Saturday, August 2, 2008

Brian Davis campaigns for Congress on conservative values

Fillmore County Journal
Friday, August 01
By John Torgrimson

Brian Davis, a Mayo physician and researcher from Rochester is the endorsed Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in the 1st District. He is being challenged by Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna in the September primary election to run against incumbent Democratic congressman Tim Walz in November.

Davis recently spoke with Journal editor John Torgrimson about his candidacy and his stand on a range of issues. Excerpts from that conversation follows.

Journal: Why, with your background, are you choosing to run for Congress in the first district?

Davis: The change in representation in 2006. I feel like Congress was trying to take the country in the wrong direction. I believe there are solutions that need to be addressed: solutions in energy; solutions in health care. So in early 2007, I visited with state Republican leaders and I chose to run. On March 29 I won [Republican] endorsement.

Journal: When I say George Bush, what does that mean to you? Positive, negative? Good legacy?

Davis: I think we'll leave that to the historians to determine. I think some of the analogies with Harry Truman being resolute, and sometimes people even say "inflexible," but there may come a time down the road when people will look back and he [Bush] will have a stronger public perception than he does now. People in this district voted for George Bush both in 2000 and in 2004. So, I will tell you that I'm running in 2008 for the future. I don't agree with everything that he's done, but I will tell you I supported him in 2000 and 2004, as did the majority of this district.

Journal: The Iraq war?

Davis: The Iraq War is a part of our larger struggle with radical Islam, who are totally opposed to our way of life, our freedoms, our freedom of speech and freedom of the press, our ability to have this conversation and not be afraid that someone's going to knock on our door in the middle of the night and take us away. And I believe that we need to be strong against it, whether that's in Iraq or Afghanistan. But I think for us to move forward regardless of what one's opinion has been on this war we should ask the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to have a referendum and pose the question "Do you want the US military to stay or to go?" If the people vote freely in democratic elections and say 'we think it's time for the US military to go', then we can leave and hold our heads up high, we helped them put forward a democratic government, and in that respect we won the war and our military can be proud of a lot of things that have happened there.

Journal: Will there be a political settlement in Iraq?

Davis: I would like to see a political settlement in Iraq that would be based on having a referendum there. I think it's unquestionable that the change in strategy has been successful. It's bought us time, it's bought the government of Iraq time. But I don't think it's in our interest or in the interest of the countries in the Middle East to have the US government and the military leave there with the perception that we were chased out of there by a few thousand terrorists or suicide bombers. If we leave, have us leave because it was a mutual decision between the democratically elected governments, and the people of Iraq, and the United States government, not because of some partisan political contest in Washington D.C.

Journal: What about the economy?

Davis: Energy is the lifeblood of a modern economy. And the higher the cost of energy, and the more constraints the government places on energy production, the more costly it will be and people in our country will suffer economically.

Some think America would be better off if we had $5 gasoline. I don't believe that. The majority of the people of this country don't believe that. I'm in favor of clean air and clean water. In fact, our air is so much cleaner than it was 30 or 40 years ago because of the Clean Air and Water Act. You can have intelligent technology--it costs a little more but it's not such that it will shut down an industry.

Journal: Speaking of energy, what are the elements of an energy policy you think will work?

Davis: First of all, we have to realize that 85% of our energy in this country is carbon based. Coal, oil, natural gas. Throw in nuclear power, and that's the four major sources of energy. That's over 90% of the energy we use in heating, transportation and electricity and we can't turn off those switches easily. That's the bedrock, those are the pillars of energy. In Minnesota, I'm proud of the fact that we are among the leaders in the country in wind-power and ethanol. And anything we do that reduces our dependence on foreign oil is a good thing. I'm optimistic that over the long-term these forms of energy will be competitive over the open market.

Journal: You talked a little bit about oil, but I know you've been fairly outspoken about drilling. Some experts believe America doesn't have enough oil reserves to drill it's way out of it's problems. Respond to that.

Davis: I think it's doubtful that we would be in a position soon where we're independent of foreign oil. However, we're the third largest producer of oil in the world. And we need to produce more oil in this country, and if we can do it easily and readily, we should. It'll help our economy, it'll employ people, and it'll make us less dependent on foreign oil from countries that don't necessarily share our values. We still get two-thirds of our oil from North America--between Mexico, Canada, and the United States--if we can reduce that percentage of imported oil by using our own resources in an environmentally friendly manner, I'm in favor of drilling in Alaska. I think it should be done. And in off shore areas, we only have less than 5% that is open.

Journal: I've read where you're not a firm believer in climate change?

Davis: We've had climate change since the beginning of recorded history. We know there's areas right here that 13,000 years ago were glaciers. So, climate change happens. But to what extent CO2 production is responsible for the climate change we're observing is not well-quantified, not well-quantified at all. I met with an MIT professor, Richard Lindzen - he's in the National Academy of Science. He has been real outspoken that we don't know how much--if at all--we'd be able to change the climate if we shut down carbon based energy. If we stopped right now, can we predict how much we'd change the climate?

Journal: Are we doing enough as people, as Americans, as a government, to put in place conservation practices?

Davis: I don't favor mandated rationing or mandated conservation. I think that if we let people make their own personal decisions on that, then it is better. The auto makers in Detroit learned a lesson in competition regarding fuel-efficient cars. And it's harder for the government to mandate that than it is for the free enterprise system to respond.

Journal: Your website speaks strongly about conservative values.

Davis: I believe a human life and human being begin at conception. I oppose abortion, I believe we should respect and protect life. I know as a doctor and medical researcher that one does not need to destroy a human embryo to do stem cell research, that there are other sources of stem cells.

When it comes to marriage, I believe marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman. I would oppose civil unions if they are same sex marriage by another name.

Edits provided above by Brian in italics.