Ten Questions with Senator Sam Brownback

Deal W. Hudson
September 11, 2007

Senator Sam Brownback was traveling between events while campaigning in New Hampshire when I spoke to him last week.

Despite criticism, Brownback has kept the abortion issue at the top of his agenda for the nation, and recently finished among the top three candidates in the Ames Straw Poll. I called him to ask about the reaction of voters to his message, and especially to his uncompromising emphasis on the defense of life.

Q: Senator, what have you learned about America during your time on the campaign trail?

I’ve learned this is a great country with many very committed individuals who believe we’re on the road to renewal. I’m discovering a great spirit of commitment to be a better nation, to grow and prosper as a country.

Q: What theme strikes the deepest chord within the American people?

Hope. After I address what we need to do about taxes, immigration, and war, I always talk about hope and the future. The best-received part of my speech is when I describe the abiding American optimism towards the future.

Q: What’s the reaction of the people of faith to an orthodox Catholic running for President? That’s not exactly something they’ve been seeing much of lately.

People seem to gravitate to me because of that. They’re delighted to see somebody stand on principle. I’ve attracted a number of people to support this candidacy, who at first didn’t know me at all, but when they hear me speak on these matters of truth they decide to support me. This is particularly the case among young people.

Q: How do you explain the passionate support of so many young people when it is commonly said that the younger generation just simply isn’t in tune with your kind of message.

I disagree with them. If you look at the pro-life statistics, the youngest generation is the most pro-life. They are ones who are most committed to protecting life and recognizing the sanctity of life in the womb. I find my greatest support in that younger generation, and I’m delighted to see coming to the polls.

Q: We are in the midst of debates about the war in Iraq, immigration, and terrorism. In this climate, do you find that the life issues still resonate with people?

They do still resonate with people. They particularly resonate with the community of people dedicated to ideals. If people were pro-life before, they tend to remain adamant about this issue. However, I think for people maybe that are generally conservative or generally Republican the life issue has gone down on the scale of issues. Immigration has gone up the scale of issues, along with the war in Iraq and Federal spending.

Q: You’ve been criticized for making abortion the primary focus of your campaign. Why have you done that?

Well, I wouldn’t put it as the primary focus of my campaign and but I would put it as a key issue in my campaign. It’s the moral issue of our day. Without the right to life, what would the other rights mean? We are also at a point in time where I believe the country needs to wrestle directly with the life issue. I think the country is ready to debate it and see the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

Q: Some Evangelicals have said they would not vote for you because you are a convert to Catholicism from Evangelicalism. Do you think this attitude is widespread or is it localized?

I don’t know, but I do know that we should not have a religious test for public office.

Voters should look at the where an individual stands on the issues. I want people to support me because of where I stand on policy and economic issues. If they like the kind of leadership I represent, then they will vote for me. There should never a religious test of any kind.

Q: If you were elected president what would you make your top priority?

My top priority would be rebuilding the family. So many good things flow out of strong family life. That is going to help out the economy, education, crime, and the military. If we continue to get the family structure wrong and life issues wrong, we’re going to have many more problems, which the government will try to fix. I would much rather have more family than more government.

Q: What could you as President do to rebuild the family? Isn’t that something that should come from the grassroots?

Well, it does. But the President has the best bully pulpit in the world. You can use that pulpit to drive policy discussions on issues like welfare reform. Right now, you get penalized in the United States if you’re wife dies and you’re on welfare and you get remarried. It’s a terrible thing. I think we should go a different route and encourage people and give people a bonus if they get married.

Q: How important is the federal marriage amendment in protecting traditional marriage?

I think it’s huge. We are now seeing judges redefine marriage. The way to combat that is for us to have a constitutional amendment requiring marriage as a union of a man and a woman. There are some states where laws have been passed to protect marriage – they’re rebuilding society, sending a clear signal out about how people view this. But the only way you can get total protection is a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

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