tv NBC10 Issue NBC February 7, 2016 11:30am-12:01pm EST
>> you don't vote for change. you fight for change. >> a democrat wants a rematch. he's hoping to take on senator pat tumi for a second time. he believes he can beat the conservative u.s. senator, but two other democrats stand in his way. today its sestaks's chance to convince voters he has what it takes. >> today we hear from democratic candidate for u.s. senate, joe sestak, a former admiral and u.s. congressman is running against two other democrats for the party's nomination. sestak will take on the mayor of
bradock. some observers say his campaign has been taking on steam as he positions himself as the anti-establishment candidate. he recently endorsed bernie sanders, calling him an innovator. and the former chief of staff of governor, tom wolf, you may recall she lost to wolf in the go governor race. she has endorsed hillary clinton. and the winner takes on pennsylvania's freshman senator, pat toomey. the recent polls puts him in front with sestak coming the closest. sestak narrowly lost to toomey in 2010. and admiral sestak, thank you for being here. we want to start out of the gate with the central question of your candidacy in this race.
why you think you make a better candidate to take on the incumbent than the other two democrats in the field. >> my whole life has been about service. i left high school here and went off to the navy. i got to walk on the ground. i toured early in afghanistan. i served as president clinton's direct policy, and i was most proud about being called dad. when my four-year-old daughter got brain cancer, i needed out to take care of her. because of the wonderful health care in the military, i came back home here and ran for congress to fight for the affordable care act so everyone had the opportunity i did. we kept our office open seven days a week until late at night because of the recession. we wanted to serve 18,000 people who walked in that door. that's four times more than any other congressional office. i did narrowly lose, but i didn't become a lobbyist. i wanted to serve again.
the bottom line is, i want to serve people and help them instill that they can have their children have the opportunity mine have had. >> it sounds like a personal mission for you is what i'm hearing from all of this. some of the latest polls, not that recent, but back from the fall, show you ahead of your democratic rivals in a challenge against toomey. though still behind the incumbent, how much stock do you put in the horse race? how closely are you watching? >> i only watch one thing, what can i bring to the table to help people. it's why i did the walk against pennsylvania. i held up my combat boots in front of independence hall. every day as i walked the miles, i did an event for seniors. when i was in congress i was called the most productive congressman of my class by the majority leader. 19 pieces of bipartisan
legislation we passed that helped our seniors and helped cut education cost. all this time i focus on one thing, people. they'll reward you if they believe you're accountable to them. >> if we think about the primary fight you're up against right now, it's fedderman and mcbeginty. from where you're sitting, some observers see fedderman has traction. is he the stronger of opponents? >> again, when i was doing the walk across pennsylvania, i said anybody who wants to get in should. for me, again, to me it's not a horse race. this is about people. and i mean that. i stood in front of independence hall and said we're in a fight for the soul of america, we, the people. i believe that every day. we just drove here from allentown. i leave here to go do an event on health care. if you're fighting on the issues, you'll gain the trust of
the people to go to washington and do what they need. >> sounds like you're fighting your own campaign and working to make it about the message you're trying to get out there. all of this occurs in context. how many people who follow pennsylvania politics are aware of your background and some of -- to the extent of which you may have angered some party leaders back in 2010 with your run at that time? how are your relationships with party leaders and with the party as a whole in 2016? >> look, it's not that i'm anti-establishment. it is true i'm an independent representative of people, but the fact that i could be called the most productive congressman passing 19 pieces of bipartisan legislation so they can work within the establishment. also -- >> are relations with party leadership, do you consider them repaired? where does that stand is what i'm asking. >> i'm going to the state committee. the state committee chairman was just on the phone with me a week
ago. look, we've done 800 events for other people throughout this state. when i didn't win, i didn't want to lobby. i turned down all those rich contracts that are offered in washington d.c. by people, 400 senators took them. and the governor called me and said joe, would you run for governor. i said no. my venstrengths are better suit to the united states senate. the governor and i would talk every few months but what i'm most focussed on is not party. it is truly people. they just want to have the american dream that right now is under siege. >> what about the way the party play play a role in fund raising. where does fund raising stand, and how important is support from the party on that front? >> it's a great question.
when we ran against toomey, we had the largest funding gap because citizens united started that year. outside interest groups gave me a three to one funding gap. we only lost by two. another lost by almost ten. that's why it's important to focus on people. we have more than anyone else running in the primary, but that's because we started early, worked hard. at the end of the day, doing events like today, doylestown on health care is really what matters because people want to know what do you stand for? >> during an election season, admiral, people always talk about attack ads that ended up airing. during your matchup against senator toomey, last time around attack ads were a piece of that. can we expect that this time around as well? >> if pat wants to that yarks that's fine. all i know is i had 5,000
seniors and veterans walk into my office who were hurting. i had people whose homes were going into foreclosure. i will be fighting every day on the positive message of i can be held accountable, and i have results to show it, whether it's in the navy, standing up for your sailors or actually in my district, keeping the office open. it's about people. that's the message. and also, when i get to washington, to accomplish it. >> admiral, i've heard you mention seniors again and again as something that you recall and you worked as a group, you work to serve during your last time in office. i know you spoken about a plan to improve health care in our country. what are the basics of that plan? >> the affordable care act, even though it's not perfect is a great advance. up until it was passed, 165 pennsylvanians were losing their health care every day. now what we need to do to help seniors is let medicare actually negotiate for best prices. if i go to veterans
administration, the cost of a drug is half or less of what medicare can, because they're forbidden to negotiate best prices. our seniors are paying $122 billion over the next years because medicare can't negotiate. i passed the elder abuse act, the first abuse act in 17 years. seniors are a significant part of our population in pennsylvania, and that's why the medicare and social security must be protected. >> when you speak about aca, the affordable care act, also known as obama care, now mention there are some shortcomings in it. >> one of them is that in the house we said if a company had 50 or more employees it had to all of a sudden provide health care. and so companies would start to hire at 50, instead, part-time workers. we didn't have that in the house. that was stuck in by the senate.
in the house we said it should be a certain percentage of the payroll. that's one thing that we need to fix. so the other types of issues that we need to do is to ensure that the growth of the affordable care organizations, there's 140 the first year. now there's 750. those that begin to take care of you for quality of care, not how many times you get reimbursed for a visit, so that soon all general visits to your -- to go to your doctor are free. a number of health care companies are providing that today. it's just beginning. >> we want to go to another topic that has been at the forefront of the nationwide discussion. a topic you would be part of in washington d.c., and that's the issue of gun control, and gun safety in this country. i want to know if you approve of the president's executive order on background checks on that front. >> i do. i wish we would have gotten it through congress and the senate with more courageous people. i also know this. when i commanded a ship that went to the persian gulf as a
navy captain, if you had a gun, i let you bring it aboard if you had your permit. in the afternoons i would tow a sled with the deer on the back for a few hours so the crew could enjoy themselves as they might have here in pennsylvania, but i know this. i don't want my fellow veterans, many of them, police officers, going up against assault weapons. when the clinton administration passed the assault weapons ban, the murder of police officers dropped 22% to zero. there is common sense gun violence prevention measures that we need more courageous people to stand up and fight for. >> swrooel much more coming up. we'll talk about the immigration plan, including the two things sestak believes imgrants need to prove before they can become american citizens.
congressman joe sestak is running for the u.s. senate. sestak hopes to take on pennsylvania's junior senator, pat toomey. first, he, of course, has to win the democratic primary. admiral sestak, you've been talking about bringing immigrants out of the shadows. that's the term we've heard you use. we believe that that should include proof of a job and an english test. how would that work together? >> i'm a big believer in immigration. my pop is an immigrant. i can remember him with eight kids. my mom was a high school math teacher. he said penny for college, penny for food. immigration is rich in our american land here. i believe this. you need a bipartisan pact to
come together. i fought for this when i was in congress, to where we need to secure or borders. i know that south of the border al qaeda was involved for a while in drug trade. i believe this. we need to bring those in the shadows out of the shadows. the undocumented, we should have them go to the back of the line, but out of the shadows on a path to citizenship and have a process and learn english and get in the line and proceed there. >> i want to ask you about that. tension lish test. why is that important? >> we're americans. just like my father came here, he also learned english. we are a society that sows values. when we go around this world and english is heard, i walk off that ship into egypt one day, and right away the naval service
knew i represented america. we value that you all speak that common language. but also value that they keep their own heritage proud of. >> senator toomey recent called the immigration plan a threat to public safety. your response to that, given what you've just said? >> pat toomey has always said no. no, he said, vote to shut government down three times. no, there should be no path to citizenship. i got it, pat, but what is your practical solution to this? look, in a perfect world our bordered would have been secure, but you know what? even rond reagan stood up and did a bipartisan pact in order to do it in his time. if you can have a leader like that on the republican side, why not once again? >> you would be, if this race goes as you hope it will, taking part in a national political dialogue at this point. obviously your race is occurring in that context. one of your opponents has backed clinton, the other sanders.
who are you supporting? >> that's a great question. you know, i worked in the white house, and i worked with mrs. clinton. i think she has the temperament and actually has the personal to be a great commander in chief that our military can respect. i love the idea of bernie sanders bringing in income equality, but when i ran against senator specter, after they asked me to run against him and then when specter switched parties and said sit down, i said no, i'm representing people, i never asked one person organization for an endorsement, for did i endorse anyone. i believe the same thing. i found out that it's not about endorsements of or for people. and i haven't done it in this race either. it's about people. that's the way it was in the navy. take care of yourselves and the mission. that's the way i am. >> no endorsement on the democratic side? >> but great agent, particularly
hillary clinton who got agent orange removed. she did a lot of great things. i knew her. >> back in the national context, you said donald trump being president would be a catastrophe. if you both did win, how would you work with him? >> same way i do in my republican district. my district is 56% republican, 33% democrat. we kept that office open seven days a week. you could come at any time and talk to me. i would handle your problem. i won my second race in a republican district by spending only $28,000 on yard signs by 20 points. we even run that republican district in our state race against toomey. i want to represent republicans, independents and democrats. >> much more to time. we'll talk more when we come back.
pennsylvania candidate, joe sestak. sestak is running against john fedder in this spring's primary. he'd like to take on pat toomey. admiral sestak, you've been outspoken about the recent iran deal, especially the prisoner swap, calling for strict enforcement. how can you see that working? >> the iranian accord is something that stopped iran 30 days from having a nuclear bomb. now they cannot produce one for at least a year, and if we continue to have strong enforcement, up to at least 15 years. i've operated in those persian gulf waters. our ships can't even find the 19 iranian submarines there. we'll have to pull our carrier battle group back. and we can take down the iranian and nuclear infrastructure, but we can only stop it for four years. now we have a chance to actually
get rid of their nuclear weapons peacefully. i learned something in the military. that militaries can stop a problem, but we can't fix a problem. you don't think we fixed iraq, do you? that's something that pat toomey voted for by saying iraq had a nuclear weapons development program. they didn't. >> given your background in the armed forces, some supporters have said you have a stronger foreign policy understanding than do your opponents. is that correct? how will that work for you as we move forward? >> i think there's an absence on both sides of the aisle in the u.s. senate between those who understand foreign policy and military policy 47 republicans signed a letter that said ignore the presidency. let's have a bipartisan pack against the president. on the democratic side of the senate, who could stand up and
with respect to john mccain, say wait a minute, john, this is not right. this iranian accord is actually going to make israel and america more safe. and has the credit to do it. at the end of the day, national security begins at home, and health and education security. that's why i want to be on the health education and pension committee in the senate. >> given the perspective that you have, one thing that's been a hot topic around the philadelphia region, veterans affairs hospitals, veterans in general, taking proper care of our veterans. what is your plan doing moving forward trying to improve things for people who have served our country? >> i'm going to be there every day for our veteran. every veteran's day and almost every armed forces day, i go into a prison and speak with our veterans. i went to a maximum security prison this november 11th and spoke to 150 vets, and i sat there and talked with them for several hours and told them
they're not going to be forgotten. when i went to congress, i voted for the largest increase, 10 billion there are for ptsd so vets aren't forgotten. pat toomey voted to send me to war. i was over there in a battle group. he visited my group, and he came home and voted against every veteran's appropriations bill since he was a congressman. i will fight for veterans every day. >> admiral, is it all about money on the veterans front? >> no, it isn't. why do you think i go there there and to the maximum security prisons. the first person i hired on my staff was a former incarcerated person. it's saying you're welcome in more than just the day that you came home. they need jobs. and that's why there's plans like texas does that we should have here in pennsylvania where 27 vets sit in an office and when someone leaves the military, the discharge papers are given to them. they're called up and said let us connect you for a job over to this company that is looking for
you. there's practical ways to help vets. most of all, never forget a vet is double the citizen by having served for us overseas. >> we appreciate your time. thanks for making time for us. appreciate it. and the primary is april 26th. it is a closed primary which means that only people who have registered with a party can vote. last date to register to vote is march 28th. we'll be right back.
that's it for us today. thanks for joining us and have a great sunday. ♪ i had an injury to my neck. it wasn't as serious injury it was a herniated disc. anything that could go wrong went wrong. i've been in the hospital twenty three times since. the bills started to pile up. i had nothing to give. we had nothing in the refrigerator. i would be dead and not sitting here right now if it wasn't for pond lehocky.
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