Rainville makes security issues campaign cornerstone

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(Host) Republican congressional candidate Martha Rainville is making security issues a cornerstone of her campaign.

The former commander of the Vermont National Guard says she supports sending guard troops to protect the southern border. She says all illegal foreign workers in Vermont should be identified, and that some should be deported.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Rainville, the former Vermont adjutant general, is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House. She focused her first solo news conference of the campaign on security issues.

Congress is debating both immigration issues and funding for homeland security.

Rainville says deploying the Guard to the border will not over-tax the troops, some of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

(Rainville) “This is not a hard thing to do for the National Guard. It’s far different from long term mobilizations, long term deployments, plus the other key to this success of this Guard deployments. Plus the other key to the success of this Guard deployment is the fact that it stays under state control.”

(Dillon) Rainville called for tougher enforcement of federal immigration laws. The changes she supports could affect the Vermont dairy industry.

The state’s dairy farmers employ about 25-hundred Mexican workers. The farmers say the workers are essential for their businesses to survive. But most of the Mexicans are here illegally, and Rainville says they need to be brought out into the open and held accountable under the law. She says some of the workers should be able to stay here.

(Rainville) “First I’d like to see them all identified and checked out and then we can determine what needs to happen to them. Again, they’re no different from the other illegal immigrants. We need to be able to identify them and sort them out and make some reasonable judgments. But again, within a law that allows deportation for those who shouldn’t be here, who are dangerous to be here, and abilities within that law that allows others to work toward legal status. “

(Dillon) Rainville led the Vermont National Guard during a time of unprecedented troop deployments for the war in Iraq.

But Rainville says she’s not sure how she would have voted on the war.

(Rainville) “And I’m not avoiding the question. I think honestly it’s something that is almost impossible to speculate on. I don’t think that it’s really fair for me knowing what I know today to put myself back three years ago and tell somebody or try to tell somebody how I would vote. I don’t know how I would have voted, frankly.”

(Dillon) Democrat Peter Welch will face Rainville if she wins the Republican primary in September. He says there was enough information about the war in 2003 for Vermont’s entire congressional delegation to vote against it.

(Welch) And they had the wisdom and the courage to make the right vote. And they did that at a time when the president’s popularity was very high, not very low. And Vermont has, I think, a tradition of sending to congress people who are able to see through that fog of administration deception.

(Dillon) Rainville says that the Iraq war shows the need for better, more accurate intelligence and for stronger congressional oversight.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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