Retired Adm. Joe Sestak and former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak told a crowd of about 40 people that he would put their interests above all others, including special interests, as he continued his campaign Saturday for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sestak met with prospective voters during a Coffee with the Candidate event at the Farm Grounds coffee shop in Nevada. He is among the lesser well-known candidates among the field of two dozen Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination in 2020. He registers below 1 percent in national polls and has not made the stage in recent Democratic debates.
But Sestak told those at Saturday's event that it's his “breadth of global experience,” that gives him the edge over candidates.
“Someone who understands the principles that we operate under in the world,” he said. “America's greatest power isn't its military. It's not its economy. It's our ability to convene the world. To bring together peoples and countries for a common cause that serves us all. It's one world.”
That must happen to combat climate change as 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from other countries, Sestak said.
“We must convene them, and yet we're coming home behind walls,” he said. “We're great when we convene the world like we did to win … the Cold War without a shot. We're great when we don't have what happened at midnight the night before when the International Nuclear Treaty went out of existence.”
Sestak cited past nuclear arms and biological and other weapons treaties where the U.S. convened other countries to reach those agreements as examples of what can happen when the U.S. works with its international partners.
During a question and answer session with the audience, he took questions about who the future director of national intelligence should be.
“I hope it's someone like (outgoing director) Dan Coats was, who I may not agree with the politics but I agree with how he did intelligence, which was to speak truth to power,” Sestak said. “I hope it's someone who is not political, someone who is objective, and most someone who is accountable who speaks truth to power. I don't know who that is going to be.”
Another audience member asked Sestak about who he would do to create job opportunities in America.
He proposed a training for a lifetime program, similar to what is in place in the military.
“”When a guy or gal loses their job, we don't kick them out, we send them to the get another certificate,” Sestak. “We spend less than any other development nation in America on labor training. We do nothing for them.”
One example Sestak gave was retraining coal miners to work in green industries, such as wind and solar.
He also proposed reducing regulations that stand in the way of people wanting to start small businesses.
Fixing the immigration problem is also a critical element for job creation as immigrants are needed to fill those jobs that will be created, he said.
Sestak said if it wasn't for immigrants coming to America since 1970, the country would be “in a death spiral in population,” as birth rates haven't kept pace with growing jobs.
He also proposed an accelerated path toward citizenship for immigrants coming to the U.S. for STEM, or science, technological, engineering and math, careers.
On education, which Sestak called “our homeland defense,” he said he would support a return to the common core, a system that focuses on qualitative rather than quantitative learning.
One resident raised questions about the conflict that exists between the common core and state's standardized testing.
“I think you can do things like incentive states that there's grants available to help you in education if you are inside of one system,” he said. “To me the government is best when you incentivizes and doesn't have to mandate.”
The crowd became nearly silent as Sestak discussed why he got into the race for the White House.
He told about the young men and women of Navy, their average age of 19, work to ensure pilots take off safely from aircraft carriers over the open seas. He talked about how they don't unhook planes from the catapult until the engine is turned off, and stand in front of the plane to give pilots the all-clear before pilots climb out of the cockpit.
“That youth of America is showing Americans what they most need in future leadership by saying you can trust me because I”m staying right here until you're safely on deck. And if I made a mistake and you start heading overboard to your death, you're going right through me and I'm doing over with you to my own. I have met few people who ever felt anyone in Washington D.C. who would be willing to stand in front of that plane. I want to, because I believe more than anything else that that's what Americans most yearn for, most want and most need if we're going to move this country forward.”