Va. Rep. Barbara Comstock Favors Constituents in Opposing Iran Deal
By John Gizzi and Joely Friedman Monday, 17 Aug 2015 10:39 AM
As Congress adjourned for its summer recess, freshman Rep. Barbara Comstock was emerging as one of its most vigorous opponents of the proposed Iran nuclear deal.
"I hear from people constantly and they are talking about this," said the Virginia Republican, whose commute back to her Northern Virginia district is a 20- to 30-minute drive and thus she is exposed to opinions of constituents on a daily basis.
In an interview with Newsmax days before the recess began, Comstock said she listens to the increasingly vocal opinions of constituents on the Iran agreement, and they are coming from more locales than her town meetings or speeches at Rotary luncheons.
"They are worried that no matter what the Tehran regime promises, we're going to get a nuclear Iran," she told us. "And then we can't get the genie back in the bottle, no matter what the administration says." The freshman congresswoman added that her Iranian constituents "express their belief to me, over and over, that their country was hijacked by the Islamic revolution. There is a broad consensus in their community that we should increase the sanctions on Iran rather than take them back."
Despite the pressure the administration is putting on Democratic lawmakers to OK the deal, said Comstock, "their spokesmen, such as [Secretary of State] John Kerry, are just not making a compelling argument."
Along with listening to her constituents on this increasingly incendiary topic, Comstock plans to make her first trip to Israel, where she expects to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She said: "That's someone who knows how to make a compelling argument — no deal is better than a bad one."
When Congress returns to work after Labor Day, Comstock — only the third Republican House member from the Old Dominion State who is a woman — is likely to be a front-and-center voice against House approval of the controversial Iran deal. But taking on controversial issues is something she has spent a good part of her adult life doing. Barbara Comstock Worked for Ted Kennedy
Politics, it seems, has been in Barbara Burns Comstock's blood. A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont and Georgetown University Law School, she settled in Northern Virginia, married and became a mother of three.
When she moved to Virginia, Comstock met and volunteered for Republican Rep. Frank Wolf and later joined his staff on Capitol Hill. Comstock first appeared on the conservative radar screen in the 1990s when, as senior counsel to the House Committee on Government Reform, she was in the forefront of the probe into the early scandals surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater was a particular focus of the panel and of Comstock.
In 2000, she oversaw opposition research for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and was later director of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft. Comstock eventually launched her own business and was a key strategist in the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.
But the Massachusetts native actually served in law school as an intern on the staff of her state's Sen. Ted Kennedy. "We all have to start somewhere," she said. At the time, Comstock was a Democrat who came from a Democratic family in Massachusetts. But while working for Kennedy, she realized her values and views were not Democratic at all and she soon became a Republican.
With the respect Comstock won among fellow conservatives and her increasingly visible role as a spokeswoman for conservative causes, it was only natural that she would make a run for office herself. That came in 2009, when she first won election to the Virginia House of Delegates by unseating Democratic incumbent Margaret Vanderhye. In 2014, when mentor and friend Wolf announced his retirement from Congress after 34 years, Delegate Comstock loomed large as the Republican heir apparent. But she had to work for the seat.
First, she topped a six-candidate GOP primary field with 54 percent of the vote. Sensing a possible pickup of a House seat, national Democrats promoted Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, and money from organized labor and environmental activists flowed into his coffers. Foust, whose commercials slammed Comstock for her pro-life views, made a tactical blunder in the fall when his campaign charged that the Republican nominee "never had a real job."
In a district where Comstock's experience is not uncommon among women who work in government and politics while raising a family, the Democrat clearly stumbled.
"But that's not why I won," said Comstock, who rolled up 56 percent of the vote last fall. "I knocked on 10,000 doors and always talked about jobs and the economy and the lack of a real recovery that we're experiencing. The agenda of lower taxes and tax reform resonated with people here.
"And over and over again, I heard from people who had real horror stories about dealing with Obamacare. An auto mechanic in Leesburg told me that he had to pay $900 a month for health insurance under new regulations and said, 'that's my rent.'"
The GOP lawmaker calls for repealing Obamacare "every way we can — getting rid of the Medical Device Tax, for example. Yes, it will take a Republican president to sign repeal, but until then anyone I can rescue from Obamacare, I will."
As chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology, Comstock is concerned with ideas and opportunities for the jobs of the 21st century. The key to the future, she says, "is how to use technology and private investment for tomorrow." Inevitably, she is asked about what the press calls "women's issues." "I approach all issues as women's issues," Comstock said. "Technology, medical reform, and entrepreneurship are all women's issues.
"You're always best off when you ask women their top concerns. And the top issues I hear from women are jobs and opportunity, healthcare, and increasingly, national security. We have some strong women talking, and I would like to be their voice." John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. Joely Friedman, a senior at Ohio State University, is a National Journalism Center intern at Newsmax'sWashington, D.C., bureau this summer.