Frank Guinta held the District 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2010 to 2012, when he was defeated by the current incumbent, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter.
Guinta, who has also served as a state representative and mayor of Manchester, is one of four Republicans competing in September's primary for the right to challenge Shea-Porter in November.
Frank Guinta joined me in NHPR's studio to talk about the race and his stance on some of the issues. (Scroll down to find the full audio of our interview with Guinta, as well as the version edited for broadcast.)
Why go back to Congress? Do you think you'd bring the same approach this time around, or would you do anything differently?
I feel very strongly about public service, about serving people in the state, and I think I can bring a perspective, being a former business owner, a former mayor and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives that allows for New Hampshire's voice to be heard in a way that we can be pragmatic, productive and thoughtful.
What do you think can be done to change the partisanship in Washington?
I think what people want are two or three basic things. Number one, there's still a lot of concern about the opportunity to get a good job for you, for your family, for your children and grandchildren. That means we've got to have a willingness on both sides to do economic growth, overall tax reform, so that's going to be pretty integral, I think.
Secondly, you've had the Affordable Care Act in for four years. There are really two camps. You've got a lot of people like Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter that double down on it, support it one hundred percent. I think that's an unfair view.
There are people in the state of New Hampshire that don't like it, that have not received the benefit from it, and I think you need alternatives to replace not just the Affordable Care Act but really to try to fix the problem here in New Hampshire and New England.
So that's a secondary thing that I think is on people's minds. And then obviously of late the President and how he has handled things have been on people's mind and as a result, they want to know how those Democrats in office who support the President, how they differ from the President. You're not hearing a lot of that right now from Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.
It's clear that a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act would not get past the President's desk, so what do you think needs to be done in the short term to address some of the issues you have with the law?
When the President first started down the road of trying to deal with health care there were two main goals and objectives: make health insurance more affordable, and make health care more accessible. I think we all agree with those goals. I certainly do.
Here in New Hampshire what we've experienced is something different. Thousands of people ultimately lost their health insurance, then they are forced to go on the exchange. The exchange so far excluded ten of the twenty-six hospitals, and it excluded a thousand doctors.
So as a result there are some carriers who have said we are going to - whether it's 2014 or 2015 - create our own exchanges. And I applaud that. However, the concern and the problem that you're seeing with those exchanges is that they're going to be regional-based. They're not going to be in large part state-based. So you're not bringing the kind of competition into the state and into the region that we once had 15-20 years ago.
So how do you solve that? I think that New Hampshire and New England needs to be regionalized. So if we could eradicate those state line borders, just start with our region, so every carrier now has the ability to compete not just in New Hampshire but in New England as a region, you will bring more competitive market forces to this area, probably upwards of 30 carriers or more.
Let's talk about immigration. What type of reform do you support and why do you think it's been so difficult for congress to get anything done on this issue?
Let's look at the current issue of the border crisis. This started two years ago in 2012 when the President issued a DACA order. It was not an executive order. It was a memorandum directly to Homeland Security that essentially allowed people to come across the border without any kind of legal reprisal. So essentially it said you can have amnesty if you come across this border.
It was in certain cases...
No, no, this was a blanket memorandum that the President issued to the Department of Homeland Security back in 2012, and then he re-upped the order earlier this year because it was a two-year order.
So, number one, we've got to rescind that memorandum. I've asked and called on Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter to agree with me on that perspective.
And then you have a process by which there is due process for those individuals and if there's a legitimate reason, whether they're fleeing for political purposes or if they're at risk for their lives, then they wouldn't necessarily be sent back. But the vast majority of those individuals can be returned to their home countries with their families.
There's no shortage of issues in the Middle East right now. What's your take on how the current administration is handling things in Iraq and Afghanistan?
ISIS (Islamic States of Iraq and Syria) is now somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand strong, and their assets are now about $2 billion and counting, by the way. Three months ago, they were about a thousand strong and $450 million in wealth. They're going to continue to grow in strength as well as the geographic regions along Syria and Iraq.
That cannot be allowed to happen, and it's not just because of American locations in that region. It's because of the genocide against Christians. It's because they want to take over this geographic region, and they have a very similar fundamental approach that Hamas does relative to Americans, that they want to eviscerate Americans.
Getting back to the administration and what possible solutions there are, the vast majority of surveys show Americans do not want boots back on the ground in the region. What can the administration do?
I, like many Americans, are frustrated with this notion of boots on the ground and war. I don't want to be in war. Americans don't want to be at war.
Well, sure, no one does. But is that what it has to come down to?
Well, what I would have preferred several months ago was a precise attack. When we didn't do that and allowed this problem to grow to fifteen to twenty thousand strong, it becomes more difficult to do this in a precision-based way. It's not impossible, but there has to be a clear definition of what the goal is.
Listen the radio version of my conversation with Frank Guinta here:
Here's the full version of our conversation: