July 24, 2022 Updated 1:04 P.M. ET
HOLLYWOOD (FLV) – Three candidates for Florida’s 13th Congressional District answered a slew of questions at the Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit’s debates Saturday.
Florida’s 13th Congressional District includes much of Pinellas County, including Seminole, Clearwater, and Palm Harbor.
Anna Paulina Luna, Amanda Makki, and Kevin Hayslett participated in the debate.
The first question surrounded immigration and the “unprecedented crisis” on the southern border with drugs flowing into the country.
“What federal measures if elected to Congress would you support to keep our border secure?” the candidates were asked.
Anna Paulina Luna said the United States needs to declare what is happening at the border a “national security crisis.” She wants robust funding for law enforcement to stop crime and drugs at the border. She also supports automatic deportation of anyone in the U.S. illegally.
“It doesn’t just stop at the border,” Luna said. “The drugs and the crime are actually impacting every aspect of society regardless of race or economic status.”
Amanda Makki’s first response to the question was “build the wall, send them back.” Makki also voiced support for the impeachment of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Congress has the power of the purse. Congress can stop the funding for the Department of Homeland Security to make sure they do what they’re supposed to do,” Makki said.
Makki wants the money withheld from the DHS to be used for the wall.
Kevin Hayslett said the United States needs to completely shut down the border until “we get it right” and also supported building a border wall.
“It is a national security crisis but we do not solve it by leaving it open. I’m against amnesty. I say shut it down completely and those who are here get them back,” Hayslett said.
The next question asked candidates if they would have supported withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. All three of the candidates said yes, but disagreed with how President Joe Biden handled it.
The moderator discussed the Authorization for Use of Military Force and asked candidates their standards for sending Americans into harm’s way.
“I don’t think we need to be the police force of the world,” Makki said. “And I think we should do it in very limited instances.”
Makki continued to say that sending $40 billion to Ukraine is wrong when people are suffering in the U.S.
Luna said as someone who served in the military, war is “awful” and the country should not be the world’s police force. She elaborated on the need for a change in perspective regarding PTSD for service members.
“Only in circumstances in which our country is under direct attack should we ever authorize military force,” Luna said.
Hayslett talked about his children who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and joined the U.S. Military Academy West Point.
“We need to be aggressive where we need to be but we can’t put them in harm’s way needlessly,” Hayslett said. “If it’s a national security interest, yes, but not to be the world’s police force.”
The moderator switched gears from policy to attitude.
“Every candidate tells us that they are going to be in the vein of Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis. Every single one of them and yet so many of them go to Washington and become Liz Cheney. Please convince this audience that you are not going to go and grow in office if elected?”
Makki pointed to her campaign sign that says “Pro DeSantis, Pro Term Limits, and Pro 2A.” She wants to reintroduce term limit legislation.
“We can’t have career politicians go to Washington and get rich off the backs of the taxpayer’s dollars,” Makki said. “That is the most important thing, I think, to stopping the corruption that you see in Washington.”
Luna said she supports term limits and will go up to Washington to make a change.
“How to avoid being swampy is easy. You avoid hanging out with lobbyists,” Luna said. “Frankly, if I have to call my own party out on problems they actually bring forth to our tables then I’m going to do that.”
Hayslett said those going into Congress should have built a career rather than focus on being a politician.
“Tell me you’re going to be a workhorse and not a show horse,” Hayslett said. “When you’re beholden to Washington swampy money it means you owe them something.”
The moderator described District 13 as the “key” in taking back the majority in the House. Candidates needed to list their top three priorities.
– American energy independence
– Free speech which is under attack by big tech
– Veteran suicides and serving on the Committee on Veteran Affairs
– Inflation and “kitchen table issues”
– Securing the southern border
– Ensuring kids are not indoctrinated in schools
– Fentanyl flowing through the southern border
– Inflation affecting people who can’t afford food and
– Election Integrity
All three candidates said they would support a national ban on abortions.
“What concrete policies would you support if elected to Congress to help strengthen America’s energy security? And where have previous Republicans in Congress gotten this issue wrong?” the moderator asked.
Luna started by saying many Republicans “are afraid of talking about American oil from American soil.” She said people in D.C. are using climate change to scare Republicans. Luna believes the Paris Climate Accord was dangerous for the country and said the U.S. needs to remove regulations on American energy production.
Hayslett said the U.S. needs to control its energy and not rely on other countries for oil. He voiced support to deregulate the oil industry. Hayslett spoke about the electric car industry and said the U.S. is dependent on China for batteries.
“We need to control our own destiny,” Hayslett said.
Makki said the U.S. needs to reinstate the Keystone Pipeline and allow for federal leases on federal land.
“The oil companies are getting crushed,” Makki said. “And that is exactly what we have to stop.”
Makki said oil companies are paying more in taxes with less acreage for them to use. She criticized “bad production policies” from the Biden Administration.
The last part of the debate included a “lightning round” of questions which included whether Trump or DeSantis should be elected as president in 2024.
Makki said she supports DeSantis, Luna said a Trump/DeSantis ticket, and Hayslett said Trump/DeSantis or vice versa.
The candidates were asked if they would support Rep. Kevin McCarthy for Speaker. Hayslett said yes, Luna said she would vote for whoever lets her serve her country, and Makki would choose herself.
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