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TV interview
Alan Keyes on NBC 5's City Desk with Dick Kay
October 10, 2004

DICK KAY: Our guest this morning is the Honorable Alan Keyes, who is the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois. He is a former Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. He is also a former Assistant Secretary for International Organizations. Mr. Keyes, I want to thank you for joining us at City Desk and I want to preface it by saying the reason we are not doing a joint show is because your opponent, Mr. Barack Obama, refused to appear jointly with you. He's sticking to his three debates and I know that's been an issue with you.

ALAN KEYES, ILLINOIS U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: It's been an issue really with the people of Illinois because this is somebody who couldn't even keep the first deal he made with the people of the state, couldn't wait to break his promise until he got into office. He himself had said that 6 debates were needed to make sure that everyone in the state would get a look first hand at the candidates-he said it in a letter to Jack Ryan. It was actually a very eloquent letter, he talked about the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the tradition of Illinois. The minute I got into the race as you'll recall... it wasn't even 24 hours later... he backed away from that and said he would only do 2 debates.

We've gotten him up to 3 and as I would often tell people as I went around the state, who's he leaving out? I think it's a mentality and it's the wrong mentality because he doesn't realize that his responsibility if he's going to be in the U.S. Senate, he's got to represent the whole state of Illinois and to be responsive to all it's people and therefore we owe it to them to really serve them as they are making their decisions...

KAY: Do you think that by not debating you 6 times as he has promised to do with Jack Ryan that he's really leaving people out, or is he using this to his own advantage? I mean, Mr. Obama has a huge lead and there's no reason for him to debate you more than 3 times, and in the past we've seen people who just wouldn't debate, period.

DR. KEYES: I think that one of the problems with his brand of politics and his mentality is he actually thinks that would be correct reasoning... to put his own ambitions, his own political calculus, above what is good for the people of the state. I think it's just the opposite... I have never ,ever taken a stand, a position, a step in my public life, except I've believed it was in the best interest of the people I'm supposed to serve and that's what I think it means to be a public servant. So it doesn't matter what serves our purposes... the debates don't exist for us. They exist for the people, for the voters, and we should be serving their best interest, and he is not.

KAY: I'm going to disagree with you a little bit because debates do serve your interest, for example, you were not unknown when you came to Illinois but you are not an Illinois resident and you had to hit the ground running when the Republicans chose you as their nominee, and the best thing you can do is to debate Mr. Obama, so it does serve you.

DR. KEYES: All I'm saying is that the debates don't exist to serve me, and it doesn't matter what serves my purposes. I've made it very clear by the way my own position on debates is that every candidate who's on the ballot should be in the debate. That would mean in this particular case, there are two other people on the ballot, they should be included in the debate. He apparently doesn't take that position. Do you know why? That's fair to the voters. If the voters are looking at a set of names on the ballot, they should know who those people are, and they should be informed by every appropriate means on where they stand... to serve the people, not to serve us. We don't get to dominate this process, or we shouldn't. And so I've taken that stand, I take it now, everybody's ignoring it, but I think we ought to be serving the people and their decisions.

KAY: Let's talk about some of the issues. You are former Assistant Secretary for International Organizations. We are now engaged in a war in Iraq, and as you know the news for the current administration has not been good, in fact it's been rather negative. The latest report commissioned by Vice President Chaney says there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we had no weapons of mass destruction. He had none, he had an intent if he could get by the sanctions but he had no weapons of mass destruction, and that was the reason we went to war in Iraq. Now I know you've said you support the war on terrorism but you also kind of hinted that you have to be careful where you look for this war...

DR. KEYES: No, no, no... you have to be careful that you are in fact fighting against terror and that's the first point. This is not a war in Iraq. It is a front in the war on terror. The question would be was it legitimate to open that front? It was absolutely necessary ...

KAY: Why?

DR. KEYES: The wisdom of hindsight is easy. Okay sure, John Kerry and Barack Obama can run around now ... Kerry by the way voted to go into the war on the basis of the information we had at the time, and that information indicated a probability based on all the facts and circumstances, there was a probability and... let's put a number to it. Was it 100? No. Was it 50%? Maybe. Was it 30%. Possibly. We're talking about weapons of mass destruction. So let me ask you honestly-if there was a 10% chance that Saddam Hussein had the weapons and would hand them off to terrorists who would blow up Chicago and kill 100,000 people - how many people think the President should have taken that chance?

KAY: Let me ask you this...

DR. KEYES: No, let me finish...

KAY: I want to stop you on one point. Mr. Kerry voted for the original $87 billion but then he voted against it because what he originally voted for was that you take that money from the tax cut that has been provided to the wealthiest Americans and the Bush administration said they're going to veto that...

DR. KEYES: First of all let's establish the fact that if we don't fight this war effectively, it is possible that tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans will die. KAY: Is it the right war at the right place?

DR. KEYES: The truth of the matter is that the war on terror is a war that goes on. The stupidity of acting, like Kerry does, as if we have a choice. These people came to our shores, they killed our people, they will do it again if we don't disrupt their training camps, disrupt their means of financing the war. If we don't move decisively against states that are supporting and facilitating their work... Iraq was under Saddam Hussein an integral part of the global ...

KAY: I've got to take a break... I'm not going to let you... you can say what you want to say.

[Break]

KAY: Mr. Keyes, I guess we could pursue the issue of whether we should have been there ad infinitum but I guess the issue is and I have to ask you, do you have a plan to get us out? What would you do as a member of the Senate to get us out?

DR. KEYES: The terrorists brought this war on us, we fight this war in order to avoid the loss of potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of American lives. What do you call somebody when you get into a battle immediately starts thinking about how we get out of the battle? What do you call that person? We know what we call such people. I am sorry. The proper and appropriate attitude when you are engaged in a battle is not how do you get out of it but how do you win it. How do you make sure that you achieve the objectives that will safeguard the American people from the continued terror of the kind we just saw in Russia, killing innocent 6-year-old kids.

KAY: Don't you think we have to have a strategy?

DR. KEYES: You have to have a victory strategy and I think people who are talking about an exit strategy... we have to put a word to it, let's be frank about it. A person who gets into a battle and spends their whole time thinking about how you get out of the battle is a coward. The person who gets into that battle and spends their time thinking about how I win this battle for my people and in defense of my country, that's the kind of leader you need in war, that's the kind of leader G.W. Bush is. You put John Kerry in that slot and we will be slaughtered.

KAY: Well, this is about you and Barack Obama and I have to ask you. Do you think you and would you vote to continue this war in Iraq. Do you think it was the right war at the right time?

DR. KEYES: I would vote to carry the war to the enemy.

KAY: Would that mean preemptive strikes?

DR. KEYES: Absolutely! You know, I pray every night that this administration is launching consistently preemptive strikes against terrorists who are planning to kill Americans. I hope they're doing it, I sincerely believe that the effective way to do it is not to tell the whole world about it but that it must go on continuously... and by the way, I am speaking, unlike Barack Obama, from a whole lot of knowledge and experience. I worked on the National Security staff long before Americans were aware generally of the threat of terror, I was one of the people who went to bed every night with the knowledge that all around the world you have thousands of nefarious, evil people planning how they could kill Americans and we have to think preemptively about how you found out about it and stopped them. That's the only way to deal with terror. The only way to deal with it.

KAY: You have said and I've read it in some of your own speeches. If you are a U.S. Senator you have said you support the preemptive strikes and you said basically, and I'm not going to say this is a quote, but you said basically we have to look at other nations too. For example, Iran and Syria, and if they don't get in line, we have to deal with them.

DR. KEYES: This is not a choice that we've got. If people are supporting terror, if they are providing the basis, if they are providing the resources, if they are providing the training camps, what do you want us to do? Sit around and wait until they get it all together and come kill our people?

KAY: Would you strike Iran or Syria?

DR. KEYES: I think that's irresponsible. You make your decisions prudentially... and the strike against Iraq by the way was I think a tactically justified strike that gave us a chance to take one of the nations down that was potentially posing us a threat, to send a message to the others about our seriousness. We already shook Libya free, Syria is ...

KAY: What about Iran?

DR. KEYES: Let me finish... Syria, Syria,

KAY: Well this is television you know... we both get to talk.

DR. KEYES: I know but we have to go through all the facts. Syria is now making noises that they want to back away, we don't want to do this anymore. What we mustn't forget is that by being decisive in one respect, we get others to rethink...

KAY: We've got about a minute left in this segment. Would you strike Iran or North Korea?

DR. KEYES: Abstract questions are not the point...

KAY: Well it's not abstract.

DR. KEYES: Yes it is.

KAY: A preemptive strike is a preemptive strike.

DR. KEYES: I am sorry. Every decision made in a situation like this is made on the basis of information, facts and circumstances at the time...

KAY: But the intelligence is terrible...

DR. KEYES: There is no general rule. But I will say this, as a matter of principle, we must be willing to do what is necessary. And in the case of Iran, what is necessary is also going to include working with people in Iran who want to change the government there in a direction that respects human rights and that backs away from the support of terrorists.

KAY: But we've basically...

DR. KEYES: There's a sophisticated strategy that can be used that would have the Iranians too busy at home to be fomenting trouble for people elsewhere.

KAY: We've got to take a break. We have a couple more segments and I want to get into the economy and some of your issues. I really don't want to leave the show without doing that.

[Break]

KAY: Mr. Keyes, I want to shift gears. I think there are two issues that are central to people and that's the economy. Latest reports indicate we expected 148,000 jobs to be created, the President promised I think 250,000 jobs a month. The latest Labor Department report shows that we've created only 96,000 jobs last month and they've revised the previous month's figures downward. How do you get the economy back on track and you have to vote? What would you vote for as a member of the Senate.

DR. KEYES: I think what's absolutely essential is you have to get money into the hands that will invest it and use it in the most productive way to create jobs. That means take it out of the hands of government. That means tax cuts, it means the necessity of looking at the environment of regulations. It also means a necessity to rethink our approach toward trade, because I think we have put this country at a great disadvantage with unfair trade agreements and that those agreements are the result of negotiations in multilateral fora like NAFTA, like the GATT, like the World Trade Organization. We have actually taken the strength and clout of the American people created in our economic life and we have bartered it away. The minute we stepped through the door of those multilateral negotiations we have given up most of the strength and clout of the nation...

KAY: Would you get rid of NAFTA?

DR. KEYES: By the way, I know this because I did this work. I was in multilateral negotiations.

KAY: Would you get rid of NAFTA?

DR. KEYES: I was... when I started shifting my opinion on this free-trade question was during the NAFTA discussion. I was a proponent of NAFTA to start with, I listened to a lot of the arguments being made, looked at the facts, and said to myself, you know, my arguments aren't sound. The arguments of people who said, forget the abstractions. First of all, there's no such thing as free trade. My opponent says that he thinks free trade is a good thing. He's obviously willing to talk about fictions. There's no such thing.

What we have is micromanaged trade, trade micromanaged in a whole lot of these agreements that negotiate right down to the last detail. Do you realize we couldn't even put these treaties on this table they are so voluminous... that means we're dealing with something where we have to ask, "Is it being managed in the best interests of the American worker? Are we destroying our industrial manufacturers?"

KAY: What do we have to do to get the jobs back?

DR. KEYES: That is especially important to Illinois.

KAY: Your opponent says I want to create a tax program that rewards, and Mr. Kerry does too, that rewards American companies that bring their companies back here, that create jobs here, that produce...

DR. KEYES: Let me say this... simple matter... these guys take an approach that shrinks our ...

KAY: (interruption unintelligible)

DR. KEYES: Let me finish... shrinks our economic base... that's our revenue base, as well... the revenue base of the government... and then in order to pay for the consequences of bad trade deals we will dip into the taxpayers' pockets and have them pay out more in addition to the jobs they've already lost and the opportunities they've lost. That's nonsense. We need to start making creative use of tariffs which by the way generate revenue rather than losing it and which also equalize the balance of trade that also discourage outsourcing by our international corporations... These are the direct steps that will actually not cost the taxpayers money while at the same we protect our manufacturing base and we stop the unfair competition between our workers and slave labor in countries like China that don't want to pay the price for human rights and human dignity.

KAY: We've got a few minutes left in this segment. You would grant more tax cuts and how would you get that money to those who are the most in need? How do you get it to the middle class?

DR. KEYES: The truth of the matter is that when you have the kind of tax cuts that we have had, that benefits the middle class, it also benefits people who need jobs because you're providing the capital in the hands of people to invest, so that businesses will have the capital to expand and provide the jobs, so the consumers will have the money to go into the market place with confidence and consume. That's the key to an expanding economy and that's what we need right now.

KAY: We've got about a minute left in this segment. You're in favor of school choice, of vouchers, right?

DR. KEYES: I believe that a comprehensive school choice approach... the money we spend on education should follow the choice of parents, not the choice of educrats, bureaucrats, and politicians. Parents would then be able to send their children to schools that reflected their faith and values. They would be able... and here's the exciting part... if you have churches or groups of churches... they would be able to start schools that would serve the needs and interests of their people. That's especially important in poorer communities where churches are often the most vital, living representative of the moral will of the people. And if they could set up schools, you would see them working in the best interests even of the poorest segments of society.

KAY: I'm going to end on this and I want to come back, we've got another segment, but that seems to me like it would put religion back in schools but...

DR. KEYES: Absolutely! Because that's what's necessary to restore the moral environment for education. Absolutely we'd do that...

[Break]

KAY: Mr. Keyes, you've said that one of the reasons you got into this race coming from Maryland into this race, even though you didn't necessarily approve of people coming from without the state to pick up the mantle of the Republican party, you said one of the main reasons you did that was because of Barack Obama's vote in the Illinois senate against the bill that effectively barred live birth abortions... we're not talking partial birth abortions. It effectively barred them because it required two doctors to be present at each abortion and that would have brought it to a grinding halt and you couldn't even get it out of the Senate.

DR. KEYES: In that case, these are babies who are born alive after an abortion procedure, they are at a stage of development where the exact same baby at the same stage of development is being saved down the hall in the same hospital. So the technique existed... three times he voted to stop the practice of just letting these babies die...

KAY: So there are three bills?

DR. KEYES: Three bills with different formulations but the same objectives...

KAY: But they required two doctors...

DR. KEYES: No, no, no... he doesn't understand that we are founded on the principle that we are all created equal... not born equal, created equal. He accepts apparently this developmental argument, if you're not developed enough, you're not treated as a human being. He doesn't understand. That was the same argument that was made by the pro-slavery guys, black people aren't human. They're not developed enough to be treated as full human beings, therefore we can treat them as property and enslave them. That argument now applies to babes in the womb with two human parents, the same claim to be human that you or I have...

KAY: But you believe life begins at conception, right? That's your belief...

DR. KEYES: It's not a matter of my belief...

KAY: Well that's your belief...

DR. KEYES: The Declaration says that we are all created equal. God creates us, the result is published in the womb, and at that point it is for us to respect what is there that has the same claim to humanity by the way because if you introduce anything... if you say, I'm not going to respect that child for this reason or that, then somebody will say, well I'm not going to respect you because you're not educated enough, because you're not smart enough, because you're somebody who has a disability, because you're not developed enough to have respected...

KAY: You believe life begins at conception, right?

DR. KEYES: We give power to Hitler-like figures who can then create the sense that because somebody's superior to somebody else, we get to kill that group the way they tried to do with the Jewish people.

KAY: Not even in the case of rape or incest?

DR. KEYES: I think it's absurd to suggest that because my father committed rape I should be given capital punishment, that because my parents committed incest, I should be subject to execution. I think that's totally unjust and a violation of human rights.

KAY: I'm sorry, it depends on you belief, whether you believe that life begins at conception.

DR. KEYES: The principle of this country has nothing to do with that. It says we are created equal. Last time I looked, creation has nothing to do with our decisions.

KAY: Well it depends on whether you think you've been created...

DR. KEYES: It is done by the Will of God, but if you want to take that argument all I'm telling you is that you're going back to the slaveholders' view, which was that if I can get enough people to agree that you're inferior, that you're not developed enough, then I can enslave you and kill you... that's what they said.

KAY: I'm going to run out of time ...

DR. KEYES: And that's what Barack Obama say.

KAY: Well, I know. You're comparing Barack Obama to ...

DR. KEYES: No, I'm comparing his position to the slaveholders' position because it's the same.

KAY: You've also said that abortion is terrorism.

DR. KEYES: The taking of innocent human life to pursue your particular agenda is involved in terrorism. The targeting of innocent human life for the sake of somebody's agenda is what's involved in abortion. In principle, the same evil in both cases. It's not something where I'm asserting something. That's an argument. You compare the two things and they're based on the same principles...

KAY: I'm going to give you 30 seconds to say what you want to the voters.

DR. KEYES: I think what we were just talking about is the vital truth. A lot of people agree with me on matters of faith and values who then go into the voting booth, vote for somebody like Barack Obama who is diametrically opposed to what they know their faith, their understanding of God's Will requires. I don't see how black Christians do this, I don't see how Roman Catholics do this, I don't see how people around the state who profess to believe in the things that are clear about God's respect for life, His respect for traditional marriage, could then vote for someone like Barack Obama who doesn't respect either. It's time for them to be put on the spot, are you going to follow an allegiance to party or to God?

KAY: We're out of time. It's been an interesting discussion.

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