State Rep. Kurt Bills, the Minnesota Repub U.S. Senate endorsee, got some national airtime this morning on the talk show of William Bennett, the Republican former “drug czar” and secretary of education. Audio of the full Bennett-Bills interview is here.
I’m sure it’s daunting to be a high-school teacher and state legislator and then fairly suddenly have to have answers to all the questions that a guy needs to run for the U.S. Senate. I’ve been hard on Bills for his rambling non-answers (plus his unwillingness to provide substantive issue-oriented answers to my own questions. Bills did give an interview to my MinnPost colleague Cyndy Brucato and I was still not impressed with the substance of his answers.
But after listening to him on the Bennett show this a.m., I would say his public presentation is improving, although still badly lacking in substance. Bennett could not have been friendlier or more encouraging. Bills tends to turn a large percentage of questions into a reference to his being a high-school teacher and especially the claim that even when the Legislature was in session, he would teach a first-hour class at Rosemount High before heading to the Capitol. Bills is quite explicit about his belief that this makes people like him better.
But listening to the interview, I found that Bills is still a long way from having substantive, coherent answers. Bennett asked him only one tough question, one that even Mitt Romney hasn’t handled well, that starts with the fact that the bad economy in which we find ourselves started under President George W. Bush after six years of policies based on tax cuts and deregulation. If you decide to listen to the whole interview, audio of which is available here, it comes at the very end.
Here’s the exchange:
William Bennett: “How do you answer this as a Republican conservative. Why would we put a Republican conservative back into place when it was the problems during a Republican conservative administration that got us into this hole?”
Kurt Bills: “Yeah, you bet. I think we need people from the bottom up. And that’s what this whole movement the last two or three years has been about in this country — is that we’re gonna take our country back, the people are. Once again, Dr. Bennett, I think you went to Harvard if I remember right. (Bennett interjects “a little bit,”) I just went to Winona State. I think we need more teachers, more farmers, more cops, more stay-at-home moms and dads, more small-business people. That’s why I fought so hard to teach that first-hour class before I went up to the state Capitol every day. We need that Cincinnatus approach to government. We need to take our country back. It’s a different generation that’s gonna rise up and do that for us.”