Tuesday, July 05, 2022

John James, the Michigan GOP’s Rising Star

You can’t choose your crisis: As an Army chopper pilot in Iraq, John James said on May 7, “I didn’t get to pick which call I would take, whether I would take a troops-in-contact call or whether I would take a point-of-origin rocket-attack call. I had to figure out how to do both.” In an online interview with Rick Loughery of the Young Republicans National Federation, James called it good training for confronting the COVID-19 pandemic: “We have a dual obligation,” he said, to “flatten the COVID curve without flatlining our economy.”

As a GOP Senate candidate from Michigan, James refers to his military career at almost every opportunity. An op-ed he wrote in the Detroit News on May 5 carried this headline: “Leaders Should Learn These 3 Rules from West Point.” His campaign’s logo features an Apache attack helicopter in its background. “I don’t want to go to Washington,” he said on February 5, before the coronavirus forced him to suspend public appearances. “I want to go to the swamp about as much as I wanted to go to the desert.”

He really does want to go to Washington, of course—he’s running for the Senate for the second time in two years—but his audience of Livingston County Republicans that evening seemed to appreciate the expression of modesty. Gathered at a lakeside country club about halfway between Detroit and Lansing, just a couple of hours after the Senate acquitted President Trump in his impeachment trial, they listened as James roamed around a podium and, with the fluency of someone delivering a TED Talk, made the case for his candidacy. James mentioned the importance of the Constitution, the value of free speech, and the deficiencies of his opponent, Democratic senator Gary Peters. His lines were polished but also included moments of improvisation, as when he likened “Medicare for All” to “outsourcing our health insurance to people who can’t get a caucus right.” This was a jab at Iowa Democrats, whose bungled vote-counting had dominated the news just a day earlier. James didn’t mention Trump by name at all and brought him up only at the very end, with a veiled reference to the acquittal that turned out to be his biggest applause line of the evening: “I look forward to working with our president in his second term.”
John James by John James Senate campaign is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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