AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Election day is getting closer, and absentee and early voting are on the horizon. To help prepare you, The Means Report continues its conversations with the people running for office. Congressman Doug Collins is vying for one of Georgia’s Senate Seats, the one formerly occupied by Johnny Isakson. He discusses his race for the Senate as well as some of the hot issues going on in the country.
Brad Means: Congressman, thank you so much for the time. You know we think we’re busy with this broadcast, you’re busy nonstop with your campaign and your service in Congress. Thanks for being here.
Rep. Doug Collins: Well thank you for having me, it’s always a pleasure.
Brad Means: All right, so for those who weren’t watching your last interview on The Means Report, let me just ask you once again, just to set the table, what we have here is an election to fill the remaining time of Senator Johnny Isakson’s term, who retired we have a crowded field. Governor Kemp has the authority to appoint somebody to fill Senator Isakson’s seat. When that opportunity arose he chose, the current senator, Kelly Loeffler. A lot of people thought it would be you, why didn’t the governor pick you?
Rep. Doug Collins: That’s become the best question across Georgia, nobody understands why Governor Kemp would fly in the face of the advice he got from none other than Donald Trump, the President of the United States who asked, that he pick me on several occasions, but he chose not to. He chose to go a different direction, I believe he got bad advice from his consultants but also, I believe money was a factor in this. And he thinks undoubtedly that Senator Loeffler can use her vast wealth to convince the people of Georgia that she is somebody she’s not, and I think right now that’s failing. But I think that goes back to the heart of the issue was more of a pick a about money and time over, really what the President had asked him to do.
Brad Means: Well let me just ask you this. Let’s say you’re elected to the US Senate, as you hope you will be, do you have to get along with the governor back home to be a good senator?
Rep. Doug Collins: I think the governor understood the ramification in his pick and I think that’s why he is, he’s doing what he’s doing, but look, I’ve always had a good relationship with the governor. He has been a constituent of mine before this ever happened, we’ve known each other for a long time. There’ll be I’m sure some conversations. He wanted one, I’m gonna win this race so, we’ll work together fine. The people of Georgia will know that they have a senator in Washington fighting for them and all of the interest of Georgia.
Brad Means: Why do you wanna be a Senator? You’re building up with every passing year, some good seniority in Congress, some authority in Congress, why leave that?
Rep. Doug Collins: Because we can’t afford to leave the Senate seat in a position of learning. When I looked across this race and we were discussing it and seeing where Georgia was trending, and there’s need to be a conservative voice who number one has a conservative record and has had a conservative record of getting things actually done. But also somebody that can continue to go to all areas of our state and understand the needs in all of our agricultural communities, our ports and our communities on the coast. But also our Suburban communities, our high-tech communities, all of which we have been working on up here in Washington D.C. And from a Senate perspective, we didn’t have need a seat in which number one, we could lose to a democrat, but also having someone who could fight on a bigger platform for the entire state of Georgia. And that’s the resume that we’ve built up, and we’re very proud of that resume of actually getting things done and also having being from Georgia, a lifelong Georgian, understanding the needs and having this seat, be the focal point for, what people believe about the state of Georgia.
Brad Means: And do you think that some of these races in the Peach State, especially yours, the other Senate race, some of these bigger races are still Republican races to lose? It feels like we’re seeing a surge in recent years, maybe the past decade or so, from Democrats.
Rep. Doug Collins: They have, I mean we’ve had a lot of folks who’ve moved in who frankly do not, haven’t seen why Georgia is the great state that is, the conservative values that have made our state because many times some of our elected officials, we’ve not been as good at explaining why the conservative governance and principles have mattered. So they bring in, what I’ll consider ideas from other states that, that’s what their base is as. What our job is, is to explain to them why a conservative point of view is actually what made Georgia the state that has. I think it’s still, this is still a Republican state. I think the president is still gonna win Georgia. I think David Perdue is gonna win, his side of the Senate seat. We’re gonna win the other side of this Senate race, but it’s gonna take work. And I think all elections are about getting out and meeting people. You can’t simply buy an election in Georgia, which it looks like Senator Loeffler was trying to do right now. Because she won’t engage people, she won’t take questions. We’ve always been out there, in the forefront of hearing from people and actually acting upon their responses because we believe that’s what a politician is somebody who’s elected official ought to do.
Brad Means: Do you think she’s doing a bad job? I know you use the word “learning.” Senator Loeffler certainly just a few months into this. Do you think she’s doing a bad job?
Rep. Doug Collins: She’d not had an opportunity to really do much of a job at all so you just have to look at what she has done. And the concerns that I have in seeing what she has done, number one she voted for, an NDA package which, actually where she claims to be against the council culture and everything going on. She voted with Elizabeth Warren to rename monuments and rename a basis such as Fort Gordon in Augusta, there’s a lot of problems there. But then I look at actually when, cause I’ve actually passed legislation like the first step act which the president signed, which was criminal justice reform. You know this is a big piece of legislation. We’ve also worked on intellectual property stuff. We’ve gotten stuff into law. Two bills that Senator Loeffler is actually proposed, would actually do the opposite of what she wants. One was a second amendment issue, which would actually make it probably harder on the issue of buying firearms. But the other one is really concerning, because she’s attacked me as far as, not being tough enough on Big Tech, which is sort of crazy because I was the one that started the investigations on big tech here on the Hill. But she wrote a bill to get at that, but yet the issue with the bill and her team was is she wrote a bill that actually would make it harder to take pornography and other things off of the internet. And it wasn’t me that found that out, it was an article written by, unfortunately and people may not know this, the porn industry journal actually said that their trade journals said this would make it harder, and so they were happy about it. So it really just shows that when you try to do stuff and not know what you’re doing, it does come across wrong. So I think Senator Loeffler, is unfortunately learning at the expense of Georgians.
Brad Means: Go back to those monuments real quick Congressmen, are you in favor of renaming them? I know that’s kind of a broad question, maybe you’re just in favor of renaming some of them, how do you feel about the overall renaming of things?
Rep. Doug Collins: My question is where does it stop? I mean renaming isn’t an issue here, and the question is where does it stop? I mean would we go back all the way. I remember when the president was criticized by saying, ” Well if we continue this path, then we’re gonna rename, you know the Washington monument and the Jefferson Memorial and all of a sudden, I mean it’s not so crazy because that’s exactly what Washington D.C the city up here is wanting to do.” We need to continue to be of a society that ends racism that always continues to look forward to how we bring people together. And just simply look for ideas and things that are a cancel culture that doesn’t want to acknowledge paths. We need to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but also look forward to a future in which we all move together.
Brad Means: So what is your goal here? I mean your, serious internal campaign conversation goal, the all talk about, look we just have to make the runoff. The field is so crowded, it seems it would be difficult to get 50% plus one the first time around. Are you looking for a straight up victory in November or just to make it to the runoff?
Rep. Doug Collins: Oh, we’d love to have a straight up victory, but look the reality is with 20 people in a race, you’re gonna have a runoff. I mean there’s 20 people, there’s Democrats, Republicans, Independent green party, I sort of joke, anybody that had $5,000 and wanting to say they ran for the Senate. You know put their name on there, so they’ll actually be on the ballot. So it’s sort of crazy, but in reality there’s only three or four maybe five, if you take on three on the democratic side that have a shot at getting into the runoff. So the first step is to get into the runoff. And the next step is to be in November and December winning the election on January 5th. Look we believe we’re really strong in that regard we have endured. And this is what I talked about earlier, buying a seat. The good Senator has already spent almost $30 million trying to tell the people of Georgia that I’m not a conservative. They’re attacking me for various things. Lying about me as I’ve said on my own TV ads. And right now it’s not working, and she knows it’s not working because she has to cover up for her own path. So I think, for us its about defining the true conservative in the race, which is myself unlike someone who became a conservative, when the governor tapped her to be appointed as a Senator.
Brad Means: Our conversation with ninth district Congressman Doug Collins will continue in just a moment. We’re gonna cover, some of the big issues facing the state and indeed facing this nation and how he would approach them, if elected to the United Senate? The Means Report, we’ll be back in just a moment.
Brad Means: Welcome back to The Means Report. We appreciate you staying with us, as we continue our conversation with Georgia, Congressman Doug Collins. He’s running for Georgia’s, Senate seat one of the two Senate seats, that’s up for grabs this election cycle. Congressman Collins, in our first segment we talked about your reasons for running. Let’s look at some of the key issues, beginning with the pandemic as it relates to Georgia. How do you think the re-opening, in the state is going so far?
Rep. Doug Collins: I believe that re-opening Georgia has went well. I think after we took the initial steps of getting re-opened, it took a little bit of time making sure that everyone was understanding what we were trying to do. I see it opening well, I’ve been all over this state in fact, I’ve probably traveled about 15, 16,000 miles in the last eight weeks in a Suburban. Going to different towns and communities all over from Augusta to Bainbridge and Donaldsonville to Blue Ridge. We’re seeing it open back up. We see it a little bit slower in the cities and that’s to be expected with a little bit more urban density and people a little bit more concerned. But what I do see is Georgia getting back out, I see the economy coming back. I see our hotspots occasionally popping up, but that’s to be normal. But our deaths, and especially our hospitalizations, are stabilizing out and we’re seeing better how to treat people. Georgia I think is doing well, you’ve see it in our economic numbers, which also seeing in the ability to get schools back open. And those are exciting things because our world needs to get back to normal, safely but normal.
Brad Means: The president says a vaccine will come soon. Is that something that you’re interested in taking when it does come out?
Rep. Doug Collins: Probably so, I mean I would look forward. I take my flu shot every year. As part of the air force and being in the air force, we have to take those. So I’m looking forward to it and I think the president has done an outstanding job of Operation Warp Speed. Which was to say let’s get this vaccine out as quickly as possible. You know some people have talked about that, well if it comes out quickly, it’s not safe, that’s just a false argument. What we have seen is, is when you put the resources in the priority sensations and you put other things off the table and you say here go fix this problem. America has some of the best scientists in the world. And I think you’re gonna come up with a vaccine very soon that will actually help alleviate people’s fears. It will not eliminate the virus, but it’ll actually begin to allow us to get back out safely. And I’m looking forward to that as we go forward.
Brad Means: Tell me what you think about the vaccine as it relates to President Trump’s re-election chances, your election chances. Do you think if we get that medicine before election day, it helps you all win?
Rep. Doug Collins: I think it helps. I mean, just like anything else, remember like the take away the pandemic takeaway COVID crisis of this year. We started this year on a failed impeachment by the Democrats. The Democrats were miserable failures and trying to take down this president through impeachment of which I led the charge on. Then we turn into one of the strongest economies we’ve seen in decades. The lowest unemployment rate that we’ve seen among not only the general population, but especially among African Americans and Hispanic groups. I mean we were seeing our minimum wage, wages going up, we saw issues of growth and job growth, and then we had the pandemic. So I think when you come back and you start seeing things get better, you see a vaccine actually come, people start seeing the sun rise mentality as I call. Not the sunset mentality that many would like us to have. I think it will have an effect. And I think it’s already having effect there everywhere I go, people are talking about. They wanted to get back to the way our economy was. And they know the quickest way to do that is through the policies of the president and also getting a vaccine out there will help.
Brad Means: Do you picture that return to normal happening in the near future after a vaccine? In other words, is it too optimistic to think that 2021 we could start to feel like we used to feel before this thing?
Rep. Doug Collins: I’m hopeful, I think we will, I think it’s gonna take some time. People are gonna have to get back used to going out and not being fearful. Look the mainstream media, especially out of, Washington and other places have so put people in fear of what’s happening. That I think it’s gonna take for some, a chance to get back out. But I do believe we’re gonna get back to normal. Remember, every pandemic that we’ve ever had in the world history, you have gotten back to normal. And I think that’s the issue that we often forget. We do go through a time of crisis, in which we do have to take safety and precautions that we need to have but we do get back to normal. If there was not the hope of getting back to normal, then I think we see a lot more problems. And that’s one of the concerns that I have about all the shutting down and keeping people at distances and stuff. That you’re actually seeing, the mental toll be a lot higher right now among groups that the physical toll has not been affected by.
Brad Means: Congressman Collins, what do you think about the violence that we’ve seen across the country in certain cities? You know, sometimes, and I guess this is part of the question, what do you think about the violence? And do we have a handle on it? Number two, is it as bad as it appears? Sometimes I think, you know, we lead the news with this gloom and doom, but it doesn’t mean everybody is the nation is fighting with one another.
Rep. Doug Collins: No, it doesn’t but I do believe that we have a problem, in some of our bigger cities. Portland, Seattle, we’ve seen it in Chicago, we’ve seen it in New York, we saw it even in Atlanta. Look the two parts that you have here, you have the idea of the issue, of things that we need to protest against. And that is, if you see officers and law enforcement officers doing something wrong, then they need to be moved out. As a troopers kid, that’s always been an understanding with me. But what you’re seeing in these cities is just lawlessness. It’s not about a social movement, it’s about criminal activity. And you’re having liberal Democrat, mayors, and district attorneys and governors who are condoning this. So it just gets worse. Who in their right mind would wanna have their city burning for over a hundred and something days? But that’s what we’re seeing. So for me , its about focusing on law and order, its about backing our police departments. And all of a sudden it’s become fashionable to say, “Defend the police and to move money over places.” But when you need somebody, when you need somebody to protect your civil liberties, your civil rights or your life in general, you need a police officer who is trained and dedicated to do that. So for me, for those officials who wanna defund the police and to keep tearing at them, I would encourage them to get in a car, go do the job with the police, and after a few months, they believe that the police need to be defunded fine, but until then they just need to shut up, get behind our police and realize that they are the ones who have been helping us all along. They’re the ones that keep our civil society together.
Brad Means: What do you think about the group Black Lives Matter and the efforts that they’re undertaking across the country right now?
Rep. Doug Collins: I think there’s disruptive force. And I think their organization is based on, very socialist values. If you just look at their website, that’s what the values of more an anarchist kind of state. It’s really interesting, you should bring up Black Lives Matters, cause in the Senate race, Senator Loefflor, all of a sudden came out and condemning Black Lives Matter while at the same point for those last three years, her basketball team has been encouraging Black Lives Matter. She actually encouraged, and with her approval, her players wore shirts encouraged the movement going forward. Again we talked about the Senate race a little bit earlier, but we come back to it here in a real life issue, you have a Senator who wants to cover up the fact that she allowed as the leader of an organization, disruption in the Black Lives Matter Movement to encourage it to happen. And even last year, said it was okay to protest our national Anthem and protests the flag. This is something that she don’t want people to know. That’s why she’s spending so much money, trying to tell everybody what’s wrong with me. The problem is, she’s got the things wrong with her. So I’m just believe that we need to put the movement out there for what it really is. And also show who is actually supporting them.
Brad Means: You know, I think last time you were here, we talked about, when might we have sports, or will we have sports? Yes we’re seeing football games be played once again, but you are seeing protests and people kneeling. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch any of the games, I know you’ve heard about it. What do you think about those players, letting their personal beliefs take center stage before the game is actually played? Are you for that or against it?
Rep. Doug Collins: They need to go play football, they need to play basketball, they need to do those things. And look, everybody has every opportunity and across the town to make their own social disagreements protest whenever they want to. But using that time, especially around our national Anthem or especially around the flag, as an a veteran, as someone who has been in the right war, someone who is still in the military, it’s just beyond comprehension for me, that you would use the flag , that is very giving you the very freedom to do what you want to disrespect it. I think, that’s out of bounds. I think that, protesting or what else. And if you wanna have more of a movement then actually get in our communities, continue to help our communities grow and simply not have, if it’s just symbolic, then it’ll do nothing. We’ve gotta have people that are willing to engage as I’ve engaged in many years. I’ve engaged with our community leaders in our African American communities, our Hispanic communities. And others to say, how can we, find opportunity? How can we find ways to increase economic activities? How do we increase understanding between our police and between our different organizations that make up our communities? Those are the things that matter the most. Sports is something that we should go to and have fun at. Sports is something also that I would take away, none of these athletes from being able to protest that’s their right as an American, but when they do it is also important and it sends a very strong message. I think that takes away from what they’re trying to promote.
Brad Means: Let me ask you just one more question, if I may about these protests and just the climate of our country right now. The black women in my life, whether they’re co-workers or whether they’re friends, acquaintances, whatever. The majority of them have said, some version of this to me lately. We’re scared to send our African American sons out into the world. We’re scared to send them back to school. We’re scared to put them behind the wheel of a car. I don’t know what to say when they say that. What would you say when they say, they’re so filled with fear, because they’re afraid of what might happen to them?
Rep. Doug Collins: Well I think for the first part, from my days as a pastor I would just say, I would wanna listen to them, and I would wanna hear their fears. And then we just talk about those fears in reality, and then begin to have a dialogue with the rest of the community. Is being around the law enforcement community, being around our communities all over the state, there are good people who want to have this conversation who wants to make sure that all of our communities, whether they’re African-American mothers who are sending their sons out or fathers. We need to make sure that they feel just as welcome anywhere in our state as they possibly can. And that comes through dialogue, that comes through realizing that we all bring ourselves to the discussion, and when we do that, then we can listen, we can find solutions. And not just simply talk about the problem, making opportunities available. Those are the kinds of things that I think would be the best thing to happen. Is it gonna happen easily, no. And that’s just because of where we’re at over the history of our country. But we’re getting better when we talk to each other.
Brad Means: Congressmen I only have time for a couple more questions. And I cannot let you go without the issue that’s made headlines this past week. So you have the Mueller investigation, looking into president Trump and his campaigns possible ties to Russia. That really doesn’t get any traction when it’s all said and done. Now you, have come out asking or inquiring as to whether members of Mueller’s team wiped their smartphones. Tell us where that stands and whether the smartphone companies, Apple in particular, can help you unwipe those phones.
Rep. Doug Collins: Well, that’s a great question. Remember I was one of the first ones who began to sound the alarm while the Senate and others, Senate even Republicans and others were wanting to protect Mueller and do the investigation. I was finding flaws that the investigation should’ve never been started before. It started on a false premise and that’s why they ended up so badly. But what is even worse, is you had partisan hacks on the Mueller team who were only out to get the President. When they turn their phones back in, they had a memories erased. And over 15 of them, I believe it was, they said in real close to the time they were supposed to turn it back in real coincidental here. They said that they lost their memory because they couldn’t remember their password. Now these are very smart lawyers, these are very smart people, who were to think the American people are so stupid that they don’t believe that they can remember their password. But here’s what happens, and it’s also very disturbing. It takes over three hours after you have set your phone to erase memory, after not being able to remember your password, over three hours to actually have that memory erased. These people think that we’re stupid. They thought we’re stupid during the investigation. And the problem is that we’re calling them out. I hope Apple can actually help us out here, because if not I’d love to sit them in a room and teach them that the very password they’ve been using for the entire investigation, all of a sudden did you have amnesia? Do you have a medical condition that all of a sudden made you forget your password? No, not really, you were trying to hide what was on that phone and we’re gonna get to the bottom of it.
Brad Means: Do you think Apple will help? They do not have a good track record when it comes to unlocking their phones when the FBI and others ask them to.
Rep. Doug Collins: Yeah, no I hope they will. It’ll be nice if they would. But also I believe is this, and I encouraged the attorney general board to actually use their own resources, because they’ve unlocked these phones before through normal processes of just getting a behind it. Maybe they can find out why or what they’re trying to hide. My question is, is not what was on those phones, my question is why are they trying to hide from the American people? What was on those phones?
Brad Means: Well Congressman we certainly will continue to follow your efforts on that front. And on all the issues as you continue to tackle them. I really do appreciate you being here today and spending so much time with us.
Rep. Doug Collins: Oh, it’s my pleasure, I enjoy it.
Brad Means: Absolutely Congressman Doug Collins, running for the United States Senate, from the great state of Georgia joining us today.