by Cara Gardner

Health Care -- Cross has been endorsed by a variety of leaders in Eastern Washington's health care sector, including Skip Davis (CEO of Sacred Heart) and Dr. Kevin Sweeny (CEO of Rockwood Clinic), particularly because of his stance on tort reform. Despite being a lawyer, Cross says there are too many frivolous lawsuits, forcing doctors to pay such high medical malpractice premiums that many are simply leaving the state. "We have [in Washington] some of the highest medical malpractice premiums in the nation," he remarks.

Jobs -- Jobs are the "it" issue for this election, and Cross promises to deliver. He says he'll focus on boosting the local health care industry, as well as agriculture, education, energy and tourism. He opposes government involvement that would prevent companies from sending jobs overseas, but says he'd support incentives, like tax breaks for companies that keep jobs in America.

Medical Ethics -- "My views are pro-life, [and that] applies to cloning, euthanasia, all end-of-life issues, abortion and stem-cell research," Cross says. "Though stem cell research is complicated. I don't agree with creating a life only to end it, but [taking cells] from the umbilical cord I can understand."

Iraq -- "I approve of our actions, even if we can't prove [there are] weapons of mass destruction," says Cross. "I think some people have already forgotten 9/11." Along with the Bush administration, Cross continues to connect Iraq with 9/11, despite the bipartisan 9/11 Commission's repeated statements that there is no proof of connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda. When asked if Iraq was the next Vietnam, Cross says no. "The parallels are that we have a divided country, but some things have happened since Vietnam. The Vietcong were not going to come to Manhattan. This is the new Cold War. It's going to be bloody, ugly and messy, and it's going to go on for decades. Get used to it."

The Patriot Act -- Cross, like his Republican peers, is ambivalent about the Patriot Act. "We have unprecedented need for security measures," Cross explains. "Now, balancing that, we have civil rights and liberties, and those are the very things this country is founded on." Cross disagrees with the provision in the Patriot Act that gives the government power to arrest and detain people without charging them with a crime. "That causes concern," he says. "In fact, it's wrong." Still, says Cross, the Patriot Act is necessary for many reasons, and he approves of the sunset clause, which will require Congress to keep reviewing it: "We're in a situation where the potential for catastrophic events [is high]. We have to be proactive."

Religion -- Cross was a founding member of his church, Christ the Redeemer. Though devout, Cross says when he's got his political hat on, he won't wear his religion on his sleeve. "We need real humility," Cross says, regarding Christians in politics. "We don't need to hide our world view, but we don't need to beat people over the head with it. Watching Christians in politics, I'm often embarrassed -- they're not being good witnesses. The stereotypes fit, and we're our own worst enemy. But [Christianity] has another side, that winsome and kind side."

Environment -- Cross would like to see amendments to the Endangered Species Act and says that environmental regulations are bankrupting key industries and businesses in the Inland Northwest. "The truth is, the Nixon administration had no idea [the Endangered Species Act] would be applied the way it is today," Cross says. "We've become so partisan that if you say there's a problem with the Endangered Species Act, then you're 'anti-environmental.'"

Same Sex Marriage -- Cross opposes same-sex marriage. "It's interesting to see liberals and Democrats talking about states' rights," he says, regarding the argument that the federal government should not have the power to define marriage for states. "I think what people do in their private lives they should be allowed to do. I'm not in favor of criminalizing homosexuality. I'm not into gay-bashing or fanaticism. But marriage is defined as one man and one woman. If we make this change [in redefining marriage], we're getting into an area [that affects] the fundamental building blocks of society -- every society. It's how we create the next generation."

The Federal Deficit -- Cross, unlike some Republicans, has been critical of the federal deficit. "I think the federal deficit is a problem. It was a problem in the '90s when it ran over $500 billion, and it's a problem today. I'm concerned. I think understandably because there's a war, we have a deficit. We've had deficits every time we've been at war. But I think we need to be more careful with our discretionary spending."

But Cross doesn't suggest curbing the spending on Iraq or Afghanistan; instead, he says the government should take a second look at how much it's spending on social services, particularly on the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, which is well over $400 billion. "As Republicans espouse smaller government, I think we've suffered from a case of amnesia," Cross says, referring to the criticism Republicans made when the federal deficit hit $500 billion in the '90s.

Publication date: 08/12/04

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