Jim Langevin has spent a decade in Congress, but Michael Gardiner, a Republican hopeful, is looking to end that 10-year run.
Gardiner addressed constituents gathered at a Republican presidential primary signature kickoff party on Thursday in Warwick, outlining why he believes he can be victorious over Langevin in this year’s election.
“He hasn’t done anything particularly effective for Rhode Island,” said Gardiner of Langevin.
Gardiner, an attorney, has had no prior experience in politics. He ran for Congress in 2010 against Langevin but was unsuccessful. This year he hopes to rally enough support to “change the numbers.”
Gardiner said the key to his victory would be to nab the media’s attention by changing poll numbers, even just slightly. By reducing the margin between himself and Langevin, he believes he could generate the momentum to boot the congressman out of office.
“The only person who can beat Langevin is the person who can change the status quo of the numbers,” he said.
Though Gardiner would not disclose how much money he has raised and plans to spend on “changing the numbers,” he did call his campaign “lean and mean.”
“How much we’re going to have is the question,” he said.
Gardiner spent most of his speech on Thursday evening discussing Langevin’s cyber security platform, which he called Langevin’s “feather bed and magic carpet.”
“He’s been riding that pony for a long time,” said Gardiner. “In fact, he’s not that important to the cyber security effort.”
Gardiner said the cyber security issue is now a topic in the Senate that will be debated early this year, making Langevin’s involvement slim.
In addition to cutting down Langevin’s importance, he called his ideology about cyber security “dangerous.”
“It really offends me that he doesn’t support separation of power,” said Gardiner. “That offends federalism that threatens our freedom.”
Gardiner said that Langevin supports giving the Whitehouse control over cyber security, which he said would give them “czar-like” power over cyberspace.
Gardiner thinks cyber security should be under the umbrella of Homeland Security, which he feels would allow a better system of checks and balances.
“If I am nominated Jim Langevin will not be the cyber security guy because I will cut him down to size,” said Gardiner.
The issue of SOPA was another bone Gardiner picked with Langevin’s platform. SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would make it more difficult for websites to sell and distribute copyrighted material, has received its fair share of negative attention. Wikipedia.com shut down for a day and Google blacked out its iconic logo in protest of the bill.
Langevin is also in opposition to the bill, which Gardiner says goes against his major support of cyber security.
“How does a voter even hold Jim Langevin into account?” he said.
Gardiner accuses the congressman of opposing SOPA only because of the public outcry against the proposal.
“We can’t take advantage of every public reaction to make our laws,” said Gardiner. “Langevin is playing off the easy reaction.”
Gardiner supports SOPA.
“Online piracy is a problem. It is wrong,” he said. “We have to make an effort to protect our property.”
At Thursday’s gathering, Gardiner made it clear to those present how unimportant he thinks Langevin is to the cyber movement as a whole.
“‘I’m the geek, I’m the guy that understands this stuff,’” he said, imitating the congressman. “The most he’s going to do is hold a contest over at Exeter-West Greenwich High School.”
After wrapping up his thoughts on cyber security, Gardiner touched upon the topic of EMTALA.
“I can’t understand why Langevin has never said, ‘Let’s get rid of EMTALA.’”
EMTALA is the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act that Gardiner says has a lot of problems and is hiking up medical costs. Gardiner is a supporter of health insurance reform, which he believes would immensely help the economy.
According to his website, Gardiner also supports a plethora of other issues, including gay marriage and stronger immigration control.