Ryan Zinke helped kick start his campaign for Congress in Bigfork Monday.
Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and state legislator, came to Marina Cay Resort to speak to Republican partisans.
Joining Zinke was author Scott McEwen, who co-wrote “American Sniper,” a book about the life of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Kyle, who served four combat deployments, earned a reputation as one of America’s deadliest military snipers with over 150 kills, including one from 2,100 yards.
Kyle and Chad Littlefield were allegedly killed on a shooting range on Feb. 2, 2013, by Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine believed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “It’s a magnificent story about a patriot,” Zinke said of the book, which was published in 2012. Zinke announced that Clint Eastwood will direct a movie based on McEwen’s book.
Zinke touted his political ideas, opening with criticisms of President Barack Obama and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying about people being able to keep their healthcare plan under the Affordable Care Act and Americans not being spied on.
“It’s time to stop the lies. Let’s talk about the truth,” Zinke said. “Who trusts the U.S. government?” he asked rhetorically. “No one in this room. I’ve served in 25 nations. I’ve seen where people don’t trust their government. We’re there. In the military, the last option is to send in the SEALs.”
Zinke said energy is the key to growing the economy and reducing the budget deficit. “We’re not going to cut our way out,” he said. “We’re going to have to grow our economy. If the price of natural gas is stable and low, we can bring back manufacturing.”
Zinke said he wants to restore truth, grace, honor and decency, which he called “our moral compass. It’s always been Judeo-Christian,” he said. With the present administration, “It’s whatever you can get away with. I will never bow to pressure. I will do what’s right,” he said.
Zinke said he supports work visas for illegal immigrants, who he said currently number 25 million. “The right path is work visas and make sure a border is controlled.” He supports requiring citizens to be fluent in English. “It infuriates me when driver’s license tests are in 15 different languages,” he said.
“We need to focus on the real enemy,” he said, referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he called the “anti-Christ.”
Zinke said he asked seven powerful Republicans if they think the nation is fixable. Only one in seven said, “Yes,” and that was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “He is absolutely convinced,” Zinke said, noting he has sided with the Georgian. “He is a senior advisor to the campaign.”
Zinke finished his speech by handing out 50-calibre bullets to each of the four men who sponsored the event before a crowd of about 30 people.
Zinke is one of five Republicans who have announced their intention to seek the seat of current Rep. Steve Daines, who is running for Sen. Max Baucus’ seat.
Editor's note: Zinke later said that the "bullets" he handed out to supporters were actually pens.