“If the Tea Party and the grassroots can beat Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, the Tea Party is back my friend, and everyone across the country will know it.”
This week Joshua Cook met up with Richard Cash at the South Carolina Against Lindsey Graham Press Conference to ask him a few questions. Cash is running against two-term incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Joshua Cook: Mr. Cash, for those who don’t know you, please tell us your background?
Cash: I’m 53-years-old. I’ve been married for 28 years and have eight children. I have worked as a computer program analyst. I have worked as a pro-life activist, and for the last 14 years, I have started and developed two small businesses from the ground up.
Cook: In your experience as a small business owner, what is lacking in Washington, D.C. right now as far as creating an environment that allows entrepreneurs to succeed. Small business is the engine for job creation. What needs to happen in order to create this environment in Washington?
Cash: Well, it is not just small businesses. I mean this administration probably has less people from the business world than any administration in history. It is just what I call Ivy League academics. They’re up there playing ‘government.’ I’d say the biggest problem right now for business is Obama Care. Instead of businesses thinking about how to grow and how they can expand, they are thinking about how can they take full time employees and get them down for 30 hours or less so they don’t have to cover them on insurance. I mean this has got the business world thinking. They are thinking about how can we downsize, cut here and there to try to protect themselves. I say that is probably the #1 problem right now is Obama Care. It is just catastrophic in terms of the ripple effect it has on the way people think about their business.
Cook: If you are elected what is your strategy to stop Obama Care?
Cash: Sen. Rand Paul has one on the table right now. Also Ted Cruz has come out and said I am not going to vote for a continuing resolution to fund the government without simultaneously de-funding Obama Care. So I will expect that Lindsey Graham will huff and puff, and in the end, he is not going to join Sen. Cruz. He is going to say ‘ah, we can’t hold government hostage, let’s kick the can down the road again plan.’ The one part that is always in the deck is the debt ceiling. Republicans had a good idea in 2011 when they basically said look ‘we want to cut, cap, and balance in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, we want true structural reforms.’ Now as a conservative, I have no problem with raising the debt ceiling or trying to solve this problem over a period of time if in fact we are putting in place structural reforms. But if we are not getting anything cut, and we are just raising the debt limit without any structural reform that is kicking the can down the road I am opposed to that.
We are already in a crisis. We are $17 trillion in debt. So if republicans don’t get some guts and be willing to stand for something, then it is not going to resolve anything. They are going to raise the debt ceiling and just keep on going down that same road.
Cook: What is your strategy for building a coalition that will demonstrate true leadership that will move towards a more conservative-principled agenda?
Cash: Well, my strategy for building a coalition is to get rid of Lindsey Graham. I mean, the problem is you’re not going to bring Lindsey over to your side. Graham and Ted Cruz are not going down the same path. So South Carolina is going to decide if they want to go down the Lindsey path or the path of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Mike Lee. For me, it is a clear twist. Lindsey and John McCain, and some others of that leaning want to take the party in one direction. They are the ones pushing amnesty for illegal immigrants; they are the ones who are in favor of NSA data mining. If you go down the list of critical issues we are talking about here you will find them on one side and this other group on the other side. So yeah, my strategy is if you want to build the coalition you better start replacing people because you are not going to change Lindsey’s mind.
Cook: Recently Rush Limbaugh told Greta Van Susteren on her TV show that the elites in the Republican Party do not want the Tea Party to gain momentum. Are you a Tea Party candidate? How do you view the Tea Party and the grassroots who advocate for a limited government?
Cash: Well, I ran for congress in 2010 if you go back and look at my race; I had very strong support from Tea Party groups. Jeff Duncan did as well, and we both captured a lot of Tea Party support. I made a decision to run for office in 2009 really before the Tea Party began but the things that the Tea Party is based upon which is fiscal responsibility and adherence to the Constitution. I mean I completely overlap with those things. I don’t call myself a Tea Party candidate per se but I am in agreement with the Tea Party. The Tea Party and the Liberty Caucasus rests where the energy is in the Republican Party, and that is what really made a difference in 2010. Now everyone got disappointed in 2012, but what we can’t just stay down. We can’t just say ‘oh well we lost a round, too bad, now we give up.’ I mean the Tea Party has to come back stronger in 2014 and the best opportunity in the country is right here in South Carolina. If the Tea Party and the grassroots can beat Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, the Tea Party is back my friend, and everyone across the country will know it.
Cook: Now you mentioned $17 trillion debt for the U.S. The U.S. is basically spending out of control. Part of that budget is $50 billion that is given in foreign aid every year by the Obama administration. $1.5 billion of that goes to Egypt and countries that really don’t like us. Should we be giving foreign aid to countries that really hate the U.S.?
Cash: I don’t think so, and I think a lot of people are having second thoughts about that now. Now when Mubarak was in there that foreign aid was tied to a peace agreement with Israel. Well now Mubarak is not in there. The situation has changed. I don’t think anyone can confidently say where Egypt is going to be a year from now or even six months from now. Now there is a lot of political turmoil in the Middle East, surrounding the nation of Israel. It doesn’t make sense if we are just looking at it from common sense point of view; it doesn’t make sense to be sending arms in Egypt and arms in Syria when there is so much trouble going on. We do not know if these arms will be traded and end up in the wrong hands.
Cook: What is the best strategy to promote peace in the Middle East, instead of arming the Muslim Brotherhood? We want more peace, but what is the best way to do it. Where is Lindsey Graham going wrong?
Cash: Well first of all, I think Lindsey Graham has good intentions. I do think Lindsey Graham is a patriot. Now he is doing what he thinks best when he promotes interventionism. That is what he thinks is best. The United States should try to shape all these events in our own interest. Unfortunately when you take that into the military realm of dropping bombs on people, intervening militarily in civil wars which is what he wants to do in Syria, there is a lot of we call unintended consequences that really no one can foresee. You know my position is we don’t need to be involved militarily unless it is a compelling case that can be made with vital national interest of the United States is at stake. I don’t think Lindsey Graham has made that case concerning Syria; I don’t think that case can be made concerning Syria. So you might say one opposed to peace would be to do less militarily that causes some reaction to this because you get involved in these conflicts. A good number of these groups already despises us. I don’t just see any clear benefit. The one peace dividend might be to stay out of some of this stuff. Quite frankly Lindsey Graham and John McCain are the most hawkish members of the caucus. They are the ones who are pushing in military intervention all the time.
Cook: One of the criticisms you mentioned in an email was regarding Graham being the only republican that voted for Sotomayor and Kagan on the judiciary committee. And you blame him for the recent DOMA ruling which paves the way for the gay rights movement. You are also a staunch pro-life activist. I actually saw you give testimony on S.204 this year in a senate subcommittee. Now this bill was similar to a bill that Mississippi passed that actually closed down the last abortion clinic in their state. Tell us about your stand on right to life, and if elected what would you do to further advance pro-life cause?
Cash: When we are talking about these justices the two that he voted have track records as judicial activist. Now I don’t believe that you can call yourself a constitutional conservative and then turn around for people who are opposed to interpreting the Constitution according to the original intent. This does not add up. So yes, sure, when it comes to advancing the homosexual agenda then surely Lindsey Graham knows when he votes for people like this they have an agenda and he can’t simply wash his hands and say ‘well I didn’t have anything to do with that.’ When you vote for a non-judicial activist then you become culpable, and so he is going to have to answer for that. I don’t think the answer he gives is going to be very convincing for most people who believe the Constitution should be interpreted according to original intent.
Human life, let’s talk about that for a minute. I hesitate a little bit because sometimes I don’t even to like to use the word “abortion.” The word has kind of lost its meaning. Abortion is the intentional ending of an innocent human life. Now you know biologically a human life begins at the point of conception fertilization, and this is not open to interpretation. This is just simple how biological facts, so what is missing is the fact that what we consider persons the definition of what is a person in the Constitution has not been specified at this point in time such a way that includes an unborn human being when it is still in the womb. So that is the task before us to pass legislation or even a human-life amendment that defines a person in terms of or when does the human life begin. Everyone knows that human life does not begin at birth and that is just ridiculous. If human life doesn’t begin at birth, there is only one other logical point in time which it begins, and that is conception. So that is the direction that I am going and Rand Paul sponsored a life of conception act I would certainly co-sponsor that and that would be the first thing I would do. Human life is the first important most right at the federal government and for that matter all government is bound to protect I mean that is the first purpose of government is to protect everyone’s life.
Cook: Recently Senator Lindsey Graham was speaking, and he said that he was a Reagan conservative. A couple of months ago he actually voted for the internet sales tax along with Sen. John McCain. Is that something Reagan would do, and what is your stance on tax reform? Do you advocate some type of flat tax or consumption tax?
Cook: I think Senator Graham is grasping a little bit to say that he is a Reagan republican. This election will certainly show how South Carolina feels about that. You know in the time of Reagan we kind of defined conservatism and conservative movement around what was called the three-legged stool: national security, fiscal security and social conservatism. Senator Graham is very passionate about national security, and like I said, I do not want to question his intentions in any way but simply disagree I think his desire to intervene militarily all the time is not always in the national interest. So that is one leg of the stool. Fiscally Senator Graham he knows a little bit here and a little bit there. The internet sales tax I could not have voted for that you know with trying to tell a business its got to report the 9000 tax jurisdictions. I mean anyone in business just knows that just doesn’t make sense. Whatever the answer is that can’t be it. Now again to me that is just common sense for anyone who is involved in business knows that cannot be the answer. So I don’t know Senator Graham’s has been in business before. I know he is an attorney and so forth, but I am a member of the National Federation of Independent Businesses which is an organization of small business owners. They realize that we must speak up or these large companies are always going to be influencing legislation. I think Graham is a little shaky sometimes with fiscal issues. When it comes to social conservatism, the big problem Senator Graham is he is just not a leader. He doesn’t really have any passion for the great moral issues of our generation, and what I would say is that we cannot effect change without leadership, and he is not a leader in these areas, and we have to have leaders.
The other thing I want to say about the three-legged stool is I now believe due to the influence of primarily Ron Paul it is now a four-legged stool, and the fourth leg is constitutional conservatism. The conservative base of the Republican Party is no longer going to be satisfied with politicians. You cannot simply ignore the Constitution. Let’s take the NSA phone data mining problem because I think this is a good example. My opinion and the opinion of many people is that this is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. Even if the intention of national security is noble it still violates the Amendment. Now if republicans like Graham are simply going to ignore the Constitution or twist the Constitution in order to achieve their ends, in this case national security, then how are they different from the democrats who routinely ignore and twist the Constitution to achieve their ends? They forgot that we must respect the Constitution as the governing document, and there is a process for amending it and changing it when we feel like it needs to be amended and changed. If we are going to be a nation governed by the rule of law, we must follow the process and so I would argue that when it comes to the Constitution Graham is not a constitutional conservative and he is much more like a liberal in that regard. He will ignore or twist the Constitution as he sees fit which isn’t a huge problem for him.
As far as taxes go I would vote for a fair tax but I think probably it is going to be easier to flatten the tax code. It’s going to be much easier to educate people about a flat tax than the fair tax. The fair tax will require more education for people to understand it. It is just going to be a much harder thing to accomplish. Dr. Benjamin Carson, who spoke out at National Prayer Breakfast, had an article published in the paper recently about a 10% tax right out of the Bible. Let everybody pay some, everybody should pay some because if you are not paying your government, if you are just a consumer of government, then there is no motivation to want smaller government. You want to keep government cost down and so that goes to the idea of the flat tax. Here is what I would say: the flat tax is a more fair tax. You know one of the primary pillars of socialism is progressive taxation. The flat tax is a much more biblical idea.
Cook: How much money has your campaign raised?
Cash: Well our recent FEC report showed $275,000 in contributions.
Cook: Is some of that money your own personal money?
Cash: Of which I personally put in $200,000.
Cook: So you are committed?
Cash: I am beyond committed. I mean with both feet and all eight children — this is about the future of our country. Like I said today in this meeting, we have to get personally involved if we want to change the direction of the country, and we cannot change the direction of the country without changing a lot of these republican leaders; it is really that simple. This is an opportunity to replace Lindsey Graham, and I am going to work at it pretty much full time until next June, but I can’t do it by myself. I am going to do all that I can do; it is going to take lot of people who share the convictions that we must replace the leaders in order to change the direction. This is going to take that kind of effort. It is not going to be easy; it is not going to happen, I don’t think, without the biggest grassroots campaign we have ever seen in South Carolina.
Cook: Richard Cash, thanks so much for your time.
Cash: Thank you.