Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to this special vote 2012 edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Tonight's show is a debate. We'll hear from the candidates competing in the Republican primary for Arizona's new ninth congressional district. As with all 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, interjection and even interruptions are allowed, provided all sides get a fair shake. CD-9 is a new congressional district located in Maricopa County. It includes Tempe, Ahwatukee, and parts of Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley. Seven candidates are competing in the CD-9 primary and we'll hear from three of those tonight with the remaining four tomorrow here on "Arizona Horizon."
Ted Simons: In tonight's group we have Leah Campos Schandlbauer, who served as an operations officer for the CIA. Travis Grantham, an executive with an aircraft services company based in Mesa. And Jeff Thompson, who is now retired after a career as a real estate investor. 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 Leah Campos Schandlbauer.
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: Thank you very much. I'm a wife and mother of four children, my husband is currently serving a tour in Afghanistan and I recently left a tour, a career, excuse me as an operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency where I served around the world, collecting intelligence and conducting operations for our country's security. I held that job because I love this country. Over the years I've come to understand the greatest threat to our security is right here at home. What I mean by that is that our leaders in Washington have turned their back on the free enterprise system, the system that has been the cornerstone of our prosperity. And instead have embrace add cronyism over taxation and regulation. I hope to go to Congress to put a stop to that and get our country to embrace the free enterprise system because I believe it is through that system alone we'll get out of the economic slump in which we currently find ourselves.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. For the next opening statement, we turn to Travis Grantham.
Travis Grantham: It's a pleasure to be here. I grew up in the district, it's home. I'm a third generation Arizonan, a husband and father, a business owner and a pilot in the air National Guard. I fly a KC135 and I hold the rank of captain, and the guard unit founded by Barry Goldwater out of Sky Harbor Airport. We all get asked, why are we running? I can tell you for me it's this country is in record debt. We're $16 trillion in debt. We have a stagnant economy. An economy that's not growing because of the bureaucratic nightmare we've created in this country. Our federal government today is in every aspect of our everyday lives in our homes, our businesses, our churches, our schools. And it's got to stop. And that's one promise I can make as the representative for the ninth congressional district, I will fight that fight in Washington, DC.
Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. And now for our next opening statement, let's go to Jeff Thompson.
Jeff Thompson: Thank you. I'm Jeff Thompson, I've lived in Arizona for 31 years. I'm not a politician, I'm a retired businessman. You got my intro a little wrong, to say I'm a real estate investor. I have invested in real estate, but I retired from the world of finance after 25 years in this town. This is a critical election. I think it's the most important in all of our lifetimes. That's why I entered the race. I quote Thomas Jefferson, who said, TYRANNY gets a foothold when people of good conscience remain silent." I realize it's people like me that can no longer stand on the sideline. We have to get involved. Travis said about our national debt, it's going to pass $16 trillion before year end. The debt is staggering. Something has to be done about it. Our current administration talks about the fact that we have a tax problem. We really don't have a tax problem, taxing treats the symptom of the problem. The problem is spending.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Let's get to our discussion. Let's get to just -- we want -- you already answered the question of why you're running, but actually why this particular office? There are a lot of municipal elections, state elections, why this, why run for Congress now?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: For me, I have four children, and I'm really concerned that this country is going to be a very different America for them than what I grew up in. And I think the place to really address these structural problems and the overall -- the fact we're turning our back on this enterprise system is there, where these laws are -- and regulations are taking place.
Ted Simons: Running for Congress instead of a city office, state office, why this particular office?
Travis Grantham: Go big or go home. That's what I was always taught growing up. I feel my business experience, with my foreign policy experience serving in the military, I can bring a dynamic that not a lot of elected officials can bring to Washington, DC. We have people serving in the United States house who have never been in business. They've never served in our armed forces, a lot of them don't know the difference between an enlisted man and an officer. This is reality in our world. I look at this as our generation's world war 3. It's going to be an ideological fight fought on the house of the floor in the senate in Washington DC.
Ted Simons: This particular office, why?
Jeff Thompson: I live in the district. I've lived in the district 31 years. I think this is just a critical time. I think it's a time that the sand has run almost completely through the hour glass and if we don't send the right people back there now, I think it's going to be too late. Another politician to go back and do the job is the wrong idea. We need people that have successful business experience to make the tough choices.
Ted Simons: Will you work across the aisle with folks you may not agree with on all issues, but can you find commonality with democrats and independents?
Jeff Thompson: I've done that my whole life. I've sat in the boardroom of 150 billion dollar corporation and had to get things put together. If you didn't get things put together, you were definitely affected with your compensation. And I think we need that in Congress. The problem Congress has, the reason they don't reach across the aisle, there's no consequences if they don't get it done. In business, if you told Congress hey, you're going to take a 20% pay cut next year if you don't balance the budget, if you don't make cuts to the national debt, they'll start reaching across the aisle if you hit them in the pocketbook.
Ted Simons: There's a lot of concern regarding gridlock on Capitol Hill. If you go back to Washington, will you work across aisles? Will you find consensus?
Travis Grantham: You have to. The reality is, whether you run a business -- my role as a traditional guardsman, I serve as an instructor pilot. You're always working with people you don't necessarily agree with. But there's good people down there and back there fighting for the same cause. Senator Joe Lieberman, regardless of the political ideology will do something good for this country. That’s how I view myself.
Ted Simons: Can you see yourself reaching across the aisle?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: Absolutely. A wise friend told me if you go to -- if I were to go to Congress I would be just an M&M in a big bowl of M&Ms. That's true, but the fact is somebody who is able to engender good relations with people across the board and who can seek out the people who have common goals and can work together with them to advance their principles is what we need. I feel I'm that person.
Ted Simons: Are you a member of the Tea Party?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: No, I'm not a member of the Tea Party.
Ted Simons: Are you a member of the Tea Party?
Travis Grantham: I do. I have a Tea Party card. I'm not a Tea Party candidate. I believe the conservative values especially those fiscal and constitutional values associated with the Tea Party, more closely align with the Republican party than the Democratic party.
Ted Simons: Why are you not a Tea Party candidate?
Travis Grantham: I'm a proud Republican. I don't think a third party is the answer to the problems facing this nation. The Republican party needs to get back to its roots and be about fiscal discipline and constitutionality.
Ted Simons: Member of the Tea Party?
Jeff Thompson: I am not a member of the Tea Party, but I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the Tea Party. I think adhering to the constitution and the principle of the constitution is what we need. The constitution is not the problem. It's the solution and we need to closely adhere to it.
Ted Simons: The latest consumer spending looks like was held to a 1.5 annual rate. Not the best of situations out there. How do you fix the economy in general?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: Well, I think the first thing is, we have to as a nation understand that we are in Washington spending way more than we should. We have to set to cut spending and I believe as I said earlier, embrace the free enterprise system. Get away from crony capitalism, the overregulation, overtaxation, these steps will spur the type of economic growth, these are pro-growth policies that will encourage economic growth in this country.
Ted Simons: 1.5 annual rate, what needs to be done?
Jeff Thompson: 1.5 annual rate -- first of all, the regulation is stifling. It's stifling. We've got to cut regulations. We have got to allow the business people to have that risk reward in more balance. Right now it's way too much risk for the reward so they don't want to go into business. The corporate tax rate is too high, it’s 35%, the third highest in the world. We've got to reduce the corporate tax rate. A tax rate on corporations is a tax rate on all the American people. It costs more for goods and services.
Ted Simons: Corporate -- we're talking consumer spending at the 1.5 annual rate. Some would argue though that tax cuts and the like are great but you still need customers. If you don't have people with money in their pockets they're not going to be buying anything that needs to be manufactured. How would you respond?
Travis Grantham: I'd say get the federal government out of the way. I'm a business owner, I can tell you that everything we do has a bureaucrat in the way or a new rule in the way as to why we can't do it. Job creators can't create jobs when they're being fought at the federal level.
Ted Simons: Extending tax cuts for those who make $250,000 or less only. Your thoughts?
Travis Grantham: I think it's a dangerous proposition to consider the Bush tax cuts some set baseline where we either adhere to a cut or see a raise. There's no set tax rate in this country. I call it the Obama tax increase as it's being proposed. It doesn't matter if you're making $250,000 a year or $2.5 million. You will reinvest that money in your business or community. No one should suffer a tax increase when the economy is this stagnant.
Ted Simons: $250,000 as the level there for extending tax cuts.
Jeff Thompson: The Obama administration has done a great job of distracting the American public and the news media. It's not a tax problem. It's a spending problem. You can tax all you want, there's not enough revenue. The spending has got to be cut. And to punish the people in this country that are doing the right things does not make any sense. We've got to start making the tough cuts, we've got to get into the welfare system, we're going to have to make military cuts, foreign aid needs to be on the table. We've got to make tough cuts.
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: This isn't actually a very -- it's sad to see happening in America, but it's a very classic class warfare technique. It doesn't do anything to spur growth, all it does is creates division between people and to -- and that's something I find when I served in countries that were run by populous dictators, I'm very saddened to see that happening in our own country.
Ted Simons: I want to get to education now and I want to talk about education reform. You mentioned spending. Does cutting spending, funding for public education better educate kids?
Jeff Thompson: More importantly, when you have a failed system to continue to throw taxpayer money at it, to fix the problem doesn't work. That's what Congress has done with education. Congress has said, we don't like the results we're getting, let's throw more taxpayer dollars at it. Education should not be at the federal level. It should be moved to the state level. I'm a former school teacher; my wife is a retired school teacher. I understand it. The problem with education is the good teachers don't get rewarded and the bad teachers are not held accountable. I talked to a group last week, there was a really good teacher in their second year, all the parents wanted their kids to have them, they Riffed. Reduction in force. She lost her job. That’s the problem.
Ted Simons: The idea of cutting funding for education thus improving education, are you buying that?
Travis Grantham: I buy into it on a premise that if you get the funding out of Washington, DC, at the federal level, and return it to the state level, whether that be through a voucher or a block grant or whatever, but allow the citizens of the state of Arizona the residents to educate their children, you spend it more wisely. I don't think it's necessarily an issue of cutting the level of spending, I think it's getting it out of the hands of the bureaucrat at the federal level.
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: I agree with Travis. We need to get education back at a more local level. I there are very many creative things that can happen at a local level. My kids are beneficiaries of Arizona's wonderful charter school laws. They're receiving a world class education. That's the type of change I'd like to see across the country so our kids can benefit from that.
Ted Simons: The idea of the affordable care act. Do you think, would you work in Washington to overturn the affordable care act?
Travis Grantham: My top priority.
Ted Simons: Why?
Travis Grantham: It's not about affordable care. We have a health care bill that's 2700-plus pages. It does not have anything to do in the majority with health care. There's a transaction tax coming in 2014 where if you sell your home you're going to pay a 4% tax based on the sale price of your home. Tell me what that has to do with health care? It needs to be repealed in its entirety.
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: I would repeal it as well. I would look to establishing a real market for health care. I think two concrete steps we could take is equalizing the tax treatment between businesses and individuals seeking to purchase plans. And then allowing for people to purchase plans across state lines, thereby increasing competition which will lower costs.
Ted Simons: Is the affordable care act worse than the situation we have now? Or we had prior to the passage?
Jeff Thompson: The affordable care act has a few good issues. But when you talk about repealing it, the only way is if the Republicans maintain control of the house, get control of the senate, and win the White House. If they don't, it will not -- it's here to stay. It doesn't address the biggest cost of health care, which is tort reform. And it's because most of the people in Washington, DC are attorneys. We don't need any more attorneys back there. Portability can be fixed, it's a cheap fix. That's one of the good parts of the affordable care.
Ted Simons: I want to -- tort reform, do you think that's the biggest problem in terms of health care costs these days?
Travis Grantham: It's a percentage. I don't know if I'm willing to say it's the biggest problem associated with health care. Malpractice tort reform, many doctors who fear not doing enough to save a patient's life do a lot of unnecessary tests. This is what ties into malpractice tort reform.
Ted Simons: Tort reform, how important?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: It's very important. It's a big problem. But I think a greater problem is too much government involvement in that sector has only created a situation where prices have gone up. And I think that's the biggest problem.
Ted Simons: You think the affordable care act would be worse than if we had done nothing?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: Yes.
Ted Simons: OK.
Jeff Thompson: Can I interject?
Ted Simons: Please.
Jeff Thompson: Obamacare was a magnet because health care is broken. It's been broken for 30 years. It's just not the right solution. Health care does need to be fixed. There's no question about it. That's just the wrong way to do it.
Ted Simons: The concept of gun control, and this is obviously back in the forefront with this situation in Colorado, should Congress consider a ban on high capacity gun magazines, drums, belts, the whole nine yards?
Jeff Thompson: I don't think so, no.
Ted Simons: Why not?
Jeff Thompson: If you look at the statistics, there's more people that are killed physically by someone's hands than killed by handguns. You've got 300 million people in this country, you're going to have isolated issues where someone goes crazy. I'd like to see what was in this guy's system. I believe he probably had chemicals in his system, mind altering chemicals in his system. Things like that, whether you like it or not they're going to happen. Statistically for one event to come out and everybody to overreact and say let's take all these things away, I think that's wrong. It's a knee-jerk reaction and it's not the right direction to go.
Ted Simons: We're talking high capacity magazines, drums and the like.
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: I don't think regulation is the answer here. I'm over regulation. What happened in Aurora and other places would happen with or without laws or has some of the strictest and most stringent laws, gun laws. Yet it happened there.
Ted Simons: What do you think? So basically what I'm hearing is, people should be able to have these as a result weapons and these high capacity mags.
Travis Grantham: My answer would be no. I'm a firm believer of the statement that guns don't kill people, people kill people. You know, taking away the object that causes the death is not necessarily the problem. It's like taking cars away because there's too many car accidents that kill folks on the highway. It doesn't equate.
Ted Simons: The push for immigration reform, we hear a lot about secure the borders, get Congress in action to do something about this. Will you do something as a representative in Washington to initiate immigration reform?
Travis Grantham: Well, I don't believe immigration reform is necessarily the issue. We have the greatest immigration system in the world in this country. And many of us are a product of it. We don't have a secure border. You can not expect our immigration system to work correctly or fairly if we don't secure our open border. The number one thing I would do is fight for National Guard troops or a fence or whatever it would take to physically secure that border.
Ted Simons: What do you think?
Jeff Thompson: We've got a million people we allow in this country legally every year. They do everything the right way. We have another 3.5 million we allow to come in on education Visas, work Visas and the proper green card permits. We're a magnet for those people to come across because we reward people to come here illegally. As long as you keep rewarding them you, build a fence, they'll go over it and under it. You've got to stop paying for their health care, stop allowing their education to be paid for by us, all of their welfare systems, the tax returns they get illegally. It costs us probably a half trillion dollars a year. When you keep giving them and rewarding them to come here, they're going to come here.
Ted Simons: We keep hearing Washington needs to do something. If you go to Washington will you do something?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: Absolutely. I agree with Travis that the first step is-to-securing the border. But I disagree in that I believe our immigration system is antiquated. It needs to be modernized, responsive to the needs of our economy, and I think absolutely the Arizona delegation, if I'm blessed to be on that delegation, should be at the forefront of that discussion. And I intend to be right there front and center trying to modernize our system so it benefits our economy.
Travis Grantham: One valid point, I was an AGRi business major, speaking to folks who own dairy businesses in the state, they cannot draw the work force they need to milk cows. Cows produce milk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system is broken more so now than it was 20 years ago. And it's broken because of federal government's intervention.
Ted Simons: You said you would not try to fix the system until the borders are secure.
Travis Grantham: Right.
Ted Simons: What does that mean, a secure border? What does it look like.
Jeff Thompson: We cannot be a magnet to let people come here. We've got 58,000 troops in Germany. 23,000 in Korea. We don't need all these troops abroad and we can't afford it. What if we put 100,000 troops along the border and built military installations? If we had 100,000 people there they could better secure the border and they'd spend their money in our country instead of abroad.
Ted Simons: 100,000 troops at the border. Does that make sense to you?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: I think some combination of credible -- including troops in other high-tech means of securing the border is what we need to see. And I agree that needs to happen first before we can credibly address the broken immigration system I believe we have.
Ted Simons: Very quickly –
Jeff Thompson: I tried to interject about immigration real quick. Leah makes a good point. The system is broken. One of the big problems and why is the government runs it. Talk to people who are going through the immigration system the right way and legally and it is a nightmare for those people to get through. Because the government runs it. Now we want them in health care?
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: It's because it's antiquated and we need to modernize it. The entire immigration law is not a modern law, it needs to be more responsive to our economy and our needs.
Jeff Thompson: If it was modern they would mess it up.
Ted Simons: We'll stop it right there. Candidates, thank you very much. Each candidate will now give a one-minute closing statement and going in reverse order of the opening statements, we start with Jeff Thompson.
Jeff Thompson: Well, I think it was Albert Einstein that said insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. One of the reasons I got into this race I didn't want to vote for another politician to go back to Washington DC and represent us. They haven't done a god job. They've got a huge appetite for spending. With my successful business background I think it makes me the right choice to go back and draw a line in the sand and do what's best for not just America, but for Arizona. Thank you.
Ted Simons: And thank you very much. Our next closing statement comes from Travis Grantham.
Travis Grantham: You know, we said it today -- this is about electing representatives who go to Washington, DC. Understand the constitution, understand this is a representative republic, and will go back truly with the best interest of the people at heart. I say on the campaign trail, I'll go to Washington with Arizonans' best interest, not bring Washington, DC's special interests back to Arizona. We need to be electing people at this stage who will go there, not concerned about their ongoing political career but maybe necessarily are willing to go back and make tough decisions. Some tough decisions that will lead to not necessarily getting reelected, tough decisions that will save this country from the fiscal and constitutional crisis we face I hope to get to do, that I'm that candidate.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. And now, Leah Campos Schandlbauer.
Leah Campos Schandlbauer: Thank you. Thanks for having us here this evening. I would just say I'm someone who is passionate for public policy. I want to see more people in Washington who want to achieve public policy solution Rasmussen they're than politicizing every issue which is what's led to the gridlock we see in Washington and I believe I can do that. I believe I have skills that I brought from the CiA that allow us to -- a strategic vision for or national security interests as well as attributes that allow me to reach tout people who otherwise wouldn't be exposed to the free market principles of the Republican party. I believe I can be a powerful voice in Congress for all of those reasons and more.
Ted Simons: And thank you all candidates for joining us tonight and thank you for watching the this special vote 2012 debate. Featuring Republicans seeking Arizona's congressional seat in the new ninth congressional district. Seven Republicans are in the race. We met three of them tonight, and we'll meet the other four tomorrow. We'll host a number of debates in the coming weeks on "Arizona Horizon." Hear from four more CD-9 Republicans tomorrow as we mentioned, August 7th meet the democrats running for Congress in district nine, and on August 15th, we'll host a debate with the Republican candidates for Arizona's fourth congressional district. For more election resources and to replay this and other horizon debates, be sure to visit horizon's vote 2012 website, www.azpbs.org/vote2012. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.