(This story was changed at 8:29 a.m. Wednesday to reflect a correction to a quote to show Byrne would have voted for the Kavanaugh nomination.) U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala, who is running for …
(This story was changed at 8:29 a.m. Wednesday to reflect a correction to a quote to show Byrne would have voted for the Kavanaugh nomination.)
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said Tuesday he is firmly in favor of President Trump and believes he will be re-elected in 2020.
Byrne, 64, made a number of stops Tuesday in Jasper, including Walker Baptist Medical Center and the Jasper's industrial park, as he prepares for the March 3 Republican Primary.
He said in an interview that the state elected "the wrong person in 2016," referring to U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who was elected as a Democrat.
"I know Doug Jones. I like him personally. I don't think he represents Alabama. He's pro-gun control. I am against gun control. He's pro-abortion. I am against abortion. He voted against Judge (Brett) Kavanaugh. I would have gladly voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. He's against building the wall. I am for building the wall. He's against President Trump. I'm for President Trump. This is a pretty stark difference."
He said no other Republican candidates has his track record as a fighter for conservative values. Bryne, who has represented the 1st District in Congress since January 2014, noted he was chancellor of the Alabama Community College system from 2007 to 2009.
"I was charged (as chancellor) with cleaning up a swamp and I cleaned up a swamp against the toughest, most powerful special interest group in this state," he said, noting he had to make cuts during the Great Recession and still delivered basic service.
He also served in the Alabama Senate from 2003 to 2007. He was a member of the Alabama State Board of Education from 1995 to 2003.
Byrne said he agrees with Trump about 99 percent of the time and that the national news media is from the far left and is mistreating him and is portraying him as something he is not. He said Trump understands that and is tweeting to go around the media.
"I think the country is a lot better off. I know our country is a lot better off," he said. Traveling for the House Armed Security Committee, he said the nation's security is better, and he is happy with Trump's judicial nominations, adding he thinks Trump will be re-elected.
If the House impeaches the president based on the Mueller Report, which he said he has read "cover to cover, some portions more than once, I would not vote to remove the president, because I do not think there is anything in there that indicates crime." He said some should "quit trying to abuse the impeachment process to achieve a political end," adding the proper means of removal at this point should be by election in 2020.
On immigration, Byrne said he went to the Mexican border last week and spoke to Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. military officials, watching two people running across the border illegally where there was no fencing. Military officials said they were finding nothing but professionalism from Border Patrol and ICE.
He said he went to an ICE detention facility. "You've been hearing all these horror stories. I didn't see anything like it. I saw a very clean, air conditioned place, with comfortable beds and televisions and iPads," as well as the infirmary and food preparation.
"So we've got this far left media that is trying to tell you that the conditions down there are different than they really are," he said, saying professionals are doing well with the resources they have, but they need much more.
Byrne said the Affordable Care Act has not made healthcare more affordable. He said federal officials should be negotiating with drug companies over how much the feds will pay for drugs, which will drive down prices for others. He also said health insurance should be allowed to be purchased across state lines and more should be done to protect local rural hospitals.
On the race issues brought up with Trump's tweets over Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Byrne said while Americans can disagree with one another, they should never discriminate against one another over skin color or ancestry.
"On the other hand, I think there are people in Washington and in the national press who use the race issue as a weapon, and unfairly so in many cases," he said, noting he voted against a resolution saying Trump's tweets are racist. "I strongly disagree at that," saying people are using race "to poke their finger in his eye, but it is driving down the debate in America. It is not helping. It is hurting."
Byrne said the many new jobs brought to Alabama have not been evenly distributed, and many rural areas of the state have been left behind. He said while U.S. Interstate 22 was a great asset to attract industries, "you have to have the education and job training programs to go along with it."
"I think you campuses in the Bevill (State Community College) system are extremely valuable assets for economic development" for training and economic recruitment. He said two-year colleges are "an underutilized asset in Alabama."
He also said broadband is critical for rural areas not be left behind.
Byrne said agriculture is still the state's top industry, noting the current national trade issues "has posed a particular problem for agriculture." China not buying soybeans has driven down the price of that crop. He said the fight is actually over other things, and agriculture serves as collateral damage.
"I support the president in his trade efforts," he said, including his talks with China. "I understand that has a negative effect in some cases on agriculture. I want us to figure out a way to take care of agriculture without it causing collateral damage as we continue these talks with China."
He said every student coming out of the system has at least a high school education. If they are not prepared to go to college, they should at least have technical education to use for getting a job. However, he did not want to federal government to tell state officials what to do on schools,
On foreign relations, Byrne said "by far and away, I'm most concerned about China. China has stated it is there intention to become the dominant nation in the world by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China, with 1.3 billion people in China and 325 million in the United States. "They intend to replace us in such a way that we are subjugated to them and that bothers me a lot," he said.
He also is also worried about Russia's military funding, Iran's missile and nuclear programs, North Korea's actions and threats from terrorists. He said the U.S. hasn't faced as complex a security system since World War II.
"We've been asleep and we need to wake up," he said, adding allies are also starting to realize the threat.
Byrne said there is "no question" that Russia has tried to interfere with American elections, saying the Obama administration allowed that to happen.
"There are some very clear things being done. I can't discuss some of them because I know some of them from classified briefings," he said. "But I think it is very important for the national intelligence security and law enforcement people to stay in continuous contact with state governments who actually run the election system to make sure that no one is actually infiltrating the mechanics of our election system."
He is also concerned that Russia, China and others will manipulate to create fake news on social media "to sew chaos and division in this country. We need to push back against that by being better consumers of the news and being a lot more skeptical of what we are seeing," and finding ways to verify it.
On gun violence events in the nation, he said it was a mental health issue, noting his grandfather was shot and killed by a mentally ill person. "We have too many people who have severe mental health problems who have not been diagnosed, much less treated," he said, saying the right actions might cut shootings in half.
He said in almost all the shooting incidents, there were warning signs the shooter was mentally ill that people either didn't understand or just didn't take the steps to stop the shooter from taking action. He said society should be more aware of the signs, "and I don't think we put near the resources in place to deal with mental health that we should."
He said he was disappointed to see mental health funds cut back in Alabama.
"I think that is to the detriment of everyone in the state. I think that puts all of us to some extent at risk," he said.