HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.—A California Republican member of Congress who was once a senior speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan is in the running for secretary of state in the new Trump administration, and he has some clear ideas on what he will do if he’s chosen.
“America has to be an example to others, a country that stands for principles, freedom, and things that relate directly to ordinary people and their lives throughout the world in a positive way,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in an interview at his office on Nov. 28.
“We should not keep quiet when gangsters and dictators throughout the world are oppressing and murdering their own people.”
As of Monday evening, Rohrabacher was in last place in a Breitbart online poll asking who Donald Trump should choose to be secretary of state, behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, former CIA Director David Petraeus, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Rohrabacher was first elected to Congress in 1988 and is now in his 13th term representing California’s 48th District, which includes the long coastline of Orange County. He’s been known as “the surfing congressman,” and has a large surfboard mounted on the wall of his Huntington Beach office.
The congressman served as Reagan’s assistant press secretary during his 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns and was a senior speechwriter for the president for eight years. He was one of the speechwriters for Reagan’s famous speech in Berlin calling upon Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”
He has also been a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) throughout his career, pushing for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and co-sponsoring four separate House resolutions condemning forced organ harvesting from Chinese prisoners of conscience: House Concurrent Resolutions 188 and 304, and House Resolutions 605 and 343.
“There is no enforcement whatsoever of safeguards that will make sure that we know that, if someone’s getting a kidney transplant, that [the kidney] didn’t come from a Falun Gong practitioner who was thrown into a jail and murdered exactly when that kidney was ordered,” said Rohrabacher.
“We have to stop that, and that would certainly be high on my priority list [as secretary of state].”
Rohrabacher has proposed creating an alliance between the like-minded nations of Japan, Russia, India, and the United States in order to check China’s power and influence, according to a report by Breitbart.
The congressman would also like to renegotiate trade rules with China in a more “balanced” way.
“What we have done for the last 30 years with China, 40 years actually, we have built the economy and an economic structure and created more and more wealth, but the wealth was then controlled by a tiny clique of people,” he said.
Rohrabacher said that it is in the interest of the United States and other nations to focus more on human rights with foreign leaders such as the heads of the CCP, and to let the world clearly know what is discussed. This would send a message to not only the leaders of a country but also to its regular citizens, that the American people are siding with people who want a freer society and a more peaceful world.
“It’s in our interest in a way, but it’s also the moral thing to do,” he said.
“If I was secretary of state, any type of trip I had to Beijing, I would also make sure that I would visit political prisoners and visited the Falun Gong and other people who are struggling,” the congressman said. “If the government didn’t want us to do that, I wouldn’t go.”
Rohrabacher said that in recent decades, Americans have been drifting away from the spiritual traditions of their past. This has made it more difficult for the average American to identify with Chinese citizens who do not have freedom of belief.
“We need to speak up, those of us, whether I’m secretary of state or a member of Congress, or whether I’m just someone who’s a good citizen. Even those people who don’t believe in God should understand the importance of freedom of religion,” he said.