Monday, April 10, 2006

 

My Interview with Tim Walz

Flash may have gotten Illinois' junior Senator, but I shall overcome by sheer weight of numbers. That's right, a second interview in a week, this time with Tim Walz. A veteran and high school teacher, Mr. Walz's campaign for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District seat has attracted the attention of several high-profile lefty blogs, including Daily Kos, Swing State Project, MyDD, Backbone Minnesota, and others with higher bandwidth than lil old MNCR. I sat down this evening to chat with him via IM, of which I am quickly becoming enamored as a campaign-to-netroots communications tool.

MNCampaignReport: You're a school teacher and veteran of post 9/11 military operations in Afghanistan. How have these experiences prepared you to serve in Congress?

T. Walz: I sure never prepared my life around a run for Congress, but my life has prepared me well. My experience as a public school classroom teacher (and son of a teacher) has taught me the importance of investing in our children and investing in our communities. My military service has taught me the importance of giving back to our country and keeping our committments to those who serve. Authentic experiences are what has prepared me to serve in Congress.

MNCampaignReport: "authentic experiences".......without going too negative against Mr. Gutknecht, what do you see as the major difference between your experiences?

T. Walz: My opponent has spent his entire adult life in office. While I have been experiencing the effects of legislation like No Child Left Behind, my opponent has been deaf to any suggestions to make our schools, military, communities better. I have lived with the legislation that this Congress has passed and know what we can do to correct it.

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At this point we had some technical difficulties, and Tim had to switch screen names.
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MNCampaignReport: the next question I wanted to ask was about the campaign itself - as a first-time candidate, are you looking to long-time DFL activists as campaign advisors, or are you looking to bring in new blood, some fresh ideas...?

T. Walz: Both - we rely on people in the community who know me and know the kind of leader I am.

T. Walz: We have also brought in experienced campaign staff, like my Campaign Manager, Kerry Greeley, who worked at the national level with John Kerry's campaign, with the DNC, and with the DGA.

T. Walz: Experienced DFL activists are enthusiasitic, and so are citizens not previously involved - we are appealing to a wide variety of people across the state and throughout the district.

MNCampaignReport: Is there any particular image from your service overseas, particularly in Afghanistan, that really drives you on the campaign trail, or was the political frustration you experienced upon your return to the states a bigger factor?

T. Walz: I have a lifelong commitment to public service, and to making our country better. The divisiveness I've seen in politics is unhealthy for this country and something I am working to correct.

T. Walz: My service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom was in flightline security in Europe.

MNCampaignReport: Ah, you answered my next question

T. Walz: :-) [Ed. Note: Yes, this candidate for the Congress of the United States just used an emoticon smiley].

MNCampaignReport: You mention divisiveness in today's politics....on a related note, your profile on dkosopedia.com notes a Wall Street journal article from March 30th of this year that labels you a "Republican in DFLer's clothing." How do you respond to that label? Do you feel your positions match a relatively conservative district's profile, or are you trying to pull CD1 in a more progressive direction?


T. Walz: That's a misquote - the WSJ called me "the Republican nightmare in the 1st". I'll send it.

MNCampaignReport: Good to know! Thanks for the correction. [Ed note: it was indeed a nasty misprint. Mr. Walz's campaign manager was good enough to send me the full text of the article, which certainly does not refer to Walz as a "DINO"]

MNCampaignReport: The last question still stands, however - do you see yourself as an ideological match for your district, a changer-of-the-status-quo, or will your relationship with CD1 be something else altogether?

T. Walz: Both - I am far more of an ideological match for this moderate district than my opponent. This is a district that values honesty, hard work, commitment to our communities. My service to the classroom, to the military and to the communities puts me far more in touch with the district than my opponent.

MNCampaignReport: It sounds like education will be a priority if you're elected to Congress?

T. Walz: Absolutely

T. Walz: It's not a campaign slogan for us, it's a priority. Education is an investment in the future.

MNCampaignReport: What other priority issues will you have? Any particularly hot buttons on social policy? Economic? Foreign policy?

T. Walz: A commitment to fair trade policies, that keep good jobs here in MN and keep America competitive in the global marketplace

T. Walz: Much more active engagement with the world, particularly China, where we have great opportunities to make the world a better place, if we choose to take them.

T. Walz: Commitment to veterans and soldiers is unwavering - standing in front of soldiers for a photo op - as so many politicians do - is NOT the same as standing behind them when they need us.

T. Walz: Affordable healthcare for ALL Americans is an absolute national priority - both economically and ethically

MNCampaignReport: Is national universal health care is a reasonable goal for Congress to work toward, or is there a middle way between what we have now (46 million uninsured) and a full-blown national health care system?

T. Walz: America needs to come up with a system that works for everyone - covers all Americans, starting with the children, but includes choice of providers. Quality needs to be a priority.

MNCampaignReport: I am certain I could find this information on your campaign site, but I'd like to ask the question anyway - for both Democrats and Republicans, a woman's right to choose ("the abortion issue" for some) is a major issue. What's your position on the issue, and how do you communicate it to potential voters in your district?

T. Walz: I support a woman's right to choose. I also believe it is in our best interests to provide real choice - which includes economic opportunties for women, access to healthcare, pre and post natal care, childcare, etc. Statistics show that 70% of women choose abortion for economic reasons. This administration is doing NOTHING to address the real causes of why abortion is UP under Pres. Bush and was DOWN under Pres. Clinton.

MNCampaignReport: I have two more questions for now, and hopefully I'll be able to ask a few more later down the road: The first is about blogs, bloggers, the online community, and campaigns: How is your campaign actively engaging the netroots to help you succeed, and do you feel that the recent attention paid to your campaign (and those of other veteran Dems) in the national blogosphere has been helpful so far?

T. Walz: We are not actively seeking out the netroots - they are actively seeking us out. I believe that the netroots, like the grassroots, are committed citizens who want to make a positive difference in our country. Anything that engages citizens in public life is absolutely positive. Thanks for what you're doing.


MNCampaignReport: Okay, last question, since it's getting a bit late here....it's sort of off-beat: What/who is your favorite:

Baseball player? Cal Ripken - A guy who goes about doing his job with that much professionalism for that long is my kind of guy
Ice cream flavor? Cookie Dough
National political blog? Daily Kos (Markos interviewed me once)
Local political blog? MN Campaign Report of course! [Ed note: naturally this is a loaded question. Compliments and $20 bills are still welcome, however.] Backbone's populism really appeals to us. Mr. Sponge did a great job over at Minvolved.
National political figure? Brian Schweitzer, Gov. of Montana
Local political figure? Both the mayors [R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Chris Coleman of St. Paul]- the way they are bringing both the cities together is fantastic.

[Ed note: above answers edited to make them look pretty]

MNCampaignReport: I agree, it's been really great to see the Twin Cities really working together on so many initiatives so early in Coleman's tenure.

MNCampaignReport: That's all I have for now.....any closing thoughts, questions for me or for readers/other bloggers?

T. Walz: We really want to thank the people who've gotten behind this campaign, and thank you for taking the time to let people know where we stand on the issues.

MNCampaignReport: Well, as the campaign season heats up, I'm sure we/I will be communicating with you as regularly as possible. Thanks so much for your time tonight....and enjoy this beautiful weather!

T. Walz: Thanks, you too! Contact me anytime.

Comments:
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Blogger lloydletta said:
Good job. Good substantive interview.
 
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Blogger MN1st said:
The dkosopedia entry has been updated with the correct quote from The Wall Street Journal. The article itself requires a subscription.
 
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Blogger BJHokanson said:
Cool. Hurrah for emoticons!
 
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