2) One of your four major campaign themes is "repairing the country's basic infrastructure." What do you believe the Bush Administration should have done differently with regard to the U.S. Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and what would you recommend be done at this point?
Many of the failures of the Bush administration in this regard came in preparing for Katrina. This is true in budget recommendations that could have given us an infrastructure capable of absorbing this predictable blow, and also in the quality of his political appointees. As Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs I used to work with FEMA regularly, planning for its reaction to contingencies similar to what happened in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast. A great deal of what we saw in the aftermath of Katrina was - pure and simple - failed leadership, due to bad leaders.
I'll be in New Orleans this weekend and I am looking forward to seeing first-hand the situation we now face down there. From what I've been hearing, it's still bleak for a lot of people.
3) Another of your campaign themes is "restoring the constitutional role of the Congress as an equal partner." This past Martin Luther King Day, Al Gore spoke in Washington DC and stated point blank that we are in "an extraordinary constitutional crisis." Then, in early March 2006, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor strongly implied that the United States is in danger of the "beginnings" of "dictatorship." Do you believe that Gore and O'Connor are engaging in overheated rhetoric, or do you fundamentally agree with their concerns?
I agree with their concerns. I served as a full committee counsel in the congress for four years, at a time when the members of congress were fully committed to protecting their constitutional prerogatives as equal partners in the constitutional scheme. Today, many Republicans seem to think they're working in a parliamentary system where they owe their fealty to the President. And too many Democrats seem fearful of standing up to power. This must change, for the good of our country and for the health of our political system.
4) Is it ever acceptable for the United States of America to engage in torture, or to "render" people to other countries where they are likely to be tortured? Do you believe that a President who encourages or even orders such practices has violated his oath of office?
There is such a thing as international law, and there are numerous Conventions in place that dictate our conduct. This may be frustrating but we must remember that the United States has, in the past, always attempted to provide a moral beacon to the rest of the world.
5) What do you believe are the main problems with the current U.S. system for electing public officials? How would you propose changing the system, with regard to districting, voting procedures, etc.?
I can tell you from my experience on this campaign that money plays too large a role in how our elected officials are chosen. George Allen has already announced his intentions to raise far more than the $11 million he spent in the 2000 election. He has written in fund-raising letters that this may be the most expensive Senate campaign in history. Where does this money come from? How can people who do not spend years, or decades, raising money become able to compete in order to get their messages out?
6) What are the main things people can do right now to help you get elected U.S. Senator from Virginia?
It's an unfortunate reality that I need financial support from those who believe in what I'm trying to do, in order to get my views out to all Virginians so they know there is a choice. I also need and value the human support I have been receiving, and hope to continue to receive. I CANNOT SPEAK STRONGLY ENOUGH ABOUT THE VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE JOINED ME IN THIS CAMPAIGN. They have been inspirational to me, beyond my ability so express.
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