Retired US Army Colonel Mark Robertson, Congressional candidate for CD-1, had a spring in his step as he answered his front door for our afternoon interview. Perhaps because it was his first media interview, or, more likely, he had recently raised $70,000 in two hours at a Henderson gala hosted by the McDonalds and Woodbury’s at Dragon Ridge Country Club. Running against Rep. Dina Titus, Robertson will need a hefty war chest.
After a 30-year career in the military, Robertson decided to run for Congress a year ago. When asked why Congress and not State Assembly or State Senate to begin his political career, Robertson replied:
“This is the first time I ran for anything. Politics wasn’t on my bucket list. But, I don’t like the direction our country is going. We are doing a head dive into Socialism and I want our children and our grandchildren to grow up with the same freedoms I had. It’s the love of country and the love of my kids that compelled me to run. I am not looking for a third job. But all of my experience in the military is at the national and international level. I worked at the Pentagon and worked on national policy and defense. I worked as a military planner. I was on the US global coalition on ISIS and sat with 68 countries. I have deployed to 10 countries and three combat zones. All of my experience is the best experience for the US Congress.”
Robertson’s service and expertise made for an easy segue into foreign policy. With Ukraine in the headlines, China threatening Taiwan, and the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, Robertson provided his insights:
“I last deployed in 2011 to Afghanistan. I saw first hand the corruption in the Afghani government. I have pictures of the pallets of cash that we flew into Afghanistan to pay their security forces. I watched as the money was skimmed by the mayor, then by the police chief, and others—until the lonely Afghan standing at the security post would finally get what was left. But that was their culture. They didn’t see it as corrupt.
I saw early that it wouldn’t be a nation of democracy. In 2011, I saw this was a failure. This was not a surprise to anybody that knows Afghanistan. But, there was a willful ignorance of the top brass at the Pentagon and commanding generals at the time. We couldn’t let the world know that we lost confidence in the Afghan government.
You may not have heard, though it was covered in the press, but President Karzai’s brother gave himself (and his partners) an $800 million loan from Kabul Bank. He immediately defaulted on the loan. We were using the bank to make payments to Afghan security forces. When I discovered that Kabul Bank was on the brink of collapse, I sent an email to our higher headquarters. Very quickly I received a phone call from a Colonel in General Petraeus’ office who told me: ‘You’d better knock that shit off.’ He said that we could lose support of the international community if they perceived that the United States was concerned with corruption in the Karzai government.
Anyone who worked with Afghan forces knew their heart wasn’t in it and were not surprised at how quickly the Taliban took over. The incompetence of President Biden and The Pentagon is unforgivable, and I have yet to see any accountability for the withdrawal that resulted in 13 deaths of our American soldiers and numerous Afghanis, and Americans left behind.
It was a humiliating withdrawal and we did it without telling NATO. It was a terrible decision to close Bagram air base. I have been to Bagram and I have been to Fort Knox. Bagram was more secure than Fort Knox.
Biden gets an F in foreign policy. His weakness and fecklessness is encouraging North Korea, China, and Putin to act with aggression. The idea that we would even consider deploying US trips to Ukraine when there is not a compelling interest in Ukraine to spill American blood. NATO should be paying for their own defense. Europe needs to stand up to Russian aggression and the US Congress needs to take back their constitutional power and duty to declare war.
There should be hearings and investigations of what happened in Afghanistan and when I am in the Congress I will push for those investigations.”
Switching gears to Nevada, I asked Robertson about his platform of “Freedom, Family and Prosperity.” He claimed:
“That is what I and most people I talk to you in CD-1 are important to everyone and what they are passionate about. The state of the economy and historic inflation are primary concerns. Government is printing and borrowing money they do not have. I have an MBA. I am a CFP. I know finance. Inflation is an unfair tax on the poor and middle class who lived on a fixed income. Nevadans aren’t as free or prosperous because of this. 35% of CD-1 is Hispanic. Freedom, family and prosperity resonates within their community.
Strengthening family means better schools and when you see that our education system ranks at the very bottom, year after year, something needs to be done.
I still substitute teach in the Clark County School district and charter schools. My kids teach in both. We have wonderful teachers in both systems. The problem isn’t that teachers don’t care, the problem is the bureaucracy and the bureaucratic requirements that task teachers with so much that has nothing to do with teaching. Charter School educators have more freedom to tailor their curriculum around their students individual needs.
Parents also need to have the freedom to choose where they send their child to school. School choice will provide competition and competition is what makes this country great. It encourages innovation, creativity and success. There is nothing in our constitution that gives our government control of our education system and that is why I believe we must abolish the Department of Education and block grant their $86 billion budget back to the states and the parents. I think the timing is right. Parents are waking up to what is going on in public schools. We can resurrect some of what Ronald Reagan wanted to do. There is parental and political momentum to make those changes.”
After redistricting in November, Robertson changed his candidacy from CD-3 to CD-1 as he said it was important to him to live in the district that he was running to represent so that his neighbors, friends and constituents can “hold him accountable” and he is “the only Republican candidate who lives in the district.”
When asked about his Republican and Democratic challengers, Robertson said:
“There are only two Republicans that have filed with the FEC. Carolina Serrano is one. Carolina is a young, beautiful, hispanic female. Many hispanics are coming over to the Republican Party because family, freedom, and prosperity are important to them. I feel like Carolina and I are on the same team. It’s like being on the same team in the Olympics and cheering for one another. We both want to turn the seat red.
And, I think it’s entirely possible to flip this seat. Prior to redistricting, CD-1 was 70% Democrat. Titus didn’t have to campaign or raise money. She is a career politician and a professor of Political Science, she knows how to read the political tea leaves as the district is now less than 41% Democrat. She even said she got ‘effed over’ by Democrats, so she knows she is vulnerable. Titus votes 100% of the time with Nancy Pelosi and 96% of the time with AOC. She is far left in a moderate district. We need new people who have to deal with old problems. She has served for 12 years. It is time for her to retire and time to get some new people in there that haven’t been a part of the problem.”
Robertson has been endorsed by four police chiefs, Rep. Andy Biggs, and even a retired Nevada Democratic Commissioner, Mary Beth Scow. Robertson said, “Mary Beth supported me and endorsed me early. There are still Democrats out there who have conservative values, who love our country, and who see that our country is headed in the wrong direction under Democratic leadership. Democrats aren’t defending Americans, they are defunding the police, opening our border, and taking this country in the wrong direction.”
After publishing, Robertson provided the following links to the Karzai brothers and Bank of Kabul:
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