During an interview Monday with radio personality Simon Conway, Bobby Schilling encountered some uncomfortable questions. Schilling is running for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s open 2nd Congressional District. Conway began the interview by referencing a New York Times article from October 2012 in which Schilling is quoted saying, “They’re trying to paint me as a right-wing Tea Partier. I’m right in the middle.”
Schilling was caught flat-footed by the question and began to explain the quote by saying “the district I represented was a D7, I believe, which means the Democrats win by 7 points. So I was willing to compromise on a few issues.” He went on to note that Iowa’s 2nd district was less Democratic, allowing him to “be Bobby Schilling, so to speak.”
Conway seized on the reply and suggested Schilling was a part of the Washington, D.C., swamp. “That kind of describes you as a bit of a swamp creature, doesn’t it?” Conway asked. “You’ll be who you need to be for the people you’re representing and it doesn’t really matter if that’s you or not?”
Schilling tried to elaborate on his comments, saying that the Illinois district was filled with union members and Democrats and that he had to “vote with the people over there.” Conway wrapped the segment with the observation, “I’m telling you right now, people listening to that are going to be more than raising an eyebrow.”
Bobby Shilling represented Illinois’s 17th congressional district from 2011 to 2013. He has taken some heat from critics, who call him a carpetbagger, for running for congress in Iowa after failing to retake his old congressional seat in Illinois twice.
Conway also badgered Schilling on his claims that he has supported President Trump “from Day 1,” citing an Illinois ballot on which Schilling was named as a delegate for Marco Rubio. “You weren’t with the President on Day 1,” Conway continued by pointing out that while running in Illinois, Schilling agreed with the need for a special prosecutor to investigate President Trump. However, Bobby replied that several others also called for a special prosecutor, including an individual who has endorsed his opponent, State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Critics say Schilling’s vacillation stands in stark contrast to the conservative firebrand message he has been pitching to Iowa voters. In a 2012 debate with Democrat Cheri Bustos, Schilling brought up the fact he frequently voted with Democrats. Ironically, he even mentioned that he votes with Democrat Dave Loebsack 34% of the time. Loebsack currently represents the 2nd congressional district, he announced he would retire at the end of this term.
In the same debate, Schilling said, “It’s us folks that are in the center. Heritage.org ranks me at a 57, which is a center-right legislator and I’m pretty proud of that.” Additionally, in his 2012 re-election bid, Schilling sent out a publication paid for by his campaign and called it “The Illinois Democrat” targeted for Democrat voters and it described himself as “Right in the Middle” of the political spectrum – his opponents say this is a far cry from his Iowa conservative rhetoric today.
Schilling received some praise from Simon for his views on term limits. Saying that he supporters them but feels that it is counterproductive to hold your self to term limits when others do not. Recently, Schilling’s campaign announced the endorsement of Congressman Jim Jordan, a leading member of the freedom caucus.
When reached for comment, Schilling provided the following statement.
“The fact remains that there’s only one pro-life conservative running in this race, and that’s me, and you don’t need to take my word for it; you can look at my record. That record and my convictions led to Jim Jordan’s endorsement of my campaign. I firmly believe that on June 2nd, Republicans in the second district will send me on to the general election. And when that happens, I’m looking forward to defeating Rita Hart and her radical liberal agenda.”
The entire interview is available below.