Danielle Solzman: First, thank you for joining the Kentucky Democrat for an interview today. First and foremost, thank you for your service to the country. How are things going and how busy has the statewide elections kept you?
Andrew Horne: Thanks for taking interest Danielle.
With my law practice, family commitments and my work with VoteVets.org, Steph and I are very busy but we still have made time for a few political events. Now that we are past Labor Day and VoteVets is gearing up for the Petraus Report I am sure it will pick up even more.
DS: When did you decide to run for Congress in 2006 and what factored into that decision?
AH: I decided very late in December 2005 because I knew we needed a change in DC and could no longer tolerate the rubber stamp Northup was holding for Bush. At the time no one had shown an interest in getting in and the general talk on the street was that she was not beatable. I knew we could take her out because if someone like me was disgusted with her and Bush I thought there would be a lot more other people out there.
DS: During the primary campaign, you had a lot of national press, national bloggers, and the endorsements of Col. Hackett and Gen. Clark. Knowing what you do now, would you have done anything different?
AH: While in hindsight I might have tweaked here and there I can honesty say there is very little I would have done differently. I had the full encouragement of my family, great passionate supporters, and the support of a growing Vets movement. Steph and I actually enjoyed the process right up to the last day of the primary.
DS: You're a military veteran so how do you feel the Iraq situation needs to be handled. With our armed forces stretched so thin, what should happen in the event that America does something about Iran?
AH: There are no good answers in regard to Iraq only a list of bad ones. However, we must get beyond partisanship and think first of our children's future. Whatever we do we must have as solid a consensus as possible. The recommendations of the Iraq Study Group are a good place to start the debate, but the ultimate long term goal must be to remove all of our troops from Iraq. Because of the way we entered Iraq and have handled it since, any residual U.S. presence will be seen as an occupation by most Iraqis and the majority of the Arab world. In that vein, it will appear coerced if we were "asked" by the Iraqi government to keep troops in Iraq while we still had thousands of combat troops there. There should be no discussions concerning permanent bases in Iraq.
Concerning your question about Iran, in every matter concerning relations between nations the use of military force should only be a last resort. We must pursue every diplomatic and economic option. In the case of Iran we quite frankly have very few military options. We do not have the manpower to fight another ground war and the effect of air power alone is very limited - just look at "shock and awe." Under these circumstances we must avoid a shooting war at all costs because our choices are either a small interdiction to address the support to the Iraqi Shi'ia Militias, which is akin to stirring-up a hornet's nest, or an attempt at a knock out blow. Neither option would do much for our standing in the world and would not be in our long term National Security interests.
DS: Did you ever outreach to bloggers on Kos or MyDD during your campaign? Also, do you have any thoughts on the way that blogs have revolutionized politics altogether?
AH: During the campaign I never personally initiated contact directly with any bloggers. I had some contact me and I know my supporters were very active in that regard.
I was and still am impressed with the way the blogs can disseminate information in a way that mobilizes people. However, there are blogs where the participants are simply talking but not getting involved. The important synergy is between the blogs and grass roots that can turn words into passion and then into action. A good example is the Iraq Summer Campaign. The blogs disseminated information across the state and the nation so that a small group of people in Berea, KY knew they were not alone in opposing the war and challenging McConnell to bring a responsible end to it. I have no doubt that some of those 100 people in Berea were there because they heard about 800 people in Louisville, KY or 400 in Boise, Idaho, or one of the other 40+ locations across the nation. That would not have happened without the blogs. The people in Berea did not hear about other events through the traditional media and would not have heard or seen the passion without YouTube and the blogs. I believe this trend will only continue as people who participated in the Iraq Summer Campaign and other similar causes adapt these tactics to their own agenda. I would call it non-linear activism.
DS: Do you think the state party is heading in the right direction?
AH: I am not a party insider so I do not know a lot of details. I am hearing generally positive comments and the very few negative I hear are easily attributable to growing pains and the stresses associated with changing the party in the middle of a very important election. So yes I think the party is heading generally in the right direction.
DS: What about your thoughts on the image of the national party given the perception it gets in the Commonwealth?
AH: The image of the National Democratic Party in Kentucky is a product of the good job [their perception] that the Republican Party has done in assassinating the character of the Party. However, I believe the dishonesty and partisanship shown by the National Republican Party over the last few years has finally worn out its welcome and most Kentuckians are once again identifying with the Democrats.
DS: Do you think it's possible that the Democrats will make even more gains in the US Senate next year?
AH: I believe it is not only possible but probable.
DS: There's a lot of talk about the race to unseat Mitch McConnell. Do you think that it is it too early to start focusing on that race in 2008 or should we be focusing on the statewide elections first?
AH: It is too early to focus on the McConnell 08 race; however, it cannot be ignored completely. Taking him out will not be a superficial or shallow effort and will require considerable "shaping of the battlefield", which the continuing chatter contributes to. Also, the statewide elections will have a significant impact on the McConnell race and should not be seen as entirely separate but as part of a synergistic Campaign to change the state from Red to Blue. That said, we should not put the cart before the horse and allow a distraction with McConnell to bleed energy from the November elections.
DS: I know 2008 is a few months away but are any potential candidates that you see having a good chance to reach the White House?
AH: At this point any of the three democratic front runners could get the nomination and have a very decent shot at winning the White House. However, it is still very early, for example, at this point in the last presidential election cycle Lieberman was the Democratic front runner.
DS: Also, dealing with 2008, do you think that the press starts these elections insanely early?
AH: It seems very early to me, however, they have to sell papers [ads] and if the people were not interested they would not cover it.
DS: Jon Stewart or Bill O'Reilly?
DS: Who would star in The Andrew Horne Story?
AH: I have no earthly idea who would even want to watch "The Andrew Horne Story" let alone play the starring role. But if I have to answer - Stephen Colbert.
DS: On that note, what is your stance on kittens and woodchippers?
AH: A match made in heaven
DS: What three issues in your opinion do you think should be priorities for the Senate and the House?
AH: #1 Healthcare, #2 Responsible National Security Policy #3 [a tie] Education/Sustainable Energy Policy.
DS: What was it like to work with Paul Hackett? Is he done in politics for good or is there a chance that he'll get back into the political arena?
AH: Paul is a friend and fellow Marine so my perspective will be different than most. But in essence he is wide open - what you see is what to get.
Steph and I spent some time with him and his wife Susie this weekend and I think he is going to take a break from politics over the short term.
DS: I know that you are busy being an attorney and all, but given the name recognition you got during the campaign, would you be willing to say that 2006 was not the end of your entrance into the political arena? I guess what I am trying to say is: will you be on the ballot in 2008 or anytime in the near future? Maybe against Mitch McConnell?
AH: If the right race comes around I am not done in politics. Regarding 2008 against McConnell, the encouragement I am getting is humbling but that is a race that should not be taken on lightly. Because of the amount and breadth of support I am getting I will take a very serious look at it, but in the end I will base my decision on what is best for my family and whether my candidacy will be in the interests of the people.
DS: Thanks again for joining the Kentucky Democrat for this interview and
keep fighting the good fight.