A presidential candidate passed through Kiowa County last week. Don’t feel left out because you missed the motorcade, police escort and star-spangled fanfare, because there wasn’t any. No political party has endorsed him, he will not appear on any official state ballots or in televised debates and he hasn’t received a single campaign contribution but Randy Cook is running for the highest office in the land.
“People do three things when I meet them,” said Cook. “I give them my card and the first thing they do is laugh. The second thing they’re going to do is ask me if I am serious and the third thing they are going to do is ask me if I am crazy.”
Cook, a 1968 Greensburg High School graduate and former Dodge City Community College student is employed as the Director of Transportation and Safety at New Mexico Junior College. He said he also attended West Texas A&M University for four years before settling in Hobbs, N.M., his current home and campaign headquarters.
Cook, who considers himself to be an independent with conservative leanings, stopped in Greensburg on Thursday after visiting with dozens of constituents in Louisburg and Payola.
“Everyone has an opinion,” said Cook. “My opinion is no better than yours or anyone else’s. If you don’t like what I have to say about what we need to do in this country that’s fine, you should come up with your own. That’s the idea behind what I’m trying to do. I don’t want to be an armchair quarterback. If I’m sitting around thinking ‘someone needs to do something’ then I need to look in the mirror and ask ‘Randy what are you going to do?’”
His campaign is run on a shoestring budget and he hasn’t been able to keep up with the reported $106 million of campaign contributions raised by Mitt Romney or the $71 million figure raised by Barack Obama in the month of June.
“I don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars. I have what’s in my pocket. I have not received a penny from any groups or individuals. I can’t go and do political things like ads, a bus or an entourage and travel all over the country, I’m a workingman. They probably have a single suit that is better than my whole wardrobe put together,” said Cook.
He said his campaign is primarily focused on the issues.
The centerpiece is the optimistically-named website PresidentCook.com which presents Cook’s “Real Deal 2013,” a ten-page platform that touches on a litany of issues from “Debt Reduction” on page 2 to “Post Offices, Unions, Credit Reporting Agencies” on page 8.
In the section “Freedom, Civility, Character Building, Helping Neighbors” on page 9, Cook says that “We should all be making suggestions on how to fix problems, and not just be complaining out of frustration.” and “Any Politician who thinks that he is better than everyone else, should never be elected.”
“I’m not passionate about politics, because I am not a politician,” said Cook on Thursday. “I don’t suck up well, I don’t BS well. I don’t go to one group and tell them what they want to hear to get votes. I don’t go to another group and tell them something different to get votes.”
On his website Cook states that he would have no problem working with Mitt Romney or the other Republican primary candidates.
“If considered as a viable candidate by the American People, I would like to consider having the top seven candidates from the Republican Party as part of my cabinet, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry [and] Rick Santorum. These Caring Americans have a vast knowledge in Business, Government, Military, Leadership, and even though they don't share most of the views and opinions of the other people in the group, they would be an asset [sic] in advising and debating America with the President, "making a great contribution to the Country".”
With the U.S. Supreme Court recently upholding the Affordable Healthcare Act’s individual mandate that imposes a fine for uninsured Americans, Cook was asked for his take on the controversial decision.
“With 15,000 pages or something in that whole thing, I have not read it all. I’ve caught bits and pieces. If I was an insurance company and I had to take customers with pre-existing conditions, I would be a little upset. They are not out to lose money. If people are paying $300 a month, but I have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on them, that’s not a very good pay off.”
Cook also says there are things he liked about the healthcare bill.
“Allowing kids to stay on the insurance until they are 25 years old? That’s a pretty good deal. I think [the individual mandate} is a good thing if you are going to go along with what states do already. Most states will require you to wear a helmet if you drive a motorcycle. Why should the taxpayers have to pay for you because you get in a wreck and you are a quadriplegic? Insurance isn’t going to cover that for long, so now you’ll need to be on Social Security and taxpayers are paying for you because you didn’t want to wear a helmet or a seatbelt?”
Asked if he would have presented the same bill presented by President Obama, Cook said, “Probably not.”
He admits that his campaign likely won’t land him in the oval office, but hopes he can add to the national political dialogue.
“Likelihood of a person like me, who‘s not rich, not a representative and not a governor ever becoming president? It’s almost impossible. If I can get enough exposure where someone inside of the political system can see my stuff and read my stuff, maybe they will think ‘hey, why can’t we have factories in prisons?’”