BREAKING: Conservative Former Congressman Begins Vice Presidential Campaign
Today, American Action News learned that Former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio will seek the Vice-Presidential Nomination of the Libertarian Party. We conducted the following interview:
AAN: You're a former Republican Congressman. What made you decide to run for VP of the Libertarian Party?
Congressman Bentivolio: Well, I was not welcome in most of the circles of the Republican Party. I thought it was an inclusive party, but they're exclusive, and you can only run with the permission of the power brokers.
Look, I fought in two wars. I don't care who you are. You're going to show me the same respect of anyone else, and if you can't do that, then I don't want anything to do with you. As my former staffers will tell you, I gave Speaker Boehner the same respect I gave the cleaning lady in my office. People are human beings. The sad part is my opponent walked in at the moment I got elected and said "we're not only going to take this seat back we're going to destroy him personally." From the very beginning they didn't even give me an interview, and I think as a vet of two wars and having served honorably in Congress, not chasing women, not drinking excessively, and not using drugs I was entitled to that. Instead they slandered and libeled my name. It made me feel like when I came home from Vietnam- unwelcomed, unappreciated, and betrayed. That took 40 years to heal, and now they opened it again, and if they want to call that bitter, well, guess what? You're absolutely right. I'm VERY bitter.
So as for the Libertarian Party, they say I lean libertarian according to my voting record. I'm not Justin Amash or Tom Massie, but I'm going to call it like it is. I'm running because I lean libertarian, probably 85 or 90 percent. I'm not going to be a LINO, libertarian in name only. I'm going to grab it, and I'm going to run with it, and we're going to put forth an alternative, and that alternative is the Libertarian Party.
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AAN: You’re a highly decorated veteran of three foreign wars. How do you think that helps you going forward?
Congressman Bentivolio: Well, I served in Vietnam and Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was getting ready to go to Desert Storm but they heard I was coming and they gave up.
Well, they say if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. I got an Australian Shepherd. My wife said "now we have two sheep dogs." We're not a sheep, and I'm not a wolf. I'm a sheep dog, I protect the plot.
My job, and the reason I served, and the price that was paid for me to do what I do is not money. I have an obligation to my brothers and sisters who died on the battlefield of Vietnam and Iraq who paid the price for me to serve. If you want to get spiritual, I have a ghost following me around. It was a lieutenant who did himself in because he said "I'm not prepared for this," and right in front of me did himself in. Right in front of me! I was 18 years old at the time, and I had to clean up the mess. So I told myself to never allow a soldier to go on the battlefield unprepared, and I have a responsibility to our veterans.
Now they're not all perfect. Some of them are living out their war stories. God bless them, let the war stories go. But I served as an infantry rifleman in Vietnam and as administrative personnel doing combat convoy missions in Iraq. I only went outside the wire twice to go to the rifle range, and it wasn't like a mission that our guys go through. That is why I served.
Now you might say this is all hype and BS. Go right ahead. But if you ask anyone who knows me, and knows my 27 years in the military, I didn't get along with everyone there, but I was always focused on training our troops and training them correctly. And I caught hell for it. And they'd say "Bentivolio, you're crazy, we're National Guard, we'll never be deployed." And then when they were deployed they said "what are we gonna do? You're the only combat vet in the unit." So I set up SWAT training for them, so when the artillerymen went to Iraq to serve as military policemen, I thought they needed more training than they had. I put about thirty soldiers through SWAT training with volunteers from the Delta Force, the Sheriff's Department of Macomb County, Michigan, and the Israeli Special Forces that were retired that came in strictly to help me out. Eighteen months later after watching a demonstration of how well these part time National Guard soldiers performed, coincidentally, the Army added a week of basic training that trained soldiers in house to house mobile operations in urban terrain, and they built these giant facilities all over the country. Now, they're training our soldiers in house to house. I don't know if I was the guy who inspired them to do that, or if it was already in our planning, but let's just let the generals take the credit for it.
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AAN: Based on your service, what do you see as some of the foreign policy challenges facing America today?
Congressman Bentivolio: Well foreign policy is pretty much an open book, right? Usually it's a checkbook. Shouldn't we have a treaty before we give another country any of our money? That's one of the challenges, to force the government to sign treaties before we give countries checks. At this point I don't think we can really afford to write any more checks. I'm not an isolationist, I'm a non-interventionist. You have to give me compelling evidence that I need to go, or send my children, or my neighbors children, overseas to fight in some war to build America's empire. I'm sorry, the empire building doesn't work. Look what happened to Greece, Rome, the Turkish Empire. You name it. They're all history now.
We need to focus on problems here at home. As the old saying goes, "speak softly and carry a big stick." I'm really concerned about why we're helping Syrian refugees when we can't take care of our veterans. 300 thousand died waiting for VA healthcare. We lose 100 a week to suicide according to some reports, and we have more than 300,000 homeless veterans. Why is it that we can't even take care of our own people? It's ridiculous. It's actually barbaric.
AAN: In 2012 when you ran you were endorsed by Ron and Rand Paul. Do you think that's going to help you going into the Libertarian Convention?
Congressman Bentivolio: I don't think so. I voted for a CR, and they kind of lost hope in me. One of the first votes I took was a CR which got us to a sequester, which gave us a 3 percent cut in government spending and then I caught holy hell. There was this Campaign For Liberty pledge online that said "I will not vote for a debt increase or CR unless I get something in return." That makes sense, and so that's how I voted. They gave us a 3 percent cut, the largest cut in government spending in the history of this country, and they didn't care.
But this is why I'm running. There are battles worth fighting in Congress for a smaller, non-interested, fiscally responsible, constitutional government. I passed three bills with one hundred percent bipartisan support. The House historian said I was the most successful and effective freshman congressman in 50 years, and he asked me "what in my career and experience prepared me for being a member of Congress?" And I said, "well, I used to be a special ed teacher. You need to have patience and understanding."
You have to have patience, and you have to be willing to listen. I'm such a good listener that when people walk in, I know what they're going to say because I've read summaries on the speed reader, I'd get the gist of it, and maybe sometimes I did a little more talking than I should have, but they had to know who Kerry Bentivolio was. I'm all about cutting spending. When people would come to me asking for money, I'd say "I'm willing to support that if you're willing to take a ten percent cut." And they'd say "no, we can't take a ten percent cut" I'd say "look, if you don't take that ten percent cut like everyone else, we're going to go broke, so if you won't take ten percent, how about five percent? And they wouldn't budge. That's the problem we have. Everyone wants their cut of the taxpayer pie, and everyone's going to have to take a cut, and if we don't, we're going to go bankrupt. And then there won't be any money for anyone.
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AAN: You lost your re-election in 2014. Did you learn anything from that loss that you're going to take with you going forward?
Well there's a lot I've learned, and I'd rather not give it away, but you can't trust these sons of bitches because they'll tell you what they want to hear, and then go about and vote the way they want simply because they realize you're not paying attention. Well I've got news for you: Americans are waking up and we're paying attention and as the movie quote says, we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore.
That's exactly how I feel. So when I heard about 300 thousand veterans dying waiting for VA healthcare I decided enough was enough. I got on a bicycle that I bought from a garage sale and I rode my bike and walked all the way to Washington D.C., it was 575 miles, it took me 29 days.
About three quarters of the way through, Sean Hannity folks heard about the story and Donald Trump got up there and said "our veterans are going to be treated better than anyone." We got twenty six radio, television, or newspaper interviews bringing attention to the plight of our veterans. I stopped in every VFW and American Legion Hall I could on the way to Washington. That's why it took twenty nine days. I told the story, asked them to call their representatives and state senator and bitch like hell, and some of them did it.
AAN: Day one, Vice President Kerry Bentivolio walks into the White House, what's the first order of business?
Congressman Bentivolio: Well first, I'm going to check and make sure I have a lot of red ink pens in my desk so I can start marking up things like a schoolteacher and come up with a plan of action to assist the President in bringing our country back to, well, to coin a phrase, "make America great again," right? Unfortunately I kind of feel for him, because I know what kind of place Washington is, and so I can help him filter some of the BS, or separate the BS from the legitimate for the President of the United States. And I'm going to ask him "what would you like me to work on?" And I think he might say "Department of Education," because I've got a Master's in education, five college majors, and I was both a vocational and general ed teacher, as well as a private and public school teacher. So he might say "let's fix education," and that would be one of the things I'd like to do. The next thing, or at the same time maybe, would be veterans, because I'm more well versed than any of the candidates on that issue, whether it be Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, or Austin Petersen, so my job is to serve at the pleasure of the people, but to help him achieve some of the goals he needs to achieve. I'm pretty sure like anyone else I can always find common ground and we can work in those areas.
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