Rep. Denny Rehberg said in an interview with the Havre Daily News that he thinks the state needs and wants a new philosophy in the U.S. Senate.
Rehberg, a Republican, has announced that he will challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., in the 2012 election
He said he wants to provide a contrast with Montana’s senior senator, Democrat Max Baucus. Rehberg said that is an extension of the voice of the voters when they, in Montana and across the country, elected a mass of Republicans to state governments and gave the GOP the majority in the U.S. House.
“That’s just a step in the right direction,” he said. “Now, I think it’s incumbent upon us to at least have a differing position in the Senate as opposed to two guys voting the same, supporting the principles that have gotten us into this mess, and supporting Barack Obama, to having a contrast of philosophies.”
He said the situation the country now is climbing out of — the recession that started in 2008 at the end of the administration of President George W. Bush — is showing the failed approach that he wants to change. The Democratic majority from four years ago, especially after President Obama took office two years ago, had the power to control what was coming out of the Congress to fix the economy, and it did not work.
“We’ve tried Jon and Max’s and, frankly, Barack Obama’s approach, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and (former Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, and it was this: Try to spend your way into prosperity,” he said.
He said he wants a different approach — he listed as an example the first bill he sponsored this session, proposing a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government balance its budget.
“That’s what I’m trying to explain to people as I travel around Montana, is there are two different visions of America’s future,” Rehberg said. “One is a government that’s stronger, more involved in our lives, a government solution; or get out of the way and let small business create the new economy.
“And I think the majority of Montanans would believe or support my position, as opposed to the two guys that are there supporting Barack Obama and Harry and Nancy,” he added.
He said people have asked him if his being elected would only amount to canceling out Baucus’ vote.
“No, actually I think he’ll make me a better senator and I’ll make him a better senator,” Rehberg said.
He said that bipartisanship includes hearing different views, rather than only looking at one side — something he said was common in the last few years with one-party control of Washington.
That will include discussing lessening government. While some functions, like defense, fire fighting and law enforcement, have to be provided by the government, for the most part it should get out, Rehberg said.
“Max will have to sit down and hear an opposing side and work with what I think is the position of the majority of Montanans,” he said. “I think that Montanans want government kind of out of their lives.
“We don’t want to be necessarily governed from the right; we don’t want to be governed by the left; we don’t want to be governed by the center. We want self-governance, to be left alone to the best of our ability.”