RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - At one point, Congressman Rob Wittman was engaged in a relatively sleepy re-election campaign in the First District. That was before pictures of his opponent, Krystal Ball dressed, suggestively were splashed all over the internet, turning the race into national news.
Despite the hype, congressman Wittman has remained largely out of the debate over the photos. He joins us now to talk about his re-election campaign.
RYAN: Congressman Wittman, thank you for being here.
ROB WITTMAN: Great to be with you.
RYAN: And not to have Krystal Ball's photos dominate the interview, but I want your take on it -- not necessarily the photos themselves -- but were you surprised they got such national attention and do you think looking back that its actually help her campaign?
ROB WITTMAN: Well, I was surprised. Really, this election needs to be about issues. There's so many important things facing this nation, it was surprising to me that we shouldn't be out there talking about those issues. So I was hoping the debate would get back to where it needs to be, so I was somewhat, you know -- well, I was surprised by the nature of the conversation that came about because of those pictures.
RYAN: So many national interviews, that what you mean, that she was on so much national television talking about it?
ROB WITTMAN: Yes.
RYNA: Do you think it's helped her campaign? Obviously brought a lot of exposure to her.
ROB WITTMAN: I'm not sure. I guess we'll see on November the 2nd, so I'm not going to be the judge of how much attention it brought or how much good it was for her or her campaign.
RYAN: Let's talk about the issues. One of the issues the federal minimum wage. Krystal Ball is in favor of raising it. Do you have mixed opinions on that? Where do you think the federal minimum wage should be?
ROB WITTMAN: I look at how those decisions need to be made and I think states need to be involved in those decisions, having some flexibility there to make sure they are looking in the best interests of citizens in their state. If you look at what it takes at the federal level, it's a one-size-fits-all for all the different states and state economies are different, businesses in each state are different and I think you ought to be able to reflect how to best allow businesses to hire the folks they need and to pay the folks they need while keeping in mind what the needs of their employees are, and there are at love different needs out there, so I want to make sure that flexibility is built in to the system.
RYAN: Do you think that means no federal minimum wage? The decisions made expressly at the state level?
ROB WITTMAN: I think what you need to have as overarching system where states are an important part of that decision-making process. Obviously, we have a federal minimum wage in place. Let's work with that and determine how states are then part of that whole process.
RYAN: Okay. You talked a lot about cutting spending, a lot of your Republican colleagues have, but does cutting spending include those sacred cows like entitlement spending and defense spending which is where the bulk of federal spending is right now?
ROB WITTMAN: It does. We have to look at everything from top to bottom. We have to make sure our government is being run efficiently; that we're getting at those needs that country needs to be pursuing. Defense ought to be one of those but we ought to look at other areas of the budget. Defense spending is critical obviously to the long-term viability and safety of this nation, and we need to be looking at other areas where spending is increasing at a greater amount. If you look at over the past two years where spending has increased by 21.4 percent, the very bottom of that list of increases is to the Department of Defense. We need to be looking at other areas of the budget in addition to Department of Defense to save money.