics discussed included the military, terrorism, and how the candidates would work with the President. Each candidate had about one minute to respond to each question.

Here is how each candidate responded to the question of how they would be tough on terrorism:

Pueschel said, "I have been overseas, where I missed a bombing in Cape Town in '93. This is something that has been going on for 30 years. This is not something overnight. You're hearing the terror attacks that are coming out every day now over in Europe. Many people don't realize that Austria was mandated by their government to put the refugees in every village. They were not screened. We need to have a screening process, like I've stated before, this is a terrible situation going on and it's coming here and it's already here. And we need to screen individuals that are coming here and the ones that are here."

Ray said, "Don't try to make them our friends. I think there is enough policy 'let's see if we can be friendly with everybody'; that's the first thing I would not do. They're here to harm and to destroy. Moreover, let's look at what I have done and what is sound policy. What they were talking about after the Paris attack, bringing refugees in, I was the only state representative that brought sound policy and because Washington was not going to protect the interest of the public. I introduced legislation consistent with the Constitution, under Article 1, Section 10, it says that the states have the right to protect their interests in the face of imminent danger. I introduced legislation that would allow our governor to put our own background check on to protect the citizens of the State of Florida. The bill passed the house and it failed in the Senate because of special interest."

Rutherford said, "I mentioned that Orlando occurred because of a failed immigration policy and a failed national intelligence policy. Well, folks, a lot of people say, 'Well Omar Mateen was born in America.' That's true. But his father was not. His father was an immigrant who was a known al-Qaeda operative improperly vetted by someone and brought here so that Omar could be born here and later kill 50 of our citizens. That is unacceptable. No one should be coming to this country unless they can be vetted properly and we know their intentions for wanting to come here. That's first and foremost. I mention the failed national intelligence policy, because the DOJ was more concerned about profiling Islam, they pulled all of our human asset intelligence units out of the radicalized mosques all over the country. That is why we were unable to detect the plot at Pulse before it occurred."

Tanzler said, "I'd take aggressive actions to enable the CIA to conduct covert operations to get boots on the ground to gather intelligence, to be the CIA that it once was. In the CIA has been de neutered. The head of the CIA global counter intelligence for 10 years has endorsed me as being the most qualified on this issue and it's for a multitude of reasons. But the main thing is you need a strong military coupled with a strong president coupled with the enabling of agencies to do things that they have to do to protect us before the bad guys get us. And they have to do it over there, do it surgically. So, once they're here then the situation is almost defensive, almost too late. I'd also stop the Syrian refugees until we know who is among them. It's unfortunate that we have to do that, but it's common sense. We just have to know who is entering this country."

Kaufman said, "We are war. One of the first things I will be doing when I go to Congress is lobbying my colleagues to pass a declaration of war. I tried to find out why did we not do this, why did President Bush not ask for a declaration of war after 9/11. Everything that I saw said that we didn't want the narrative to be, America is at war with Islam. Ok, I get that. I'm a PR guy. So let's go to war with radical haters. We'll do a declaration of war against radical haters. If you pursue the means to destroy our civilization you are a radical hater and we are going to go to war with you. We need to take this threat seriously, I never want to see another American life perish at the hands of a terrorist. We need a declaration of war."

McClure said, "Values come into it. So, I'm a son of a Italian mom. She came here legally. In Italy, they don't recognize Islam as a religion, so they don't get the freedoms under the First Amendment, but they recognize them as a political sect. So how are you going to do it? Home and abroad, it's simple. 'I've had a passport, I've been everywhere, I've had an AK-47. Today, you're not supposed to be in our country you need to leave.' That's how it's done abroad, folks. So, secure our borders, abide by the vetting laws that are on the books. Immigration response team for those who overstay their visas. Deport the illegal aliens, we have to deport them if you're here illegally. Give aid to only our foreign allies, and that will help us abroad. More money for our national intelligence and that will hopefully put the fear of God in those terrorists who are here in this country."

All candidates had one definite thing in common, they said they look forward to working with President Trump.