By Gregg Bragg for the Island Eye News
Katie Arrington surprised a minority of voters in South Carolina’s first congressional district (SC1) republican primary on June 12.
The first term state representative and veteran defense industry consultant ran straight at incumbent Mark Sanford’s nearly forgotten infidelity, mocking her opponent’s trip to Argentina/Appalachian Trail with a picture of her hiking. She also set the Freedom Caucus conservative ablaze for his failure to support Donald Trump. Then Helsinki happened.
Political pundits David Frum and Bill Crystal, along with political figures Newt Gingrich and John McCain, threw shade at the president’s loyalties following the trip to Finland. Asked if Trump still enjoyed her full throated support, Arrington said, “I appreciate the president clarifying his comments the day before yesterday [interview date 7/19/18] on reaffirming that he trusts the nation’s intelligence community on the whole matter about the Russian meddling… so the president made some remark[s] since Helsinki, he clarified them and yesterday he ensured that he believes in our intelligence community and I appreciate the president taking the time and listening to leadership in Washington to be able to clarify that.
“I personally, I am impressed with the president on the things that he has done on North Korea. I’m impressed with this president that when leadership called, that he clarified events and ensured them, and I’m proud of what he’s been doing. Our National Security, we have not been, I have not felt as safe as I do right now, since I was a young girl.”
Asked if her enhanced sense of security is because her daughter is serving in the army, Arrington effused, “I do, I am, and thank god for that, and the fact that her mom laid down her job in national security, I appreciate that my daughter has picked up my banner. But I absolutely think that we’re in conversations. We’re in a conversation with North Korea. We’re in a conversation with Russia. Anytime you can keep the lines of communications open is a benefit for human beings.”
She was equally emphatic in accusing Joe Cunningham, her opponent in the general election, of a broken promise.
“Tyler Jones, T.Y.L.E.R. Jones [consultant to the Cunningham for Congress Campaign] tweeted that I was ‘playing this [victim] card…’ I saw this tweet while I was in my living room playing with my grandchildren… I think that was actually one of the most grievous, most disgusting things I have seen. They must be pretty desperate.”
Arrington was the victim of a head-on collision, and was in intensive care for weeks following her primary June 12 win. Joe Cunningham went on record saying he was suspending his campaign during Arrington’s recovery. However, Arrington emerged from MUSC and cried foul. Cunningham sent out a fundraising letter 1-2 days before her official release from the hospital and held a meeting with Washington organizers, she told the Post & Courier newspaper. The tweet followed the article.
Asked about the president’s appearance at NATO, Arrington said, “… like I said before, President Trump is one of the best negotiators that we have in the world. [When] he went over to NATO, everyone came back to North Korea. Chuck Schumer said for sure we’d be at nuclear war with North Korea this time last year with President Trump in office… That didn’t happen, and [democrats said the world] would fall to pieces… chicken little and the sky is falling. He told [NATO] things that they didn’t want to hear and he [told] NATO ‘all we’re asking is for you to pick up your fair share and I will continue to be here, but the U.S. isn’t going to continue to carry your debt,’ and the world did not implode. He actually came out and we are stronger so how about we [give] the president time to negotiate.”
Asked about the effects of the “Tariff Wars” on SC’s working class, Arrington said tariffs were being put in place to end tariffs. She said our trading partners are levying 26%-32% tariffs on American goods coming into their countries, and thinks retaliatory taxes are the strongest remedy. Asked if she knew of other employers considering the move to SC to mitigate any tariff related jobs lost at BMW and Volvo, she demurred, but seemed to think there were plenty of prospects.
Arrington estimates the average salary in SC’s Lowcountry at about $52,000 a year, and says that’s all she will accept as her congressional salary. She plans to donate the remaining $125,000 to Lowcountry charities, limit herself to 4 terms (8 years) in office, and says she will decline congressional retirement benefits for starters. She also suggested there are loads of other ways the feds can address the nearly $1.5 trillion annual budget deficit without cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
“Where we can save money in our budget has nothing to do [with] the social programs Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. The people that are in those programs right now, they’re the most vulnerable in our society. I think a reflection of society is how you take care of the young and elderly. I worked in the federal government. I know better than Joe Cunningham how we’re wasting money. There’s [about] 22,000 different ways to buy Microsoft Office in the federal government. Each branch of service has their own contract for acquisition. We need to [maximize] the weight of buying in the Federal government and especially when it comes to IT,” said Arrington who also has the Department of Education in her sights to both save money and improve education in SC.
“The first thing I’d do, and although I think that Ms. Devos is a very nice person, I’ve only met her once, is shutdown the Department of Education. I would block that grant money because local teachers, local school districts, and the state of South Carolina know better how to educate our children than Washington. We have to release our teachers from the federal requirements to test these kids constantly, and let them teach our children to learn versus teach our children to pass a test,” says Arrington, a proponent of school vouchers and charter schools. She also supports construction of the border wall with Mexico.
“Absolutely! Here’s the thing; if you’re not afraid of anyone else why do you have a lock on your front door? Why do you put up a chain link fence in your yard? I am the only candidate with a proposal to have Mexico pay for the wall,” She says. Arrington’s plan is a toll on people coming through border checkpoints. “We have about 500,000 people come across the border every day. At $10.00 a car [the cost of the wall would be covered],” she asserts.
Arrington is also a “moment of conception” right to life proponent and adamant defender of the 2nd amendment. She advocated for open carry laws in SC and bristles at the notion that her daughter can use firearms as a member of the military, but can’t buy one as a private individual after SC raised the age limit for the purchase of firearms to 21. Given the heat generated in SC-1 so far, this promises to be an interesting campaign.
For more information on Arrington’s candidacy, schedules and etc., visit VoteKatieArrington.com.