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Stephen Daniels of The Talk of Santa Clarita recently interviewed Republican congressional candidate Mike Garcia. We’ve put together some highlights from the interview to help our readers get to know the former fighter pilot looking to represent the 25th Congressional District.

Garcia’s experience as a fighter pilot

Daniels: So, you’re 43. You fought in the Iraq War – which one?

Garcia: The second one. I’m much too young for the first, I was on the U.S.S. Nimitz in 2003, it was based out of Lemoore, California, which is just a few hours north of here. We cruised west to be a part of the first six months, six and a half months of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Daniels: What’s that like, being in combat? Were you scared, at all?

Garcia: It’s a surreal feeling. I know that sounds cliché to say it’s surreal, but it truly is surreal. At that point I had been in training – I graduated from Annapolis [U.S. Naval Academy] in ’98 and went to flight school at the very beginning of 2000 – so by the time I was in war, I’d been training for three years. I was still relatively new, right, and I had just learned how to fly the Super Hornet F/A-18E maybe a year and a half before that. So you’re a younger, mid-twenties pilot, not a lot of experience, but the training the Navy gives you leading up to that is so intense that when you get into an environment that we saw in Iraq, it was less of a threat than some of the training environments that we were seeing. You’re always scared. You always treat everything with respect. When you’re getting shot off the front end of an aircraft carrier at night, you’re never at ease. It’s not like flying a Cessna around the L.A. basin.

The Iraq War

Daniels: Knowing what you know now, would you support the war? Would you say, “Let’s go into Iraq, it’s a good idea”?

Garcia: Yeah.

Daniels: Really?

Garcia: The timing’s always debatable, the method of how you go in is always debatable, and it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and throw stones and critique the way a war is won. You can look back at Gettysburg and go, “Wow, General Lee, he really screwed that one up.” And he did, right? He screwed it up, and it’s easy to do that. We all do that, right? So, first of all, the thing that I have a lot of respect for and I’m really cautious about is – and this is relevant today, as well – when someone asks you, “How do you feel about this?” if you don’t have access to the full picture, if you can’t see all of the data that went into that decision, it’s interesting what you think and it’s interesting what you feel – and even now, I don’t have all of the data, obviously, that went into the president’s decision-making matrix back in 2003 – there’s a lot of different briefs and a lot of different levels, and that paints the full picture. That’s why they’re there. They’re there to make those decisions, and sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong, and it’s a difficult call.

Garcia’s immigrant family

Daniels: You’re a son of immigrants?

Garcia: Yeah. My father and my grandfather. So, my grandfather immigrated here in 1959. My dad was nine years old at the time. He was the oldest of five children. They moved to Filmore initially and then moved down to San Fernando Valley. Obviously, [they] did it legally, [which was a] big deal. My grandfather was an entrepreneur, he was a business owner down in Mexico, clean slate, came up here, restarted, did it for all the right reasons, to build a better life for his young family, started a construction company called Sonora Construction, which ended up being one of the bigger construction companies in the 80s and 90s down in San Fernando Valley. I got to go work with him, work with my dad and him laying curb and gutters and working concrete and got to see the value of the hard work and see my grandfather lead a company that was flourishing, at the time, and he was getting rewarded for it.

Daniels: You’ve seen the American Dream basically happen.

Garcia: Yeah, basically it. That truly laid the seeds for me, mentally, in terms of how I viewed things like entitlements and hard work and how do you get things in life. My dad, [when I was] a young kid, he’d drive me around Bel Air when I was still living up here in Santa Clarita, we’d go down, and we’d go look at the big houses. We never got out of the car, we’d just drive around. He’d go, “What do you think he does for a living?” or “What do you think she does for a living?” and we’d have the conversations about “How did they get there?” and what led to that, and I included, “Hey, he was a trust fund baby, didn’t do anything in his life, just was in the right place and had the right parents, and now he’s rich.” But that was the foundation of what I saw as forming work ethic. “How do you move up in life? Through hard work.”

Social programs

Garcia: Here’s where I land on all the programs. There should be safety nets, but I don’t want the federal government to be the safety net. I want the churches, I want the local community nonprofits, I want our neighbors to be the safety net because a dollar that’s spent at the federal government level on food stamps – by the time it gets to the level where someone’s actually using those stamps and getting merchandise as a result of that – the inefficiency lost through that whole process is staggering. There’s organizations like the local Veterans Collaborative group out here. I know that when we put money into that, that money pivots right away to someone who needs that safety net. Healthcare becomes a bigger problem because of the cost and the magnitude of it.

Daniels: It is one-sixth of the economy. Like the Affordable Care Act or not, I always tell people, it was going to hit some bumps no matter what. [When you’re dealing with] one-sixth of the economy, no matter what happens, there’s going to be ramifications.

Garcia: I look at that, at a macro level, how do you download the healthcare problem to the lowest levels possible so that it’s more efficient. Any time you layer anything up, it becomes more and more inefficient, and the federal government is a great example of that.

President Donald Trump

Garcia: I support the president. I think he’s a good president.

Daniels: His tax cut created a trillion-dollar deficit. You talk about fiscal responsibility.

Garcia: That’s one area where Republicans are criticizing the president, right? And I do. I don’t like the big spending. The budget bill that was passed yesterday, I haven’t had a chance to go through the details of it myself, it was passed Thursday. I don’t like that they lifted the spending limit again, but let’s talk about the president. We had a guy that was not part of the old institution come in and say, “This is what I’m going to do.” Two years later, he’s done most of it.

Daniels: What has he done, exactly? Tell me what he’s accomplished.

Garcia: The economic stimulus is a big deal.

Daniels: It could be argued that he is basically – and I’m not saying this is the case – but it could be argued that Barack Obama hit a home run and [Trump] is currently running the bases. If you look at GDP growth, it was actually higher under Obama, if you look at the amount of jobs created per quarter, it was actually higher under Obama. Obama, in the same amount of time, created more jobs. That’s true. I’ll show you the facts.

Garcia: In the same amount of time, but that was on the heels of a recession.

Daniels: This was the last two years of Obama’s administration.

Garcia: I’d like to see that data. I don’t think you’re wrong, but I don’t think it’s that metaphor. I don’t think it was Obama hitting a home run and Trump running the bases, I think what the president has done is he’s taken the handcuffs off of the economic stimuli that were always there, there were always levers that could’ve been pulled. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act in 2018 was a big deal. It translated into the lowest unemployment, the highest GDP that we’ve seen in a long time.

Garcia’s voting record

Daniels: Let’s talk a little bit about the race itself. Honestly, this is kind of a real make-or-break moment for this election, for this district. We’ve had Republicans for as far back as I can remember, Buck McKeon, in particular, for years and years and years, and then Steve Knight coming in, and then Katie Hill comes in. The demographics actually changed out here, and some said it’s still a conservative district, some said it’s a Democratic district now, some say it’s a purple district. I think this election’s going to define what it is, really. Let me ask you, first off, about your voting record. Some Facebook trolls have been accusing you of not voting in three, four different elections, is that correct?

Garcia: They’re accusing me of not voting in three elections. Here’s the record. For the record, I did vote in 2018. I voted for Knight. I voted through an absentee ballot, and I did so in 2014. Neither of those were counted. I’ve spent a lot of hours with the county election offices and the county registrar’s office and they did confirm that the ballots are there. They were processed late, okay, so in the case of 2018, election day was [Nov. 8], my ballot was processed on [Nov. 17]. So voters out there, here’s the lesson learned. I’m embarrassed by it because I consider myself to be an educated realist, but here’s the deal: if you vote by mail, you won’t get a notification. If your signature doesn’t match, they’ll send you a letter that says, “Your signature didn’t match, redo the signature, make it look like what’s on your driver’s license, send it back in, your vote will count.” If you send it the day before the election, the day of the election, and even if it’s there, it may not get processed in time. When that happens, they don’t send you a notification that says, “Your vote didn’t get counted.” Until I was in this race and became subject to all this… I was as shocked as anyone else when I saw that record.


Daniels: You support Trump. Would you vote for him again in the election if there was another Republican candidate running against him?

Garcia: Yes. I would vote for Trump. The results — to me, results matter, and I think that is what this district is thirsting for: someone that’s going to say what they’re going to do, but is also going to close in on those actions, and you can’t argue with the results that we’re getting.

Daniels: Have you ever voted for a Democrat?

Garcia: No.

Daniels: Do you have any Democratic ideals?

Garcia: No, not ideals. There’s issues where you can squint and go, “Hey, that sounds liberal of you,” right? Climate change is one of those.

Daniels: I wouldn’t say that about you, Mike.

Garcia: There are issues, once in awhile, that you come across and, in a vacuum, you formulate your own opinions and then you go to find out, you know, the Democrat Party is that way, right? It’s not very often, but you know, there’s things out there, but the Democrat Party ideals — no.

Daniels: Do you believe in reaching across the aisle?

Garcia: Absolutely. I think as Americans, as legislators, they have a responsibility to compromise. That’s why I love John Adams. Most of my reading is the founding fathers, the founding brothers, 1776. They, in some cases, really didn’t like each other, but they worked together, they figured it out, they got through the process, and there’s a lot of opportunity for that.

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Highlights from Mike Garcia’s interview with The Talk of Santa Clarita
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Highlights from Mike Garcia’s interview with The Talk of Santa Clarita
Stephen Daniels of The Talk of Santa Clarita recently interviewed Republican congressional candidate Mike Garcia. We’ve put together some highlights from the interview to help our readers get to know the former fighter pilot looking to represent the 25th Congressional District.
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The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer
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  1. Dave R Posted on August 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Surprisingly fair interview for a local outlet.

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