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Dan McCready On Immigration, Gun Control And Trade

Steve Harrison

For the second time within a year, Dan McCready is running a general election campaign to represent North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. The Democratic candidate spoke with WFAE’s Morning Edition. He said there needs to be bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that includes more border security - physical and technological barriers.

“There’s a lot of technology we can put on the border that would be more cost-effective.”
McCready also advocated closing loopholes so that background checks are run on people who buy guns at gun shows and on the internet.
“The best solution for getting at the gun violence epidemic is universal background checks.”
As for trade, McCready said it’s good step that the president is standing up to China, but that it’s important to have a strategic approach.
“Tariffs should not be the main part of a trade strategy,” said McCready, when asked whether a 25% tariff made sense. “We need a strategy where tariffs would be on the table, but there are certainly many other components to that.”

[Related: Dan Bishop On Guns, HB2 And The Affordable Care Act]

Worf: For the second time within a year Dan McCready is running a general election campaign to represent North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. The first day of this general election involved dueling press conferences just a few minutes and a few feet from each other as his opponent Dan Bishop held his event outside McCready's headquarters.

Yesterday at this time we spoke to Mr. Bishop. Today it's Mr. McCready's turn. Welcome.

McCready: Good to be on with you, Lisa.

Worf: A few minutes ago we heard about President Trump's immigration proposal that would favor skills over family connections. However it wouldn't deal with illegal immigration or DACA. Would you support such a plan?

McCready: I've not read his plan since I guess it came out yesterday. What I can tell you is I think that we need both. There needs to be room for families to be able to come in, but there also needs to be room for folks to be able to come in based on merit and based on skills. I think immigration is one of the issues where you see how broken Washington is because we've known for decades that we need - the solution is not people to go into their partisan camps like we see time and time again - the solution is actually for Republicans and Democrats to come together sit down and work on a bipartisan and a comprehensive immigration reform and that reform should do a number of things. It should secure our border. It should uphold American values. It should deal with a whole host of issues, one of which you just mentioned. But that's not going to happen until we get people to Washington that are interested in actually reaching across the aisle.

Worf: When you talk about securing the border how do you see that being done? Does it include a wall, for example?

McCready: It certainly needs to include some physical barriers. It also should include some of the technology that I used overseas in the Marine Corps. When I was over in Iraq we had all kinds of surveillance technology. There's cyber technology, infrared technology. You know, there's a lot of technology that we can put on the border that would be much more cost effective.

Worf: And how much money would you be willing to spend on something like that?

McCready: I don't know about exactly how much to spend. I do think it's important that we secure our border. But we cannot do that in a way that is, you know, ripping kids away from their families at the border. I mean what's happening with families there is, is inconsistent with American values. We've got DACA kids here who - you know, I met one last year Jose over at Queens College who's an honor student, who came over when he was just a few years old. His parents brought him over. And, you know, our government needs to honor the commitment that we made to these kids but with a law abiding process in a way that upholds our values.

Worf: What's your solution to reducing gun violence whether that's school shootings or the increasing murder rate in Charlotte?

McCready: Well, this is a really important question. You know, obviously our home community was just rocked a couple of weeks ago by tragic gun violence. As a parent of four little kids I have to say every time one of these shootings occurs, which is all too frequent, my wife Laura is up late, worried about the future for all of our kids.

I'm also someone who understands weapons. I've carried an assault weapon for four years in the Marine Corps, understand the seriousness involving weapons, the responsibility that needs to come with with handling them.

I believe that the best solution for getting at the gun violence epidemic is universal background checks. The reason I say that is because we believe that as many as a third of transfers and sales of firearms right here in North Carolina may go without a background check.

I went to buy a pump-action shotgun last year at Cabela's. I'm a law-abiding citizen, a Marine, I went through a background check. So it's not right that I would go through one, but someone who wants to do harm with a weapon, someone who may be mentally ill, a domestic abuser, someone who does terrible things can just roll up into a gun show and buy all the firearms that they want. I really believe that this issue of background checks is one where Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together because the vast majority of Americans agree with it.

Worf: What about a ban on assault style weapons or a federal registry for example?

McCready: I think the best way to get at assault weapons is with universal background checks. I think closing the gun show loophole, because you can go right now, any person can go to a gun show and buy all the assault weapons they want. Closing the online sales loophole is a whole nother loophole to get at. I've read that 90 percent of Americans agree with this. The only reason that we do not have universal  background checks is because of the NRA. It's because of career politicians like Dan Bishop, frankly, who are bought and sold by the special interests and are not actually putting the interest of the people first.

Worf: In a forum last year with Mark Harris you gave President Trump credit for starting an important conversation on trade saying Democratic and Republican administrations had not stood up to China on trade. What do you think of the president's latest 25 percent tariff on many Chinese goods?

McCready: Well, to begin with I do think that the president has started an important conversation on trade. And I do think that he is standing up to other countries that have been taking advantage of us. In this district, in the 9th,  North Carolina runs from southeast Charlotte which is a very prosperous part of the country east for seven counties through many counties that have really, really struggled in recent decades. Where, you know, many of the jobs were in industries like tobacco, textiles and things that have just been really beaten up if not destroyed by our trade policy and by countries like China taking advantage of American workers.

It's not just through trade but also through cybersecurity. I fell victim when I was in the Marines to a cybersecurity attack on my top secret clearance application as did many, many other American service members. And they're just straight up stealing the intellectual property of American businesses. So rather than let that continue like Democratic and Republican administrations have done for decades, President Trump is standing up to China which I think is the right step.

Now, I think that we... it's important that we have a strategic approach. You know, as a business person I've built a company here in Charlotte doing deals helping build solar farms. When I go to do a deal I lay out here's what my demands are, here's what my wants are. The other side does that. And then you meet in the middle and you try to, you know, if you can get seven out of 10 things then that's a good day. I think we need...

Worf: So does a 25 percent tariff make sense then in your estimation?

McCready: Well, tariffs should not be the main part of a trade strategy. We need a strategy that where certainly tariffs would be on the table b,ut also there are many other components to that. And this all needs to be considered as part of a strategic negotiation that actually puts North Carolina workers, North Carolina families on a level playing field.

Worf: Last year you said you wouldn't support Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker. How do you think she's doing now in that role?

McCread: Well, the fact is Washington is as broken as ever. And that's not a Democrat or Republican thing. There's just way too many career politicians up there. And that's why I felt so strongly that we need new blood up there. I mean this for me this, is not a career. I'm not a career politician like Dan Bishop. This is a calling for me to serve again. Much like I felt in the years after 9/11 before joining the Marine Corps. I feel very strongly we need new voices.

Worf: And so is she a voice that's doing a good job at this point?

McCready: Well, I have believed that we need new leadership and the kinds of people I look to that are doing a very good job actually up there right now are the new young veterans who were just elected. There are 10 veterans, many of whom I've gotten to know over the past year as we all ran our different campaigns. Hopefully, it'll be 11 here in a few months. But they're actually, you know, they're working in a bipartisan way to try to serve the people. Not just serve their own reelections and the special interest and, you know, half these people are just bought and sold by drug companies, insurance companies, all the special interests out there that's not going to change until we get new people.

Worf: Now when it comes to legislative policy, Democrats are pushing the Green New Deal. It's getting a lot of attention. And you said you'd work to create jobs and industries like solar but the Green New Deal is not the way to do it. Briefly, why is that?

McCready: This is an area where I have very deep experience. I probably know more about creating clean energy jobs than anyone else in Congress because I've done it the last four years. I started the company with another Marine. We helped make North Carolina the number two state in the entire country for solar power. We helped create 700 good-paying jobs here in North Carolina. And let's be clear, what's happening to our planet is a moral, it's a moral imperative that we deal with it. But the way to do that is not with these kinds of aspirational, you know, Green New Deals. It's to actually use business as a force for good to create jobs just like we've done here in North Carolina.

Worf: And that's all the time we have. That's the 9th Congressional race's Democratic candidate Dan McCready.

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.