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A PRESIDENT TO WATCH AMERICA’S SIX

Last Friday (5/11), I had dinner with a friend.  Ever hear of the expression, "Watch your six"?  It's a fighter-jock term, meaning watch for enemies behind your back (directionally "six o'clock").  If there is anyone I would trust to watch America's Six, it would be my friend.

Good grief, I wish Duncan Hunter could get elected President of the United States.

I've known him for over 20 years.  We still talk about the time we went quail hunting back in the 80s – he even remembers the location (near Mount Palomar north of San Diego).  He was in his second term as a Congressman then.  Now he's into his 14th, and last.  In 2008, expect his son, Duncan D., a US Marine now on his third tour of active duty in Iraq, to succeed him.

Duncan is the real McCoy, a true man's man.  He's the antithesis of the left's cartoon caricature of masculinity, as afraid of masculinity as the feminized left is.  He is courteous, polite, gentlemanly, a man of chivalry and honor. 

There is a solidity to Duncan – a solid strength of character and integrity.  He's solid physically, a ‘Nam combat vet still fighting fit – if I had to choose among the dozen Republican presidential candidates whom to be by my side in a barroom brawl, no question it would be Duncan – but it is his solidity of soul that impresses you the most.

Talking with Duncan is always fun because he's quick and bright, street-smart shrewd, and never pulls a punch – he says what he thinks.

When I asked him if he would consider eliminating the depreciation schedule for businesses, allowing them to expense costs how they wanted, he asked me, "Why would I want to do that?"

I was about to launch into my pitch when I noticed the twinkle in his eye, so I waited for his other show to drop.  "Jack, what does that schedule matter if there's nothing to expense?" he said.  "I want all corporate taxation eliminated."

Then he went on to remind me wants the Fair Tax, replacing the entire federal income tax system with a national retail sales tax.

Perhaps you watched the Republican candidate debate on Fox this week (5/15) and heard Duncan's answers.  Still, I've excerpted out just his answers from the full debate transcript, so you can see where he stands on three critical issues:  China, illegal immigration, and how we handle terrorists.

(Note:  while he was not asked a question on abortion, Duncan has a 100% rating by National Right to Life.)

Q: Here is the premise: Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they are being questioned. U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack is planned and could come at any time.

[The question is] How aggressively would you interrogate those being held at Guantanamo Bay for information about where the next attack might be?

Hunter:  Yeah, let me just say this would take a one-minute conversation with the Secretary of Defense. (Laughter.) I would call him up or call him in. I would say to SECDEF, in terms of getting information that would save American lives, even if it involves very high-pressure techniques, one sentence: Get the information, have it back within an hour, and let's act on it. Let's execute with Special Operations or whoever else is necessary, and I will take full responsibility. Get the information.

Q:  Congressman Hunter, you talk about standing up the Iraqi military and that at some point soon they may be able to replace some American troops. Now the Bush administration has been saying this, the same thing for basically four — more than four years, and we now have as many troops in Iraq, U.S. troops in Iraq, as we did when we invaded the country.

Why should we believe that this replacement is going to start happening any time soon?

Hunter:  Because the Iraqi forces that were running a couple of years ago in places like Fallujah are standing and fighting. We've got to get all 129 Iraqi battalions into a three- or four-month military operation — most of them have been in there by now — and then we rotate them into the battlefield and we rotate out the American heavy combat forces.

But you've hit the nail on the head. One of us is going to be a commander in chief in a few months with a tough military operation and situation to deal with.

I've been the chairman of the Armed Services Committee for the last four years. I served in uniform in Vietnam — didn't do anything special, but I served. My son has done two tours in Iraq. I can look at the American people and say, we are in this together, and I think the other guys ought to lay out their credentials to be commander in chief.

Q: Congressman Hunter, we have an internet question for you, sir, from Scott in Colorado Springs. He asked, what would you do to prevent foreign nationals who have entered our country illegally from using social services such as medical, low-income housing and education?

Hunter:  You know, I built the border fence in San Diego. When I built that fence, we had massive illegal immigration across the border. We built the border fence; we reduced illegal immigration and smuggling of narcotics by more than 90 percent. And the crime rate in the city of San Diego fell by 50 percent.

I wrote the bill that the president signed in October that takes the San Diego fence 854 miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and it's mandatory. I called up the other day, and they've done two miles of border fence.

This administration has a case of the slows on border enforcement. If we have border enforcement, we will be able at that point to start to regulate the internal problem that we've got.

Because as long as you've got a revolving door and you have no border — and this 2,000-mile porous border, incidentally, is our biggest homeland security problem; it's not just an immigration problem, it's a homeland security problem — we need to build the border fence.

We need to have a Border Patrol which is big enough to get the job done, and we need to be able to ask people when they want to come into America, knock on the front door, because the back door is going to be closed. [Applause]

Q:  Congressman Hunter, virtually all U.S. exporters want access to China's huge market. You have said that you would deal with the enormous trade deficit this country has with that country. Tell me how you'd do it and how fast.

Hunter:  Very simple. China is cheating on trade. They devalue their currency by 40 percent.  That undercuts the American markets, wipes American products off the shelf not only here but around the world.

The latest study I've seen shows that we've lost 1.8 million jobs in the United States, high-paying manufacturing jobs, to China, 27,000 jobs lost in South Carolina alone. I would enforce the law with China, the trade rules with China.

And the other thing I would do is, I would zero the manufacturing tax on American manufacturers. Our guys are down right now. They've been buffeted by these unfair trade practices. Let's bring back the American industrial base, and that's important for national security as well.

You know, I sent out my teams a couple years ago when our guys were getting hurt by roadside bombs. We found only one company left in America that could still make high- grade armor steel plate. The arsenal of democracy is leaving these shores. We need to bring it back. I'll do that.

Q:  Congressman Hunter, many people feel that billions of dollars in American debt that China holds is a problem. If the Chinese decide to convert those dollars to euros, the value of the dollar drops. Do you see that as a security threat, and what would you do about it?

Hunter:  If we don't do anything about it, it will be a security threat. And the other thing that will be a security threat is the fact that China is buying ships and planes and military equipment with hundreds of billions of American trade dollars coming their way.

They've bought the Sovremenny class missile destroyers from the Russians that were designed to do one thing: Kill American aircraft carriers. So there is a security threat as we move — as we allow China to continue to cheat on trade, they are arming with American trade dollars, and they're lending our money back to us.

It's time for us to enforce trade rules with China, create a two- way street, not a one-way street, and that will give us much less exposure on the economic side that you're talking about, and the security side.

Some people say well, they'll treat us right if we get in a crunch. And I say, yeah, just like they treated that guy in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square.

[The debate ended with this answer, with laughter and applause from the audience.]

After the debate, this bozo reporter from a Boston radio station approached Duncan and asked him, "If you were governor of California, would you pardon Paris Hilton?"  Duncan refused to let his cage get rattled.  He looked at the reporter like he was admonishing a small child.  "I don't know anything about Paris Hilton," he replied.  "My focus is on national security."

Presidential campaigns are weird unpredictable things.  Most people don't vote from unemotional calculated analysis but from their gut and heart.  For many, it comes down to a simply personal choice – who do I like and trust the most?

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out with this gaggle of GOP contenders, as voters come to realize how likeable as a person Duncan is, how he engenders a feeling of trust within them.

I think more and more as this campaign chugs along, more and more folks will conclude:  If you want a president to watch America's six, Duncan's the guy.  His campaign website is GoHunter08.