NEW YORK, NY — “The future of the Supreme Court is one of the most important issues of this election, and with it the future of our Constitution for the next century,” New York Senate candidate Wendy Long, an accomplished attorney and former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in Manhattan while discussing her bid against Sen. Chuck Schumer.
TheDCNF: What do you make of this election year which seems to be best defined by the word, unpredictable?
Long: The whole political landscape has been shaken up by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It has turned out to be anything but the conventional years everyone was expecting. A couple of years ago everyone was thinking, “Oh no, it’s going to be [Jeb] Bush against [Hillary] Clinton,” and it was a big yawn and nobody thought anything exciting was going to happen. Nobody knew that Hillary was going to be as challenged as she has been. And certainly no one had any clue that Donald Trump was going to come out of the blue to do what he has done. So this year has shaped up to be what I hope and believe to be a year of major realignment. Meaning the old political lines are going to be redrawn, and it has become much more a year of the entrenched establishment against the regular silent majority of common-sense American people. That’s the battle that I hope to fight.
TheDCNF: Do you think the Republican Party can expand its reach to a state like New York in a way it has not in the past? Does having a New Yorker as the GOP’s presidential nominee help the goal of expansion and even your Senate run?
Long: Absolutely, that’s part of it. [Mitt] Romney clearly was not a candidate who expanded the Republican base at all. And that was part of the unfortunate loss for everyone in 2012. I think Donald Trump will expand the Republican base in 2012, but unfortunately, even if Ronald Reagan were here today and we re-created that scenario, all of the Reagan Democrats couldn’t carry New York today as we sit here. So, there are still Reagan Democrats and I think they’re really happy and I think they’re already drawn to Trump. But we need to go even further than that. We need to go into the new, the recent base of the Democrat Party, which are the younger people, the millennials, the ethnic minorities, those are the people we need to reach out to.
TheDCNF: What do you think about the way the Obama administration has been handling the fight against ISIS? Looking forward to your own prospects if you’re elected to the Senate, if Donald Trump becomes the U.S. president, would you support a declaration of war against the Islamic State? Would you support vast amounts of ground troops against ISIS beyond the current combination of air strikes and special forces on the ground via executive order?
Long: On ISIS, the first thing we have to do is secure the border, and we know we have ISIS right now existing and operating in all 50 states. They’re here, they’re already across the border, so the first thing we have to do is address the problem of how to get them here before they do more damage, because they’re already on the ground. We need to get rid of political correctness and let citizens speak out about what’s going on in their own communities, and listening to Muslim Americans that give us intelligence about what’s going on in their communities. I think Donald Trump is exactly right: We need extreme vetting. Then, we need to take the fight to them where they exist, and there is no doubt that we have to do that, and it will depend on where we are and what we’re doing on the ground when Donald Trump takes the Oval Office in Jan. 2017; what the military situation is then, because it’s changing pretty rapidly. I mean who knows. But the fact is we need to do a lot better than we’ve been doing now.
TheDCNF: On the issue of Iran, Sen. Chuck Schumer opposed the deal. By the time it came to a vote on the matter, you were also opposed. How does a voter in the state of New York differentiate you on the issue given you’re both opposed to the deal – where are the differences there?
Long: I think one of the differences is in the honesty in the approach and in the honesty in discussing it. He basically knew he had to vote against it for political reasons, I don’t think his approach to it was honest. I think it was very cynical and calculating. I think if you analyse something honestly, particularly if it involves our national security and the biggest state sponsor of terrorism.
What he did was that he hid and he tried to say as little as possible about it, and then at the eleventh hour he made this big show about how he racked his conscience and read the deal over and over and analysed it and he’s come to the serious conclusion that he has to vote against it. Everything he says about it has to be discarded as just cynical political calculation and completely dishonest, and that’s the first thing.
TheDCNF: One of the key issues of the 2016 campaign has been immigration, where do you stand on this issue?
Long: People who come here should do so with the hope, intention and commitment of becoming Americans, and they should come here legally. If they come here illegally, they shouldn’t be here. As Donald Trump says, ‘A country without borders isn’t a country’ and ‘a country without laws isn’t a country.’ Looking at the history of our country, we have been and we are pro-immigrant, but we aren’t going to be much of a country if we don’t take care of our own people first and if we don’t observe the rule of law.
It really doesn’t serve the immigrants that have come to this country recently or generations ago that we ought to disregard people who disobey our laws and come here illegally. We have to have legal immigration, which has to be something that benefits our country.
TheDCNF: As a former Supreme Court clerk for the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia’s colleague Justice Clarence Thomas, what are the implications of Scalia’s vacant seat and what would you do about it if elected to the Senate?
Long: The future of the Supreme Court is one of the most important issues of this election, and with it the future of our Constitution for the next century. I don’t think that’s overstating things, because we really are at a fork in the road. Either our Constitution is going to be twisted beyond recognition or get back to its original principles and be what it is intended to be.
What we’re looking at is the next president will have one to three nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court is so poised right now between judicial activists tilted in their favor and those who favor judicial restraint. For those that care about the Constitution, to under-appreciate what’s at stake is a big mistake. Donald Trump has done something that no presidential candidate has ever done in history, which is to provide a list of persons he would nominate to the [Supreme] Court. It was an incredible list of really qualified jurists, qualified by virtue of their intellect and credentials, but also qualified by virtue of their track record of being faithful to the Constitution.
TheDCNF: Going into this race vs. your 2012 run, the odds, like they did then, seem stacked against you. Why take on this challenge again when it seems even greater than it did four years ago?
Long: The thing is that, Chuck Schumer, for all his power and influence, is a pretty pathetic figure. You go around New York State and people make jokes about him and talk about how he shows up at the New York State Fair and has a staffer carrying a big sign saying ‘Come meet Chuck Schumer.’ He’s like the kid at school that nobody wants to sit at the lunch table with, they’ve got to have a sign inviting people to come over and eat with him. He’s got a lot of money, from big corporate America, from Wall Street; I like to call him the senator from “The Big Short.” If there had been a senator in that book/movie that kind of fueled the whole kind of collateralized bubble and the housing bubble, it was Chuck Schumer. We’re going to make a run for him and hopefully more people than ever are going to be more tuned into politics. Beyond that, even if it were a losing battle, and it’s an uphill battle, I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion, but I think this country’s worth fighting for, and right now we’re going down. I just feel like this country is giving me so much and I’m not serving in the military, so I looked around and said ‘What can I do?’ and I happened to be planted in New York, and this is a fight that I am willing to fight.
TheDCNF: How do you see the country uniting after what has been a very divisive election year?
Long: I think it’s focusing on what unites us as a people, and I think Donald Trump is trying to do that. I think we are a people who are represented by every race and faith and nationality and ethnicity and that’s what America is. The one thing that does unite us is our Constitution, our belief in our principles and the rule of law and in American exceptionalism and a commitment to our country. Clinton and what the Democratic establishment would like is to divide us, one ethnicity or one race pitted against another. Thinking of ourselves as members of ‘this group’ or ‘that group,’ I think that’s a recipe for division.