(this interview was conducted on 2-16-08)
Louisiana Conservative: Woody, you recently launched your campaign for congress, how’s it coming along?
Woody Jenkins: Well I think it’s going very well. This is an important seat. Richard Baker has done a fine job of representing us for about twenty years, but when he decided to resign, we had to find somebody who had the legislative ability, skills, experience, and a conservative philosophy who could get elected and then who would agree to stay there and build seniority. I tried to find someone like that and I couldn’t find someone so I decided to do some polling and the polling looked really good for me to run. So I decided to run. We were encouraged because it showed us ahead of any Republican and about 2 to 1 over any Democrat. So here we have a very short election and the issues, I think, are very clear. It’s about limiting the power of government, limiting taxes, a balanced budget, having a strong defense and protecting Louisiana’s interest in congress and serving constituents. So those are the things I’m talking about and working toward in this race.
Louisiana Conservative: You also have some legislative experience. What was the toughest bill you ever had to vote for or against? Tell me a little about that.
Woody Jenkins: I served in the legislature for 28 years and I authored over 300 bills that became law and I probably had to vote over 30,000 times. There were so many bills that were hard or tough. I think, as I look back, one of the ones that had the greatest impact on people was the TOPS program, giving college scholarships to over 100,000 young people, students so far. I think that’s one of the most significant. On things like “Shoot the Burglar” bill, or the “Concealed Carry” law that gives people the right to defend their self. Or the “Private Education Deregulation Act” that legalized homeschooling and deregulated and allowed the creation of over 100 new Christian or private schools in our state These are some of the things that I look back on that I’m very proud of because I think they had a real impact on people’s lives.
Louisiana Conservative: We’re in the middle of a war on terrorism right now and… illegal immigration… Do you see illegal immigration tied into the war on terrorism in any way?
Woody Jenkins: I think illegal immigration does fit in with it. There are many things happening, just in the last week in Louisiana we’ve had three American citizens who were of Chinese origin arrested for espionage, for selling American military secrets to the communist Chinese and that’s happening right in New Orleans. We have seen where Hugo Chavez has said he would cut off the sale of oil to Exxon Mobile, that has an impact here in Baton Rouge. The Exxon refinery is the largest refinery in America. Or the Patriot Act, which expired last Friday night, and the Democrats left town, left Washington without extending the Patriot Act so now we really don’t have the ability to intercept and monitor conversations by terrorist groups who call into this country. Illegal immigration fits into that because our borders are porous. We just have literally millions of people coming across our border. A few of them are caught and sent back and they are back in before the border agents get back in position. It is a situation where we have to have a fence. We have to use the technology that exist, monitor that border. We also have to find the people that are here illegally and round them up and send them back to their home country. No country on earth will just allow people to run across their borders, stay there, and work indefinitely. It’s wrong and we need to protect our borders.
Louisiana Conservative: You’re also pro-life, is that correct?
Woody Jenkins: I am pro-life and to me, pro-life means respecting every human being, including the unborn child, protecting babies, protecting the elderly, protecting the disabled, the handicapped, people who cannot protect and defend their selves. All of these people are within what we would call the protection of the pro-life movement. So yes, because I think people are what’s important. We need to respect the humanity of every living human being and that should be whether you’re liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. Every person has value and importance.
Louisiana Conservative: What do you hope to accomplish as a congressman?
Woody Jenkins: Well there’s so many things I’d like to accomplish. One is to vote of course to vote right to represent the views of the people of this district on issues such as balancing the budget, controlling the size of government, limiting taxes, strong defense. Another thing is serving people here, the constituents needs, you know my dad was disabled from World War II injuries when I was a boy. He had been burned over much of his body and had a broken back and the navy hospital did not care for it properly and then when I was in elementary school, he was denied his disability by the V.A., and I vowed that someday I would do something about it. When I was 19 years old, I went to Washington and appeared before the review board of the Veterans Administration and my dad won his disability and I will take that same passion that I had for my dad, for our people who have social security problems, veteran problems, they need someone who will represent them. Constituent services are very important and another thing I think we need to do is reform congress. Congress as an institution is virtually dead. People love their congressman but they hate congress because congress is paralyzed. It’s because of the extreme partisanship that exist and we need to not vote for or against any bill based on the party affiliation or the author of the bill. We need to vote for or against legislation based on the merits of the bill and I believe in opening up the system. I think members of congress should attend the House floor and be there for debates. I believe you should be able to offer amendments, debate those amendments, none of that’s true today. Members are not on the floor, there’s five or ten people there, there’s not an open debate and you can’t offer amendments unless the rules committee approves it. You should not have committees meeting while the House is in session. In the legislature here, you’ll have committees meeting in the morning, the House will meet in the afternoon. That’s the way it should be in Washington, instead of being on three committees that are supposed to meet at the same time the House is in session. You can’t be three or four places at one time, but that’s the way congress does its business now and it has to change.
Louisiana Conservative: Now one of the things I’m really disturbed about congress is that they want to worry about the steroids use, and Tom Brady and Spygate, is that the role of congress?
Woody Jenkins: Well I think when it comes to the illegal use of prohibited substances, because it involves law enforcement there is a role for congress. Now in the case of Roger Clemens, I don’t think he was accused of doing anything illegal, he was using substances that were considered unethical but were not illegal as I understand it. I am not sure that really has a role but congress gets into a lot of things sometimes just for the publicity and I think they ought to focus on the things tha really can make a difference in our lives.
Louisiana Conservative: Nancy Pelosi, how do you feel about working under her?
Woody Jenkins: Well I think Nancy Pelosi is a nightmare not only to the Republicans but to the Democrats. I think the Democrats are very disturbed with her leadership and an example of it was just this past Friday when we had the Patriot Act expiring and Nancy Pelosi and her chief lieutenants decided just to go home for twelve days. Forget the fact that this protection to intercept phone calls by terrorist from outside our country, despite the fact that was expiring Friday night, they just left, they let it expire and they are leading our country exposed to terrorist attack and every major city in this country is in danger because of Nancy Pelosi. She’s a danger to lives, to the security of this nations and that’s why we have to have a change. And when someone runs as a Democrat in this race for congress, you have to remember, they’re going to be supporting that Democratic leader, those Democratic committee chairmen, that whole structure that is undermining our national security. This is one district that should not send a Democrat to congress.
Louisiana Conservative: Now what do you think… Gas Prices, Gas prices are on everybody’s mind. What do you think we as Americans can do to lower gas prices?
Woody Jenkins: Well I think we need to open up offshore drilling so we can drill right here off our coast because it’s not only Louisiana but you’ve got restrictions on Florida, as a matter of fact, Fidel Castro is now drilling off the coast of Florida but we can’t drill off the coast of Florida so it’s an amazing thing. The Alaskan oil… I think, in general, we need to be open to nuclear, we haven’t been building new nuclear facilities in this country, we haven’t been building oil refineries in this country. It’s a question of supply and demand. When things are in short supply the price will go up. In this case too we also have the OPEC nations which is a bunch of not private enterprise but state run oil companies that control and restrict supply in order to raise prices. So we need to try to get the energy market to be on the free enterprise side so that competition works to the maximum. That’s not the way the system is right now.
Louisiana Conservative: Woody, thank you so much
Woody Jenkins: Thank you