Former U.S. Army airborne ranger Sean Parnell, who served in the legendary 10th Mountain Division and who received two Bronze Stars (one for valor) and the Purple Heart, announced late last month that he was launching a congressional campaign as a Republican to unseat freshman Rep. Connor Lamb (D) in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Wire, Parnell outlined his goals for Congress which center around preserving freedom, dealing with China, crushing the rise of socialism in the United States, and about reigning in the out of control spending in Washington, D.C.
Parnell made his announced late last month during an interview on Fox News’ “FOX & Friends” where he immediately went after Lamb, who falsely portrays himself as being a moderate in the Democrat Party.
— Sean Parnell (@SeanParnellUSA) October 30, 2019
Parnell has since launched a digital ad targeting the fact that Lamb has sided with the far-left base in the Democratic Party approximately 90% of the time while voting in Congress.
Late last month, President Donald Trump endorsed Parnell during a speech at the 9th Annual Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“There’s a guy named Sean Parnell, who is a fantastic military man. Brilliant. Got everything going,” Trump said. “And I heard, fellas – maybe my genius congressman can tell me – I hear that Sean is going to, Sean Parnell is going to run against Conor Lamb. That will help the energy business a lot. (Applause.) And he should win. He should win. And Sean will vote for us, and he’ll work for us.”
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Wire, Parnell revealed what inspired him to enter politics, the things that he wants to accomplish, what he believes are the greatest threats that the U.S. is facing and his solutions to tackling some of the problems that the United States is facing.
The full interview is listed below:
1. What inspired you to get into politics?
Well, I’ve been serving my nation pretty much my entire adult life. I joined the Army after watching the attacks of Sept. 11th. I went to Afghanistan, and fought for 485 days in heavy combat. 85% of my platoon was wounded during my deployment to Afghanistan – me included. Shortly after arriving home, I was medically retired as a Captain. Since I’ve been out of the Army, I have dedicated my life to serving the veteran and first responder communities. For the last six years, we’ve given everything from mortgage-free homes to service dogs. Part of the reason I decided to step up and serve again in the effort to re-take Congress is because I feel like our nation is under attack, this time from within, by a small number of elitist, ultra-left-wing politicians in Washington who wish to overturn an American election through a sham impeachment proceeding. When I joined the military, I took an oath to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States and the People of this nation. That oath doesn’t expire.
2. As a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, what have you gained from your experience that will be beneficial for serving in Congress?
My platoon was the most diverse small unit you could possibly imagine. It was made up of people from every race, creed and religion – people from all walks of life, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican. Yet, despite all of our differences, and in the midst of heavy combat, we figured out a way to make it work. We came together, united in purpose and defeated a foe who greatly outnumbered us, day in and day out. The lesson there for me as a young combat leader was that the essence of leadership is about uniting people – not by focusing on our differences. The idea that our love of America should, and always did, come before those differences. That very same servant leadership philosophy will follow me to Washington.
3. With the rise of socialism in the Democratic Party, are you also concerned about the Democrats’ continued push to curtail the freedoms of U.S. citizens?
Yes. Absolutely. The 2020 election is a fight for the heart and soul of this nation. Will America choose freedom, and the ability for all people to chart our own path, or socialism, and total government control over every aspect of our lives? The question has never been so stark, and even the socialistic Democrats admit it. I choose freedom, and I will fight like hell to protect it for all Americans.
4. Are you pro-Trump? If so, what about the president has made you a supporter?
I am, and I already have his endorsement. I like President Trump because he tells it like it is. He’s plain spoken. He’s a fighter. And whether or not you like his every method, you cannot argue with his results. Our nation has never been stronger economically, or militarily – and that’s what we need from our president.
5. Why should minorities vote Republican and how should the party reach out to them?
We have to be the party of economic opportunity for all. I’m proud of the fact that President Trump’s policies of lower taxes and lower regulations have produced record employment levels for people of all races. In almost every demographic, we see record low unemployment. Wages in every demographic are on the rise, total household income is up, and Americans from every walk of life are benefiting. As Republicans, we have to be willing to take that good news into all communities and engage with them. Leadership is about showing up and discussing the issues with people, even if we disagree – especially if we disagree. Leadership is about building bridges and making the case that Republican ideas are the best way forward for them. I think freedom and opportunity are color blind principles, and I will take that message everywhere.
6. Why should younger voters vote Republican, and what are you going to do to reach them?
Young voters in America are concerned they will not have the same economic opportunities their parents had. They’ve been saddled with mountains of student loan debt by the government monopoly system and they’re tempted by the free lunch promised by the socialists. Our job as conservatives is to make sure they understand that opportunity and freedom is the way to move ahead economically. This new generation has been raised to know more individual liberty than any in history – they’re used to buying and reading and listening to exactly what they want on their smartphones – and we just have to help them connect their love of individual choices with the principles of freedom.
7. How should the GOP respond to some of the issues, like healthcare and student debt, that Democrats propose addressing with socialist policies?
I think with healthcare, the GOP needs to focused on market-based solutions that give people more flexibility to choose a plan that works for them. That starts with letting insurance companies compete across state lines, and letting associations and small businesses band together to get better rates for insurance for their members or employees. More competition means lower costs, and more flexibility to choose healthcare plans that best suit varied lifestyles will deliver more competition. The bottom line is this: Innovative market-based ideas are the path forward, not more government monopoly control.
No sector of the economy has seen more inflation than higher education, and much of it is because college administrators are all too willing to saddle their customers, students, with ridiculous amounts of debt, knowing it is all guaranteed by a single monopoly lender – the federal government. The federal government’s monopoly system has failed and it’s time for reform so that college can become affordable again for middle class families.
8. How should Republicans respond to the Democrats becoming the party of identity politics?
Democrats want to divide us – we must respond with a message of unity. What unites is always more powerful than the superficial things that divide us. This is a leadership issue, and the GOP needs to continually bang this drum. We are all Americans first. My training is in the Army, where you learn that we all bleed the same color – red. My platoon in Afghanistan couldn’t have been more diverse, but we put those differences aside and beat the enemy back at every turn. If we had let our petty differences divide us, every one of us would have perished on a nameless hilltop in Afghanistan and never seen our loved ones again. We realized quickly that if we could figure out a way to come together in a remote corner of the world, surrounded by death and destruction, we can do it here at home, too. United in purpose, we can accomplish anything set before us.
9. What do you view as the greatest threat the United States both from a foreign and a domestic standpoint?
The greatest threat we face globally, no question, is China. The greatest threat we face here at home are ultra far-left ideas that seek to dismantle the very things that make this nation exceptional. Ask yourself this question: What would your life be like if the ultra Left got everything they wanted? You can see it by looking at this presidential field. They would overturn elections they don’t like. They would come to your home and confiscate the firearms you use for self defense. They would outlaw private healthcare. They would allow post-birth abortion. They would allow massive, unchecked illegal immigration with guaranteed and unlimited welfare for anyone who crosses our unguarded borders. They would tax us all into oblivion, making work and entrepreneurship less attractive. The list goes on and on. Ultra-left policies are about one thing and one thing only: Control. We need leaders in this nation who will stand against that radical agenda, and I will be one of those people.
10. If elected, what do you hope to accomplish with respect to policy?
Well, I’m already proud of some of my policy achievements. In 2014 I worked with the patriots at Concerned Veterans of America to pass The Veterans Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act, which later became the Mission Act, that was signed into law by the President. I also helped to pass the VA Accountability Act out of the House in 2015. These bills are by far the most substantive VA reform in a generation. Heck, all the way back in 2012, I worked like hell to save the 911th Airlift Wing in Western Pennsylvania. It was set to close under the Obama Administration, we saved it. Along with hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.
When I get to Washington, my first and foremost priority will be to stand with people of Western Pennsylvania. All too often, representatives get elected, and end up being more loyal to party bosses than they are with their own constituents. That’s certainly the case with my opponent. One of my first actions legislatively will be to put forth a bill to cut spending. Right now, our debt is one of our greatest national security threats and China holds a significant portion of that debt. It’s problematic to say the least and we need leaders in Washington who have to courage to take this on, otherwise it’s not a question of if the system will collapse, but when. This is the challenge of our generation.
11. The Democratic Party, with the help of the media, have really taken control of the narrative surrounding climate change. Many Republicans in your state, Pennsylvania, care about addressing climate issues. How does the Republican Party start to win over people who are concerned about the climate?
The policy debate on this issue is not about the climate – it’s about control. Liberals want to control the life choices and the economic activities of the rest of us. They believe Washington knows best, and they are willing to sacrifice the economic growth that keeps our region afloat. I believe the job of Western Pennsylvania’s congressman is to defend Western Pennsylvania. Have you ever tried telling some who works on an oil rig that they’ll have to give up their job because the temperature of the Earth may rise by .2 degrees over the next century? And it’s not just energy workers – it’s the realtors and bankers and waitresses and barbers who make their living by servicing those people’s needs. I believe America must be energy independent. I believe shale gas, including from Western Pennsylvania, is vital to our independence and I will always defend it from radicals like Elizabeth Warren who want to wreck our region.
12. One of the things that Republicans often get accused of is not having a big picture plan or vision for America. What is your vision for America?
I want the American Republic to last for another 1,000 years. I want an America that’s united in purpose, understanding that just like every American family, we won’t always agree on everything. But those differences don’t have to divide us. Those differences are precisely what make this nation exceptional. I want to pass an America down to our children that’s just as vibrant and rich with opportunity as the one I have known. I want an America to remain the lone super power in the world. I want an America who continues to have the strongest military in the world. Not just to deter threats, but also to protect innocent life all over the world. I want an America that lasts past the next generation. If we don’t stand up and fight for it now, the American Dream we all know and love may be a shell of what it used to be. I won’t allow that to happen.
13. What do you believe is the cause of the increasing political polarization in the U.S., and how do you plan on helping to unite the country?
I led men in combat. It was my job to bring them together in the toughest of circumstances. Part of my job as a leader in this nation will be the exact same thing. Servant leadership is the answer. What does that mean? It means leaders who strive to put the needs of our nation and her people before party politics.
14. What are your thoughts on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and the rise of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party?
It’s concerning to be sure. It’s certainly unacceptable and incompatible with the tenets of our nation. We saw the ugly disaster of anti-Semitic violence in our own community in Pittsburgh. I believe that our relationship with Israel is vital to our security, and I will stand with Israel and with the Jewish people.
15. Can you comment on your opponent Democrat Connor Lamb’s record, which includes voting with Ocasio-Cortez and Omar 90% of the time? Also, what do you think about Lamb parroting the same language of Omar, who is anti-Semitic, claiming that the IDF are “terrorists”?
This is what’s most concerning about my opponent. In district, he tells people he’s a moderate. Clearly he’s anything but. As you mentioned. He voted with Ilhan Omar and AOC 90% of the time. He voted with Nancy Pelosi 98% of the time. He has 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. You simply cannot be a moderate and vote this way. You cannot be a moderate with a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. My opponent voted to ban offshore drilling. My opponent voted to block the President from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords. These are not moderate positions. Further, his comments about the Israeli Defense Force are reprehensible. The IDF seeks only to protect their people. To compare them to those who use women and children as human shields is horrifying. What’s even more disconcerting is that he’s never apologized for his anti-Semitic remarks.
16. What are the top three issues for voters in your district, and how do you plan on addressing those issues? What issues are the most important to you?
I think people in Western Pennsylvania are incredibly concerned with this impeachment scam. I’ve talked to Republicans and Democrats in PA-17, and almost universally, they wonder why Congress isn’t doing the work of the American People, instead choosing to focus on a partisan impeachment. People see that since this President removed his hand from the Bible, the ultra Left has been solely focused on his impeachment and nothing else. They cooked up the Mueller Report, and the Russia Hoax. They did everything they could to stop Kavanaugh. Now this impeachment. Clearly the ultra Left has let its hatred of this President co-opt its legislative agenda, and what I think underscores that is their hatred of the American People who put the President in office. People see it, and come Nov 2020, there will be a reckoning.
I also think that middle class families fear for their livelihoods. The choice we face on the economy is stark. Elizabeth Warren wants to ban all fracking. That would devastate Western Pennsylvania. She and Bernie want to outlaw private healthcare. That would not only cost us over $50 trillion, but it would wipe out the good benefits that union workers in my district have fought for their entire lives. Virtually every Democrat wants gun control – many want to knock on our doors and confiscate our guns. I can tell you this, people in Pennsylvania believe in the right to self defense. Growing up, the Democratic Party was a party for the middle class working people. I grew up and spent my entire life in Western PA. My grandfather was a life long union Democrat. He was hardworking, principled, and loved his nation. That is not the Democratic Party we have today, and we have to take Congress away from the radicals who have hijacked the House.
17. What areas of the Republican Party’s platform do you think needs to be addressed, and/or changed?
Spending. This issue is something that must be dealt with as soon as possible!
18. What do you hope to inspire in other elected officials and future leaders to help make America a better place?
One of the things I hear from regular Pennsylvanians is that they wish we had more leaders who are willing to do the hard things, and make the hard choices. I would not have made it home from Afghanistan if I had not been willing, or able, to make hard decisions, and I will take that fortitude with me to Congress and challenge others in the House to do the same.
19. When you are not working, what do you do for fun?
I spend time with my children. I have 3 little ones who are the greatest thing that ever happened to me. There was a time when I didn’t think I would make it home from Afghanistan. During that time, it was so bad, the situation so dire, I sort of gave up on ever having kids. Well, somehow I made it home alive, and have been blessed with 3 amazing kids. Every second I’m not working, I spend with them.
A version of this story appears on the Daily Wire website.