Approximately 50 to 75 people arrived at the Lee County Patriots "meet-and-greet" to hear candidate Curt Clawson speak. He is running for the District 19 U.S. House of Representatives seat.
Kathy Jones of Lee County Patriots opened the meeting by welcoming Clawson to Pine Island and introducing Byron Donalds, a conservative Republican and political grassroots leader. Donalds ran for Florida's 19th District seat in 2012.
In introducing Clawson, Donalds said, "I've met with all of the candidates and I came to the conclusion that the only person I could support in this race is Curt Clawson. I believe this is the man who has the leadership credentials in this race, he has the business credentials in this race."
Candidate Curt Clawson addressing the Lee County Patriots “meet-and-greet.”
Addressing the crowd, Clawson said, "I want everyone to know first of all I'm not going to assimilate in Washington. I'm not going to put on our jersey from our state and our district and then fight for the other team. The establishment does not want us to win. They don't want us to win in Florida they don't want us to win in Washington. I'm going to represent what you want and what our goals are and I'm going to use all my leadership skills to do that.
"I know a little bit about being the underdog and I think we can do a little bit better. I think as conservatives we can do better and that's why I put my name in.
"I want to tell you about my family history and thereby giving you a sense of what my values are," he said. "Then I'll tell you a little bit about my business background and why we're here in the political environment."
Clawson then went on to talk about his siblings and family life.
"I have six brothers and sisters and we're not one of those families that doesn't keep up with each other. Although our personalities are very, very different as all big families are.
"I can say our parents brought us up right. We were all made it to work and we have no excuses for not choosing the right things because my parents brought all of us up right.And I can tell you that I'm not going to change my values whether I go to Washington or not. We ate together, we played sports together and every weekend we rode horses together. Then every night we knelt down and read scripture and prayed together."
He continued, "I came to Florida two years ago to be with my parents. I own who I am and I will not falter in the path. My family values are my most important thing and I thank God that I had parents like them.
"When I was six years old I failed kindergarten and every time I've taken a different job in my life I've always taken that report card with me because it's great motivation," he said. "When I went back to school the next year the kids made fun of me and to this day I hate bullies. Then when I went back to school on the second day I told my mom and dad I don't want to go back anymore. So my mom came up with a solution. Every day she would drive me across town to go to a different school where the kids didn't know me and didn't laugh at me. I remember on those drives every day I would say 'Mom, I'm dumb," and every day she would say "you're bot dumb... you're going to be OK you're going to be something special.' My mom is my absolute hero and she taught me to believe in myself no matter what anybody else says and no matter how big the odds are."
He then went on to describe his ambitions, if elected.
"I can promise you if you send me to Washington, I will not let you down. I've never been intoxicated in my life and I've never been high not once. As a CEO of a company you get vetted all the time.
"The Department of Education budget has doubled to $70 billion under Obama, he continued. "Sometimes the Environmental Protection Agency seems like a job killer. And the list goes on and on. We have a $17 trillion debt. The government is 25 percent of the GDP. I just don't think it's that complicated to get back to 19 percent. That 25 percent of the government crowds out private investment. If there's no private investment there's no good jobs.
"We have a boom that's waiting to happen," he said. "A different president and a slightly different Congress, we can have 4 or 5 percent growth.
"I'm going to fight on the philosophical side but I'm also going to fight on the economical side because the next generation deserves better jobs."
The candidate then fielded some questions from the audience.
When asked if he owned a gun, Clawson said, "Yes. My dad always had shotguns and I have a shotgun. People that ride horses know a little bit about guns.
He was then asked what he was going to do about fuel prices.
"Where prices are too high is generally where government gets involved where they shouldn't," he responded. "Whether it's fuel, whether it's Obama Care / health care. I think the energy is poised for an explosion. How do you do that you unleash all of the regulations. Build the pipeline, do the fracking, and unleash as much drilling as possible you can have 4 or 5 percent growth."
He was then questioned about his feelings about tax reform and a flat tax.
"We're going to have a detailed economic plan out next week," he said. "It's our hope that our economic plan will be the most detailed one of all the candidates."