RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It has been called one of the most competitive congressional races in the country. Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello is fighting to keep his seat. He is facing a strong challenge from long time state Senator Robert Hurt. Congressman Perriello joins us live.
Ryan Nobles: Congressman thanks for being here. We appreciate it.
Tom Perriello: Thanks for having me.
Ryan Nobles: I want to show you something on moveon.org's facebook page. Do we have that? There it is. As you can see, I'm sure you know they've labeled you a progressive hero. They have raised more than $100,000 for your campaign. The question I have for you is, the values of moveon.org, do they match up with the values of the voters in the 5th district?
Tom Perriello: I'll tell you what people in the 5th district want. They want jobs; they want people fighting for the working and middle class. The vast majority of my donors are individuals who make a middle class income, Senator Hurt has taken hundreds of thousands from corporations in the super rich and that's who he's protected in Richmond and that's the agenda he's put forward. What people in my district understand is that for a working family, making college a little more affordable is a good thing. Making it a little more affordable to get health insurance is a good thing.
Ryan Nobles: Do you think it speaks well of you that moveon.org has so passionately spread your cause beyond the 5th district.
Tom Perriello: I'm new to politics, but what I see in Washington is there are two choices. You protect the powerful or fight for the people. There aren't nearly enough politicians from either party to actually fight for everyday folks against the corporate interest groups that are there. I think someone who comes along is fighting for the people; other people want to have their back. We see that from conservative groups and liberal groups. We had endorsements from the veterans of foreign wars and N.R.A. an interesting group of people. The center to protect Social Security and Medicare is also supported me. What they know is we need fighters who fight for seniors, for veterans, for working families and not people who are going to protect the special interests and unfortunately, that's Senator Hurt's track record.
Ryan Nobles: We talked about the liberal groups. Let's talk about the conservative groups. The Tea Party obviously. You have probably perhaps as well as many congressmen in the country have seen the power and the passion of the Tea Party. You held a number of healthcare town hall debates where it was mostly Tea Party members that attended. Do you think the Tea Party is good for bad for America?
Tom Perriello: I think civic engagement is good. I think the Tea Party is positive. It's getting people engaged in the process. But it ranges in terms of people's motives. The Tea Partiers in my district have a tough decision. They know Senator Hurt is not a true conservative; they don't like him that much. And the question is do they hate me enough to overcome that or do they go for Jeff Park who is in line with their platform and position. I think more voices in our debate are good. I really have a lot more respect for someone who passionately disagrees with me than someone who just doesn't care because people should care right now. The stakes are very high.
Ryan Nobles: And the stakes are very high. Do you think that Democrats who came out for you in 2008 are going to be there for you on November 2nd?
Tom Perriello: You know we didn't just have Democrats. We had Independents, we had moderate Republicans. What I think voters are looking for is someone with solutions. We've seen in the two debates we've had so far that Senator Hurt can't name a single detail of what he's cut in the budget. Where he breaks with his party, how he's going to create jobs beyond things that fit on a bumper sticker. The reason we've held so much support from Independents and moderate Republicans as well as Democrats is that they see this spilt as being who is fighting for solutions, who is fighting for the people, and that's why we have such a diverse range of support.
Ryan Nobles: Last quick question for you. Democrats retain the majority. Are you going to vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House?
Tom Perriello: If John Boehner is the alternative, there's not a lot of choice there. I've been ranked one of the 15 independent members of the Congress and I think we need individuals who think for themselves,
Ryan Nobles: You wouldn't support another candidate if the Democrats are in charge?
Tom Perriello: We'll see. We'll see. Those decisions will be made down the road. I am very confident that I am not going to support John Boehner for Speaker.
Ryan Nobles: Congressman, thank you for being here.
Tom Perriello: Thank you very much.
See the video at right for the full interview.