MOREHEAD CITY — Cops go into something to find a solution, said Frank Palombo, the former police chief for New Bern.
And that’s why the Republican is now hoping voters in Carteret and across Congressional District 3 send him to Washington, D.C.
Mr. Palombo will be running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, who has been in office since 1994, in the GOP primary on May 8.
Mr. Palombo spoke with an audience of about 40 on Tuesday at the train depot about the need to secure the border, rewrite the tax code, adhere by the U.S. Constitution, get the government out of the way of the free market and make sure the U.S. remains the world’s leader.
“The free market will get us out of the financial disaster, but the problem is, we’ve got to get government out of the way,” he said.
Mr. Palombo said the country was able to defeat the British Empire in the Revolutionary War and the Germans, Italians and Japanese in World War II. “You know why we were successful?” he asked. “Because we’re Americans.”
Now, he said he sees “real fear” in the eyes of constituents with the direction the nation is heading and believes its future rests on the 2012 election. Either President Barack Obama has to be beaten, he said, or the Republicans have to take the House and Senate in such numbers that he is made irrelevant.
Rep. Jones has faced several challenges from both Republicans and Democrats since he took office, and like many of them, Mr. Palombo criticized Rep. Jones’ longevity in office.
He said some people in the beltway have lost touch with their districts and no longer understand life outside the capital.
“We’ve got people who have been in government their entire life,” he said. “They have no idea what we do on a daily basis.”
If he were elected, he said he would regularly return to the district and meet with the chairmen of county boards as well as mayors to develop, and champion, an agenda.
“My job as a representative is to lobby for you, and convince my colleagues that these are the right things to do,” he said.
One thing he would like to see put in place is term limits. If he were elected, he said he would only serve for three terms. Terms are two years. “I want to go to Washington because this country needs leadership, and then I want to go home,” he said.
Mr. Palombo also held a question-and-answer session with audience members, several wearing red Tea Party Patriots shirts. He shared the concern of one member who said he was worried about Social Security, and said the nation had to make a commitment to the program.
“We cannot turn our back on people who have contributed their entire life,” he said.
When it came to programs such as welfare, he said it wasn’t that he was opposed to helping others who needed it, but that it wasn’t the responsibility of the federal government. States, or even church groups or individuals, should be making those decisions, he said.
Mr. Palombo emphasized what he considered unnecessary bureaucracy at the federal level, from the Department of Education to the Department of Energy to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“A number of departments need to be evaluated,” he said.
Regarding illegal immigration, Mr. Palombo said the U.S. should first secure its border. Then, he said, it needs to address the illegal immigrants already here. He said he didn’t think it possible to round up the 11 million already in the country and send them home, but the U.S. also shouldn’t reward those people who broke the law by giving them immunity. Rather, he said, the illegal immigrants should be sent out of the country when officials come in contact with them.
Ron Manning, an audience member from Newport and a member of the Crystal Coast Tea Party, said he liked what Mr. Palombo had to say. “He gets my vote,” Mr. Manning said, adding that he believed the challenger had a chance to beat Rep. Jones.
Eric Broyles, also a Tea Party member, said Rep. Jones in some respects has done a good job, but he hasn’t taken the lead on anything. In particular, he said he expects his congressman to start impeachment proceedings against President Obama. “The Constitution is being stripped away, but congressmen are not protecting the people that put them there,” he said.
Prior to the meeting, Mr. Palombo was introduced by Capt. Steve Miller, owner of Crystal Coast Boats, who rented the train depot for the occasion. Capt. Miller said he met Mr. Palombo several months ago and that he “won me over with his frankness and honesty, and his convictions seem to be right in line with the rest of us,” he said. “We need to put people in Washington that represent us.”