October 17, 2012 - "This is the most important election of my lifetime," said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers during the Independent Tea Party Patriots' Town Hall Meeting. Rogers, along with other candidates who will appear on the November 6 ballot, spoke at the Fountains Banquet Hall on October 10.
U.S. Rep Mike Rogers takes a question from the audience at the Tea Party meeting. Photo by Mary Keck (click for larger version)
Rogers, Eighth District representative, shared his experiences overseas, spoke about current events, and answered questions from the audience of approximately 150 people who attended.
In his opening speech, Rogers shared his point of view that the U.S. is in the midst of an "identity crisis" because of its international relationships. "The world is less safe and more confusing," he said.
He described Iran as "unfettered" and told the audience Iran is "running toward a nuclear weapon." Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent, said the Obama administration showed, "a lack of leadership around the world will cost us trouble."
Not only did Rogers voice concerns about Iran, but he also said, "Al Qaeda is growing and getting stronger."
He described the attack on the U.S. embassy that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens as an "Al Qaeda coordinated event that was sophisticated and well planned." Rogers warned, "there's a big red target on the backs of other ambassadors."
Rogers was worried about the Russians too. "They look like us, but they don't think like us," he said. According to Rogers, Vladmir Putin's behavior sends the message, "Russia is back and the U.S. is on the decline."
Russia, terrorism, and nuclear weapons aren't the only threats to U.S. security, according to Rogers. He also talked about dangers from China.
"We are in a cyber war," he said.
Rogers described Chinese hackers accessing personal information and intercepting messages with confidential data.
"China trying to take over our communications is a huge issue," said Independence Township Treasurer Curt Carson, who attended the event.
Learning about China and other National Security issues from Rogers made Carson feel, "our problems are worse than what we've been led to believe," he said.
"Mike Rogers is obviously very knowledgeable on National Security Issues," said Ray Hamman, co-chair of the Independent Tea Party Patriots (ITPP). Like Carson, Hamman was struck by the "possibility of cyber attacks," he said.
The ITPP organized this town hall meeting around the topic of federal issues, Hamman explained. Earlier meetings focused on other areas such as state ballot initiatives.
"Our objective was to have as many people as possible hear from candidates," said Hamman. The ITTP sought out the lesser-known conservative candidates, he added.
Besides Rogers, the speakers included Todd Courser who is running for the Michigan Board of Education; Michael Warren, an Oakland County Circuit Court judge hoping to retain his seat; Jeff Sakwa, a Michigan State University Board of Trustees hopeful, and Rob Steele, a candidate for the University of Michigan Board of Regents.
"We like to have informed voters," said Hamman. "The main thing we try to do is educate."
While Treasurer Carson hasn't officially joined the local tea party group, he was glad to see the citizen's involvement in government. "I applaud anyone who is going to take part in the process," he said.
To Carson, the main draw for the event was Representative Rogers. "I like going to hear what he has to say because I'm going to get it pretty straight," Carson said. "Mike Rogers is one of the finest representatives in the country."
Despite his popularity with the audience, Rogers fielded questions that were not only critical of Democrats but Republicans as well. Listeners wanted to know why Republicans like Michelle Bachman and John Boehner have been quiet during the election season.
Rogers responded town hall meetings are "the only way we can talk to people." He said, "The media gives the president a pass," but doesn't listen to conservative voices.
Although conservative politicians got some heat, Democrats were the targets of most of the audience's criticism. The crowd accused President Obama of being a communist and a terrorist. One person in attendance said training on extremists and terrorism has been taken out of military field manuals.
"He doesn't care," attendees called out when Rogers mentioned the president's absence at the recent UN summit in New York.
In response to the audience's frustration with the current administration, Rogers encouraged them to cast their ballots for Mitt Romney. "Every vote's going to count," he said. Find out more about the ITPP by going to http://itpp.us.
Clarkston News reporter