Amash ‘wouldn’t say 100%’ on reelection bid

Politics
A photo of Congressman Justin Amash meeting with residents in Grand Rapids. (Aug. 21, 2019)

Congressman Justin Amash meeting with residents in Grand Rapids. (Aug. 21, 2019)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash said he was not entirely certain whether he would run for reelection.

Amash, I-Cascade Township, answered questions from “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd about a wide range of topics including American troops in Syria, impeachment and his own political future.

Amash was asked if he was “100%” certain that he was running for reelection. He responded, “I wouldn’t say 100% of anything.”

He was pressed further about a potential presidential campaign as a Libertarian. Amash didn’t rule out the possibility.

“I’m running for Congress, but I keep things open,” Amash said. “And I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Earlier in the interview, Amash spoke of his well-established disdain for the two-party system that dominates American politics and said other parties need a presence on the national stage.

“I think I’m very effective in the House. I think my constituents want an independent congressman. My support in the district has been great as an independent. But we do need new voices on the national stage running for national office including the presidency, Amash said. 

“I don’t think that the current Democratic field is sufficient. If you look at the top three candidates on the Democratic side, they’re all over 70 years old. The president’s over 70 years old. I think that there is a large segment of the population that is not represented in the top candidates on either side of the aisle and that’s something I think about.”

Amash has become an increasingly high-profile figure in Washington. He was the first Republican congressman to support impeaching President Donald Trump. He then left the Republican Party, becoming an independent, in early July.

He says the move has helped him in the House of Representatives.

“I can be more effective. I can reach people on the other side of the aisle that I couldn’t reach before,” Amash told “Meet The Press.”

He said has even helped his relationships with his former Republican counterparts.

“They’re less frustrated in many ways,” the congressman said. “They treat it like you’ve abandoned the family … The people in my former party are more respectful of my decisions now. They’re more accepting of the fact that I’m going to vary from their views on a whole bunch of issues.”

He added that Democrats have been more willing to engage with him.

“Then people on the other side of the aisle will be more accepting of me because they don’t think I’m just going along with the Republicans,” Amash said.

Todd started Sunday’s interview asking Amash about his thoughts on the war in Syria and the president’s decision to withdraw troops, clearing the way for a Turkish offensive aimed at the United States’ Kurdish allies. 

Amash has mixed feelings about the decision and was one of four House members to vote “present” on the House’s resolution to denounce Trump’s move. The resolution ultimately passed with 129 Republicans joining Democrats to support the move.

“I don’t think we should’ve been in Syria without congressional approval,” Amash said. “I think the president should’ve withdrawn troops long ago, but when you withdraw troops, you have to plan ahead of time how to handle it.

“He could’ve prepared in advance for the obvious consequences. He certainly knew what Turkey would do. And then he acts surprised that they’re coming in and committing acts of violence.”

When asked about what should happen now, Amash was uncertain.

“I think it’s very difficult to put it all back together,” Amash said. “Certainly if you’re going to put troops back in harm’s way, you should get congressional approval. You should go back to Congress and ask for approval from the American people.”

Accusing Trump of using military service members as “paid mercenaries,” Amash said he suspected a number of Republican constituents would see Trump’s move as a promise kept because the president campaigned on bringing troops home.

“I think there are people who support the president who believe things he says, but it’s pretty clear he’s not bringing home the troops. He’s just moving them to other parts of the Middle East,” Amash said. “We’ve been in the Middle East for way too long. … We should bring people home.”

On impeachment, Amash said he doubted the effort would be supported by many of his former Republican colleagues.

“Politics drives a lot of this,” Amash said. “Frankly, a lot of the Republicans will be worried about the primaries and they think the president is popular within the primary electorate, and he is.”

Despite the uphill battle that an impeachment effort would likely have in the Senate, Amash said he believes the House should move forward.

“I’m more concerned about what happens if we don’t go forward with impeachment,” Amash said. “I think Congress has so neglected checks and balances and over the years the executive branch has become so powerful and we need to restore that power in Congress.”

>>Online: Watch the full interview

Amash is in his fifth term in the House. Several Republican challengers are now battling in the primary to represent their party on the ballot and wage a general election campaign against Amash, if he ends up running for reelection. 

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