WESTMINSTER — Republican Roscoe Bartlett wants to improve the country's educational system, cut national debt and health-care costs and impose term limits on members of Congress.
The candidate for the 6th District congressional seat began building a foundation for his campaign in Carroll by speaking to the county chapter of the Home Builders Associationof Maryland on Thursday night.
Standing before about 50 people in the Wakefield Valley Golf and Conference Center banquet room with no podium or table on which to rest his notes, he talked for half an hour, wagging his finger at the group of homebuilders like a teacher, which is what he used to be.
The Republican, whose campaign literature touts him as the descendantof a signer of the Declaration of Independence, has been many thingsin his 65 years, including farmer, inventor, medical researcher and homebuilder.
The Frederick County resident said he sympathized with developers, many of whom are suffering financially because of the recession.
"Your industry is a microcosm of what America is," he said. "You dream. You risk. You work. You achieve. That's what America is all about."
Bartlett faces opposition from two other Republicans in the March 3 primary for the seat occupied by seven-term incumbent Beverly B. Byron, who has one opponent in the Democratic primary.
Bartlett, his voice growing hoarser as he talked, chastised the federal government for the heavy layer of bureaucracy that he said weighs down the country's educational system.
"Our educational system is not just a national disgrace, it is a national crime," he said. "Itreally is a threat to our national security."
Good teachers should be rewarded and freed "from the bureaucracy that stifles individuals in the classroom," Bartlett said.
Students who do well academically also should be rewarded, he said, using his youngest son, Ross, acollege freshman, as an example. Ross gets top grades, but, Bartlettsaid, "He's a geek or nerd in school."
But out on a motocross course, where he's a "flamboyant" bike rider, he's seen as "a god" to fans, he said.
"We've got to make academic achievers feel good," Bartlett said.
In advocating lower health-care costs, Bartlett warnedthat a federally run system might not be the best alternative.
Herecycled a quote that brought a laugh in November at a candidates forum.
A federal system "would combine the efficiency of the post office, the costs of the Pentagon and the compassion of the IRS," he said. The homebuilders chuckled.
Bartlett said malpractice insurancecosts should be lowered and caps placed on monetary awards in malpractice cases.
The cost of operating the government and the nationaldebt must be reduced, he said.
"Our economy is being suffocated by this enormous national debt," Bartlett said.
He also criticized "career" members of Congress who seem indifferent to constituents' needs.
"Our elected representatives are not serving our interests," he said.
In Carroll, former Westminster City Councilman Mark S. Snyder will be coordinating Bartlett's campaign. Snyder said Friday that he was scheduled to meet with the candidate this week to discuss strategy.
"Name recognition is always a problem," he said.