Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is currently running for an open United States Senate seat in the 2022 midterm election. Schmitt discussed his campaign for Senate, along with issues such as energy policy and coronavirus mandates, with me.

Cameron Arcand: What’s behind your decision to run for Senate? You have a great position right now as Attorney General. Why are you deciding to pursue something at the federal level as opposed to your current state-level position?

Eric Schmitt: I think we need fighters right now in Washington, D.C., and proven lifelong conservatives that are willing to go up there to be reinforcements to save America. So President Trump was in office, and there was no bigger defender of the America-First agenda that brought us energy independence and more take-home pay and a secure border. You know, defending those policies.

Then since Joe Biden’s been in office, he’s really taken a blow torch to this radical agenda. We’re gonna keep fighting against that, but I think right now, these big important fights are going through the Senate. It’s a 50-50 Senate. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and I want to take that same fighting spirit from the Attorney General’s office to Washington D.C.

CA: Now, you just mentioned a keyword there: energy independence. That’s actually been a big topic of conversation lately. I’m gonna touch on Russia in just a minute here, but you broke news recently for joining other states in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency regarding policies pertaining to gas-fueled vehicles as the Biden administration is trying to make a switch more toward electric vehicles. I was wondering if you could explain and break down what is happening in the public energy space right now and why you’re joining this lawsuit.

ES: On day one, Joe Biden really declared war on American energy independence and working families. They canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. We’re part of the lawsuit on that. We’re also part of the lawsuit … were victorious on, as far as drilling on federal lands. That was all part of day one … Essentially what they’re trying to do is the Green New Deal without anybody ever having to vote on it.

We’ve got the most recent filing this week. So there’s a lot going on in the energy space. One this week was essentially trying to California the rest of the United States. So forcing every state in the union to have these restrictive emissions standards that they have in California as the standard for everybody else, which of course, will make things a lot more expensive.

If people ultimately want to make those decisions in the marketplace, that’s one thing. But the EPA moving forward now is part and parcel of what this administration has done, which is not getting congressional approval for things and then weaponizing these agencies. They’re not accountable.

CA: A lot of people, when they’re casting their ballot in this upcoming election, are going to be looking at what their leaders have done and what these candidates are planning on doing. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, what actions did your office take to ease restrictions?

ES: I think this is one thing that clearly separates me from the rest of the field in the Senate race for sure, which is [that] a lot of people can talk about things, but there’s only one that’s actually done things and been successful. So we were the first state to file on the OSHA vaccine mandate.

We were the first; we led a coalition of states. We were the first state to file on the CMS [Center for Medicare &  Medicaid Services] healthcare mandate, led a coalition there. We filed, of course, on the federal contractor mandate, and that is actually still making its way through the process. So we were a leader on those fights, and we took it all the way to the Supreme Court and we won. That would’ve had a tremendous impact on our economy.

I mean, you see the trucker convoys right now. The supply chain issues are problematic, but particularly for that industry, you would’ve had a number of people just make the decision not to get vaccinated … So we’ve led on that at the federal level. Then at the local level, there’s been no more aggressive attorney general in the country on these local COVID tyrants. Whether it’s suing political subdivisions, like the largest county, St. Louis County, and winning in court to — they had a forced masking policy — or we’ve filed nearly 50 lawsuits against nearly 50 school districts in Missouri.

We’re winning there; they’re all backing away because of the legal pressure we’ve applied, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody in the country that’s been more active on taking on COVID tyranny. Because I think for me, it’s always been about a much larger issue, too. It’s about the vaccine mandates, it’s about the masks, it’s about the lockdowns, but it was about America being the freest country in the history of the world. We don’t wanna lose that.

CA: So switching gears a bit here to issues that you might be potentially facing in the Senate. Right now it’s no secret that there is a conflict happening in Eastern Europe, and it would not be surprising if, further down the line, the U.S. got more heavily involved. If the U.S. Senate is presented with a use of force resolution, similar to what happened with the Iraq War, would you vote support that resolution to use military force?

ES: I think right now we shouldn’t be sending men and women to die over there. I do think that we continue to fly strong sanctions in. They ought to, quite frankly, they ought to be tougher. We ought to be going directly at Russia’s energy capacity, and that hasn’t happened yet. That needs to happen. But I think it is also another important issue for this country as an America-First candidate in this race, which is [that] we were energy independent. We’re not anymore. We need to be energy independent.

We need to “drill, baby, drill.” We need “frack, baby, frack.” We need to have all of the great energy opportunities we have in this country. Liquified natural gas. We need to be exporting that to our freedom-loving friends around the world. So not just be energy independent, but we need to be a net exporter of energy again. I think Germany’s found out what that means for them. President Trump warned them about that … Russia’s benefiting from high oil prices right now. So we have to change course and really reexamine our energy policy, be energy independent again, and export that energy to our friends across the world.

CA: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

ES: We’ve taken a leading role in helping secure our border. Missouri was the first state to sue, along with Texas, on the “Remain-In-Mexico” policy. We took that all the way to the Supreme Court, and we won. We have filed a lawsuit with Texas to finish President Trump’s border wall.

Now we’re on the “Remain-In-Mexico” policy; we’re back in court trying to get the Biden administration to actually comply. But my position has been, “Every state’s a border state,” because the issues that are coming, the problems that are coming across the border, whether it’s fentanyl, trafficking, other drug trafficking … it doesn’t end in El Paso; it makes its way into Columbus, Ohio or Kansas City, Mo. So we’ve taken that very seriously and taken a leading role in that too. Aggressively pushing back against the Biden administration’s disastrous border policy that’s left Americans less safe.

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