Russ Fulcher: ‘This is Idaho’
Rep. Russ Fulcher discusses COVID-19, armed protests and other current events during a visit with the Hagadone News Network on Friday.
(DEVIN WEEKS/Hagadone News Network)
Hagadone News Network | June 6, 2020 1:00 AM
Representative ‘not surprised’ to see armed citizens
To Rep. Russ Fulcher, it is comforting to know an armed population of civilians is willing to protect Idaho from looters and rioting.
"I welcome it," he said Friday. “When nefarious characters come out and they have nefarious intent and there is an armed citizenry that is visible, you know, that just has a tendency to slow down some of those negative actions. That’s just human nature. As long as it doesn’t go out of control."
However, he said, this issue is twofold.
"I didn't think I would see the day where we would have masked protesters walking through the streets of my home state, that's the first thing," he said.
"No. 2, I didn't think I would ever see the day where, if it weren't for military force, the Capitol grounds would have been attacked, because I was there too when this was starting to break out. Black Hawk helicopters circling Capitol Hill, routinely.
“I would have predicted that with the activity like was being portrayed here (in Coeur d'Alene) last night, even though, as far as we know there weren't riotous actions being planned, I'm not surprised to see armed citizens show up. This is Idaho."
He saw the same activity happening in Boise last week and he heard of more in Idaho Falls.
"That doesn't bother me at all," he said. "I think there is a role for that and, so far, everyone has been responsible. And if the citizens aren't taking that on, that means the government's taking that on. I, for one, am going to side on the side of citizens when these things come to bear."
The coronavirus pandemic, quarantine fatigue, high unemployment rates, civil unrest and another death of an unarmed black person at the hands of law enforcement have all contributed to a tense time in America.
"This like is the perfect storm, with everything going on," Fulcher said. "The death of Mr. (George) Floyd is not tolerable. It's completely unacceptable. But I believe that it's proven to be a trigger, not a real root cause of what we're seeing popping up in cities around the country now. I think there is a relatively small number of people who take an anarchist-type view that simply want the system to be shut down.
"I believe the president and most of the governors are taking the appropriate steps simply to protect innocent people, and I do think there’s a role for civilian involvement," he continued. "That is the reason why our founders put the Second Amendment in place. I, for one, am not threatened by that."
He said he welcomes peaceful protests.
"It's a way for people to communicate, and frankly, I need to hear it, we need to hear it," he said. "But when it comes to threatening people's lives, threatening people's businesses, absolutely not."
As far as the upcoming election in November, Fulcher said he feels that is an integral part of what is happening in America right now. He said he believes President Donald Trump would win if the election were to be held today.
"I have gotten to know the president," he said. "In fact, without being asked, he endorsed me earlier in the week, and I certainly wasn't about to with everything going on, I was surprised that he did anything, with everything else on his plate, but he personally did."
Fulcher said he does not believe the general election would be postponed, even if the country sees a flare-up of COVID cases following the protests.
"If the Republican side tried to do it, that would be received as, 'They're just trying to prolong the current administration.' If the Democrat side tried to do that, that means their shot at getting things changed would be later, so I don't think that would happen," Fulcher said. "The tactics on how the election will be carried out will be a big debate.
"It's going to happen in November, but, the debate will be: is it mail, or is it voting in person?" he said. "Since the elections are rightfully handled at the county and the state level, you'll see each state doing different things. I think what you're going to see in Idaho is voting at the polls, but some of the locations will be different."
Fulcher has three offices in Idaho and one in Washington, D.C. He represents Idaho's First Congressional District, which includes Bonner and Boundary counties.