Transcript: Rep. Adam Putnam 2006

Ward Mailliard: We’ve figured out that when we go to the law firms to interview, they’ve got these great big board rooms, and when we go to Congress, we’re in these small rooms, we figure that they’ve got more money than Congress.

Adam Putnam: Yeah, you can see where all the money is, that’s right. So, where y’all from?

All: California.

Adam Putnam: Where in California?

All: Santa Cruz.

Adam Putnam: Great.

Daniel Nanas: Congressman Farr’s district.

Adam Putnam: Well, I knew you were from Congressman Farr’s district; I just didn’t know where exactly his district was.

This worked out. Everybody’s cozy?

Ward Mailliard: So tell him what you’ve been doing the last week or so.

Daniel Nanas: Well, we’ve interviewed a lot of people so far – we’ve been very excited about this one – including congressman Kucinich, congressman Farr, congresswoman Barbara Lee (we just interviewed), congressman Anthony Weiner, congressman Lewis.

Alyssa deBenedetti: Congressman Dingell.

Adam Putnam: That’ll be Congressman John Lewis from Georgia?

All: Yeah

Adam Putnam: Oh, what an interesting story he is. Powerful stuff.

Daniel Nanas: Tomorrow, we’re going to interview Tom Foley and Bob Zoellick.

Adam Putnam: Another couple of good ones; former speaker, former trade rep.

Alyssa deBenedetti: We’re interviewing Feinstein after.

Adam Putnam: So, what… so we got… This goes to that, what’s that?

Ward Mailliard: That’s a backup.

Adam Putnam: And that, and that… It’s like the shuttle; we’ve got redundancy.

Kendra Froshman: We’re working with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which is a local newspaper in Santa Cruz, and we have a website along with their stuff – if anyone has a card?

Daniel Nanas: I do.

Adam Putnam: Johnny on the spot.

Kendra Froshman: And we’re updating it daily with photos, student commentary and stuff.

Adam Putnam: Neat.

Ward Mailliard: We’ve been given unrestricted access to the media for ten days, and we’re using it.

Adam Putnam: Good for you, that’s wonderful. Well, welcome to the three ring circus that is Washington. I’m delighted to have you. I have a program that I participated in when I was in high school called “congressional classroom” that was hosted by my congressman, and then it kind of died off between the time that I was in high school, and there was a kind of intervening congressman and he didn’t continue the program, and then we brought it back. And so every year, I have one junior from every high school in my district, plus the private schools, plus home school, come up and do a similar type thing without the press credentials. But for a week, where they get to see really government in action, we get them over to the embassy so they can see the international perspective, we get them over to the White House, they see the executive branch, we try to line stuff up for them over at the Supreme Court.

Anyway, it’s really a wonderful program, so I’m glad you all are doing something very similar, because I know how much it meant to me when I was a high school student, sort of being exposed to the world of politics and ideas and democracy in action.

I’m from central Florida. My district is the I-4 corridor, which you may have heard about in the past couple of presidential elections, it’s kind of a swing part of the state. My district begins on the western edge of Disneyworld and runs to the city limits of Tampa, so I have a lot of Disney properties, but not the parks themselves. So it’s becoming a suburban bedroom community for Orlando and Tampa. When I was first elected – and certainly what is was when I was growing up – was a citrus, beef cattle, strawberry, fresh fruits and vegetables and ranching community, as well as phosphate mining. I don’t think that’s terribly unlike what Sam Farr’s district is, because he and I have worked together on a lot of specialty crop issues before.

I served in the state legislature for two terms, and then was elected to the Congress in 2000. Went to the University of Florida, got an agriculture degree. I have a bachelor’s, I don’t have a Poli-Sci, I don’t have a law degree, or any of that Masters of Public Policy stuff, I’m just a farmer. My family’s in the citrus and cattle business, I’m a fifth generation native Floridian.

I came to Washington my last summer as a college student and interned. And I loved the work, and I didn’t really like the town. I was here for about three months I guess, and my car was broken in to about four times. And I didn’t really care for that… It’s funny, because they would break the windows, but they wouldn’t steal anything. I guess they didn’t share my taste in country music. I didn’t have a CD player in my car, I had cassettes, so they didn’t steal any of my cassette tapes; they’d probably have just heard about those.

But anyway, I became much more aware of the issues that we’re dealing with, although I’d always been interested in them and been active in campus activities and all that. And I went home, and ran for the legislature. And I ran because I believe that back then – and it’s still true today, maybe even more true today – that the issues being debated and discussed in state capitols and in Washington will have a greater impact on your generation, my generation, then they will on most of the people who are actually casting those votes. And I believe that a lot of the issues we deal with up here are generational issues. They’re not necessarily republican issues, they’re not necessarily democratic issues, they’re generational issues.

And I believe that young people ought to be more involved, not simply because we have a representative form of government and therefore you ought to have a congress that’s representative of all of the parts – although that’s important – I believe it’s actually a little deeper than that, which is that there are issues that young people are uniquely qualified to weigh in on. That you have a unique perspective, a unique background, a unique experience that makes you in many cases even more qualified than old… than someone else to weigh in on things like technology policy, the internet, that’s kind of the classic example. You’ve really never known a time in your life when you weren’t familiar with connectivity and networking. And yet there are people in the Senate who probably couldn’t turn on a laptop if their life depended on it. And so when we talk about things like balancing protecting intellectual property with emerging technologies that allow people to download music, it’s a foreign concept to most of these guys. They don’t know what mp3 players are, they don’t know about Napster and all that stuff, and yet you do.

The internet can take – on it’s most positive side – can take an Indian reservation school in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota, and give them access to all the same information and resources that a master student at Harvard University has. And on the negative side, it can take a kid who is lonely, lacks self-confidence and is at home a lot by himself or herself, and be a portal for people who have really bad intentions to reach him. And so when we have debates around here about how to control the internet and schools or libraries or protect kids, it’s really kind of an academic argument for a lot of these guys, and yet for you, you really understand how it works… You know what MySpace is, most people up here don’t know what MySpace is, so that’s the easiest example of my point, which is that there are issues that young people are incredibly well qualified to weigh in on.

We look at issues like Social Security and Medicare, it doesn’t matter what solution to the problem you endorse, everyone agrees that the problem is such that neither one of those programs will be there when any one of you turn 67. In fact, they both go broke around the time I turn 67, so it’s a personal issue for me. And then obviously global demographics beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. If you look at nations in the Gulf States, Yemen and Katter and UAE, they have like 60% of their population under the age of 15. Can you imagine a nation of teenagers? That’s a staggering thought. An entire country where everybody is your age.

Think about all of your… I mean, you are all here in Washington perusing knowledge, and you’re going to draw conclusions from that trip and you’re going to keep some of those conclusions for the rest of your life. Some of them will change over time, but there will be a lot of opinions that form in your mind at this formative stage in your life that will shape your world view forever. And a kid in UAE is no different. So their formation of ideas about how the world works is actually a proxy for how their country views the world. And this is a pretty powerful time for people to be forming opinions about Western civilization, or the United States, or you know, whatever; you name it. That’s what they’re doing as a society, because of demographics.

We talk about demographics in the United States a lot; we’re usually talking about baby-boomers getting older. You talk about demographics in Spain; you’re talking about a negative birth rate, where they’re actually shrinking in population. Same is true in Russia. You talk about demographics in the Middle East and you’re talking about an explosion of young people who have limited opportunities. In many cases, they’ve taken half of their economic potential off the table by not allowing women to pursue opportunities, and their economy is not growing so they can find an outlet for their energy, or they can find hope for their dream. So they become frustrated and go do other things. Sometimes those are pretty dangerous things they chose, and sometimes they’re not.

So these issues – demographics, global trends, technology, globalization – they’re all generational issues, and ones that your generation is going to have to wrestle with and deal with for a long, long time to come. So… I’ll stop right there, and open it up to questions.

Madeline Weston-Miles: Hi, I’m Madeline.

Adam Putnam: Hello Madeline.

Madeline Weston-Miles: We come from a very liberal community; can you speak to us about the values you see in the Republican Party, and why you chose to become a Republican?

Adam Putnam: Sure. I grew up watching Ronald Regan, he was kind of my childhood president, and I think that in a lot of cases, that helps to shape people’s generational views. I think John Kennedy shaped a generation’s view, I think Ronald Regan shaped a generation’s view. I think Bill Clinton shaped… almost a generation’s view, if not an entire generation’s view – he had two terms to do it.

I grew up in a conservative community. I grew up in an agricultural, so private property rights were kind of a fundamental tenant. I grew up, spent a lot of time outdoors, so obviously second amendment type issues were kind of second nature. I was raised in the Episcopal church, which is… probably an Episcopal church in my community is a little different from maybe an Episcopal church in San Francisco, I’m just going out on a limb, here. But you know, a conservative faith environment, a conservative family environment, a conservative sort of community environment that’s shaped both by what people do for a living in terms of living off the land and things like that: being self-supportive, independent, suspicious of the government. And so I think all of those things kind of shape you as a young person.

And then, growing up watching politics, watching individual candidates, I probably started paying attention to presidential politics… you know, when you’re watching Dukakis run, and I think “well, I probably don’t have a whole lot in common with him.” I can remember when Al Gore ran in ’88, and I thought “man, I kind of like that guy, he’s pretty conservative.” In ’88 he was pro-gun, he was talking about his tobacco farmer roots, he kind of represented the right wing of the Democratic Party. I remember being kind of drawn, watching him. And watching Bush and Bush the first come along, I felt like I shared more of their core philosophy than I did with the guys who were running against them. And fairly or unfairly, they kind of represented each of the two major parties to me; despite the fact my community was all registered Democrats. My whole family was registered Democrat. But you know, they were kind of typical southern, very conservative Democrats who began the switch in the early ‘90’s and now basically completed the switch, and now my community is probably overwhelmingly Republican. But it’s kind of interesting that all happened in my lifetime. And I don’t think their philosophy changed, it’s just kind of their alignment with the major parties changed. But my family had to change to vote for me in the primary in 1996.

Alyssa DeBenedetti: My name is Alyssa. As such a young committee member, do you think your ideas and opinions can be treated differently?

Adam Putnam: That’s a great question. And I get that a lot. Because people say “as a younger member, do you think people treat you differently? Do you think they take you seriously?” And by and large, in almost every case I think being a younger member has been to my advantage. I think everybody is elected… When everyone is elected, it is kind of universally acknowledged that everyone got here the same way. And some people one 70% of the vote, and some people won 50.1% of the vote, but everybody managed to get enough votes to win the election. And so there’s this kind of universal level of respect. Even if you have nothing in common with that person, you respect the fact that they’re here. I find it intriguing how diverse this country truly is, when I look at how, when you watch the positions or the bills that a Barbara Lee files, or a Dennis Kucinich files, or some of the other people you said you’ve met with, verses… somebody like a Jeff Lake or a Ron Paul who represents the opposite extreme of the aisle, and yet they all represent 1/435th of the country, and got here the same way.

Once you get here, whether you rise or fall on the respect scale is pretty well up to you. And so I felt like people did show me the same courtesies they showed everyone else, however, I felt more pressure personally to be better prepared, to try and ask better questions, to make sure that we were more responsive to constituent inquiries, that our letters were substantive in their response. I felt like if we sent out a letter to some constituent who asked me where I stood on a particular issue and it had a typo in it, they’d say “see, I told you, he can’t even do a letter right. We told you that kid couldn’t be trusted to be a congressman.” Whereas if I were twice the age that I was when I was elected, they might say “oh lookie here, he’s just getting set up, he’s probably got some intern in his office who sent this out, he probably doesn’t even know it went out.” I know the people would think differently about those two scenarios.

So I felt internally more pressure on myself to be better prepared, to kind of go the extra mile and do those kinds of things. But among my colleagues I don’t feel like I was ever treated any differently, and in fact, like I said, there were probably times when people saw an opportunity to perhaps be a mentor or to be of assistance and maybe took me under their wing and gave me perhaps advantages that other people in my freshman class didn’t have.

Nina Castañon: Hi, I’m Nina.

Adam Putnam: Hey Nina.

Nina Castañon: You have been recognized on both sides of the aisle as being an exceptional debater. Regardless or age or not, do you feel that you need to take a more aggressive tactic to pass bills?

Adam Putnam: No. And I would be surprised if anyone said that I was an aggressive debater, in terms of being kind of an obnoxious partisan.

Ward Mailliard: I think they said “effective.” What we heard both sides say how effective you are as a debater.

Adam Putnam: I try to be an effective debater, but you also want to be able to shake hands and go on about your business afterwards. I make that a very personal commitment – that we’re fighting over a specific issue. You know, your host Sam Farr and I, there may be some given issue that we disagree vigorously with one another on and yet tomorrow or this afternoon when we’re doing the “Ag Approps” bill, we may be shoulder to shoulder trying to have federal agricultural policy better reflect American agriculture instead of all going to wheat, corn, rice and soybeans, recognizing the specialty crops and things that tie our districts together. So I think it’s very important that you be… that you have your facts, that you understand the information to make your point on the floor, but you don’t ever personalize it because your enemy today is your partner in moving legislation tomorrow, and it should never be about the individual. And this institution could use some more of that.

Nina Castañon: So you feel that in a way there should be a “center aisle” of communication between Republicans and Democrats?

Adam Putnam: Yeah, and I think that there is. There’s not as much as there should be. But there is more I think than what people realize; and I’ll give you an example:

Last week, we had a huge issue on offshore drilling, and Lois Capps from California – with whom I disagree on… I don’t know… maybe 60 or 70%… There’s a lot of things we probably would not agree on. And she and I cosponsored the amendment to strip language out of the appropriations bill that would have allowed drilling off Florida and off California as close in as three miles.

Well, the way that the floor debate is structured when you have that kind of bipartisan effort, the debate splits four ways; you have… I controlled fifteen minutes of time for Republicans who supported our amendment, she controlled fifteen minutes of time for democrats who supported our amendment, and then the opposition was split two ways, so you had this four-way debate doing on, and it was fabulous! It was fun, it was substantive, it was never personal, it was exactly what you close your eyes and envision when you think about what debate on the floor of the House of Representatives ought to be. And it was really a neat day – it was made more neat because we won – but we barely won, and there wasn’t a single partisan element to that debate. There were Democrats who were 100% for drilling, there were Republicans who were 100% against it, I mean it did not cut across party lines. And again, the debate was focused on the issue, focused on the facts, focused on the policy, and not on the personalities, and that’s important.

Andrea Schmitt: Hi, I’m Andie. Are there any things in your own party that you’re critical about?

Adam Putnam: Yeah. Yeah, there are. I don’t think you ever agree 100% with anything. I’ve been married for seven years now, and I don’t agree with my wife on everything. I guarantee you she doesn’t agree with me on everything.

One of the things I’ve always talked about, especially when I’m talking to groups like yours, is for years now, my party – more than the Democratic Party – has really been very critical of the bureaucracy, and have really associated people who work for the government with sloth and corruption and inefficiency. And I’ve always said I think we need to attract the bright, energetic, thoughtful people in to government. That includes the military; that includes the diplomatic core – being ambassadors of freedom and equality and liberty at our postings around the world; public health – research at the CDC and NIH; working at the IRS; working in all these buildings that line the mall.

I want our government to be efficient, capable, agile, responsive, basically everything that it wasn’t after Katrina. And we’re seeing this huge turnover in government employees where basically people are not being drawn in to government service, and you have this huge bubble of people who are reaching retirement age. And we don’t need all of them, because technology has changed and it’s easier to do a lot more with fewer people, but nevertheless, the people who end up being needed in the government – I want it to be an attractive career option for young people. So I try not to associate government service only with laziness and those kinds of things, and I think my party could do a better job of communicating that message.

Casey Lightner: I’m Casey.

Adam Putnam: Hi Casey.

Casey Lightner: We read in a biography that you have a voice in virtually every issue that comes before Congress because of your position in the House Rules Committee. What is the responsibility that comes with this position, and what effect do you think that it has had on you?

Adam Putnam: It’s always nice to be able to write your own biography… and we have a voice in everything, because we’re terribly important… The Rules Committee is uniquely situated, because basically every bill has to stop there on its way to the house floor. The only items that don’t have to stop at the Rules Committee are what we call “suspension bills,” which require two-thirds vote to pass and they’re always non-controversial, which is why they pass with two-thirds of a vote. You know, naming post offices and recognizing Super Bowl teams, NCAA slam dunk, no-brainer issues. But everything else has to stop at the Rules Committee, and the Rules Committee is fundamentally the difference between the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, there basically are no rules. Members can speak for as long as they want, about whatever they want, they can amend almost anything to almost any bill, it is limitless what you can do on the floor of the House – excuse me, on the floor of the Senate – the House is the exact opposite. The House is designed to facilitate the will of the majority; the Senate is designed really to protect the rights of the minority, which is why it essentially takes sixty votes to do anything in the Senate. They’re structured very differently for that reason. The Rules Committee over the years has kind of waxed and waned in terms of the amount of power that it wields.

When Claude Pepper is chairman of the Rules Committee – the great Floridian legendary guy – they’d get a tax bill out of Ways & Means, or a telecom bill out of Commerce, and they’d just rewrite it in the Rules Committee. They would basically ignore what the actual Committee of Jurisdiction had done, and they would say “well, we really think it ought to look like this,” and they’d totally rewrite the bill and then send it to the floor, and you’d have to take it from there.

We’re a lot more deferential to what the Committees of Jurisdiction have done, but the Rules Committee sets the terms of the debate. The Rules Committee says “we will debate this bill for two hours, we will have 15 amendments in order, 5 of those amendments are big huge controversial issues, so we going to allow 40 minutes of debate on each one of those, and the rest of the amendments we’re going to allow 30 minutes of debate or 20 minutes of debate, or we’ll take 5 of the least controversial and allow 10 minutes of debate, or whatever.” And that frames what the floor debate will look like, and that’s how you move product. And so that’s why we say that the Rules Committee is powerful, just because everything has to go through there.

It is an unusual committee in that it is very small, and the ratio of Majority to Minority members is 2-to-1, plus one; that’s the way it was when the Democrats ran it, that’s the way it is now. It’s nine majority members to four minority members. So you’re not going to lose a vote in the rules committee if you’re in the majority, it’s pretty unusual.

I view the Rules Committee’s responsibilities as being the thermometer of the House, in that we can do a lot to either raise the temperature around this place and get people stressed out and mad and unhappy, or we can do a lot to lower the temperature in this place. Obviously you like to do as much as you can to keep the temperature pretty low; sometimes on big issues, you can’t do that, but if people feel like they have an opportunity to have their amendment heard, or if they feel like they have an opportunity for the process to work, then the temperature stays pretty even. If people feel like they’ve been shut out, then obviously they get unhappy, and the temperature around here rises. Sometimes we have to make some pretty tough decisions about how to do that.

My own opinion is the more you debate, the more you hash things out on the floor, the better the end product will be. And the example from last week is kind of the best example of that. I think people felt like they had their day, I think people felt like they had their say, and I think that people felt like we voted, you had a fair deal, and we move on whether you win or lose.

Luke Sanders-Self: Hi, I’m Luke. A few days ago, we were sitting in the gallery above the house, and we saw you propose an alligator abatement amendment?

Adam Putnam: Yeah, the blogs have had a lot of fun with that one.

Luke Sanders-Self: It was then asked for to be withdrawn, so you withdrew it. I was wondering, could you explain to us what was politically going on in that action?

Adam Putnam: Sure. Well, the face value of what is going on is that in Florida, we’ve had a historically high number of alligator attacks this year, including three deaths in a week and a half, and the state of Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission informed us that they didn’t have enough trappers. Under federal law and state law, you’re not allowed to shoot an alligator. You’re not allowed to shoot an alligator because they’re still considered a threatened species that are not threatened because of their population – which is what you generally consider the reason, you usually think “well, they’re endangered, so therefore they’re protected” – in the case of the alligator, the population is fine now, I mean they’ve really recovered. The reason why you’re not allowed to kill them is because they bear a striking resemblance to the American Crocodile, which is very endangered, and lives in the farthest southern reaches of the peninsula of Florida, down in the Everglades, Shark Slough and the Florida bay. And so they don’t want people going around killing alligators, because they might end up killing the crocodiles.

So if you have a nuisance alligator, if you have a gator that’s threatening, acting in an aggressive way, or is eating somebody’s Labrador or whatever, you’re not allowed to shoot it, you have to call a state-licensed trapper. And they say that there aren’t enough trappers. In the last year, there were 18,000 calls to the FWC hotline to have an alligator removed. So we saw an opportunity more than anything else to make a statement about the fact that we need to change our policy on alligators, and try and get some more money for trappers. Because it was an appropriations bill, it was pretty easy to write the amendment, because we consider approps bills on what we call an “open rule,” where it’s kind of freewheeling; you come up with an amendment, you take it straight to the floor, it’s the easiest possible way to get something done, to get something into a floor fight – floor vote.

Well anyway, that’s kind of the face value of what’s going on. Technically though, the way that we chose to make that point and direct that money was to what we call the “State and Tribal Wildlife Grants.” Which meant that (INPUT CUT) waiting on an approps bill, we had to put it in to what is an existing grant program so you’re only moving money around, you’re not changing policy. The net effect of that is that money – that half-million dollars that we asked for – would have been spread over the fifty states, so it really wouldn’t have done us… Florida would have gotten another, I don’t know, $17,000 or something like that, which defeated the whole purpose. So it was an imperfect vehicle to actually get more money to trappers, but it was a perfect vehicle to make a point.

So we went to the floor, made the point, got the chairman and the ranking members’ attention, and got them to commit on the floor as you’ll recall, to take note of the problem and work with us to rectify it as this bill goes to conference. So the idea there is we’ve got them on record saying “we’ll help you try and find a way to solve this problem,” and so I withdrew the amendment after we got that. So that was kind of… It’s one of those deals where the game you’re watching is not necessarily the game that’s being played… which is pretty frequent on the floor.

Naomi Magid: My name’s Naomi. I’m sure you know from speaking with Sam, we live in a small, agricultural community, and we have a lot of encounters with illegal immigrants every day. I know that you work with illegal immigrants on the Immigration Committee. I was just wondering if you’ve had experience with that, and if that affects your legislation.

Adam Putnam: Yes, is the most simple answer. My district is agricultural, although less so, and it is… obviously has a lot of tourism, hospitality industry, so dishwashers, hotel housekeeping, landscaping, and then a booming construction, so a lot of framers and drywall and people cutting sod and roofing and all this. A lot of that labor is not fully documented. On top of that, the unemployment rate in Florida is 3%. Anybody know what it is in California? I mean, the national unemployment rate is 4.8, it’s historic. When I was in college – which was not that long ago – 5% unemployment was considered full employment. That meant that everybody who wanted a job had a job, and those who were not employed were either not seeking it, or they were ineligible for the work force; they had some issue that prevented them from being in the work force. They had substance abuse issues or something like that that kept them from being hired. Florida, it’s 3%.

So the difficult challenge that I have in talking to my constituents who may not be as informed on this and they’re taking kind of a knee-jerk reaction of “round them up and send them back.” If you take all of the emotion out of the debate, take the English language, take Mexican flag demonstrations, take all the stuff that made people mad out of the equation, the simple arithmetic doesn’t work. In a 3% unemployment with a booming economy, a thousand new residents today coming to Florida, net, an exploding tourism industry, an exploding construction industry, and still a very vigorous agriculture industry, you’ve got to get these workers from somewhere.

Now, if you think you can persuade enough people to move to Florida from Michigan and Ohio and New York and New Jersey, to come pick oranges, pick tomatoes, and build shingle roofs in August in the state of Florida, that’s fine. I don’t think there are enough of those people, so therefore we’ve got to find some kind of a temporary worker to do these things that there’s not enough of a labor pool domestically to do.

So absolutely, my district and my personal background shape my view of immigration, and I’d say we’re in the minority.

Ward Mailliard: So I know we’re at the end of our time. You’ve been very generous. Can we go to our closer here? Jeremy.

Jeremy Thweatt: What would be the most important piece of advice that you would give our generation?

Adam Putnam: You know, I began with it, but we didn’t really fully develop it, which is – and you’re already doing it – which is to be involved. When I say “being involved,” I don’t… If you want to run for office, that’s great, but I’m not telling everyone to run for office, I mean that’s just one piece of aggressive citizenship, for lack of a better term. Volunteerism, community service, voting is like the bare minimum – I don’t think anybody ought to brag about registering to vote. Big whoop. But actually finding a cause or a campaign that you support and volunteering on it, getting to know your community better as a result of that experience, understanding why people don’t think the way you do, trying to understand… Most issues, they don’t just have two sides, most issues have about fourteen sides, and trying to understand why people have come to the conclusions they have, and how we as a nation can move toward consensus on some of these challenges.

So being involved, doing the bare minimum, at least doing the minimum in terms of volunteering and giving back and participating in the democratic process and participating in trying to craft solutions, whether they’re national solutions – whether it’s a national problem or a problem in your own back yard. Different people are drawn to different things, and there’s not one that’s better than another. Reading to kids in your elementary school is just as important as volunteering to save the rainforest. I don’t believe there’s a scale on that. It’s all important. It’s just different people are more drawn to different topics.

When I ran the first time, I just assumed young people would support me, because they would like the idea of a young person being a candidate. I didn’t get any more young people who supported me than Bob Dole did. The people who supported me in my first race were over 65. And the reason why they supported me is because they knew that young people not only can make a difference in the theoretical sense, but do make a difference. That 65 year old was at Iwo Jima at 18, or in North Africa at 16 because they’d lied and gotten into the Marines early, or were in Anzio or all these places no American had ever heard of. How many Americans in 1941 had ever heard of Iwo Jima? It’s kind of like how many Americans in 2001 had heard of Jalalabad? Or Kabul? Or Mosul? Or Mazar-e Sharif? But that generation knew that when they were in their late teens and early twenties, they defeated imperial Japan, they defeated Nazi Germany; they came home, raised a family, went to school on a GI bill, rebuilt their former enemies through the Marshall Plan, and made the last century the American century. So when people said “he’s too young to be in the state legislature,” they kind of scoffed and said, “That’s ridiculous. Look at what we did when we were his age.”

All: Thank you.

Adam Putnam: Thank you.