PA-8: Exclusive Interview with Kevin Strouse

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Kevin Strouse is a first-time candidate seeking both his party’s nomination and to defeat an incumbent Congressman.

Strouse is an ex-Army Ranger who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as a stint in the CIA Counterterrorism Center. His primary opponent is businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton, who we interviewed last week, and they’re aiming to unseat Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks).

We were able to sit down with Strouse for an exclusive interview and asked about what motivated him to run for Congress, what are the differences between him and Mike Fitzpatrick and what his views are on various policy questions.

Motivation to Run for Congress

To begin with, we got straight to the heart of the matter. In a time when government service is not considered an especially noble profession, why would someone want to run for, and potentially serve in, Congress?

“In my professional life I’ve always tried to go the areas where we’re facing the biggest problems in the country,” Strouse responded. “So after college I enlisted into the military, I joined the Army Rangers, was deployed to Afghanistan three times and Iraq once. After that I volunteered to join the Central Intelligence Agency where I where worked for eight years on the toughest problems facing this country and where we would answer questions coming straight from the President, because these were the most important issues facing us.”

“Now, in addition to running, I work for an educational not-for-profit called Teach to Serve which works with high school students in the region to get them involved in the community because I really do believe in service to the country and service to the community. I compare that to our Congress right now, which really has done nothing. I’ve always sought out the toughest problems and right now our toughest problem is our Congress. To me, they represent a failure in leadership and accountability.”

The candidate then transitioned from his professional to his personal background, highlighting the lessons he learned from his ancestors and his concerns for his own children.

“My grandfather was a custodian who was able to raise four kids on a custodian’s salary. My mother was able to put herself through school, the first in her family to go to college, working as a waitress. I look at my kids now, would my son Wally be able to support a family of four as a custodian? Would my daughter Charlotte be able to put herself through college, if she needed to, as a waitress?” he posited. “And the answer is no. That’s not the America I know, I’ve seen how America works because it’s worked for my family and that’s why I’ve been willing to put my safety on the line for my country because I believe so much in these Democratic values.”

Economy

Strouse expressed clear views when it came to what seems to be the central question in our current political discourse; should our main priority be jobs or the debt/deficit?

“My priority is growing the middle class again, creating jobs that pay good wages where those wages can go up and grow the middle class,” he stated. “And that will take care of the deficits and that will take care of the debt. One of issues right now is we’re collecting so few taxes relative to GDP because we’re not creating enough jobs and the people that are working, their wages aren’t going up. If you start building those jobs, you have more people paying taxes and that will help address that debt over the long term. So for me, that has to be our priority, creat jobs to grow our way out of debt.”

The candidate also explained that his economic plan contains two main pillars: infrastructure and education.

“The plan I’ve offered addresses these core issues. The first is in the near-term we need more investment in infrastructure. We need to invest in our roads, in our bridges and in our electrical grid. That puts people to work now and it also creates an environment where people want to start businesses here, where this is a 21st infrastructure.”

“The second piece of it is investment in education, I do have two young kids, my son is three and a half; my daughter will be two next month. They go to a preschool and seeing how much they learn, every child should have that opportunity and that’s why I believe in early childhood education.”

Foreign Policy

An Afghan and Iraq war veteran, Strouse has a deep foreign policy background that makes him stand out from most political candidates. Therefore, we asked him about his views on America’s role in the role world.

“I do believe that U.S. values are good for the world, particularly our respect for civil liberties and our respect for democratic values, “one person one vote”. I do think those are the sort of principles we ought to be encouraging abroad. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean invading countries to force that on people, but I do think our values are good for the world and I do believe in a strong U.S. foreign policy that engages with the world.”

He went on to critique the emerging feeling, especially among liberals and libertarians, that the U.S. should seek to withdraw somewhat from the world.

“And there are people on both sides of the aisle right now who are trying to pull that back and move towards more of an isolationist bent, so I don’t agree with that at all. I know we like to ignore foreign policy when it doesn’t directly confront us, but it is one of those things that will come up and bite you if you don’t pay attention to it.”

Strouse also made clear that he believes the U.S. can not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon yet he supports the Obama Administration’s recent negotiations as a good “interim step” while asserting that additional sanctions can be applied if Iran were to back out.

Affordable Care Act

Strouse described the relentlessly debated Affordable Care Act as an improvement and again blasted Congressional Republicans for, in his mind, doing nothing but obstructing.

“The ACA is certainly better than where we came from,” he explained. “What’s not a plan is to oppose something fifty times, voting fifty times to let insurers decide when you have a pre-existing condition and are no longer eligible for insurance. That’s where we came from. Fifty times for these votes when they knew it had no chance. So what you’re seeing there is a Congress that’s willing to play politics with people’s health and I think that is completely unacceptable, again represents a complete failure of leadership, and not to mention compassion and empathy for your fellow Americans. Certainly, that has been a ridiculous approach.”

While Strouse did identify some concerns like containing costs, he cited the story of a Doylestown resident named Julia to explain why the ACA was necessary. Years ago, the woman’s mother paid for a breast cancer test under the table because she feared a positive diagnosis would lead to the loss of her insurance.

The candidate also had an intriguing response when asked about the struggle Democrats have faced in conveying their message to voters.

“For the Democrats to be more successful in promoting not only the health care law, but any of these things like investment in infrastructure, we need to start humanizing these issues because it seems like some abstract thing” he asserted. “We need to tell these stories about here’s who we have helped and their stories are just starting to trickle out. The Republicans have been a lot more effective at scaring people. So what the Democrats, particularly President Obama, needs to do in my opinion is stand up and start saying here’s the people it’s helped. If they didn’t have insurance they’d be bankrupt or dead because they developed these conditions that prior to the ACA would’ve been viewed as a pre-existing condition. I think that the Democrats need to start pushing the good news out there. There are issues with this law, it certainly needs tweaks and we need to address the health care inflation but it’s certainly helping people as well.”

Fitzpatrick

Finally, we asked Strouse how he expects to defeat the incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who has won three out of four fights for this seat.

“This is the most unpopular Congress we’ve had in memory and people understand Fitzpatrick is part of the problem here,” Strouse said. “He hasn’t shown any leadership on these issues, this country and this community is facing a lot of problems and we have a Congress that is unwilling to do anything about it right now and that includes Congressman Fitzpatrick. We need people who are gonna stand up and show leadership and put their head out there and actually take some political risks.”

The military vet also attacked Fitzpatrick for his votes to shut down the government while the VA remained backlogged.

Misc.

When asked how he expects to make his voice heard among the other 434 members of the House, Strouse cited his work with the CIA when he often faced colleagues who disagreed about the difficult intelligence issues they faced. They were able, however, to continue to work together until an agreement was finally set, a development which he pointed out doesn’t happen in Congress anymore. The former Army Ranger was especially offended by the way that body continually blows past deadlines without resolving their issues.

The candidate also asserted that he will distinguish himself from the rest of the congressional pack through his constituent services.

“One of my priorities as a Congressman will be to make sure I have the best constituent services of all 435 members. I think that is incredibly important, first of all to make sure you’re in touch with your constituents and secondly to also make sure you’re there to help people as they transition to start a business or try to find a job.”

He identified the House Transportation and Intelligence Committees as places he would like to serve if he were elected. When asked about congressional role models, Strouse cited Patrick Murphy’s success in bringing a green energy hub to the district and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” along with Joe Sestak’s work ethic. (Murphy has been a big unofficial backer of Strouse and his wife endorsed him last month).

At one point in the interview, the candidate was able to perfectly distill his message of sacrifice and service stating, “If you work hard you should get an equal shot to succeed and I believe in that so much I was willing to risk my life to protect those values. I’ve shown I’m willing to put country above myself and community above myself.”

10 Responses

  1. I really like Strouse’s messaging. I like the way he articulates D talking points and I also like his internationalist approach to foreign policy. He may win. And, by the way, remarks made by our loyal opposition (“commiecrats,” etc.) only help us in the long run.

  2. Strouse is a sure loser in this race. With Boockvar running with Obama at the top she couldn’t do better than 14 points. With a midterm election, Strouse would be lucky to crack 45% given the Obama failures.

  3. We have now heard from the second of two fine candidates who express the views of the Democratic Party. I thank you both for your candor!

    I will not make their case against the right wing ideologue who dared to critique Kevin’s service record who also belongs to the Party that refused to back programs for mothers and kids who have been hurt they the unbudgeted wars of the Republican’s any further than to make the point in this paragraph. His bias is so obvious as to lend further reason to understand the hatred and angst in many of the Tea Party.

    We are presently engaged in the battle for the Democratic nomination and cannot be diverted from determining our best candidate and uniting and acting to support the winner after the Primary Election.

    I am proud of both candidates for their open and honest presentation of issues to support their candidacy.

    As one of the sponsors of inter-party debates I can say these two have met to discuss issues of concern and not just their personal ambitions.

    I also note that Fitzpatrick’s ambition to office has not matched his performance since he started to represent the far right instead of the moderate Republicans in Bucks County.

  4. Kevin Strouse is the right choice for Congress. He is highly intelligent, a quick study, good on his feet and has a solid command of the issues. Unlike his primary opponent, he is never at a loss about how to answer a question or analyze a policy issue. He comes from a modest background, not a millionaire family. Best of all, unlike Mike Fitzpatrick, he understands that you don’t grow the economy through austerity, and you don’t grow the middle class by cutting taxes on the rich. The US now has the lowest social mobility it’s had in nearly 100 years, less than in Canada and several countries in Europe. That’s because of the economic policies Mike Fitzpatrick keeps voting for, and they are killing the America we know, not building it up.

  5. Did he serve in the U.S. military or the Chinese PLA? All of these worthless commiecrats who keep talking about “the obstructionist republicans/ tea party members” are good. If not for them we would be Stalin’s Russia, but then again, it is what progressives/communists want. The progressive/communist vision of democracy is what Barack O’stalin said himself; “Go along or get out of the way”. Strouse can use hos military colors all he wants but he is still a communist.

  6. Strouse will beat Fitz because he is the most intelligent candidate, with a work ethic second to none….we are lucky to have him willing to represent us in Washington!

  7. “If you work hard you should get an equal shot to succeed and I believe in that so much I was willing to risk my life to protect those values. I’ve shown I’m willing to put country above myself and community above myself.”

    No question that we need more of this sentiment in Congress.

  8. Strouse is the natural choice. Great background, great story and strong on the issues that matter in Bucks. Those strong credentials will allow him to connect with voters in Lower Bucks – a task that Naughton will fail miserably.

  9. Strouse has a firm grasp of the issues, exceptional message discipline, and an impressive resume of devoted service to our nation. I have seen him debate in person and he can take it to Fitzpatrick effectively. The obstructionist House is dysfunctional under Republican/Tea Party leadership – we need someone who represents Bucks County and the rest of the 8th’s more moderate and “can do” approach to governance. Strouse is a superlative match for the district that elected America’s first Iraqi War vet to Congress just 8 years ago.

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