Editor’s Note: The interview took place via Zoom on 3/12/22. Keith is the Republican nominee for Texas Congressional District 3. He was previously in a runoff with Congressman Van Taylor. However, Van Taylor withdrew from the race after admitting to an affair. Check out Keith’s website at keithself.com.
Garrit: Can you introduce yourself?
Keith: Sure, I grew up in Amarillo. So, I’m a Texas boy. I went off to West Point and married my wife right after graduation. Then, we spent 24 years in the Army. I retired in 99. Then, I got recalled in 02 for another 15 months. So, I was in the infantry and Special Forces. During my recall, I went to Afghanistan and then into the Gulf for Iraqi Freedom. After a couple of years here in Texas, I ran for the County Judge position here in Collin County. So, I spent 12 years as the County Judge. During that time, we (Collin County) grew to a million people. We’re like the sixth largest county in Texas. I’ve been retired for three years and basically doing what I love to do–hiking in the Alps, river rafting in Alaska, a mission trip to Sierra Leone with my wife, and touring Italy. I ran for Congress for basically two reasons. First of all, to provide a voice for the citizens of congressional district three, and, secondly, to take a stand against what I see happening in our country today.
Garrit: What are some of the key issues for your district?
Keith: Well, there are two that we talked about. The first one is border security. There just is no border today–intentionally so. It’s not that we’re not trying, there’s just no effort on the border to have an international border there. The second issue is we need to get a handle on election integrity. As I’ve told people, if we don’t have elections that our citizens can trust, it doesn’t matter who’s on the ballot. We will all be irrelevant. So, that’s an important thing for the future of our constitutional republic.
Garrit: What do you think you can do specifically, as a US representative, to tackle the issue of border security?
Keith: Be a voice because Texas needs to be a loud voice on this issue. We’re the ones that they’re attacking. They’re putting a lot of people across our border for a reason. So, again, we need to build up a team because politics is a team sport. You’ve got to find those like minded legislators and activists to have a louder voice there, to energize the people, and to stand against what’s happening. I don’t know if I’ll be on a committee that will deal with border security, but, if I am, that would be another avenue.
Garrit: When you do go to Congress, are there any current members that most align with you from an ideological standpoint?
Keith: I’m sure there are several in Texas. For example, Pat Fallon in Congressional District 4, Ronny Jackson is a conservative, and Mike Waltz of Florida is another Green Beret. I think Mike would be one that I would want to get to know. There are others of course, but it’s primarily the more conservative leaning Texans. I think I need to associate with them and see what we can get accomplished.
Garrit: What type of committees are you hoping to get on once you get to Congress?
Keith: Well, I’ve talked a lot about election integrity, and the House Administration Committee, from my understanding, handles elections. So, I will probably ask to be on the House Administration Committee–unless something changes. You know, we’re brand new to this. So, I will work my way through the issues. But I think the House Administration Committee, because it deals with elections, would be one that I’ll be asking to be on.
Garrit: What can you do as a congressman to address election integrity, because election is primarily a state issue?
Keith: The first thing I want to do is make sure I vote against any federalization of elections, because you’re exactly right. It’s a state issue, and that’s where it ought to stay. So, beyond that, we need to be making sure that there’s no international influence in our elections–that’s a national priority. I can serve as an influence on the state issues–like voter ID, the scrubbing of voter rolls, and other things that will make sure our elections are fair and free. I can bring attention to the mail-in-ballots, because the elections administrator here in Collin County–who is known as the expert in Texas– says that the mail in ballots are the weak link in our electoral process.
Garrit: Do you think that the 2020 election was stolen?
Keith: I don’t use that word. I know that there were irregularities and fraud–particularly in the five battleground states. They’re coming to grips with it now. There’s an old saying that “a lie runs around the world before the truth gets out of bed.” That’s what’s happening now. We’re starting to see people come to an understanding of what actually happened in their own states. You got to understand that Texas is not…our hands are not that clean either. We did some things that were not right under Texas State law–extending early voting hours and so forth, and so on. So, there’s plenty of blame to go around. I’m not a Texan throwing rocks at other states. We need to clean our own house as well.
Garrit: A lot of what took place on January 6th was as a result of the 2020 election. I wanted to get your thoughts on, firstly, the events that took place on January 6th.
Keith: Well, there were 100s of 1000s of Americans on the Mall that day, and most of them had a great experience. They went up there to hear President Trump in his last speech, and I will give you an example of how this thing spread. There were four Collin County women that went to the Mall as a group. They were out on the Mall–nowhere near the Capitol. They didn’t do anything, they just celebrated, and they came home. Three of them posted their experience on social media. Each of those three got visited by the FBI. The fourth did not post her experiences on social media, and she was not visited by the FBI. That’s the outcome of this January 6th Commission–which is not finding out what actually happened on January 6th. We know, particularly with the death of that lady, that they’re not investigating that. They’re intimidating Republicans and conservatives around the nation. That is very troubling to me. One of the impacts of the January 6th Commission is that it has weaponized the FBI against law abiding citizens–that’s a problem.
Garrit: How do you think we can address that problem?
Keith: We need to haul everybody that’s in the chain of command up before the right committee. Once we take office, and I have no doubt that the Republicans are going to take back the House, we grill them about what they’ve done since January 6th of that year.
Garrit: After November, when Republicans do take back the House, would you join the House Freedom Caucus?
Keith: I will certainly listen to everyone. There are several caucuses that I want to belong to–the Freedom Caucus is one of them–but I know so little about it right now. I will be very careful, though, to maintain the independence of my vote. I’m not going to commit to any organization, because I represent the citizens of CD3. So, I will always vote in their best interest. That will be my approach to the Freedom Caucus. I certainly want to get to know them, and I know that we are aligned on our views.
Garrit: Moving on to some international issues. With your military experience, what are your thoughts on what is going on, currently, with Ukraine and Russia?
Keith: Well, we see Russia being the bully that they really are–they have been for centuries. They don’t conduct war in a precise manner. They are a bludgeoning force. That’s the way Russian does it. Back in Europe during the Cold War, we had a saying–because there were all those Soviet tanks who crossed the line from us–that “quantity has a quality all its own,” because our tanks were better but they had so many more tanks. So, that’s the way they fight war. They don’t really have any appreciation for human life–either their own or the people that they’re attacking. They did not win their quick victory that they planned on. So, now they’re going to grind it out, and they’re going to throw soldiers and equipment into the fight. It’s going to be a long slog. Now, the Ukrainians seem to be doing a very good job and will continue to do so if we help resupply them with the tools that they need. I would never advocate, at this point, for Americans going into harm’s way. That’s not the intention here. Giving the Ukrainians the tools that they need and defending the NATO line–I think–is what we ought to be about. There can be no question about it. We’ve got to defend our NATO allies.
Garrit: Generally speaking, what do you think should be the United States’ foreign policy goals?
Keith: Generally speaking, our goal is to maintain peace through strength–that is the key. It’s been the key for decades. We cannot hollow out our military and expect to be the defender of freedom around the world. China is certainly planning on being the sole superpower by 2035-2040. We’ve got to make sure that we balance that with our own strength–military strength. Military strength is only one element of national power. You’ve also got diplomacy and economic powers. So, we need to use the whole range of national power elements to maintain our strength in the world. The US dollar is another one. The reserve currency status of the US dollar is something that we need to be defending very vigorously.
Garrit: How can we fight the growing influence of China?
Keith: First of all with allies; we need to maintain our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia. Those are the nations that are in China’s backyard. Those are the nations that we need to maintain the best relationship with. Japan, in particular, understands that Taiwan is the first target that China has–after Hong Kong. Japan understands that if China gets rolling then they won’t stop. So, Japan understands the precarious position that they are in. We also need to be doing what we can to mitigate the impacts of China’s “Road and Belt Initiative.” China pretty much encircles India, now, with military bases.
Garrit: There have been some calls from many in the Republican Party–especially recently with President Trump–to increase trade tariffs with China and increase trade tariffs to “protect US jobs.” What are your thoughts on trade tariffs? Do you think we need to take a more free-market/free-trade approach to international trade?
Keith: I think that you’ve seen the decline of globalism over the last few years. I think it started probably a decade ago. The decline of globalism is real. I think it’s going to be natural. I think–now–we see that globalism is falling apart as national interests take hold–certainly this Russia/Ukraine conflict is going to do more of that. It’s going to make people aware that we–particularly the United States–need to be self-sufficient in more areas–not only energy but with things like rare earths and lithium for our batteries. So, those things that are crucial to our economy, we need to be more self-sufficient in.
Garrit: Shifting our focus back to domestic policy. I’m sure you’re aware of rising gas prices–and really the rising prices of everything else. I want to get your thoughts on how we can best combat inflation?
Keith: Well, we’ve got too much money sloshing around our economy. We have increased the money supply so dramatically, particularly during COVID years, in the last two years that we’ve got too many dollars chasing too few resources. So, we could be energy independent, but we choose not to be by federal government policy. It’s ludicrous. We just need to lower the regulations. So, there are lots of things that the federal government can do. The first thing we’ve got to do is absorb all of this spare cash that’s sloshing around the economy. Regardless of high energy prices or high food prices, if we lose the reserve currency status of the US dollar around the world, things are going to be a whole lot more expensive for Americans because we won’t have other nations funding our lifestyle for us.
Garrit: There’s also the issue of the national debt. The national debt has reached over $30 trillion. Whenever we talk about lowering the debt and the deficit, we have to talk about what spending we want to decrease. When we look at what really fuels the debt, there are three glaring sources. Unfortunately, they’re the third rails of American politics–it’s Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. How do you suppose we can decrease the deficit and debt? While also addressing those “third rails.”
Keith: The first thing we need to do is set aside what the left is going to say about us. We’re not going to put grandma out on the street, and we’re not going to have kids going hungry. That’s not going to be the case. With that being said, we have 89 different means tested programs that support–what we call–the safety net. That’s 89 separate means tested programs, costing well over a trillion dollars, that we need to look at and simplify. Therein lies the problem, because every single government program has a constituency. Ronald Reagan said, “the closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a government program.” Those programs have a constituency; those people don’t want to lose that program, because that is part of what they receive from the government. So, we have got to simplify and make sure that we focus on the basics of the safety net–which are the elderly, poor, and the young. Those are the things that we need to do. We need to start taking a really hard look at the non-discretionary funding–which is what you’re talking about. The discretionary funding will go down rapidly if our interest rates go up, because the interest on the national debt will increase so much that non discretionary spending will go from a major part of the budget to almost all of the budget–if we’re not careful. It’s got to be examined, because that $30 trillion that you talked about–if we start paying exorbitant interest rates on it–is going to soak up a lot of the federal budget.
Garrit: How do you think we can balance out these international problems with our domestic problems?
Keith: Well, I’m not sure what you mean by balance, because we’ve got to handle both. We are the arsenal of democracy; we are the defenders of freedom. We have got to do both. There is just no doubt about it. If America falls, the world is in for some dark days. So, I think there is nothing that we cannot address. We’ve got to address all of these issues–not that we can do everything. We’ve got to address them in ways that protect freedom around the world, and certainly for our own country because we’ve got some really serious issues with freedom in America. Our first amendment rights are being trashed every day. So, we’ve got to do both. We’ve got to restore liberty in America, and we’ve got to support Liberty around the world. Both are important.
Garrit: For clarification, what I meant was that you have some people who say that we should strictly stick to domestic policy, focus on American citizens only, and not worry about what’s going on in other countries like Ukraine or the Middle East.
Keith: The first focus is domestic, both the area of liberty and then the fiscal area. Those have got to be our priorities, because if we fall, those other people don’t have anywhere to go and nothing to fall back on. So, once we handle that, we’ve got to continue to engage in the world.
Garrit: Do you have any final things that you’d like to say as we end the interview?
Keith: Yeah, I think these are days that we’ve got to be really careful. Because of that debt and the international turmoil, the United States must remain the superpower of the West that defends freedom, advocates for freedom, and supports freedom around the world. There could be dark days ahead of us, and I think that a strong economy, a strong military, and strong families are all important for the future of America and the world.