The Republicans running for Arizona’s Congressional District Nine will debate current issues relevant to Congress and the district.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to this special vote edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Tonight's show is a debate. We'll hear from candidates competing in the Republican primary for congressional district nine. As with all of "Arizona Horizon's" debates, this is not a formal exercise. It's an open exchange of ideas, an opportunity for give and take between candidates for one of the state's most important offices. As such, interjections and even interruptions are allowed, provided that all sides get a fair shake. We'll do our best to see that happen. Congressional district nine is Arizona's newest district. It was created after the census and covers much of the east valley, along with areas of central and north-central Phoenix. Two Republicans are running in the GOP primary for C.D. . They are, in alphabetical order Former Air Force pilot and businesswoman, Wendy Rogers, and former ASU and NFL quarterback Andrew Walter. Each candidate will have one minute for opening and closing statements. Earlier, we drew numbers to see who goes first, and that honor goes to Wendy Rogers.
Wendy Rogers: I'm Wendy Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant coronel, one of the first women pilots in the Air Force. A mom, a grandma, a small business owner with my husband. We meet a payroll. I'm running for Congress because something is wrong in this country. Washington is broken and that has affected us here in Arizona. We have a porous border, we have a rampant immigrant problem. The Phoenix V.A. hospital has failed our veterans. There's a clear choice here. You can vote for me, someone who has served her country, honorably, or you can vote for my opponent, a man who refuses to admit that this is a problem here in our country. And we have a border problem where we will have to address it. This requires leadership. It requires conviction and backbone. I will be that woman for you in Congress.
Ted Simons: All right, thank you very much. And now, Andrew Walter with his opening remarks.
Andrew Walter: Thank you, ted. You may remember that I played quarterback and captained the football team at asu. I also played in the NFL. When I left I went back to asu to start a lending business and my wife and I, we just celebrated our first year of marriage. This town has been so good to me. And that's why I'm running, to give back. I'm running because I believe we've reached a unique point in American history. I believe the challenges that we face are generational in nature. When I think back to my playing days, I could sum it all up in one word, accountability. Wins, losses, touchdowns, interceptions, I never made excuses for my performance. I was always accountable for my actions. I'll do the same in Congress. My opponent has spent tens of thousands of dollars viciously attacking me personally, my past and she's being very dishonest about her positions on Social Security. I find that to be troubling because that's not accountability. That's not leadership.
Ted Simons: Okay, we'll stop it right there. Let's get things going here Wendy we'll start with you. You ran a couple of years ago. Voters said no. You're running again. Why?
Wendy Rogers: I want to serve my country. I'm not a quitter. I narrowly lost the Republican primary last time with seven Republicans in the primary by only votes. Washington is broken. This has affected us here at home with the V.A., with the border. What is required is a call for service on my part. I will go to Washington with backbone, with leadership, with business success experience. We have been working very hard for two years. We are one of the top 10 campaigns in the country and I will win this primary.
Ted Simons: Andrew, conversely, Arizona first time candidate and the first office you're running for is United States Congress. Why?
Andrew Walter: Because I think so many of these decisions nowadays are made in Washington. I find that to be unfortunate. Federalism and states rights and individual sovereignty are the reason and the reason why I decided to run for this office is because I think we have a massive leadership deficit now more than ever in Washington. You know, elections aren't about candidates. They're not about us. It's about the people and the moment that we forget that I think that is the first step towards becoming out of touch. That's not me, that's not my history, and so now more than ever when we have somebody in office who's advocated for a V.A. style single payer system, that's not my description, that's actually Paul Kroghman of the New York times. If we've learned anything, it's that that system, not the medical professionals, but that system treats people like units, cogs, we're not units or cogs. We're human beings. And we need change.
Ted Simons: You mentioned in your opening statement that your opponent -- you said she did not seem as concerned about immigration, what were you saying there?
Wendy Rogers: The Arizona republic has said that my opponent is clueless on the border. You have not ruled out amnesty. You did not understand what the gang of eight --
Andrew Walter: Let me jump in here.
Wendy Rogers: I'm not done.
Ted Simons: Let's -- Let her get through the first half of the statement, please.
Wendy Rogers: We don't have time for on the job training. We don't have time to send someone to Congress who has not led, who has not served this country.
Andrew Walter: I've been a leader actually; I've been a team captain for three years. The only player in Arizona state history that actually has that distinction, but let me say this, Matt salmon has proposed a bill cosponsored by every single member of our delegation that deals with immigration so let me say on the record, in case you missed it, I am categorically opposed to amnesty. Moreover I take that next step and talk about specifics, something that I wish you did more of with regard to amnesty and immigration. I have supported Matt salmon's bill, H.R. 5053 which essentially reforms the act and it allows the United States federal government to reunite these minors with their parents or guardians in their country of origin so I've done the next step, something that you haven't done.
Wendy Rogers: You are for reuniting these children with whom?
Andrew Walter: With their parents or guardians in their country of origin, that is a very important distinction. In their country of origin --
Wendy Rogers: Is that in the United States?
Andrew Walter: Categorically opposed to amnesty. No, that is not in the United States.
Wendy Rogers: Be specific.
Andrew Walter: Actually, I have been because unlike you I've taken a position on Matt salmon's bill. What is your position on that bill?
Wendy Rogers: I know what my core positions are.
Andrew Walter: So you don't know the Matt salmon bill, that's been --
Wendy Rogers: May I finish?
Andrew Walter: Give us your position.
Wendy Rogers: Absolutely. We must secure the border. Can we secure the border, will you secure the border if you go to Congress? How will you do that physically? How will you acquire the political will? How will you work worth people to secure the border? Secondly how are we going to handle these children that have come through? They need to be returned as you say to their country. How are you going to expedite that? How are you going to enforce the rule of law? We have to enforce the rule of law. We have to secure the border.
Andrew Walter: That's why I'm categorically opposed to amnesty.
Ted Simons: The human trafficking law, should that be amended?
Andrew Walter: Well, like I said, Matt salmon's bill which deals with the act, which essentially deals with what you're talking about. It expands the scope to include countries from Central America. So that is an amendment essentially to that bill and that's why I've been very outspoken and very detailed about my support of that.
Ted Simons: But the 2008 human trafficking bill, the aspect that most folks talk about when they talk about amending is streamlining the process and getting those children out of the country quicker or as soon as possible. Do you agree with that?
Andrew Walter: Well, I think what we have right now is what we've learned is that chaos and anarchy, that is not compassionate. I read an article the other day where a human smuggler said business is booming. We should weep when we see things like that. This amendment to the act would actually treat these children with the compassion that they deserve and I don't have kids, but I can't imagine what it would be like to be separated from my children. That is not compassionate. What we have right now is anarchy.
Ted Simons: Again, the , call it what you will, this particular act, should it be amended to streamline, deport, get these children out of the country as quickly as possible?
Wendy Rogers: We should enforce the rule of law, yes. We should send children back to their families where they came from. If we are a nation of laws as we are, we have to enforce rule of law.
Ted Simons: But right now, the rule of law says that these kids needs hearings and those hearings can drag on for a lot of people. What people are saying regarding a variety of methods, make it quicker. Do you agree?
Wendy Rogers: Yes.
Ted Simons: What happens to these children? Does it matter where they go? Talk to us about the logistics of something like this.
Wendy Rogers: Let's talk about how they came here to begin with. We have a commander-in-chief who has made it very clear to Central American countries that we are open for children to come here and that they can come here and come to our borders with no repercussions. We have to enforce the rule of law as it stands today. Otherwise, we will be beyond where we should be.
Ted Simons: Should the deferred action for childhood arrives, that program be defunded?
Andrew Walter: Well, let me just say specifically with regard to overall immigration because I think sometimes, we get into the weeds. This is not just an issue for me. This is real life. I'm married to an immigrant. Her parents came here legally from Taiwan. That was a very long process. It took years to get their legal status. Why is that? My father-in-law has his master's degree, should that be the case? The point is this is not a political football for me. I try to be very specific about how we can expedite this situation that we have going on right now. But I want people to know for me, this is something that I know very intimately and I'm going to treat it as such.
Ted Simons: Specifically, childhood arrives, dreamers, in other words. Should that, first of all, the deferred action plan, should it be defunded, basically, what I'm asking is should these dreamers be immediately deported?
Andrew Walter: Well, like I said, I'm categorically opposed to amnesty so I know the president has taken executive action to essentially take the deferred action which you're talking about, to allow the dreamers to be here in the United States. I oppose amnesty. The first thing that we have to do is secure the border and then take a step-by-step approach, that's the responsible thing to do and that's a very difficult thing in and of itself, secure the border has many different components. I'm not prepared to have that discussion. That's why we need to focus like a laser.
Wendy Rogers: Dreamers, do they need to be immediately deported, what do you think of the program?
Ted Simons: We need to enforce the rule of law and we need to secure the border also.
Ted Simons: Right now, they are here in the country by executive order. Again, that seems to be the pattern now. Do you agree with that?
Wendy Rogers: I would not.
Ted Simons: So you would immediately deport these folks that are born here.
Wendy Rogers: We need to enforce the rule of law.
Ted Simons: You say, if the --
Wendy Rogers: What does that say, Ted? If we have an executive action that allows people who weren't supposed to be here to remain here? What does that say? Where do we draw the line? Are we not a nation of laws? Are we going to selectively enforce the law here and not there? We have to be consistent.
Ted Simons: She said immediately deport them. I didn't get a straight answer from you. Do you think they should be immediately deported?
Andrew Walter: I think we should enforce the rule of law, but I also think that the first step has to be securing the border. We have to arise 40% of the people that are here illegally came here legally and overstayed their visas. My point is very simple. This is an incredibly complex issue and that's why we need a step-by-step approach to solve it.
Ted Simons: As far as securing the border, define it. What does it mean? How do we know it's secure and we can move on?
Andrew Walter: Many different components. One part physical that has to do with fencing, that has to do with electronic surveillance. Another part has to do with boots on the ground. And then there's the -- like I said, earlier, 40% of the people that came here legally and overstayed visas, that's a very complex component. It has nothing -- it's not just, it's not just the southern border, everybody gets focused on. Our border with Mexico and rightfully so because we are a border state, but this is very, very complex. So from my standpoint I think it's all of the above, let's make it simple, let's make it clear and then let's move from there.
Ted Simons: As far as a secure border, we keep hearing securing the border. What defines a secure border?
Wendy Rogers: Well, we'll know when children stop coming unaccompanied. When the news in Central America is that they will be turned away and that the rule of law will be enforced. It is absolutely physically capable of being accomplished. And when that word gets out, and when families know that if they come to our border, they will not penetrate that border, that's when we know it will be secure.
Ted Simons: The upper chamber has already passed an immigration bill. If you were in the house and you were presented with that bill, how would you vote?
Wendy Rogers: I want to make sure that it includes securing the border first.
Andrew Walter: No, comprehensive immigration reform?
Ted Simons: So basically, you're saying if they want 700-mile border fence, if you want 20,000 border agents added, if you want increased funding for securing the border, is that enough of a start? Or nothing until your definition of a secure border exists?
Wendy Rogers: We must secure the border. So whatever it takes, cost-wise and I know that that is a constant changing target. The point is political will. Unless the house has political will and then that then passes the Senate, it's a moot point. The only way we can secure the border is to get both houses of Congress to agree to secure the border. It is not the situation of being physically incapable of doing it. It is a political will situation.
Ted Simons: If the speaker presented the Senate bill to you in the house, how would you vote on it?
Andrew Walter: I'm running for Congress to be a part of the process. Right now, I'm not part of the process. That's very frustrating to me. That's why I'm here. That's why I'm running. So I'm not going to speak to whether or not I would vote for the bill that came over from the Senate. I know there's been 300 bills passed from the house that deal with economic freedom and growing our economy that are now sitting in Harry Reid's desk. Do we have a crisis right now? We do. Does it need to be addressed today? It does but I'm running in order to be a part of the solution.
Ted Simons: Okay. Let's move on here. Should the house initiate impeachment proceedings against the president?
Wendy Rogers: Not at this point.
Ted Simons: Because?
Wendy Rogers: It requires high crimes and misdemeanors. I would have to be convince that that were the case?
Ted Simons: What do you think?
Well the House has the power of the purse. I think that's the appropriate course of action. Look when we talked about the affordable care act and Obamacare and shutting down the government, my approach would have been very simple. I would have in order to get change out of Congress, you essentially remove the ability for them to exempt themselves from the very laws that they passed so I would have removed that exemption for members of Congress and their staff. You would have seen change so quickly. So my point in saying this is that we have the power of the purse in the House, and I think that's the appropriate approach to getting anything done.
Ted Simons: So not necessarily impeachment?
Andrew Walter: Correct.
Ted Simons: Okay. Let's talk about the Tea Party. Talk about the Tea Party, your relationship with it. Are you a member of the Tea Party, do you support Tea Party principles?
Wendy Rogers: I'm not a member of the Tea Party. The Tea Party is an essential component of the conversation. The Republican party, all components, have come on board to support me. I'm a Wendy Rogers Republican and when I say that, I have a special background that no one else has, having served my country, having been and still am a business owner, a mother, a grandmother. I'm my own person. And what that means is when I go to Congress, I will find people who are like minded with me who share my values of American exceptionalism, of getting government out of the way, of small business. So that business can create jobs. Of knowing the value of life. Those are the kinds of values I stand for. If the Tea Party supports those values, then they support me.
Ted Simons: Tea Party member, Tea Party supporter, what do you think?
Andrew Walter: Well, what the Tea Party stands for is the fact that we're overtaxed, overregulated, burdened by a gross an overreaching federal government, count me among their numbers. This is an area of distinction between myself and Wendy. Apparently, I guess you're not proud to be a part of a conservative movement. I am. I have folks who have endorsed me from the liberty movement, conservatives. I have a broad coalition as well and I don't run from any of these people. I embrace folks who want to shrink the size of government and grow our economy, create economic prosperity for millions of Americans, why don't you? I certainly count myself among the people that want to do that, balance our budget. That's one of the reasons why going back to specifics, I have supported and I'll always support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that will tie future Congress' hand. That's a step in the right direction. I also believe in term limits. Last point the reason why I believe in term limits is because this was never meant to be a profession. I know you've run and lost multiple times since I was playing for the Oakland raiders, but the point is this isn't meant to be a career. I'm the only one in this campaign that believes in term limits.
Ted Simons: Let her respond.
Wendy Rogers: I meet a payroll every two weeks. My husband is the last one to take the job. We take care of our employees. We've created jobs for 17 years. I know what being overtaxed is. I know what being overregulated is. And I know what trying to conduct business in a litigious environment is like. I know how these three forces squash laws exceptionalism; hurt the market and what this country, this American exceptionalism is all about. I know that. I live it every day. And as for having run twice before, I'm not a quitter. And many people, including Abraham Lincoln, ran multiple times, before being elected because it is one thing to run and serve one's country. It's another thing to have a career not work out and then wake up the next morning and decide to run for Congress.
Ted Simons: Let's get to some of the --
Andrew Walter: Was that a veiled shot at the fact that I'm not playing in the NFL anymore? Is that what your point was? You're silent, I'll take that was exactly --
Wendy Rogers: Answer.
Andrew Walter: It's a very competitive -- I'll go ahead and take the opportunity --
Wendy Rogers: You asked me a question. May I answer it?
Ted Simons: Was that a shot at the playing days?
Wendy Rogers: It was a commentary on the fact that running for Congress is not something that can be capriciously decided in a moment.
Andrew Walter: So you're judging my character now?
Wendy Rogers: You know what? Character does matter.
Andrew Walter: Take that as a yes. That's very dangerous. [ Overlapping Speakers ]
Andrew Walter: That's a slippery slope.
Wendy Rogers: This is personal. This is character.
Andrew Walter: You attacking my character? [ Overlapping Speakers ] I'm glad you brought that up.
Wendy Rogers: To represent --
Andrew Walter: On top of attacking my character, which I think is completely out of bounds, you have also said that I've broken the law.
Wendy Rogers: You have.
Andrew Walter: This is something that Wendy sent out that said I flat out broke the law, campaign finance laws. That is, in fact, inaccurate and just so that, you know, to do you a favor, I have brought with me the actual directly from the federal government's website that says -- I'll fly this to you that says, I have done no such thing this is just an example of the type of negative campaign that you have run.
Wendy Rogers: May I respond.
Ted Simons: Very quickly, she needs to be able to respond.
Andrew Walter: I need a little more than just a quick response so please.
Wendy Rogers: Where is your financial disclosure statements for 2014 with the house ethics?
Andrew Walter: I filed an extension, thank you for asking.
Wendy Rogers: I didn't see it. The deadline was May 15th, it's not posted.
Andrew Walter: Indeed that's why I filed an extension.
Wendy Rogers: It's not there.
Andrew Walter: Attention to detail, this is a very important point and this is what I wanted to talk about. Attention to detail, we're going to make news. We're going to make news right now because in the history of Arizona politics, you're going to see for the first time one competitor help out another. It's come to my attention and the attention of my campaign that you are in violation of federal campaign finance laws and let me just show you how you need to fix that. This is something that is just kind of comical so right here, this is your name, you misspelled your name. It says -- it means every piece of literature or hate mail that you send out regarding me, or any commercial that you run is something that is against federal law. So you know what, again, I am just here to help. I am just here to be a very magnanimous individual. I'm here to help you.
Ted Simons: Go ahead.
Wendy Rogers: We have put in a correction to the federal election commission several times on the misspelling of Wendy, which is W-E-N-D-Y. Secondly, Mr. Walter has not filed an extension. We called Washington yesterday and they said they did not have it.
Andrew Walter: Completely not true.
Wendy Rogers: Before we get out of here, there are a couple of things that each one of you have attacked each other on. I need quick responses here. Why should Republican voters trust your business instincts, home went into foreclosure, walked away from a mortgage, you got a business degree, you had some experience in banking, why should they trust you after that incident?
Andrew Walter: Absolutely because you're not going to be able to vote for a perfect candidate in this election. You know, the beauty of my campaign and what I stand for is I'm accountable for all my actions. Good and bad. Touchdowns, interceptions, I don't make excuses for them. I am accountable for them. But just like anybody else, make a mistake in life you learn from it and you move forward. That's exactly what I'm all about and in part, I'm glad some of the bad things have happened to me in the past because it's made me the person that I am today. I can relate with that person who's had the moving truck outside of their home. It can never be said about me you've lived a cushy life. That's so far from the truth.
Wendy Rogers: You walked away from a mortgage when you could pay, but you didn't think anyone was looking and you admitted that you would not have done it had you known you were going to run for Congress. That's why character matters. What else will you do in Congress when no one's looking?
Ted Simons: Respond, please.
Andrew Walter: Again, she's attacking my character, trying to impugn my judgment. I have already pointed out the facts that you're running a vicious, personal attack campaign that's filled with falsehoods. You know that --
Wendy Rogers: Do you deny that? Do you deny that you walked away from your mortgage when no one was looking?
Andrew Walter: The fact that you say that, you keep your promises and I believe that, that's why when you said you would eliminate Social Security, I believe that's exactly what you'll do and that's troubling to me. Why? Because that affects millions of people just like my grandparents, as opposed to my situation.
Ted Simons: Let's get to this, did you not say in that you would phase out Social Security?
Ted Simons: I did not.
Wendy Rogers: You did not say that?
Wendy Rogers: I did not say that. I said Social Security is not constitutionally guaranteed was how I answered that question. And what that means is tomorrow, Congress with the swipe of a pen could do away with the money in Social Security if it wanted to, that's been upheld by the Supreme Court. So what is important is to send someone to Congress who will protect Social Security. I have said that publicly many times.
Ted Simons: So in front of a Tea Party audience, you did not claim that you would phase out Social Security?
Wendy Rogers: I did not say that I would phase out Social Security. What I said was Social Security is not constitutionally guaranteed. That's the sense in which I answered that question.
Ted Simons: Very quickly.
Andrew Walter: I feel like I should take the rope. It's unbelievable. Look, don't take my word for it. Go to www.therealWendyRogers.com. You can see the video for yourself. My background playing in the NFL, the eye in the sky doesn't lie. When you make a mistake or something successful, you see it. See the video for yourself.
Andrew Walter: We do have to stop it right there. Each candidate will give a one-minute closing statement and going in reverse order of the opening remarks, we start with Andrew Walter.
Andrew Walter: Thank you for the opportunity to visit with you this evening. Look I think you can learn a lot about somebody by how they conduct their campaign. From day one, my campaign has been all about the issues, focusing on the issues because that's what matters most. How is the average family in Arizona doing? Is it easier to provide for their kids, put food on the table or is it more difficult? What about the price of college? Is that up or down? What about the price for healthcare? Actually today, fewer people have health insurance than before Obamacare was passed into law. We're going in the wrong direction. The oldest definition of insanity is continuing to do something the same and expect a different result. Now is the time to send somebody to Washington has a unique, fresh perspective who is going to be a fighter and will offer bold vision for the future, but I won't be there forever because I believe in serving my community for a short period of time and coming home. If that's the type of person that you can support, I need your help.
Ted Simons: All right, thank you very much and Wendy Rogers now with her closing remarks.
Wendy Rogers: You will receive your ballot in the mail any day now to vote for Congress. I, Wendy Rogers, ask you for that vote. I've been a leader, I've been a business owner, I am a parent and a grandparent. My opponent has refused in many ways to admit his shortfalls in character, in business, in his financial dealings. Character matters. We have had too much corruption in Washington, D.C. What happens in Washington comes to roost here at home. I ask for your vote, I ask you to go to www.WendyRogers.org. Thank you.
Ted Simons: All right. Thank you, candidates. And thank you for watching this special vote debate featuring the Republican candidates for congressional district nine. "Arizona Horizon's" debates will take a break until after the primary election. We'll get going again with general election debates starting with candidates for secretary of state. That debate tentatively scheduled for September 10th. And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.