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Kari Lake: The Assault on Patriotism and the Fight to Restore the American Dream

“Our border … is in the operational control of narcoterrorists, the cartels … You don’t have to go that far back to remember the Opium Wars. You bring down a dynasty with drugs … They’re hitting us with the drugs pouring in, killing 100,000 or more last year,” says Kari Lake: The Assault on Patriotism and the Fight to Restore the American Dream.

Prior to running, she was a television news anchor for more than two decades. We take a deeper look into her motivations, her policy proposals, and what she sees as an assault on the freedoms that built America.

“What good is that hefty paycheck, what good is that retirement plan, those benefits … if we don’t have a country at the end of the day to enjoy that money in? What good is my retirement if my children don’t have freedom?”

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Jan Jekielek:

Kari Lake, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Kari Lake:

I am so honored to be here, Jan. I’ve watched your interviews for a long time now, and I just feel lucky to be in this chair with you.

Mr. Jekielek:

Very kind. We actually met, I think, in mid-2019 at a live taping of an American Thought Leaders’ episode, if I recall.

Ms. Lake:

That’s right.

Mr. Jekielek:

You were doing some pretty serious soul searching, actually.

Ms. Lake:

Yes. It was one of the many times I’ve been canceled by the Left. I was in the middle of my career, and I think I had a hot mic issue where someone overheard me saying something, which was basically me responding to an attempt to silence the conservative voices, or just voices. There was really an effort to get me off of different outlets, and different social media platforms like Parler. 

My issue was, why? We’re reaching people. Twitter, it was pretty obvious to me way back then, was about censoring. I was trying to get on other outlets to try to reach people who had been censored from Twitter. I wanted to hear their voices as well. I remember being frustrated. I was so excited to meet you, because I really admire The Epoch Times and their fair journalism.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s funny. As you’re talking about this, I almost thought for a second you’re talking about your campaign, but this is long before anything to do with campaign. You have your 22 year job as a Fox affiliate main host at this local Fox affiliate in Arizona. You’re starting to wonder what’s going on. Then I remember, a year after that, you come out with this video where you indict the media.

Ms. Lake:

Yes. When we met I really was really noticing all the censorship, and starting to see that it was getting increasingly hard to speak truth, because the media has been taken over, the corporate media, by Liberals. I mean, 90 per cent of the people working in corporate media are Liberals, some of them hardcore Leftists. 

Look, we’ve got to have ideologies of everybody included. They’re looking at diversity basically based on skin color or country of origin, but they’re not looking at diversity based on ideology. We’ve gotten stuck with 90 per cent of the people running the media being liberals. I’m not opposed to having liberal thoughts. That’s great, but let’s have some conservative thoughts as well.

I was seeing this happen, and then during COVID it really hit like a ton of bricks. I saw that the media was pushing an agenda to push only one side of the COVID story. Any little bit of information that could’ve been helpful, that could’ve helped people get back on to life as normal, that could’ve helped people with their health, was being censored. It was very worrisome. 

This wasn’t just censoring for political reasons. This was censoring when it was coming to people’s health, when it was coming to life or death. This was censoring when it was coming to the life or death of your business, to the life or death of your children’s education. I thought, “Wow. I don’t want to be part of this. I can’t be part of this.” It’s not just unethical. It’s not just unbalanced and biased. It was truly immoral what was happening in journalism during COVID.

Mr. Jekielek:

When did you realize this? For me the moment was when I was watching Governor DeSantis implement policy, which after a while I realized was quite good policy. I was trying to figure out why he was doing something so different than many other states, and certainly the big states. Right? Like Florida-size or larger. When did you actually realize that there’s something really amiss? Was it right at the beginning?

Ms. Lake:

Well, I’m going to be honest. When I started hearing Dr. Fauci speak, my little antenna went up. There was just something about him and the way he was presenting himself that made me think, “This doesn’t feel like he’s on the up-and-up here. It feels like there’s something missing.” You know? I guess it was just my women’s intuition, but I started to really watch him with a little more of a critical eye. 

It seemed like he was pushing against anything that President Trump wanted to do that might help, he was pushing against. There was always a reason for no. When President Trump started throwing out a few ideas about potential treatments that might work, it was met with such hardcore resistance from the media.

I got to thinking, “If this were the other way around, if this was President Obama up there throwing ideas out, the media would’ve run and jumped and explored all of those treatments. “How can we do a story on them? Maybe they would work.” Their disdain for President Trump was so obvious. There was just a complete shutdown and censorship of anybody who wanted to at least dig into and explore these treatments that might save lives. 

That was a really big aha moment, I guess you could say. Another one was during the election when that election was called so quickly in Arizona before the polls had closed, but our understanding was people were still in line voting. That election was called, and I finally just went, “This is really disturbing, what’s going on.”

I did some heavy soul searching, a lot of praying. It was scary to walk away from that job. I was making really good money, 27 years covering Arizona, 22 years as the main lead anchor, the lead news voice in the state. I was making a really healthy and hefty paycheck. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t want to walk away from that. 

It was scary to walk away from that. I did a lot of praying. I just said, “God, I know this is the right thing to do. Please, I’m going to do this. I need you to have my back.” Then I ended up here, which was not in the plans, by the way.

Mr. Jekielek:

Right. I wanted to talk about this. I think there’s so many people out there who saw something increasingly amiss, starting in early 2020. We’re looking at COVID policy, and especially in a lot of the big blue states, they were very frankly authoritarian policies. Right?

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Even if they’re temporary, maybe even for there’s such an emergency that you need it briefly. Right? You can imagine, but they’re still authoritarian policies. Right?

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Basically the power is going to a very, very central place.

Ms. Lake:

Yes. 15 days to slow the spread. I think all Americans were like, “Okay. We can maybe get behind that, if this is really bad,” and then things just didn’t make sense. We did have a couple of good governors. You mentioned DeSantis. 

Kristi Noem I think handled it pretty well, putting the information out, letting the American people understand what was going on, at least to the best of her ability, what she knew, and then saying, “You now know what’s going on. You make the choices for your family, and your life, and your business.”

Mr. Jekielek:

This is what I was going to say. I can’t tell you how many people have told me, “I have a hefty paycheck. I have to care for my family. I saw what was happening was wrong. I saw that the medical information was being misrepresented. I saw doctors being silenced. I saw many things, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t step out.”

Ms. Lake:

Well, what helped me with that was realizing that what good is that hefty paycheck? What good is that retirement plan, those benefits, any perks that came with that job, if we don’t have a country at the end of the day to enjoy that money? What good is my retirement if my children don’t have freedom? That to me was like, “Wow. I will run through every last penny that I have to save this country.” I think more and more people, Jan, are waking up to that. We saw it.

Think of the healthcare workers who were forced out of a job. They were forced to either get the jab or leave. Many of them did get the jab. They didn’t feel they could leave at that time for whatever reason. Maybe it was that they had to put food on the table, and they had to feed their children. Obviously, that’s a stressful, difficult choice to make. 

Others said, “I’m walking away.” I just had somebody reach out and said, “I went through three jobs during all of that. I am not making as much money as I used to make, but you know what? I’ve got my principles intact, and I did the right thing. You know what? My health is intact too.”

Mr. Jekielek:

We knew this was sort of an insane policy, because these were the people that were most likely to have natural immunity. They are in close proximity to people with COVID all the time, so basically all of them had natural immunity, or were likely to, or had innate immunity, and could never get infected. Those are the people you’re going to fire? There were so many examples. Now, in hindsight…

Ms. Lake:

Things that didn’t make sense. The airline workers—talk about being around people and having immunity. They’re around every germ you can imagine all day with their job, and they were being forced to get the jab. None of it made sense, and I decided to walk away. I did not decide to get into politics until after I walked away. When I finally resigned from my job, I put out a video because I wanted the people of Arizona to know why I was leaving. 

I didn’t want to just walk away from that, and disappear, and have them wonder. I wanted them to know, “Look, I’m leaving this career because something is not right. You see it. I see it. I know it.” I put this video out just to let the good viewers who had invited me into their homes for nearly 30 years. I put that out to let them know. What I didn’t expect was it would go viral within a matter of hours.

Mr. Jekielek:

You said you don’t like the direction, if I recall, that the media is going in. The media have been liberal, as you said, for quite a long time, but there’s something different. Right? Something changed.

Ms. Lake:

Something much bigger. I think it went from low-level bias. At least I always felt like I could keep it on the straight and narrow, because I was the last line of defense. When you’re the anchor, you’re reading the stories. You’re talking to the viewer about it. I always felt like I could kind of make sure we were putting out an unbiased product. 

During COVID, and I’m not the only one in the media who felt like, “Wow. There’s no control about what’s being putting out right now. We’re being controlled by the government. We’re being controlled by Fauci.” That’s where I think it went from a little bit on the low scale to, boom, maxing out on just propaganda in a very short amount of time, in a matter of weeks and months.

Mr. Jekielek:

So initially, no interest in politics. I remember you had a very different kind of job actually lined up at the time.

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

But then people came out, this is what I remember you telling me.

Ms. Lake:

I was actually planning to go work and do some media training for an organization that I care deeply about, and that does great things. I thought, “You know, I had a great career. I’m just going to say what a great career I had. 

Chalk it up as that’s the end of my broadcast career, and I’ll move on to something a little more behind the scenes,” which I was totally ready to do, be behind the scenes. Actually, I was kind of looking forward to being behind the scenes after being in the public eye for a long time. It sounded attractive to be behind the scenes.

Then an amazing thing happened. I put that video out. It went viral overnight. Thousands and thousands of messages came in over the course of the next three weeks, month. They were so kind. Really overwhelmingly wonderful positive messages. “Thank you for being honest. Thank you for covering our state so fairly for so many years. Thank you for telling us what’s happening in the media.” 

One of the common threads that was very common, it was like a steady drumbeat, was, “Would you please consider running for office? We need people in politics who we trust, who understand the issues of our state, who understand us. The world’s going to hell in a handbasket, and we trust you to get in there and clean things up.”

At first, I’m going to be honest, I laughed. The first few messages I saw that said, “Get into politics,” I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me? I’m just leaving the corrupt world of media, and they’re suggesting I go into the even more corrupt world, the swamp of politics. They must think I’m insane.” I had zero interest in it, but then it was such a steady drumbeat that I thought, “Wow. Maybe this is God’s way of tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘I freed you up for this.'”

Mr. Jekielek:

Before we jump deeper into issues, because there’s a ton I want to cover with you here, let’s talk about how does God or the divine fit into your picture here?

Ms. Lake:

More and more important every second of every day. I’m so blessed that I was brought up in a household where faith was important. My mother was Catholic. My father was Lutheran, so I got confirmed in both churches. We went to Sunday school every week. That’s how it was back when I was growing up. Pretty much every kid had some sort of a religious foundation, something to base in their life what is right and wrong. I’m so blessed to have grown up in that kind of a family.

Of course, in my 20s and 30s, I kind of strayed away after working a long week, and being busy with the kids. I would just hang out on the weekends with them, but I’ve always felt a connection to God, a very close connection. Interestingly, it was during COVID that I ended up switching churches, because the church that we belonged to was closed for COVID, and open by appointment only. 

That was when I was going through all of this, and really struggling. I remember thinking, “We need to get our butts into a church right now.” I just felt that need, and I ended up stumbling into a different church. That church really opened my eyes and changed my life.

During that COVID time, I was working from home because half of the staff went home, and half stayed at the station just in case we got COVID. We didn’t want to get everybody sick, so I was working from home. I was finding myself listening to pastors on YouTube, and listening to different sermons. 

I was finding myself reading the Bible a lot more, and really leaning on the Bible, which I hadn’t read since I was young, since I’d gone through confirmation. To have all of this life experience from reading the Bible when I was young in confirmation class to, fast forward, now I’m in my 50s. All of that life that has happened, and I find myself opening up the Bible and reading it.

In the meantime, I’m also reading news scripts over here, the Bible here. I’m like, “Wow. In the news scripts are lies. In the Bible I found the truth.” It was really a very powerful period for me spiritually during COVID. I don’t think I’m alone. I think a lot of people have returned and wrapped their arms around, I don’t want to just even call it religion, but around God.

Mr. Jekielek:

Absolutely fascinating to me. One thing I learned, actually, in one of your campaign videos, I had no idea about this, is that you’re one of nine kids. Right?

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

That’s a different way of growing up. I had large family like that as well, but it’s a completely different thing than the typical nuclear family with one or two kids.

Ms. Lake:

I’m the ninth of nine. I’m the last one, so thank goodness my mom was pro-life, because I was the baby. A great way to grow up, because you grow up having to work together. You grow up with adversaries some days, friends other days. You know, one day you might have one sister who’s your closest friend, and the next day you’re fighting with them. At the end of the day, you come together because you’re still family. We had nine kids. Eight girls, and one boy. I have a lot of sisters, and sisters fight differently. Girls fight differently than boys.

That helped me, actually, when I ran in the primary. You know, you have to fight for what you believe in. Growing up in a family where every day there’s going to be some tiff, or some argument, you have to learn how to fight and make sure that you are getting your points across. I think that’s why I’m able to make arguments, and I was able to be very effective in my communication skills, because I had spent a lot of time arguing with my sisters when I was a kid.

Mr. Jekielek:

I also know that your husband has been just generally very supportive. I keep thinking about this. Right? It’s a difficult decision to make, especially a time when there’s economic uncertainty. Between 2020 and 2021 we saw the largest wealth transfer in history probably, by orders of magnitude, something like that happened. A lot of business died. You’re out there giving up a very, very lucrative job. I just want to get your comment on this a little bit about the family support.

Ms. Lake:

My husband has been amazing. Not only is he with me every step of the way on the campaign, but in making that decision to leave. He would see the frustration I felt. I would come out of my office after anchoring the newscast, and I would say, “I can’t do this much longer. How do I continue? I got into journalism to tell the truth, and I don’t feel like that’s possible right now.” He could see the frustration. 

When I said, “I really want to walk away from this,” we looked at what was going to happen. Financially, you’re going to take a huge hit. He said, “I can’t expect you to do a job that you believe is immoral. It goes against who you are. That would be the worst thing,” so he’s been very supportive. We had a little bit of savings, and we’ve been living off of that.

Like I said, what does all of this money, benefits, all of that, matter if we don’t have a country? I fear we are very close to that moment where we won’t have our freedoms and a country if we don’t get real people who love this country involved like our Founding Fathers envisioned. They didn’t envision a political class. They were escaping that. They envisioned real men and women, real Americans, stepping up and running for office, getting involved, representing their fellow countrymen, and helping out.

Mr. Jekielek:

There’s people like one of our columnists, head of The Brownstone Institute, Jeffrey Tucker, who basically saw what was happening with the various shelter-in-place, otherwise known as lockdown policies, and said, “Centuries of progress have just come to an end.” This type of sentiment is something that so many people, really from across the spectrum, Left and Right, have been saying to me as we’ve watched dramatic social change happen over several years. Right?

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

My question is, it sounds alarmist to say we don’t have a country. Right? That might even sound like a political talking point to say, “We don’t have a country. You have to elect me.” Tell me what you’re thinking, and what you mean.

Ms. Lake:

What I’m thinking is I’m in Arizona. We’re not that far from the border right now. Where we’re sitting right now, we’re less than 100 miles from the border. Much closer than that, actually. We don’t have a border right now. Our border, with our country right now, is in the operational control of narco-terrorists, the cartels. We don’t have control of our border right now. Everyone’s pouring across. 

Five million people have poured across our border since Joe Biden took office. We went from having the most secure border with Mexico under President Trump to, on day one, Joe Biden coming into office and, for some reason, pulling that back and exposing us to crime, to drugs, to smuggling, and to trafficking of children. I don’t know why. I’m trying to figure out why, because right now it appears that Joe Biden is on the side of the cartels, and the people of Arizona have had enough.

We don’t have a country if we don’t have a border. Millions have come in, and millions more will until we get some strong governors who will put their foot down and say, “No. We’re going to secure the borders in our states. We’re not going to allow our country to be overrun with the most deadly drug that we’ve ever seen, fentanyl.” 

For your listeners out there, I know that they’re very much aware of history. You don’t have to go that far back to remember the Opium Wars. You bring down a dynasty with drugs, and they’re trying to do that. They’re hitting us from every angle. They’re hitting us with the drugs pouring in, killing 100,000 or more last year, young people.

These are 18 to 45-year-olds. Number one cause of death is not cancer and car crashes. It’s not COVID. It is absolutely the drugs that are coming in across our southern border. We don’t have fair elections. Our elections are a mess, and we don’t have a border. We’re not going to have a country much longer. That’s what I mean by this.

Not to mention, you can look at our Constitution which is under siege, and our First Amendment. Everywhere I go across the state, I have talked to hundreds of thousands of Arizonans in person. I ask them, “How many of you feel that your First Amendment rights are intact? How many of you? Show me. Raise your hand. How many of you feel that your freedom of speech is intact?” 

Not a single hand goes up. If you’re conservative, you don’t have freedom of speech. We saw our religious freedoms taken away when the government shut down our churches. We see the press, which has completely gone crazy. They’re nuts. The First Amendment is on shaky ground right now. That’s why I’m outspoken, because I’m going to speak my mind and use my freedom of speech while we still have it.

Now they’re trying to chip away at the Second Amendment, our right to bear arms. What’s next? They don’t want the Constitution is next, so we’ve got to save this country. That’s what I’m referring to. It’s not just a political talking point. It’s a reality. I have two children. I would certainly like for them to have the freedoms and the opportunities that I had coming up. 

Even though I grew up in a home that was poor, I had a lot of love. I have wonderful siblings, and I’m so blessed for that upbringing. Coming from those humble beginnings, I was still able to live the American dream.

It’s getting harder, and harder, and harder for our young people. They can’t even imagine being able to purchase a home right now, a lot of our young people. They’re so buried under debt. They’ve been all sent off to college to get degrees many of them don’t need. 

We’ve ignored the trades where we need workers. We’re sending our kids off to get into debt with degrees that are meaningless when we really should be pushing them into the trades and vocational training to actually get a job, so they have a better chance at living that American dream.

Mr. Jekielek:

This censorship that you’re describing, you’ve experienced it yourself. Right?

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

In general, what has been the impact on you and your family with you stepping into the spotlight and running?

Ms. Lake:

It’s interesting. I felt the censorship more when I was a journalist, because you really are supposed to keep your personal opinions to yourself. I was good at doing that. People during this run said, “I didn’t even know you were conservative. I didn’t know where you were.” I said, “That’s because I was an honest journalist. You shouldn’t know where I stand on politics.” 

The greatest thing about stepping out and getting into politics, when I finally said, “You know, this is what I think God maybe has freed me up for,” we’ve been very successful in politics, for being a newbie, the nicest part of it is that I can speak my mind.

In a way I feel for you, Jan, because you don’t have freedom of speech, at least to speak your opinions, because you are a fair journalist. Now I can, and I love being able to speak my mind, and tell people what’s up, and what I think, and what I think are great solutions to our problems. I love that part. 

Am I being censored? I’m sure shadow banned and all that on Twitter, but we have more options now. We’ve got Truth Social. We have GETTR. We have other ways of getting our message out, like Rumble. I’m using each and every one of those platforms. We reach millions of people on social media. We have run a campaign that hits social media hard. 

We want to reach more people, and we’re reaching them on every platform we can. We are going out. We’re taking our issues and our solutions on the road. My husband videotapes everything that I do, and we put it up on a Rumble page.

I didn’t even realize this, but now I have a national campaign. People from all over the country are writing, are sending in donations, are sending in messages of encouragement, because they’re seeing what we’re about here in Arizona thanks to social media. I’m using it to our advantage right now.

Mr. Jekielek:

You don’t treat all media the same way. I was just watching a press gaggle that you had been in. This was after your opponent decided not to debate you. I don’t even know what newspaper it was, but I think you said, “Your newspaper is a rag. I’m not going to talk to you. Next question.”

Ms. Lake:

That is a fact.

Mr. Jekielek:

That might seem overly harsh to some. Right? Why couldn’t those people have the benefit of your opinion might be the question. Right?

Ms. Lake:

I have given them many interviews. Since the beginning, since before I stepped in, when I was in journalism and I was trying to get information out to people about Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, talking and putting out information on my social media as a journalist just about other ideas that were out there on COVID. 

Doctors who were saying, “Wait a minute. This actually might work better. This might be a way to save lives.” That paper was actively writing attack pieces on me, saying I was trying to kill people.

Now that I’ve been in the campaign, I offered them many interviews saying, “Look, we’ve got a great policy here. We’ve got a policy on the border that you’ve never even covered. I’ll sit down and do an interview with you on that.” They sit down, and you can tell by the tone of each question that it’s an attack piece trying to tear down the policy, which is fine. I’m okay with that. I can answer those, but it turns out to be just attack after attack. 

At the end of the day, I just said, “Why are we wasting our time with them?” For that paper, it’s going to be a very long, dry eight years, because I will not work with propagandists. I’ve given them many, many chances, and they’re only interested in running hit pieces. That’s why I said that.

Mr. Jekielek:

The America First movement, I want to touch on that very briefly. It seems to me like a whole bunch of policies that traditionally would be considered centrist, and maybe JFK Democrat or something that would be close to that. Somehow it’s being described as extremist by even the highest levels of government.

Ms. Lake:

That is so true. It’s funny. I’ve been having these conversations with people saying, “These are policies that you might have even seen Democrats embracing before.” We want to bring manufacturing back, and bring it to Arizona. We want to make sure that the middle class is healthy, that our industries have workers, so we have people ready for the trades. These are issues that the Democrats used to be for, and now they’re opposed to. Something happened politically, and I don’t know why. You might want to talk to somebody who’s a historian.

We saw the creation of the uniparty where the Democrats and Republicans in DC kind of formed one big party. They were also known as the Swamp. When President Trump came in, he had to kind of break that up. You really started to separate and see who really does want to put America first, and who’s just part of this Washington DC Swamp. 

I see the America First movement as bringing in, and we’re seeing some Democrats pull away, saying, “This is not the party that we thought it was.” They don’t care about the middle class. They don’t care about the working class. They don’t care about security. They’re starting to pull over to come into our movement. A lot of the Republicans see it as the way to have success in dealing with issues that we’ve been dealing with for decades now.

The policies that work, and it’s all about solutions. A secure border, who’s not for that? Why would you not be for a secure border? Why would you want to have drugs pour across? These are really common issues. We want safe streets. Who would not want to have safe streets? These are totally centrist. 

And that’s why I tell people, “Go to our website. Go to our issues page.” Every single issue that we talk about, all of my policies are there. I think they’re good for all Arizonans, whether they’re Democrat, Independent, or Republican. I think this globalist movement to try to drag us into one big globalist kind of agenda where we don’t really have nations, we don’t have borders, the people are waking up to that, and they do not want it.

Mr. Jekielek:

There’s a lot of people right now who are what you’d call black pilled. Okay? At least I come across them all the time. People are saying, “I just don’t think there’s going to be any change. People have tried change. There’s pushback. In the end, nothing really happens. What’s the point?” I hear that a lot, actually. What do you think?

Ms. Lake:

Kind of a nihilistic view, there’s no hope. I’m an optimist. I really am. Maybe it’s easier for me to be an optimist, because I’m on the campaign trail now. I go to an event where they would normally have 30 people. This is how it started. “We’re having you at an event, Republican women. We have 30 people.” Then they would call a few weeks later and say, “We’re moving it to the auditorium. We have 150.” 

That’s a really good sign when you’re a politician. We do events. This has been since the beginning. They’re growing, growing, growing. We decide to have an event, and we book it three or four days out. Couple hundred people show up. People are very enthusiastic. They’re getting involved.

Young people are getting involved in our campaign because they were tortured. I’ll tell you, the young people were tortured during COVID. They were the last ones to get the masks off their beautiful faces. In 115 degree heat in Arizona, wearing a mask is like living in hell. We’ve got a young movement of people who are involved in what we are talking about, which is putting Arizona first. I’m very hopeful because of that. 

There’s a movement. There’s something going on right now. It’s so beautiful. It’s so exciting, and you see it with President Trump still being able to draw in crowds of 20, 30, 40, 50. I think he drew maybe 60,000 in Florence when he came in January. These are massive crowds. The people are awake. There might be a few people who are not optimistic, but I am because I know the power of the human being is so massive. When you get a whole bunch of us together working toward the same goal, protecting and saving our country, nothing can stop that.

Mr. Jekielek:

I want to dive into this First Amendment question, and define some of the reasons you decided to do what you’re doing now. There’s a lot of evidence that’s come out that government agencies have been influencing some of these media companies, or Big Tech, some of the biggest social media companies, to either censor, to silence, sometimes even deplatform people. The people I’m talking to are saying, “These are flagrant First Amendment violations,” but they seem to persist. There are legal challenges now. There’s a number of them, very significant ones. How do you see this unfolding?

Ms. Lake:

I’m really disturbed to find out the government was involved in some of that. I think it was the FBI when it came to telling Facebook not to air and put out anything on Hunter Biden’s laptop. That is horrifying. Media should be all over that story. That’s fascism, really. That’s truly fascism, by the way. They’re telling a company what to do, and controlling that company.

Mr. Jekielek:

To be fair, if I recall what Mark Zuckerberg said, he said, “No. They just told us that there’d be some Russian disinformation coming soon.” Right?

Ms. Lake:

Yes. And Zuckerberg decided to censor that pretty much. Twitter censored that. Really disturbing when the government’s getting involved and doing that. I think competition is always good. We’re seeing other social media that’s coming up. Maybe with these companies, people will get sick of them and leave. I think that there should be some restrictions on them, especially when they’re censoring political figures. 

The fact that they kicked President Trump off of Twitter should’ve been met with complete outrage by everybody in the media if they really, truly care about freedom of speech and the First Amendment, which you should as a journalist, and they didn’t. Many of them applauded that.

We have to make some changes. There have to be repercussions to that kind of attack on our First Amendment rights. We’ll see what we can do here in Arizona. I know Governor DeSantis has made some moves in Florida. If we need to just copy that full on, we will. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel if it’s working, but we want the ability to speak freely. We used to have it with the telephones. Compare a telephone to what we have with Twitter and social media now. Imagine if you were on a phone call, and you and I were talking about something, and the phone company didn’t like what we were talking about, and they just cut the line. This is outrageous. This is, in effect, what’s happening with social media, and it’s got to stop.

Mr. Jekielek:

Is there a governor that you draw inspiration from, then?

Ms. Lake:

My favorite governor of all time was Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. His whole life was just amazing. He and I grew up about an hour apart, and obviously a few decades apart. He was the president of my youth. His rise to politics was so inspirational, coming from his acting background. He also had some broadcast background. You know, they said a lot of the same things about him that they said about me. “What does he know? He’s a former Democrat. He’s just an actor. He just reads scripts.” He was an optimist. He had great ideas. He knew right from wrong, and he was a great communicator.

He got into California at a time when that state was in shambles, and helped turn it around by bringing outsiders into politics. He didn’t just rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, moving bureaucrats around. He brought in fresh blood and fresh eyeballs to the government who could look around and say, “Wait a minute. There’s incredible waste going on here. Why are we doing this?” People who’ve had experience and success in the private sector. That’s what I plan to do as governor. I thought he was fantastic.

Then, of course, he came in, as you know, as president at a time when our country was in great despair. Jimmy Carter had left America almost in an ash heap. President Ronald Reagan came in and gave us optimism and hope that we could get out of it, that we could climb out of that, and we could do it by coming together as Americans. He pushed something that unfortunately has been now denigrated. He pushed patriotism, a love for this country. We all come from different backgrounds. We all come from different areas. Some of us are immigrants. Some of us are been citizens since the beginning of this country, and native. We all have one thing in common. We have this great country that we love and we want to protect.

With President Trump, he wanted to do the same thing. That’s when the media started attacking, and attacking patriotism, attacking saying the Pledge of Allegiance, attacking the National Anthem. It’s been an all-out assault on people showing patriotism and love for this country. We need to come back and return to that for the sake of our country.

Mr. Jekielek:

We’ve discussed the border. We’ve discussed the First Amendment somewhat. These are obviously key platform issues for you. What are the others that are really top of mind?

Ms. Lake:

They all kind of come together when you think about the border. How do you get a handle on it? We are going to tackle chronic street homelessness. How do you get a handle on that and get people off drugs, which we’re planning on doing. We’re going to get people into treatment. How do you do that if you have an unending source of drugs pouring across the border? 

We have to tackle the border. There’s no ifs, ands, and buts. We can’t look the other way. We will do that invoking our Article 1, Section 10 powers in the U.S. Constitution. We’re going to get boots on the ground. We’re going to hit key areas. Stop people from coming over rather than allowing them to come in. We’re going to take a really hard stand on the border when it comes to illegal activity.

Then we’re going to tackle chronic street homelessness because we can’t restore safe streets, we can’t come back to a law and order if we have thousands of people living on the streets, many of them hardcore drug users that are using drugs, and many causing crime. We’re going to get them help. 

I don’t believe for one second that God envisioned any one of us to live on the streets with a needle in our arm. We’re going to work to get them off the streets, banning urban camping by building shelter beds to get people help. There will be a segment of that population that doesn’t want help. They’re choosing to live on the street.

Unfortunately, many of our policies have enabled that. Many of our policies have enabled people to stay on the streets, use, and sink further into despair. Think about that. We’ve got an industry that’s formed around homelessness, and not everybody in that industry wants to solve the problem. No more state money will go to any homeless program that does not show results. 

We’re going to get people services first, get them job training, and help them become contributing citizens to our society. There might be some people who don’t want that. In that case, we will start going after them for the crimes that are being committed: trespassing, vandalism, and public drug use.

It’s called broken windows policing. I know you’re aware of what that is. If you lived in New York City during Rudy Giuliani’s tenure as mayor, you saw how he turned that city around quickly. We’re going to do that in Arizona. Broken windows policing is basically you go after each little crime, because little crimes lead to bigger crimes. 

Broken windows, blight, prostitution, that kind of stuff, will detract from a neighborhood, and pretty soon more crime comes into that neighborhood, and more crime. We’re going after all of that, and we’re going to push cities to do that kind of policing. I think they will, because state shared funding will be attached to that kind of policing. The cities need to serve their residents, and the residents want safety. We don’t have that right now.

Also, education. My education plan calls for funding the student, but thankfully we have that now. Our legislature, along with some amazing groups and great parents, worked really hard to get ESAs for all. People call them vouchers. Basically, right now in Arizona, you can take your son or daughter, if you don’t like the school they’re going to, you can move them to another school and the money follows. 

That’s huge. That’s so massive. We’re going to take it a step further and start pushing for dual track education. After 10th grade, your student can decide if they want to take that track and go off to a four year college, and then keep going with the college prep classes. Or if they want to go and get a skill, some work skills, we’re going to bring back trade skill training, vocational training, career certification, starting in high school after 10th grade, so that kids can get out of high school and have a real chance at making a good living.

I was down here not too far from where we are in the Vail School District near Tucson, and they have a great program. It’s a vocational program right in their high school, from culinary arts to career certification. You name it. The welding program was so popular they had to expand it. Every single student in that class not only looked happy, they were using their hands. They knew what they were learning was something they were actually going to use in the real world. 

The instructor said, “Kari, every single one of these kids,” there must have been about 30 in there, “will get out of high school with their diploma and a full-time job offer making 70 to $100,000 a year with full benefits and zero college debt.” Why are we not preparing our kids in high school for the real world? Why do we make them get out and try to search for some sort of job training, search for another degree? We don’t need that. Many of them don’t need that. The jobs are there. We just need to make sure they’re getting out ready for them.

Mr. Jekielek:

You obviously have a strong team advising you on policy. You have this outspoken uncompromising approach, it seems. Right? I’m wondering if some of your advisors ever tell you, “Kari, you need to tone it down and do it differently.” 

Ms. Lake:

Not so much. Maybe a little. I go to them sometimes, and I say, “I really like this policy. Help me find a way to explain it really in a basic way.” Because I don’t like when you’re throwing policy out and it’s just numbers. I came through storytelling from a television and journalism background. I want to make things simple, so people understand. 

These issues are real basic. We can see what the issues are. Let’s make the policies and the solutions a little easier for everyone to understand. Not so much. They’ve learned that I do fine on my own. They understand that telling me what to say is probably not going to work.

As I’ve been speaking for 30 years, I understand the issues. I covered them. Not many careers—I’m so blessed to have had a career in journalism—require you every day to walk in the door at work, wrap your arms around the biggest issue facing the state, dig into that issue, understand it, find the experts on that issue, and then explain it to the viewer or the reader so that they understand the issue. That’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years. 

People are surprised that here’s this television journalist coming into politics, and that I’m so well-versed on so many things. But that’s what I’ve been covering for 30 years in this beautiful state of Arizona. I don’t need a lot of people telling me what to do, but I’m never afraid to ask for help. I’m never afraid to go to the experts. That’s how we put our policy together, going to the experts. That’s how we’re going to continue going forward.

Hey, listen, I’ve got great policy. It’s right there on my website. I think all of it’s going to work to bring solutions. Will it work 100 per cent the way we’ve laid it out? Maybe not. Obviously, you come up with plans, and sometimes you have to make adjustments. 

We will have to make adjustments. We will have missteps along the way, and I’m sure the media will capitalize on every misstep we make. They’ll cover it for days on end, but we’ll adjust and we’ll keep moving forward. We have to move forward in tackling these problems. We can’t sit paralyzed on the sidelines waiting for the media, afraid we’re going to be attacked, afraid we’re going to be canceled. 

We’ve been doing that. We’re afraid we’re going to be canceled so we don’t speak out. We’re afraid we’re going to be canceled or lose a client, so we stay silent. Look what’s happening to our country. I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not afraid of being canceled. They can call me whatever they want. What I’m afraid of is not doing something. I’m afraid of what happens to our country.

As I said in a speech at CPAC, with our Founding Fathers, for them America was an idea. For us, it’s been an amazing reality. An amazing reality, and I don’t want America to be just a memory for our kids and grandkids. It’s too important. We’re going to get in there, and we’re going to do a lot of work. 

We’re rolling our sleeves up, Jan, and that work ethic I got growing up in the Midwest in a big family is going to help. We’re going to tackle all the hard problems. We’re going to work fast, and we’re going to work hard, and we’re going to bring about great change for the people of Arizona. I think other states will follow suit actually, especially when it comes to that border.

I was in Texas about a week and a half ago. The people of Texas were so into what’s going on. They’re following our race. They’re rooting for us because they want more to be done in Texas. They want Governor Abbott to do more. 

I’m not governor yet. I can’t do it right now, but I’m telling you. Starting January, when I take the oath of office, immediately after taking my hand off the Bible we’re going to sign and issue a Declaration of Invasion and start tackling that problem on the border.

Mr. Jekielek:

As we come to the end of our interview, there’s actually 15 other things I want to talk to you. The big question I have is you’ve been a Republican, from what I understand, your whole life. You’ve been a conservative, even though you kept that quiet while you were a host. You’re saying that you’re going to be governor for all Arizona, all Arizonans. Is that how you say it? 

Ms. Lake:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

That’s not how it’s being portrayed, because conservative is something very specific, and not for all Arizonans. Right? It’s a very specific way of looking at the world, so how can you be for all Arizonans then?

Ms. Lake:

Let me actually correct you a little bit. When I was 18, I registered as a Republican. I’ve been a Republican almost all my life, but I did register for four years as a Democrat, and a few years as an Independent. I am, I believe, the only person running for governor who can relate to all: Democrat, Independent, and Republican. 

Remember, when I was covering this state, I covered people who were Democrat. I covered all Arizonans. I’d never asked somebody going into a story if we were covering. Maybe there was a fire, or maybe there was a big piece of legislation that was happening that was affecting someone’s life, I didn’t ask people, “What’s your political background?” I didn’t care. I cared about the person.

I don’t think it matters that I’m a Republican if the ideas I’m putting first are Arizona first. That’s what’s so beautiful about that movement. It really isn’t about politics. It’s about common sense solutions, so I think I’m going to be able to do great things. People are not believing the media. They’re trying to paint me out to be a radical Right-wing this or that. Let me remind people that our Founding Fathers, if they were alive today, would be MAGA. 

They would be America first, 100 per cent. Our country was founded on conservative values, but the Left has been almost evil geniuses with the way they use the language by trying to turn the Republican party conservative traditional values into something negative. We need to start changing the narrative on that and speaking the truth.

What’s wrong with values that want to help families protect children? What’s wrong with values that want to make sure our kids are properly educated and love our country at the end of their education rather than hate our country? What’s wrong with values that want to make an environment so that when you go to start a business you have a chance at making that business grow and living the American dream? 

I don’t know what’s wrong with that, but we’ve allowed the Left to twist and turn words and make our ideas, our principles, and our solutions into something negative, when they are frankly the most positive, wonderful, beautiful solutions out there. I invite everybody who’s watching, whether they’re Independent, whether they’re Democrat, whether they’re Republican, to take a look at where we stand on the issues, because they will be helpful to all.

I don’t care what you are registered as. I want your vote, and I want you to know that I will work tirelessly for you. My opponent won’t even show up to debate. She’s afraid to even speak to the people of Arizona. Can you imagine my opponent trying to stand up and be and be an ambassador for Arizona? 

We’re going to be battling for companies that are leaving in droves, these blues states, because the taxes are too high. The regulatory environment is horrible. The people are leaving these blue states, and they are looking for common sense great states to move to.

I’m ready to go toe to toe with Governor Abbott and Governor Ron DeSantis. I love those guys. Ron DeSantis is fantastic. I had a chance to meet him. I’m ready to go toe-to-toe with the governors of Texas and Florida, and fight and duke it out for companies to come and relocate to Arizona. 

I don’t think my opponent will stand a chance with them. She’s afraid to debate me. How is she going to go up against the cartels? How is she going to make our streets safe? We need somebody in office who’s ready to make transformational change for Arizona, ready to stand up and fight for the people, and I will fight every single day.

Mr. Jekielek:

Kari Lake, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Ms. Lake:

Thank you so much.

Mr. Jekielek:

Thank you all for joining Kari Lake and I on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.


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