President Obama has doubled down on his original 2008 campaign promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Fewer than 100 prisoners – suspected to be terrorists – are housed at the unique facility in Cuba.
Our guest for “This Week” is U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler. ABC 17’s Joey Parker starts his conversation with the congresswoman by asking how she feels about the president’s plans to close Gitmo.
This is a transcript of the conversation:
Vicky Hartzler: It would be foolish to close Guantanamo. I led a Congressional delegation there. I’ve seen for myself how it is run and operated and it’s the perfect place for terrorists. We don’t want to bring them here. They don’t need to be in our backyard. And, we need to make sure they don’t re-engage in the battle.
Joey Parker: Now, some would argue if someone tried to free them for example, wouldn’t it be a little harder for us to protect the area at Guantanamo Bay than say in Kansas?
Vicky Hartzler: Well, actually it’s a good place to house them because it is an island. And we have a naval base there. So, it’s surrounded by water. It would be very difficult to access it to try to help somebody to escape. And if they did escape, they’d have a lot of water (laughs).
Joey Parker: Right.
Vicky Hartzler: Whereas we don’t want them in Kansas. We don’t want them in our backyard because then you’re inviting terrorists to come into our neighborhoods to try to potentially free them. And as we have seen, even in maximum security prisons, sometimes prisoners escape and we don’t want them in our neighborhoods.
Joey Parker: Speaking of national security; our veterans. We’ve had issues with the VA, of course nationally, and even here in Mid-Missouri. This is something you’ve taken up, isn’t it?
Vicky Hartzler: Well, veterans are so important to all of us and they deserve the best care possible. So, that is a very high priority for me. I just came from the VA hospital. I try to get there on a regular basis, and my staff certainly does, to see how things are going. And there’s a lot of good news, uh, with the Truman VA. They are ranked 25 out of 142 veteran, uh, hospitals as far as access to care. They’re ranked number 40 overall in customer satisfaction out of 142. The veterans I speak to speak very highly of the care there. Having said that, with some of the issues with the past, they have taken proactive steps to address those. And, it was very rewarding to see a lot of the positive things going on there.
Joey Parker: I know we have had some viewers who’ve had some issues, some veteran viewers (or viewers who are veterans, I guess I should say) and we’ve forwarded them to your office and you’ve been able to help them, so we appreciate that.
Vicky Hartzler: Well, it’s a high priority and we have a wonderful staff person, Janna Worsham, who deals exclusively with VA issues and helping our veterans. So, if you do have an issue please let us know and we’re happy to go to bat for those veterans and see what we can do to help them.
Joey Parker: You also just returned from Israel, not too long ago.
Vicky Hartzler: I did. I was asked to participate in this trip where we not only got to visit with Benjamin Netanyahu and the defense minister, but we also got to see the David Slaying and Iron Dome Missile Defense System and tour the factory where it’s being made. And, this is a very critical asset, not only for Israel, but for us potentially as well. Israel is our best friend in the area and certainly an important ally. And, they are surrounded by some bad neighbors. So we need to do everything we can to assist and support them as they are certainly supporting us and the goals of democracy and freedom in the world.
Joey Parker: You also just filed to run again for your seat.
Vicky Hartzler: I did and I feel very privileged to serve the good people of the 4 th District. And I want to continue the fight for them and for our nation. You know, we have a lot of potential in this country, but yet we have a lot of challenges too. So, I wanna continue to take the commonsense ideas of this, this district and the good people here to Washington so we can hopefully get them passed so we can move forward, grow our economy and have a strong national defense.
Joey Parker: It’s an exhausting job; you’re not tired.
Vicky Hartzler: Oh, no. No. I have a wonderful staff that supports me and, and we work very hard for the people of this area, but the people here work hard and deserve the best.
Joey Parker: And while we’re on the topic of running for office, this is an election unlike anything I’ve ever known in my years. And, most of the senior folks I talk to say the same thing. What do you think about it overall?
Vicky Hartzler: I would agree. It’s, uh, it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen, but, you know, the people’s voices are being heard and the process is working out. And, we still have the best process, in America, of any country in the world, uh, where people’s ideas are beginning to be heard and their voices are beginning to be registered at the ballot box. I don’t know how it’s all gonna end, but uh, but it’ll still be good. America has many bright days ahead and a lot of good people running.
Joey Parker: Is it too early to ask you who you’re supporting?
Vicky Hartzler: I, I’m not supporting one particular candidate because I believe the American people should determine that. And, their voices are being heard and the field is being narrowed down. So, we’ll see. Next Tuesday is a very big day for Missouri. So here in Missouri, we’ll have our say.
Joey Parker: And if it’s Trump, I have to ask you this. If it’s Trump, do you support Trump? Would you?
Vicky Hartzler: I would support any of the Republican candidates because I think we understand what needs to take place to grow our economy, to create jobs and reprioritize the national defense. And, I think that’s the most important thing we should be doing according to the Constitution.
Joey Parker: I’m not gonna press the issue anymore. We’ll talk about it, I’m sure, in the months to come. Representative Hartzler, thank you very much for joining us.
Vicky Hartzler: You bet. Thank you, Joey.