Calling himself “an activist at heart,” Republican congressional contender Joseph Visconti vowed Thursday to bring change to “a place of unending bickering, manipulation and stagnation.”
Visconti said the man he aims to unseat, 10-year incumbent Democrat John Larson, “is part of the establishment” and hasn’t done enough to bring down spending and taxes.
But knocking off the East Hartford Democrat won’t be easy, as Visconti recognizes. The 1st District congressman has whipped everyone the GOP has put up against him by wide margins.
This time will be different, Visconti said, though he admits he’ll never raise the kind of money that Larson’s campaign routinely collects.
Visconti, a West Hartford town councilman, said he’s going to rely on a grass roots effort fueled by a savvy use of the internet to take down the incumbent, who also faces a challenge from the Green Party’s Steve Fournier.
Visconti said that with John McCain at the top of the Republican ticket this year, “Connecticut is in play” instead of a solidly Democratic bastion. That gives the GOP the chance to pick up more independent voters, he said.
By turning out the GOP base, pulling in more than half the independents and chipping away 10 percent or more of the registered Democrats, Visconti said he can gather as much as 48 percent of the total vote. If Fournier picks up a few percent, too, then Larson can be beaten, Visconti said.
Though Visconti has been touting his candidacy for the past couple of months to Republican officials across the sprawling district, Thursday marked his first formal public declaration of his plans. He gave speeches in a half dozen towns, including Bristol.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne, one of two GOP councilors in Bristol, said that Visconti would bring a new energy to Congress.
“We need someone who has not been sheltered in Washington for 10 years,” Cockayne said.
Visconti didn’t specify clear positions on many issues, but instead tried to paint a broad picture of a capital city “occupied by special interests that are holding our liberties and economic futures hostage to their agenda.”
He accused officials in Washington of allowing the nation’s future “to be ransacked by the well-connected, and the fruits of our labor to be squandered on redundant bureaucracy, which is the number one product manufactured in America today.”
Visconti said that unlike Larson, he won’t push for a quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
He said that “no one wants war,” but supporting the troops means backing them in their mission.
Visconti said he favors more efforts to increase the country’s energy supply through new drilling, more nuclear power plants and conservation.
He’s not falling in line behind President George W. Bush. Taking aim at one of the president’s signature domestic policies, Visconti said, for example, that “parts of No Child Left Behind need to be left behind.”
Visconti said that he would “close the borders,” but would endeavor to treat anyone already in the country humanely.
“We need to enforce the law,” he said, dismissing the current efforts as “a joke.”
As a businessman, Visconti said he can bring “common sense” to the Congress and “set things right” that have gone wrong for too long.
Here's a PDF of Visconti's speech
Here's a PDF of a biography provided by Visconti
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