Our paths crossed at an event in Sanford Friday night. I have to hand it to him. Budd did not take on that look of terror most politicians exhibit upon hearing me utter the words “Daily Haymaker.”
The experience was a little different for me. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been OLDER than one of my US senators.
I got into a press “gaggle” with a guy from the local paper. The toughest question he posed was: “Do you have a message for the people of Sanford?”
I started off with a discussion on Ukraine. With that, Team Budd realized they had a live one on their hands.
Here are the ‘meat and potatoes’ of our short discussion:
Ukraine. Budd backed aid to Ukraine while he was in the House. Would he do it again in the Senate?
Budd said he views our involvement in Ukraine as more of a clean up job in response to Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. He said that withdrawal — plus the mismanagement of just about everything at home – has sent a clear message to Moscow and Beijing that we can’t even take care of ourselves and are willing to let them do whatever they want.
“It’s important for America to be strong and be seen as strong,” Budd said. “The whole world benefits when that happens.”
He emphasized that strengthening America includes securing the southern border, cracking down on the fentanyl trade, and addressing inflation and other economic woes. Budd has introduced a bill calling for the border wall and other security measures to be reinstated. Surprisingly, Thom Tillis — who actually went on Tucker to proclaim that we don’t need no steenkin’ wall — is a cosponsor of Budd’s bill.
The junior senator said he DOES draw a line in the sand when it comes to committing troops to Ukraine. He’s not willing to commit any American lives to that situation.
The Budd Agenda. I asked the senator for some examples of things he would like to see accomplished this session. He cited improved border security, “spending reform”, and a clampdown on ESG as three big examples.
Tillis. There is an unwritten rule in DC that you don’t speak negatively in public about a Senate or House colleague. Budd appears to be trying to live up to that. People TRIED on Friday to get him to badmouth Tillis, but he wouldn’t take the bait. One of the funnier moments occurred while Budd addressed the conservative gathering. The senator mentioned a handful of GOP pickup opportunities in the Senate for 2024, but said there don’t appear to be any in 2026.
In response to that, someone from the back of the room called out: “Oh, yes there is one. Tillis!”
That comment drew some catcalls and scattered applause from the crowd.
Budd appeared to be going out of his way to avoid mentioning Tillis. I asked him if he could identify a few issues where he and Tillis differed.
“I have my views on things, and so does he,” Budd said. “I’ll let you guys figure out where we differ.”
I followed up with the observation that the base would like to see him collaborating more with the likes of Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul than with T-H-O-M.
“Keep watching,” Budd advised me, in response.
(Don’t worry, Ted. We will be.)
NO DICE. Budd was clearly basking in the glow of the positive publicity he got for his grilling of Biden’s nominee to head the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Apparently, The White House put forth a nominee, whose experience is with BUS lines, to run the federal government’s regulatory agency for air travel.
The last time we checked, buses do not fly.