Larry Campbell may be a first-time delegate to the Republican National Convention, but he is no stranger to Oregon politics.
Campbell represented Eugene in the state legislature from 1979 to 1995, and served his last four years as speaker of the Oregon House. This year, he decided to check off another item on his life’s bucket list by attending the RNC as an Oregon delegate — just in time to celebrate his 85th birthday on opening night.
Campbell attended the convention’s opening night concert, which included access to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I sent a lot of pictures home to my kids and my grand kids, and they wanted me to look up [The] Who, which I’d never heard of, and Prince … I had a very effective day,” he said.
Campbell began this election as a Ben Carson supporter, and he still hopes the surgeon could play a role in a Trump presidency.
“I am adamantly opposed to Hillary Clinton being successful, and I see Trump as our shining light,” Campbell said.
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As Campbell sees it, the Republican party has a real opportunity to provide economic opportunities to African-Americans that the Democrats have failed to deliver on. He envisions something like the Depression-era Works Project Administration putting Americans to work.
“My view is that it’s about time someone — like Franklin Delano Roosevelt — put together a program where these people have an opportunity to succeed economically where they haven’t had,” he said.
Campbell points out that the federal government is already spending “millions of dollars today just keeping people afloat.”
“I’m looking for an opportunity to teach people, to improve themselves … and basically to have jobs,” he said. “I’m tired of fifty percent of Americans not being able to pay taxes.”
Even though Campbell himself was a longtime legislator, he’s glad that Donald Trump doesn’t have previous experience in politics.
“When I got into the legislature, I brought my business principles with me … Donald Trump is coming in with a load of talent. And where I see him being extremely important, is the kind of people he’s going to surround himself with … I think that you’ll see him build a team that will overcome the shortfall of him not being in elected office before.”