U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts brought his conservative political message to Boise on Friday, speaking out on the state Capitol steps before hitting a fund-raiser for Helen Chenoweth and his daughter’s wedding in nearby Mountain Home.
Chenoweth introduced Watts as “one of those special stars in America.”
After his brief talk, she said, “Now you see the reason why people are talking seriously about J.C. Watts as our next vice presidential candidate.”
Watts, R-Oklahoma, told reporters, “I think we can do better in government. … We need to cut taxes, make government smaller.”
In his speech, he said, “I love my government. I just love my freedoms a whole lot more.”
Watts praised congressional efforts at welfare reform, saying the old system pushed people into unwanted dependence.
“We need to change the system,” he said. “It’s not always the people in the system. Often it’s the system.”
He recalled a congressional colleague challenging him in debate, saying Watts’ approach lacked compassion.
His answer, he said, was this: “You define compassion by how many people are on food stamps, AFDC and in public housing. I define compassion by how few people are on food stamps, AFDC and in public housing, because we’ve given them the means to climb the ladder of economic opportunity.”
“All over this country there are people that are on welfare that do not want to be there. They want to be out being productive.”
Watts lamented what he called a decline in America’s culture. He criticized everything from the basketball player who attacked a coach to the current sex scandal involving allegations against President Clinton.
“In 1999, there’s an estimate that we will have a surplus in our treasury … but we are bankrupt morally and socially. I think we all should be concerned about that.”
Idaho Family Forum director Dennis Mansfield, who introduced Chenoweth, used the occasion to declare Watts an “honorary Idahoan.”
Watts already had ties to the state and has visited before.
His daughter has been stationed at the Mountain Home Air Force Base 30 miles southeast of Boise for the past 2 years, Watts said.
A Baptist minister, Watts was en route to his daughter’s wedding, at which he will officiate today in Mountain Home.
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