Shortly before his State of the Nation luncheon in downtown Waco on Monday, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, spoke with juniors and seniors at Waco High School about everything from immigration, health care and tax reform to the importance of education after graduation.
What seemed to garner the most interest by students were Flores’ answers when they asked how he felt about working with the celebrity businessman-turned-president Donald Trump, and North Korea’s ongoing threat of nuclear war against the United States.
“Here’s the way I feel about Donald Trump: Somebody may come up to you and say, ‘Hey, I like all these things about you, but I don’t like these things about you.’ What you have to do, at the end of the day, in order for us to be friends, you and I have to say, ‘We like more things than we don’t like,’ ” Flores said. “ … That’s kind of the same with my relationship with Donald Trump. There are some things he does that just drive me crazy. Some of the tweeting he does, and some of the things he says drive me crazy. On the other hand, the policies he wants to move forward with are the things I like.”
The question-and-answer session was meant to connect the soon-to-be voters and newly registered voters to politicians beyond what students may read online or in a newspaper, said Wendy Moulds, a Waco High School government teacher who helped moderate the event.
“They need to know someone is actually working for them, in the trenches. They need to feel that sometimes, with this intense of a face-to-face, because I think that’s one of the reasons a lot of them choose not to vote,” Moulds said. “They’re so disassociated, that takes that out of the equation.”
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Beyond Trump’s push for tax and healthcare reform, Flores praised Trump’s ability to re-establish a strong congressional liaison office for Congress to better collaborate with the White House.
“The fact that he gets to meet Trump is pretty cool to me,” junior Jardarin Randolph said. “I like the fact that Flores is not very opinionated on first impressions and he’s more of a long-term guy. He evaluates people such as Trump and he compared him to (Barack) Obama. He doesn’t take anything away from the previous president, he just feels one does more and one’s more interactive. It was a good experience.”
Students then asked how Flores felt about the relationship the U.S. has with North Korea, which has had major advancements in missile and nuclear technology in recent months, including several tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
For the last several decades, policies have been lenient toward North Korea, with the thought that some form of help might make the country behave, Flores said. But there hasn’t been forward progress because of the country’s oppressive regime and the country refuses to work with other nations, he said.
“What we should have been doing is dealing with them from a point of strength. You know, ‘Don’t do that, or we’re going to smack you down,’” Flores said.
“This president has changed our policy toward North Korea. He says, ‘If you mess with us, we’re going to make sure you feel it and it’s going the hurt.’ But the leader over there, Kim Jung Un, has not really gotten it yet, with respect to President Trump.”
One of the best ways the U.S. could handle North Korea would be to get major power players, like China, involved in resolving the tensions, Flores said.
“Ultimately, I think we’re going to get things resolved over there, because North Korea is within a few months of being able to put a nuclear warhead on an ICBM and drop it anywhere in this country, and I think they would,” Flores told the teenagers.