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A Q&A with Republican Presidential Candidate Doug Burgum

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum visited Drake University's Olmsted Center to discuss plans as Republican presidential candidate. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

2024 Republican presidential candidate hopeful and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum held a public event in the Olmsted Center last week in which he discussed his campaign points and the future of the country. The Times-Delphic secured an interview with Gov. Burgum before the event.

TD: Why did you choose to hold an event at Drake University?

Burgum: Well, because of [campaign staff member and Drake senior] Ashley Johnson. No, we’re here, of course, because Iowa plays such an important role in the caucuses. Students aren’t tomorrow’s leaders, they’re today’s leaders, so it’s important for us to get out here and talk to young people that have got the most to benefit and the most at risk depending on which way this election goes. We’re at an inflection point where the future could be incredible — where technology is going to change every job, every company, every industry. This is the generation that could benefit from that, or we could be heading towards a set of world conflicts which set back a generation, between the cold war with China and the actual proxy wars that we are [having] with Russia and with Iran. So student engagement I think is key because it’s your future to inherit this country, and so I love it when the students get engaged.

TD: Why should college students vote for you?

Burgum: I think college students are particularly understanding of the impact of how technology is changing. It’s changing everything, [but] it hasn’t changed government. There’s a lot of career politicians in this race, but when I looked down the debate stage, I’m creating more jobs than all the other candidates on stage. I have been making payroll as in creating jobs and paying people…since my mid 20s. With the economic challenges that are facing this generation — with the record debt, that $34 trillion of debt, the high interest rates, which are pushing homeownership out of reach for almost every American — that part of the American dream of owning a home. And then with inflation, which I’m sure every student understands where the costs are going and how that’s affected even tuition and driving everything up. If you can’t fix the economy — it’s one of the jobs the president has to do — if you’ve never worked in the economy, if you’ve never invested in taking risks in the economy and created jobs in the economy and worked with the small businesses, I don’t know actually how you would do the job. I feel like it ought to be a requirement for being the president of the United States that you’ve actually worked in the private sector. So if you said, “Why should people support us?” We’ve got a proven track record in the private sector, and I’ve shown that when you apply that to a state, you can do the things we’ve done in North Dakota. We’ve been able to reduce the size of government, we’ve been able to cut red tape and we’ve been able to really cut taxes in North Dakota. We passed record tax cuts this last spring, and we’ve also passed another 50 red tape reduction bills that came on top of our first four months in office. We got $1.7 billion out of the state budget, and everything still ran on time. A lot of politicians will say they’re going to reduce government spending, but if you had a debate criteria that said you can only be on the debate stage if you’ve actually ever cut government spending as opposed to slow the growth of it, I’d be the only guy standing up there.**

TD: Even if you don’t win, what do you hope people will take from your campaign?

Burgum: Well, we’re still campaigning hard. So we’re still still charging ahead — and particularly to the caucus-goers in Iowa we’re saying, “Hey, look, if there’s ever been a time when we need someone from the heartland that understands small towns and what states like Iowa and North Dakota, do, feed and fuel the world, now’s the time.” Iowa caucus goers have an opportunity to send a signal to the nation that they think that there ought to be someone moving forward in the finals because Iowa is about narrowing the field, and we would really support everyone doing that. But I’m not selling a book. I’m not running for a cabinet position. I got plenty of options to go back to the private sector or continue being governor of North Dakota — those are all options that are on the table. So I think one thing that people ought to take away from this is we’ve already had an impact, because when we announced on June 7, we said that the big issues that were facing our country that touched every American were economy, energy and national security, and they’re all intertwined. If you go back to June 7, everybody said, “Oh, this campaign is gonna be about woke this and woke that,” and we said, “Hey, woke is what we did in North Dakota to get up and start the day at 5 a.m. to go to work — not something else.” And now everybody’s talking about these issues and the world is even more on fire than it was last June, so I think what they should take away is that we understood coming into this thing what the big issues are. We understand that the role of the federal government is a limited role and that we ought to return power to the states and the people and we can get this country back on track.

TD: Your campaign website says, “Our enemies aren’t our neighbors down the street. Our enemies are countries that want to see our way of life destroyed.” It also says “we’ve become a country of neighbors fighting neighbors.” Can you expand on this?

Burgum: I think something that affects every age and every college campus, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat or an Independent — the disease of addiction and mental health issues are ravaging our country. With that, we’ve lost more than five Vietnam’s worth of people to overdose deaths since Joe Biden took office. 70,000 people have died. A record 300 a day are dying, and these are sons and daughters and nieces and nephews and moms and dads.* The disease of addiction and fentanyl does not discriminate what party you’re in or who you voted for — if you’ve ever voted. Low income, high income, whatever, and the fact [is] that we as a nation don’t have leadership that can figure out how to get us all on the same page on how to do that. I mean, I don’t even like the word bipartisan. This affects everybody. Addiction affects every family, every community and every business, and it’s something we ought to solve. But you need leadership that can actually unite people as opposed to divide people. You need leadership that can bring people together for a common cause, and that’s what I’ve always done. I build high-performing teams and solve problems. That’s what we do, and I know we can solve this one. But not if we try to even turn something as tragic as 300 people dying a day unnecessarily because of either the combination of an open border and treating addiction like it’s a moral failing versus it’s actually a brain disease — that’s a problem. That’s a problem we know we can solve. We’ve made big progress on it in North Dakota. The First Lady [Burgum’s wife], who has struggled with addiction for over two and a half decades and now is in recovery, has been a courageous face and voice for why we need to eliminate the shame and stigma of the disease of addiction and start treating it like the brain disease it is. So we’ll bring that fight every day.

Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.  

*According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, about 192,000 have died from an overdose since Jan. 2021 when Biden took office. The TD could not find an updated statistic for daily overdose deaths. U.S. and allied military deaths in Vietnam are estimated at 282,000.

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