Hawks have Reps. Walter Jones and Justin Amash on their hit list—and Sen. Rand Paul will be next.
By W. JAMES ANTLE III • April 7, 2014
Walter Jones is the first target. The ten-term North Carolina Republican has emerged as a leading antiwar voice in Congress. As a result, he faces a primary challenge from former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin—and a barrage of hostile spending from outside groups.
The Emergency Committee for Israel has launched a six-figure ad campaign describing Jones as a convert to liberalism. “Once upon a time, Walter Jones was right for North Carolina but he’s changed,” says the narrator in the 30-second spot. “Isn’t it time your vote changed as well?”
A super PAC formed by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts is also spending $156,000 on ads attacking Jones as some kind of liberal. Ricketts’ Ending the Spending claims Jones, one of the last members of the GOP class of ’94 in Congress, has “lost his North Carolina values.”
Carter Wrenn, the longtime Tar Heel State conservative operative who with Jesse Helms and Tom Ellis helped revive Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign, told Roll Call, “It’s going to be a tough sell to say Walter Jones doesn’t have North Carolina values, but if they have money it will be real.”
A tough sell, indeed. Jones is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-gun, and has compiled one of the most reliable socially conservative records in Congress. He voted to repeal and defund Obamacare. He’s also voted against many big-ticket spending items supported by most Republicans, including Bush’s deficit-financed Medicare prescription-drug benefit, No Child Left Behind, and last year’s farm bill.
The real issue is Jones’s willingness to stand against his party on foreign policy. A man from a military-heavy district with patriotic instincts, he initially supported the Iraq war and famously led the “freedom fries” campaign. He came to doubt the intelligence used to justify the war and turned sharply against it—and most of the subsequent military interventions pushed by the bipartisan establishment.