Traveling throughout Georgia's Congressional eighth district, Rick Goddard, Republican candidate for the seat, spent some time in Newton County last Tuesday as part of a publicity tour to meet prospective voters.
In an interview with The News, Goddard, a retired U.S. Air Force Major General and the former commander of Warner Robbins Air Force Base, spoke at length on his views on a number of issues including energy policy, climate change, tax reform and the war in Iraq.
If elected Goddard said he would advocate oil drilling in Alaska as a short-term strategy to address the United State's energy woes.
Once oil in Alaska runs out, Goddard said he would support a large-scale switch to nuclear energy similar to that undertaken by the French.
According to the World Nuclear Association, 75 percent of France's electricity needs are met by nuclear energy. The country is also the world's largest net exporter of electricity.
"We simply can and should institute a plan of creating a number of nuclear energy plants in America," Goddard said.
Incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall has also advocated an expansion of the nation's domestic oil refinery capacity and a switch to nuclear energy.
On the issue of climate change, Goddard said he believes there are an equal number of scientists, who are skeptical that global warming is taking place, to the number of scientists who say it is a reality.
Citing a belief in a lack of consensus in the scientific community, Goddard said he does not think it necessary for the federal government to institute a program to drastically reduce domestic carbon emissions. "I'm not convinced, at this point, that all the climate change we're seeing is man-made," Goddard said.
The National Academy of Sciences, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, The European Academy of Science and Arts, The American Association for the Advancement of Science and World Meteorological Organization are just a few of the mainstream scientific organizations to issue statements that say climate change is happening and is a result of human activity.
The American Association of Petroleum Engineers continues to question the reality of climate change.
Goddard said he believes Americans should wean themselves off of fossil fuels for the sake of energy independence from the Middle East.
"We as a people, must change the way we travel," Goddard said. "We are part of the problem."
With regards to the looming recession, Goddard said he would support the federal government lowering taxes to encourage market growth and confidence.
"It has been proven in a number of administrations that when you lower taxes, you increase revenue," Goddard said. "Just raising taxes does not grow opportunity, as a matter of fact, it stifles opportunity."
Goddard said he did not think President George Bush's monetary policy was to blame for the current slowdown.
"There's lots of reasons for an economy to turn," Goddard said, adding that there are benefits to an economic slowdown. "We got into this because a lot of folks were speculating and taking too many chances."
Goddard criticized the spending discipline of Congress, especially the practice of dipping into Social Security to pay for other domestic programs.
If elected, Goddard, said he would support measures to stop spending Social Security funds and would replace the lost funds with cuts to other government programs, though he did not specify which ones, except to say that he would not support cuts to military spending.
"I would not cut down military spending," Goddard said, adding that he does not consider funds spent in the War in Iraq to be part of military spending.
According to the National Priorities Project, which studies federal spending, so far $516.5 billion has been spent on the War in Iraq.
Calling himself a strong advocate for veteran rights, Goddard said he is a strong supporter of education for veterans, though he said he did not know if he would support a bill sponsored by Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) that would fully cover the costs of an education at any public university for veterans.
"The kids [returning veterans] don't expect giveaways," said Goddard, regarding Webb's revamped GI Bill. "I would look at every [GI] Bill that's out there."
Goddard said he would not support withdrawing American troops from Iraq.
"The USA is the only country that can ensure continued stability in the Persian Gulf," he said. "It falls to us. We are rebuilding [Iraq]. If we would just arbitrarily pull out of Iraq, that would leave Iran with a strong influence."
Goddard said he was in support of keeping all options, including diplomatic efforts and military incursions, on the table with regards to dealing with Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons technology.
"It is not in the interests of any part of this world for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons," Goddard said. "We need to make sure that does not occur.
"Our goal with Iran is to let Iran try to become a part of the world of nations."