Louie Gohmert is a conservative firebrand.
Not afraid to stand alone on an issue he believes in, the Texas congressman is often in the news for making statements deemed outrageous — or that are actually outrageous, depending our your perspective.
On Wednesday, The Daily Caller spent the whole day shadowing him — from early morning baseball practice to an evening television hit — for an account that will be published next week.
Below is the transcript of an interview conducted with Gohmert as he walked back to his office after a Fox Business Network television appearance on Capitol Hill. In the interview, Gohmert discusses the state of the GOP, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and whether he has considered running for Senate.
Check back to TheDC next week for the full profile of a day in the life of the rib-making, baseball-playing, red-meat slinging former Texas judge.
What do you think the 2012 election said about the GOP? A lot of commentators say it showed that the GOP has to change on immigration or become supportive of gay marriage to remain competitive. How do you see it?
I think if we had done the things we promised that we wouldn’t be told that now we have to pander. You know, Scott Walker showed if you make promises and you do what you promise, you don’t have to pander. And, you know, Chris Christie has done somewhat the same thing. You make promises when you’re running, and keep your promises. And even when people disagree with you or don’t like you, they will look upon you as being a person of honor and they’ll respect you and you will be elected again. It’s just that people are so hungry for elected officials that will do what they say and say what they’ll do and keep those promises.
So you don’t accept the argument that the country is changing and the Republican Party has to change with it?
The country is always changing and we do need to change, and by changing we change the way we message, but there are some things — like honest, integrity — those kind of values that never go out of vogue. And I think people are hungry for honesty and integrity and I think that’s where we need to be — not pandering. And I also think if we start making the kind of changes that you’ve talked about policy-wise, even though they’re diametrically opposed to what we’ve said when we’ve been elected, I don’ think we’ll come back. People would rather have somebody of honor and integrity. I mean look at [George] Washington. People disagreed with him. He didn’t have 100 percent agreement on a whole lot of things, but he was a man of integrity and kept his word and that’s why we still celebrate him today, in addition to being very brave.
What issues can GOP work with Democrats on today? Are there issues where the two sides can come together to pass something of substance for the country?
Yea, I think there are if people will work with us. But that’s going to require the Senate cooperating as well.
What issues specifically do you think the two sides can cooperate on?
I would have hoped that we could have worked toward an energy issue. I mean, when Ed Markey — nice guy, smart guy, but on diametrically opposite ends — when he has said to me, ‘seems like we could work something out on the use of natural gas.’ Well, that sounds to me like something we ought to work on. You know, that could make us energy independent. We ought to use it. We know we have so much of it. We can be energy independent so, no, I think we could do something regarding the use of natural gas that could get this country completely energy independent on our own. Independent within 10 years. But we need to start moving now. I think we could work on that.
You mentioned earlier that one of things you have been criticized for is saying that President Obama’s policies in the Middle East are leading to a “new Ottoman Empire.” From your perspective, is he naïve about what his policies are producing? Or is there some other explanation in your opinion?
I think a couple of things. I don’t ascribe any ill motive to Obama, but I think two things. No. 1, naiveté is one. And that’s — it’s just not being wise, and naively believing that he can change people’s hearts with a good speech. You know, going to Egypt, going to the Middle East, make a good speech and you totally change the hearts of people who hate us. That’s what I think he naively believes. And not only that, but then throw gratuities toward your enemies and all of a sudden they’ll love you. Well, it doesn’t work that way. So it’s one thing, naively thinking he can shape people’s positions and make them love us by a good speech. We’ve seen from his ratings in Muslim countries — they’re now far lower than [former President George W.] Bush’s ever even were, down like 15 percent, the last one we saw approval in Muslim countries for Obama.
And then the other second aspect is — looking for the best way to say — he has advisers around him that do not have the same goal as he does. He has people around him giving advice who support the Muslim Brotherhood and who steer him in wrong directions.
Now when you say “support the Muslim Brotherhood” do you mean they have the same goals of the Muslim Brotherhood or that they think the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate force?
No, I will say based on the findings of the Dallas Federal Court and the Fifth Circuit of Appeals, the two largest front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood are ISNA, the Islamic Society of North America, and CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations. And people from ISNA, like the President Imam [Mohamed] Magid, has access to him. He had access in the State Department and Justice Department. And it appears that he is pretty much welcome most places. Helped the FBI supposedly with their redirection. So you have people like that who are actual members of organizations that federal courts have said are the largest Muslim Brotherhood front organizations in America. So it’s not me saying it, it’s the federal courts.
But you think they are significant influencers of Obama’s foreign policy — not just peripheral figures? I mean, do you think these are the people President Obama is relying on to shape his foreign policy?
I think it’s born out that this administration believes that the best advice they can get on how to deal with radical Islam is to listen to people who happen to be in or have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And it’s just not right.
You mentioned today that you are sometimes used as a punching bag by the media. Do you think the criticisms of you that have made headlines are unfair, or do you think that sometimes you have misspoken? How do you view some of the controversy that has surrounded some of your comments?
I think it wouldn’t matter what I say, that they are going to take things I’ve said that were accurate and truth, and twist it into something that appears to be less than truth. So, I also am so incredibly flattered that some of these groups feel like that I’m worth all the tremendous amount of time and attention they’re giving me. As I hear from my chief of staff and other staff members, you don’t take flak until you’re over the target, so I must be over the target.
Have you ever considered running for Senate in Texas?
I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see if that ever comes up. There was a Senate seat that came up in the last cycle and I had a lot of people telling me, you know, ‘You ought a run, we wish you’d run.’ But I got to feel it in my heart and I didn’t feel that that was what I was supposed to do so I didn’t run. What I feel in my heart right now is that I won’t run but who knows? I don’t know what things are going to go. But conventional wisdom would indicate that John Cornyn has now moved up to being No. 2 in the Senate. Ted Cruz, brilliant, I just think that he is a fantastic senator. So it looks like we are going to be set for a good while.
The interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.