Interview with Silverio Salazar: Making the Jump From Hillary to McCain

This weekend I had the opportunity to interview Silverio “Silver” Salazar. Silver is the cousin of both Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado)and Congressman John Salazar (D- Colorado 3rd). He is a former supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton but is now endorsing John McCain’s presidential bid. I found Silver to be an engaging individual who is deeply-passionate about government and the future of his community, the state of Colorado, and the country. He offered some interesting insights as to his political views.

JAZZ SHAW: I see from a previous interview that you haven’t actually left the Democratic Party. Do you view the party today as still being mostly in line with your basic political ideology, or is it moving further away? Or are your views perhaps changing over the years?

SILVERIO SALAZAR: I’m glad you asked me that. When asked why I’m still a Democrat, I tell people that I haven’t left the Democratic Party and I’m not leaving it. The Democratic Party is leaving me. Some of our local legislators – and the Democrats are in control of both the state house and senate – have done things which are not in the JFK and FDR mold of Democrats. They increased fees on license plates and said it wasn’t a tax increase. It was a “fee increase.” What? They also tripled the fines for driving infractions. I support enforcing the law, but when you triple the fines, who are you hurting? You’re hurting the poor, the single mother who has to drive to work to support her kids. It hurts the Democratic base. Democrats are supposed to help the working class, but now they want to tax you. They voted against the Bush tax cuts.

JS: You were previously backing Hillary Clinton. I’m sure a lot of people must have wondered this already, but given how close the policy positions of Clinton and Obama are, and how different McCain is to both of them, what positions of McCain’s did you find most appealing to draw your support?

SS: Clinton was the best qualified, knowledgeable and ready to lead on day one. When she didn’t get it, I looked at the person with the best qualifications to lead on day one. Senator McCain’s positions on taxes, off shore drilling, abortion, immigration all attracted me, but mostly his compassion. When it comes to energy policy, Obama will say anything to get elected, so you don’t know what he thinks about oil drilling and domestic energy production from day to day.

JS: Obama wound up picking Joe Biden as his running mate. I’m wondering… what do you think of Biden in terms of his qualifications to lead, and if Obama had chosen Clinton, would that have drawn you back to the Democrats this fall do you think?

SS: I love Joe Biden. I’ve been doing press conferences for the last few months, and he said that Obama is not qualified to be president. He’s a lot more qualified than Obama. The ticket ought to be flip flopped. Even if he picked Hillary for the running mate, it would have been too late to draw me back. With him at the top of the ticket, I just can’t support it.

JS: Obama has gained a reputation as something of a flip-flopper, hasn’t he?

SS: If Obama really wants to do something good for the country, he should flip flop that ticket and put Biden on top.

JS: What do you see as the principal challenge facing the next president? And what do you like about how John McCain will approach that challenge?

SS: There are two things, actually, not just one. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have to be settled so we can walk out of there and call it a win. We have too many marks in the loss column right now. Second is the economy. McCain won’t be able to fix things in the first couple of years, but I think he will do it over a period of time, and his plan will fix the economy faster than Obama’s. Wages need to rise to meet costs while keeping taxes low and McCain will eventually do that. We’re working for the future here, not a short term fix. I’m looking for a solution for my kids and my grandkids, not something that claims it will right the economy tomorrow.

JS: I’m curious what you think about Joe Lieberman. Some of the Democrats clearly feel a bit betrayed by Lieberman, particularly this year. Do you think we need more people like that in both parties – people who are willing to go their own way, or is party unity and the need to get the entire party platform advanced usually more important?

SS: We don’t need more people like Joe Lieberman, but we need more self thinkers like Senator McCain. He thinks and acts on his own two feet. You need to vote for what’s good for your constituency and your country, not just what’s good for your party. Obama looks at the polls and that’s the way he flows. You’ve got to do what’s right for the people who elect you.

JS: I read one quote saying that, in the past, you’ve also supported some Republican candidates at the state and local level. Have you ever supported a third party candidate? And what do you think about the impact of third party candidates, such as Bob Barr for example, in the presidential election process?

SS: Third party candidates are a distraction unless we get a party that’s big enough to make a difference. I liked Ross Perot, but I knew it was a wasted vote to support him. If somebody could organize a good third party which would be able to make a difference, then that would be good for the country. But the way things stand today, voting for one of the third party candidates is just throwing your vote away.

JS: As a follow-up to that, how do you view the dominance of the two-party system in general? Are we getting enough choices or does it act as a limiting factor in voter options?

SS: We have to work together and be able to cross the aisle for moderate solutions to problems. Vote for what’s best for your country and not for your party.

JS: Are there any other House or Senate races you’re keeping a particular eye on and supporting a candidate?

SS: The race I’m watching most closely is Udall and Schaffer here in Colorado. Udall is so far ahead in the polls because of the number of Democrats in the state. It’s the way they do things. We have so many safe districts in Colorado that, for some of them, any Democrat you throw in is going to win. In two of them, any Republican will win. I’m not supporting either of them. We already know who will win.

JS: I’m guessing you’ll be supporting your cousin, John Salazar, though?

SS: I don’t need to support John because he’s going to win. That’s how the districts are set up. I asked them once why they even bother putting John’s name on the ballot and they said, “So they will remember we’re here.” There’s no need to support anyone in a situation like that because John will win anyway. And Ken isn’t up for election this year.

END INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Salazar has been working to help bolster John McCain’s numbers, with a special focus on denting the traditionally-solid support which Democrats enjoy among the Hispanic community in Colorado. (John Kerry pulled 60% of that voting demographic in 2004, while Al Gore carried 66% in 2000.) Silver’s discontent with the direction the Democrats have taken this year may not endear him to his family, but is likely not uncommon among disaffected Hillary supporters.

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32 Comments

  1. “The Democratic Party is leaving me. “- no he's just a disenfranchised Hill-raiser. A vicitim of his own self-delusion. The irony is that if Hillary got the nomination, Obama supporters probably would have jumped behind Hillary . Florida and Michigan be damned- they knew what they were doing when they jumped the gun.

    So , feel free to vote for a guy who will stack the SCOTU with more ant-choice, someone who knows “how to win wars” but doesn't know how many properties he(Cindy) owns.
    If Obama has Republicans supporting him, why not Dems. American politics is a half step away from a dog and pony show anyway.

  2. “The Democratic party is leaving me.”

    Bah, that's what “Zigzag Zell” Miller said. That's probably what Lieberman is saying. The thing is, that's probably what Jim Jeffords said about the Republican Party. If anything, some of the worst “self-thinkers” have come from the Republican Party. Maybe you remember those neo-cons? I don't know how many are still around, but if there ever was an example of the blind leading the blind, that would be it.

  3. I tell people that I haven’t left the Democratic Party and I’m not leaving it. The Democratic Party is leaving me.

    In my case I left the party as well. I think Remember November above sums it up quite nicely.

    The things that were once important to this country have taken a back seat to the new wave of progressives sweeping the Democratic party. Abortion. Gay rights, Gun ownership, higher taxes.

    The lunch pail democrats are pretty well paid individuals. My cousin exemplifies that. He just died a while back at age 65. Blue collar working democrat who left his only daughter 2.4 million dollars in his well funded UNION 401k.

    But whats more important to the new wave of democrats is abortion and gay rights and seperation of church and state.

    The ironic thing is while these things might have some importance they seem to overwhelm the attitudes and focus of the new progressive wing of the Democratic party, while at the same time seem to be disaffecting many old guarde Democrats who make up a considerable percent of this party.

    Progressive is not why I was a democrat. I have not left the party. It has left me.

  4. To sum things up. If you ask a non progressive democrat you are going to find that Abortion, Gay rights, Gun ownership, tax cuts for the rich is pretty far down on the list of why they support the Democratic party. This I believe is what this new wave of progressives are failing to address in their zeal to put a progressive on the supreme court which really does not matter an iota to the old guard democrats.

    I was once asked here what I thought about supreme court justices being nominated and my response was “I think they are ALL good men and women and that no matter who is selected they will do their best to do what is right for their country.” I believe that and will go to my grave believing it.

    This new wing of the democratic party is making that the focal piece of their run for the White House and it truly is turning off a lot of us old guys and gals.

    “Old white haired dude” No where more relects the lack of respect for even those in their own party and shows the division that even the democratic party is facing as the new wave of progressives dont try to slink into power but try to storm into power.

  5. Besides being a cousin to some Democratic office holders, what roles and qualifications does Mr. Salazar have in the Democratic party (meant sincerely and not snark.) Why do his views matter? Maria Shriver supports Obama but her husband doesn't, I support Obama but most of my family are right-wing wack jobs. My brother in law used to work for Spence Abraham. The fact that different family members hold differing views isn't exactly news.

    Plus, I really don't get what he seems to have against Lieberman. If he likes McCain and not Lieberman because of guns, the war and economics it is hard to see why he isn't Republican.

    P.S. I used to be Republican because I believe in small government and the Constitution. They left me behind.

  6. He says the party is leaving him while he supports views on issues such as taxes and abortion that are identical to Bush's??? Please. What BS.

  7. I think you might have been taken in, Jazz. Is there any proof at all this guy ever supported Clinton. Consider this from July 7 of this year.

    McCain will also get the votes of some Colorado Democrats.

    “I'm going to vote for him and I'm going to campaign for him,” said Vietnam veteran Silverio Salazar.

    The longtime Pueblo resident said he has been a registered Democrat for 32 years.

    When asked why he supports the Republican candidate Salazar replied, “Iraq, Iran. You hear about North Korea and all the problems that we're having and that’s what scares me about an inexperienced person getting in and being President.”

    Democratic candidate Barack Obama will be working hard to counter Salazar and to get the votes of Colorado Republicans and Independents.

    So Mr. Salazar was at a McCain town hall meeting in early July loudly proclaiming his support for McCain and mentioning nothing of having supported Clinton.

  8. And is this really a question?

    JS: Obama has gained a reputation as something of a flip-flopper, hasn’t he?

    Given that if the media was doing its job instead of playing softball with the McCain campaign McCain would have a reputation as a liar what is the point of that question other than repeating once again a favorite GOP talking point? Seriously.

  9. The disenchanted Clinton voters are something McCain can (try to) exploit and get to defect to him, and as recently as this morning I heard a Republican on the radio say he felt Clinton would have been Obama's and the ticket's strongest choice by far, but I believe Obama did well to choose Biden and this issue is settled now.

  10. I am curious about a point ,in the new McCain ad-Hillary was denied the VP slot because “she spoke the truth.” Yet they run footage of Biden saying negative things about Obama. The point I am taking home is it is fine to have said some negative things during the primary, Obama doesn't surround himself with “Yes People” and it must be some other reason Hillary wasn't picked. Her impeached husband's refusal to see beyond himself perhaps?

  11. When it comes to energy policy, Obama will say anything to get elected, so you don’t know what he thinks about oil drilling and domestic energy production from day to day.

    This statement pretty much defies all logic. Salazar must be living in some fantasy world where McCain always supported drilling.

    From WaPo:
    “During his last run for the presidency, in 1999, McCain supported the drilling moratorium, and he scolded the “special interests in Washington” that sought offshore drilling leases.”

    Boo ya.

  12. I respect Hillary, but I think her husband is a huge liability for her — even assuming no new scandals surfaced.

    Also, there seems to be a big disconnect between Hillary's platform during the primaries and things Mr. Salazar claims to like about McCain. On all of them — taxes, off shore drilling, abortion, immigration, and even energy, Clinton's positions were much closer to Obama's and far away from McCain's. Given that, what exactly DID he like about Hillary to make him think she was a better choice than McCain? What good are better qualifications, knowledge and readiness to lead if the person he preferred is likely to lead in directions he apparently doesn't like? That seems a bit odd to me.

  13. ChrisWWW's latest comment jogged my memory about a couple of other things…
    1. What does Silverio think about McCain's desire to renegotiate the Colorado River water rights pact? His cousin Ken isn't too keen on it. I believe his response to McCain was, “over my dead body”.
    2. How does he feel about oil shale development? Again, his cousin Ken is very skeptical about that, too.

    Now, I do know that Ken Salazar is considered an expert on these matters. What bonafides does Silverio have? As far as I can tell, he's a precinct captain. Or was.

  14. It's not unusual for members of one party to support the candidate of another party.

    For example: Republicans for Obama.

    I look forward to the parallel interview.

  15. Two points: First, the transcription of the “flip flop” question was horrible, and I apologize. That part of the interview, as with much of it, was much longer with quite a bit of extraneous chatter. I was transcribing like mad while doing the interview and wound up shortening a lot of it for space considerations and good flow. Salazar actually brought up the “flip flop” thing and there was some back and forth between us before he got to the “Obama should flip flop the ticket” quote.

    As to the rest of his comments, please note that I'm neither defending them nor attacking them. Just reporting what he had to say.

    I will definitely send in a request to the RFO site to see if I can get an interview with one of them. Good suggestion.

  16. Jazz said: I was transcribing like mad while doing the interview and wound up shortening a lot of it for space considerations and good flow.

    AND

    Jazz said: As to the rest of his comments, please note that I'm neither defending them nor attacking them. Just reporting what he had to say.

    Jazz,

    Which is it? Did you: A) cut and paste to get YOUR point across or B) “just report what he had to say”? It doesn't seem like it can be both.

  17. How exactly do you see the two as mutually exclusive, Steve? I'm a pretty fast typist (I can break 120 wpm with excessive errors) and always have my own questions typed up in advance, but as you go through the interview process, you inevitably end up tossing out follow-up questions you didn't plan on and having some idle chatter going on to keep things friendly and relaxed with the subject. I wasn't given permission to tape the call, so I had to go with what I could get. There was quite a bit of material (most of which I typed out in barely legible fashion) which wandered around and didn't add anything to the subject, so I left all of that out.

    For the area in question, there were a number of back and forth things about previous flip-flops which, again, didn't really add to the whole “why I'm voting for McCain subject” and after he mentioned media reports of a number of them (you have to admit there are tons of stories out there on it) I *did* ask him if there wasn't a perception of Obama like that today. That led to his response, which would have looked out of place if I didn't include *something* in front of it.

    The fact remains, though, that it's exactly what he said and reflected his running them of his opinion that Obama was not ready to lead, that Biden *was* ready to lead, and that (no doubt jokingly) he thought the two should switch positions on the ticket. If you want to read that as being getting MY point across, you're off base but welcome to your opinion. I didn't even think Biden was a good pick for Obama. As to “cut and paste” there isn't much of that until a lot of cleanup work gets done right after the call.

  18. Jazz, isn't fellow TMV blogger the head of Republicans for Obama? Have you spoken to him?

  19. Clinton voters who defect to McCain are much more powerful spoilers for the Democratic Party than Nader was, and is. Don't forget that when deciding what you want to do.

    The “progressive left wing” of the Dems is too far left for most Americans and the party leadership will put the brakes on those kids — unless the party leadership itself gets stupidly overconfident. Note that Obama chose a conventional member of the establishment (among the majority that voted for war in Iraq like nearly everybody else, not an anti-war-from-before-the-beginning kook, and someone who helps allay concerns about an Obama foreign policy).

  20. The “progressive left wing” of the Dems is too far left for most Americans

    How so?

  21. Hey–

    One of those people at Republicans for Obama is from Colorado. I mention this in case Colorado is convenient for you. His name is Kenneth Wehking:

    A lifelong Republican, Ken feels that many politicians have forgotten about the people they were elected to represent. In the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, America needs a statesman that can set a new course and change this culture of division to one of cooperation and solutions to our most pressing problems. Including, budget deficits, healthcare reform, energy independence, social security/medicaid reform and protecting our natural resources, among a few.

    I also just noticed at the bottom of their page that Tony Campbell, a TMV co-blogger, used to work there. Maybe he can get you on the inside track?

    Good luck!

    Also, as far as the complaints here go, I had the sense that you were just letting the guy say his peace–not being too confrontational.

  22. Oops! Kathryn beat me to it about Tony Campbell. The RFO website says he's a former officer. It also metnions that he's a contributor to something called TheModerateVoice.com. Check it out!

    PS–I've gotten a 500 Server Error while trying to post comments. I hope there's nothing wrong going on.

  23. “I was once asked here what I thought about supreme court justices being nominated and my response was “I think they are ALL good men and women and that no matter who is selected they will do their best to do what is right for their country.” I believe that and will go to my grave believing it.”

    Then you go to your grave misinformed,sadly and while I can appreciate your faith in government to do the right thing, that is predicated on the notion that the Chief Executive does not seek to expand his powers beyond the checks and balances system. – In my few decades on this planet I have not seen a more slanted SCOTUS. A judge that won't recuse himself (Scalia), and instead goes on a duck hunt with a named party on a case that he is judging? Public proslytizing from the bench on hot button issues? Save it for the actual cases, and not the sound bytes, I say. Maybe there are more incidences of pandering and partisanship, but off the top of my head I have not seen a President try to Politicise all branches of the government in his attempt to become a “Unitary Executive” ( read:parliamentary dictatorship).

  24. I'll get with Tony today, thanks! I never heard him mention RFO before.

  25. Jazz,

    When cutting and pasting EVERYONE (you / me / they) select comments that go along with the argument we're making.

    Your “END INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT” implies a 'just the facts ma'am' Joe Friday article when it is nothing of the kind.

    The problem I have with your article(s) is your subtle implication of 'fair and balanced' when all I've seen from you is partisan spin.

    There's nothing wrong with partisan… I'm a partisan, too. But I don't try to disguise partisan under “reporting a transcribed interview” and when I manipulate someone's words to validate my opinion I present it as OPINION.

    An article by you about “Republicans for Obama” would be an interesting indeed. ;-)

  26. Double Oops! Both George and Kathryn beat me to Republicans for Obama! Guess I should refresh before posting in the future.

  27. Steve, I would be “selecting comments” if I was, in fact, trying to make a point. I find the entire “hillary voters for McCain” thing interesting (as you'll see from my second column today on Cults of Personality… I can't wait to see how you explain that one) I left in the things that applied to the topic. He spent several minutes telling me about the messed up weather in the days running up to the convention, including a tornado. Was I “hiding” something from the readers or being a partisan by not including that as well?

    Next up for your magic bag of tricks, please inform us who exactly I am a partisan for. Please…. seriously. Pick a party or a person or an ideology, a set of issues… free reign for you to identify me as a “partisan” with an “agenda” in my writing here. Not only are you bound to be dead wrong (from my own personal perspective), we'll invest the time to go over some of my posting history to see if perhaps you are correct and can teach me something about myself.

  28. First, Jazz, thanks for the interview.

    Second, I cracked up when the first reason he gave for the Dems leaving him was over license plate fees in Colorado. There's nothing you can do if that's his primary voting issue.

  29. “How so”

    It's alien as well as antithetical to most Americans, who are not “progressive” to radical in their beliefs (characterizing anything right of Brookings as “far right,” for example; we even hear members of Congress at the Dem convention talking about the “far right” that does not exist in Congress and has almost no presence, much less power, in Washington).

    It turns most people off, badly. The 1994 elections should have instructed you accordingly.

  30. Uh- If he's switching parties it has nothing to do with the Democratic candidate's stand on the issues. Except for the vote for the war (OBAMA was not in the Senate back then) his voting record is almost identical to Hillary's. His economic plan and his healthcare plan resemble Clinton's as well, and they both agreed that we have to withdraw much more carefully from Iraq than we went in. Most Clinton voters are angry because Clinton was treated badly in the media and by the party–while Obama was seen as our savior.

  31. For those still following this chat festival, I've gotten hold of the head honcho at Republicans for Obama and scheduled an interview. Look for that later this week so we can compare the two!

  32. Wow!!

    Thanks!!!!

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