The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Craig James, SMU football great, looks to succeed on a different field

Television sports commentator and former SMU running back Craig James spoke with the SMU College Republicans Wednesday afternoon in the Caruth Amphitheater to build support for his run for office as a U.S. Senator from Texas.
Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus
Television sports commentator and former SMU running back Craig James spoke with the SMU College Republicans Wednesday afternoon in the Caruth Amphitheater to build support for his run for office as a U.S. Senator from Texas.

Television sports commentator and former SMU running back Craig James spoke with the SMU College Republicans Wednesday afternoon in the Caruth Amphitheater to build support for his run for office as a U.S. Senator from Texas. (Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus)

As a SMU running back, Craig James ran over many of his opponents on the football field.

Now, the football great is attempting to do the same thing to his adversaries in the political arena.

James announced that he would run for the U.S. Senate in 2012 as a Republican on Dec. 19, 2011.

Many in the political arena have raised concerns about his lack of political experience. James has never held a publicly elected post at any level.

“People have always doubted me. They said I couldn’t make it onto the football field. They said I couldn’t make it in broadcasting. They said I couldn’t make it in real estate,” James said to an eager audience of SMU College Republicans. “I proved all of them wrong.”

James touts his record in different fields and his determination as a reason voters should take a second look at his campaign.

“I have been successful in everything I’ve done in my life. I know running for the U.S. Senate is a big deal, but the problems we have in the country are even bigger,” James said.

Standing before the audience at the base of the Caruth Amphitheater, James discussed his policy ideas.

He classifies himself as a fiscal and social conservative who believes in state rights, entitlement reform, hard action against an increasingly belligerent Iran and a reduction in the power of the Federal Reserve.

“The central bank needs to be out of the policymaking business,” James said. “We keep chipping away at the value of the dollar and printing more and more money.”

As a successful businessman, James stressed the importance of deregulation in a weak economy.

“We lose $1.7 trillion to regulations every year. My philosophy is very simple. Don’t put good money toward a bad system.”

He critiqued the growth of government agencies under the Obama Administration and the large retirement packages that many public employees enjoy.

“We’ve made it to where the public sector is more attractive than private industry,” James said. “People need to realize that the government doesn’t create economic growth in the long run.”

He believes that the Federal Government is hurting the ability of entrepreneurs and small businesses to succeed in a tough economy.

While the former ESPN analyst aligns with social conservatives on abortion and gay rights, he holds a more nuanced stance on illegal immigration.

“There are more than 12 million illegals in this country. They are moms and dads and children, and we have to realize that,” James said. “But they are here illegally and breaking the law.”

James proposed a plan that would secure the border and make it easier for would-be illegal immigrants to access legal means of U.S. residency and citizenship.

“Only after that can we come to the negotiating table and talk about how to deal with the current illegal immigration problem in our country,” James said.

Also, he believes the outsider status and unique viewpoints he holds on critical issues can resonate with the American people.

“There is an establishment in this country. There are very few people involved in this race, and they will affect the lives of more than 25 million Texans, many of whom never get involved in the political process,” James said.

The hopeful politician hopes that Americans grow more active as the election season progresses. He believes that America’s fundamental values are in danger.

“I’m afraid of the slippery slope of change. If you take a few rights away, it can lead to something far more dangerous,” James said in reference to what he perceives as increasing encroachments on the Bill of Rights.

James believes the American people are the best check against political hegemony.

“The American people are the best term limit. People should provide the carousel of change, and this will only come through political activism,” James said.

Before concluding his hour-long conversation with the SMU Republicans, James brought up an issue that has affected his public image.

Many blame James for the firing of Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach. James accused Leach of mistreating his son, Adam.

James told Tech officials that his son was made to stand in a dark place for hours after receiving a concussion.

“I supported my son against a threat from a bully. It’s what any father would have done,” James said.

After his discussion, James met with The Daily Campus and answered a few questions on his sources of inspiration and his SMU roots.

“The SMU community has been great throughout this whole process. I have a banquet next week with Eric Dickerson,” James said. “People have rallied around an SMU native running for Senate.”

James, an All-American in the 1980s, also credits SMU for his later success in sports and in business.

“This was the stepping stone into the real world for me,” James said.

He is enthused about the recent rise of SMU in the national rankings and the overall improvement in the academic quality of the university.

“The university is on a fantastic course under the direction of [Provost] Paul Ludden. It also helps that the bar was so low a few decades ago,” James said in a joking fashion as he directed a smile toward his daughter, who also serves as his campaign manager.

James has remained optimistic throughout the campaigning process, taking notes from current GOP primary candidates.

“Look at someone like Rick Santorum. He was at the back of the pack in the national polls for 47 weeks, and look at how he has risen up in recent weeks,” James said.

He hopes that a combination of faith, family and constitutional values can allow him to experience the same type of popularity.

“I am going to keep getting my message out there and stick to who I am, and we will see what happens,” James said. 

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