By Maya Lora
If Del. Ben Cline (R-24th Dist.) is elected to represent the 6th Congressional District, he’s ready to take on the Trump administration’s tariffs.
“I’m not interested in long-term tariffs,” Cline said in a studio interview with the Rockbridge Report. “All they do is raise the cost of goods for farmers and other manufacturers in the district.”
Cline said he would be willing to support Trump if his high tariffs on imported goods were eventually lowered across the board, but it would need to happen soon. He said he would have to reevaluate a long-term process that hurts farmers.
In retaliation for Trump’s tariffs, China has imposed its own tariffs on U.S. farm imports, potentially hurting farmers in the Midwest. Cline emphasized the importance of farming for the Shenandoah Valley.
Cline, who has represented this area in Richmond for 16 years, is the Republican candidate to replace Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Goodlatte, who holds a powerful position in the U.S. House as Judiciary Committee chairman, announced last year that he would not seek reelection. Cline once served as Goodlatte’s chief of staff.
“We’re losing a giant in the House of Representatives,” Cline said.
Cline is competing for the seat against Democrat Jennifer Lewis, whose studio interview with the Rockbridge Report is to be broadcast on Oct. 18 at 5:30 p.m.
While Cline said he hopes to emulate Goodlatte’s highly effective constituent services, he also said he wants to face citizens of the districts directly and frequently. Goodlatte has been criticized for his remoteness from the district in recent years, communicating by broadcast phone calls with called-in questions. Cline said as congressman he wants to host town hall meetings, as he has yearly as the area’s representative in the state House.
Asked how else he would differ from his party, President Trump and Goodlatte, Cline mentioned his work in Richmond on behalf of higher education, domestic violence and government transparency. If elected to Congress, Cline said he hopes to work across the aisle on such issues.
Against the Republican majority in Richmond, Cline has pushed for recorded votes on bills that are killed in subcommittees.
He also said he’s ready to stand up to his own party when it comes to the additional debt incurred by the GOP tax bill passed last year.
“I plan to introduce the four words that haven’t been heard up in Washington for a long time: ‘We can’t afford it,’” Cline said.
He added that the nation cannot bear to incur debt that would be faced by generations to come.
“If we want our credit rating to look like Greece’s then we can continue doing what we’ve done all along,” Cline said.
Cline also addressed his willingness to appear alongside Corey Stewart, the Republican nominee who is challenging Sen. Tim Kaine in the general election Nov. 6, while other Virginia Republican candidates have avoided him.
Cline said he supports Stewart because Virginia needs to be represented by a Republican in the U.S. Senate.
“We need a senator who’s going to listen to the people of the 6th district and represent Virginia, not go up and try to be a vice presidential nominee,” Cline said.