One of the hopefuls for the Constitution Party’s presidential nomination just completed a campaign swing through Idaho.
Scott Copeland, a Baptist preacher and Mississippi native, said his priorities are God, family and country, in that order.
“I believe God would have godly people in our White House and in our nation’s capital serving His people,” Copeland said in an interview Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Twin Falls. “I believe those ideologies of (our) founding have been somewhat abandoned by greed and for prosperity of those serving in Washington.”
This is Copeland’s first time running for office. He said this is an advantage — a politician shouldn’t ever be president in the first place.
“I’m just your average American citizen who believes he can make a real difference,” said Copeland, who lives in Texas now and works for a surveying firm.
Copeland, who declared his candidacy in April, is one of six candidates who are reportedly considering seeking the party’s nomination. The party’s 2012 presidential candidate, Virgil Goode, got three-tenths of 1 percent of the vote in Idaho. Goode was on the ballot in 26 states and had write-in status in 16 others.
Copeland made several stops in northern Idaho and in Boise before coming to Twin Falls. Idaho’s Constitution Party plans to hold a primary, rather than a caucus, to choose its presidential favorite this year.
Copeland said he plans to focus on those states where the Constitution Party has ballot access currently (a national party spokeswoman said last month there are 13, and Copeland said party members are working to get on the ballot in eight others), and to encourage people to join the party in those states where the party doesn’t. He was going to Salt Lake City after Idaho, and plans to make a campaign swing through the South after that.
Idaho’s Constitution Party ran candidates for governor in 2006 and 2014 and for lieutenant governor in 2006, 2010 and 2014, and it also ran some state legislative candidates — Christian Fioravanti, of Bonners Ferry, did the best percentage-wise out of any of the party’s candidates in 2014, getting 35 percent of the vote in his loss to Republican Sen. Shawn Keough.
The party believes in returning to what it sees as the original intent of the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers. Its platform calls for dramatically reducing the size of the federal government and its power in relation to the states, and favors conservative social policies, such as opposing abortion and gay-rights laws.
Copeland said he wants to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, which authorized a federal income tax. He said high taxes are a threat to freedom, and that getting rid of income taxes will force the federal government to scale back to its originally intended roles.
“How can you and I pursue happiness if the government is pulling that much money out of our checks?” he said.
Among other policy positions he discussed in an interview with the Times-News, Copeland favors abolishing the federal Department of Education and opposes national education standards and Common Core, saying those decisions should be made at the local level. And he favors stopping all Muslim immigration into the U.S.
On his first day in office, he said he would issue an executive order laying off 99 percent of the Internal Revenue Service’s employees and undoing executive actions granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants who are in the U.S. now.
“We have to undo the illegal alien issue in our country,” he said, saying undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from unemployed Americans. He castigated Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, who has said he supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Ted Cruz, who has backed legislation to increase the number of visas for high-tech workers.
“Does that sound like someone who has American citizens’ interests at heart?” he said.
Copeland also said he favors turning some of the federally owned lands in the West, excluding national parks, over to state and local control, albeit with a proviso saying they could only be sold to individuals, not to large corporations.
“It would really help the Idaho people, I think, if they could get their livelihoods and have some dreams of their own, rather than have it consumed by the federal government,” he said.
Copeland said that he had visited eastern Idaho before, on missionary trips, but that this campaign swing was his first time in the state since 1992. He said he was struck by how clean and litter-free Idaho seems, compared to some other places.
“Your people genuinely care about your surroundings,” he said.