Alexander plans to 'back Bush' if elected to U.S. senate

By Julie Fann
star staff

Former governor and former Presidential candidate Lamar Alexander on Saturday said that he plans to fully back President Bush if elected to the U.S. Senate. Alexander is pursuing the senate seat left open after Sen. Fred Thompson announced that he won't be running for re-election. During his visit to East Tennessee to draw support for his campaign, he said that, if elected, much of his focus would be to support the President in the war on terrorism.
   "I believe that the President is doing a good job with the war on terrorism, and I would make it a priority to stand behind him in his decision-making regarding the current situation in the Middle East," he said. Alexander also said that he would strongly support the President's proposed legislation to reduce taxes.
   "I think that the President's plan to cut taxes is a strong one, and I think that it needs to be made permanent," he said. "If those tax cuts are made, it will mean real money for Tennesseans." However, Alexander's real strengths lie in the realm of education, having served as Secretary of Education for the U.S. as well as President of the University of Tennessee. Supporting a G.I. Bill for lower income youth interested in pursuing an education he said would be one of his top priorities, as well as legislation supporting Charter schools, a system that involves privatizing education so that teachers can "experience more freedom in the classroom" and not be hindered by government regulations. Alexander believes that teachers and principals are so hampered by red tape and union rules they aren't able to use commons sense in teaching. Legislation authorizing Charter schools is currently stalled in both houses of the state legislature.
   In terms of homeland security, Alexander said that he believes Bush has done an excellent job and that his only mistake recently has been his decision regarding military tribunals. "He needed to listen to Congress, and he didn't, but, other than that, he has led his country very well through an extremely troubled time," Alexander said. As far as his own concerns regarding the war on terrorism, Alexander said that he believes that terrorism will increase in frequency and magnitude and that citizens need to be prepared. Alexander said he "didn't know" why so many countries have such hatred for Americans. "I don't really know. I think it has a lot to do with poverty, and oppression, and resentment toward America because we are a free country," he said.
   Alexander said that he does not support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation that Bush recently signed. His belief is that the bill failed to do what it originally intended to accomplish, which was to keep big money out of general elections. Instead, he believes that this particular finance reform legislation, created in the wake of the Enron scandal, limits free speech and allows wealthy candidates to have an advantage.
   Regarding abortion, Alexander said he did not agree with the outcome of Roe vs. Wade and that he also does not advocate recently debated legislation surrounding partial-birth abortions. "I don't support abortion, and I never have," he said.
   Alexander announced in March that he would run for U.S. Senate. Television advertisements for his campaign, titled, "Fire, Aim, Ready" appeared within days after his announcement. Alexander said that there is no way Republicans can capture the U.S. Senate unless they hold the Tennessee seat. He said this election will determine if the Senate if going to be led by liberals aligned with Hillary Clinton or with Republicans aimed at pushing President Bush's agenda.