At a fundraiser Friday night at Newton County Attorney Tommy Craig's home, Congressman John Linder (R, 7th Congressional District) worked the gathered crowd, talking up his FairTax legislation and taking questions from campaign contributors.
Though Linder officially endorsed Mitt Romney after the former Massachusetts governor showed initial interest in making the FairTax a part of his presidential campaign platform, Romney has of late distanced himself from the FairTax, even going so far as to criticize it.
Linder said if Romney continues to distance himself from the FairTax, which received a record 60 co-sponsors this legislative session, he will look for a way quietly and politely to remove his support.
"I'm just going to play it out," Linder said. "Most of my life has been about the FairTax, and I'm not going to support someone who opposes it."
While Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator and actor on "Law and Order," has not officially thrown his hat into the ring - he set up a presidential exploratory committee earlier this month - Linder said he is almost certain that Thompson will run.
After a meeting last week with Thompson's chief economic advisor, Linder said he was optimistic Thompson would make the FairTax a core part of his platform.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Fred Thompson runs on the FairTax," Linder said.
Linder also addressed questions about immigration. Linder said he would favor closing the border with Mexico.
"You are not a sovereign nation if you don't have borders," Linder said. "We are a nation that essentially is being invaded."
Linder said he was against the current bi-partisan immigration reform bill in the Senate, which would provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. Many Georgians have denounced the bill, saying it gives amnesty to immigrants.
"If you want to get on the rolls to be a citizen, go back and get back in queue," Linder said.
When asked about the present drought which has decimated the hay fields of Georgia farmers and forced many Newton County cattle farmers to sell their herds, Linder said he was uninformed on the current situation and was not aware of Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin's plea to the Georgia Congressional delegation to seek emergency funding for a hay feed assistance program.
"Let Sonny (Governor Perdue) talk to the president. That's not my business," Linder said.
All of the counties (Barrow, Gwinnett, Newton, Walton and a small part of Forsyth) which make up Linder's district are currently listed as being in severe drought or in conditions seen once every 20 years by the state climatologist, with conditions expected to deteriorate this summer.
Linder also took a dim look on global warming.
"It's vanity to think we're changing what God has created," Linder said. "For us to think that the modest amount of CO2 we emit is changing the world is silliness."
The United States is the biggest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, according to the Energy Information Administration, contributing 23 percent of the world's total CO2 output. That figure does not include natural CO2 emissions.
Linder compared the science behind global warming as being similar to the science of eugenics.
"It is my view that human-caused global warming is a subtle science," Linder said.
"I happen to like warmer weather than cold weather."
Along with Tommy Craig and his wife Debbie, Friday night's fundraiser was hosted by Rob and Jean Fowler and Roland and Susan Vaughn.
Linder has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1992. He was handily re-elected to office last November, receiving 70 percent of the popular vote.
Linder was also re-elected to the Republican Steering Committee as the Region IX Representative for the 110th Congress.
This story was published in The Covington News on June 13, 2007