Recently, former Navy SEAL and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) recently announced that he not only backs the presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, but would seriously consider being his vice president or cabinet member if Trump is elected president. Rep. Zinke acknowledged that his name is being thrown into the hat for consideration as Trump’s VP. His experience as a Navy SEAL would definitely help strengthen Trump’s role as commander in chief. Having a Navy SEAL in the White House could be crucial, as the U.S. relies on SOF to carry out the majority of military operations around the world. Additionally, Zinke’s experience as a congressman would be extremely valuable to Trump in Washington.
What do you ask a potential vice-presidential candidate? SOFREP spoke with Rep. Zinke to find out how he might make America great again alongside Donald Trump.
One of the biggest concerns among those in the military is Trump’s foreign policy. How would you improve his foreign policy as his vice president or cabinet member?
His foreign policy statement was widely lauded as a good framework, and even Ambassador John Bolton agreed. Trump’s premise that forces have to be strong and shored-up is correct. The premise that our allies need to do more is correct. Our negotiated deals, like Iran, have been a disaster. I think America has to lead from the front. I would make sure President Trump surrounds himself with exceptional talent via leaders like Generals Conway and Mattis. Unlike this president, I would ensure President Trump listens to the Joint Chiefs over bureaucrats.
You have been pretty outspoken about Hillary Clinton. Why do you think her supporters choose to ignore all of the scandals and illegal activity she is accused of?
I cannot accept a commander in chief who abandons our troops in Benghazi and lies about it [and] whose foreign-policy advisor is the person who negotiated the Iran deal. I think there’s a strong media bias and complacency for the Clintons.
How would you advise Donald Trump with the ongoing campaigns against ISIS? Would you suggest a change from an “advisory” role to something else?
I maintain that America has to lead militarily with a strong coalition, like we did in Iraq when I was there in 2004. This is a war within Islam as much as it is East versus West. This cannot be viewed as a crusade; it must be a global effort to combat Islamic extremism. Advising and air operations alone will continue to be ineffective and, worse, put our troops at greater risk as we saw with Sgt. McClintock and Navy SEAL Charlie Keating. We need to go to combat to win and win decisively, rather than retreat and fill vacuums.
Which position would you prefer to support Trump in, vice president or cabinet member?
I’d be honored to serve my state and my nation in any position for a higher purpose.
The recent drone strike that killed the Taliban leader in Pakistan was successful at not only killing the leader, but also forcing the Taliban leadership to reshuffle and regroup. What recommendations would you make to Trump on handling drone strikes across the Pakistan border in the future, even if it meant compromising foreign policy with Pakistan?
We need to return strike authority to the U.S. military, rather than the national security advisors under Susanne Rice. Although some have been successful, we have missed numerous opportunities, including against ISIS leadership. The enemy knows our rules of engagement better than we do. Regarding Pakistan specifically, Pakistan has a choice: either combat radical Islamic terrorism or support terrorists.
Why should military voters support Trump and you as his possible VP? If you joined him, would you sway those undecided?
Peace through strength. We need a commander in chief who will support our troops rather than abandon them, as occurred in Benghazi; a commander in chief who will stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon rather than fund their ICBM efforts. And we need a commander in chief who recognizes the Second Amendment is a God-given right, not a government privilege. I think having military experience on the ticket and in the cabinet would be helpful.
How would you handle the VA if you were Trump’s VP? Would you recommend starting the organization from scratch or privatizing health care for veterans?
Veterans should not be dying waiting in line. First of all, the current choice program is a disaster—a noble idea but disaster of execution. We need to give veterans real choices in healthcare so they can get timely, affordable, high-quality care, and that means pushing more decision-making and resources to the front lines. Give the authority to the local clinics, practitioners, and doctors rather than the bureaucrats, who see a number instead of a service jacket. We also need to do a pivot to address major shortfalls in the areas of traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and in women’s healthcare. Women are serving in the military at historic levels, yet the VA is drastically unprepared to care for them. We need to have more women’s health providers available across the system.
What would you say to the minorities in the military who are concerned about racism if Trump is elected?
The military continues to be a leader in teamwork regardless of race. We all worked together to accomplish the mission. Donald Trump is speaking about a unifying vision of creating jobs and putting America first. I think we can all get behind that.
If Hillary is elected president, what will you do as a congressman to push for the FBI to complete their investigation?
I’d continue to use all powers under Article 1 of the Constitution to find the truth.