WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–A Christian ethics professor and former White House staffer during the Bush administration would like to return to Washington — this time as a U.S. Congressman.
Dan Heimbach, professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., is seeking the Republican nomination in 2000 for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.
Democrat Bob Etheridge currently holds that seat.
Heimbach, who has taught at Southeastern since 1993, said his campaign will focus on “character, compassion, family, and faith.” If elected, Heimbach, 49, plans to take an indefinite leave of absence from the seminary while maintaining his permanent residence in Wake Forest with his wife and two sons.
“I think that right now this is a particularly strategic moment to run, in terms of what God has given me the experience and opportunity to do,” he said. “I am for a strong economy, strong defense, strong families, and strong character.”
This fall, Heimbach completed a four-year term with the Wake Forest Board of Commissioners but did not seek re-election.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Vietnam War veteran, Heimbach also served as secretary for the North Carolina Republican Party from 1997 to 1999.
During his first stint in Washington, Heimbach was a legislative assistant to Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana before serving as associate director for domestic policy at the White House from 1989 to 1991. Before coming to Southeastern, he served as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy overseeing military personnel policy.
Among his numerous achievements in public service, Heimbach has been credited with composing the moral framework adopted by President Bush in leading the Coalition forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Heimbach said restoring the strength of the country’s military and re-focusing its mission will be one of his primary objectives if elected to Congress.
Heimbach, who has been openly critical of President Clinton’s use of NATO forces in Kosovo, said Clinton has changed the military’s primary mission from securing the nation’s defense to “nation building” outside its borders.
“We have lost a huge percentage of the force that we had at the time of the Persian Gulf War,” Heimbach said. “That was the strongest, best-trained, best-equipped force that the U.S. has ever had in its history.
But under the Clinton Administration, we have lost both size and numbers. Just going on numbers, what we have cut down would itself be the second super power in the world if it existed today.”
Citing a crippling erosion of morale in the military as a result of Clinton’s compromise of military standards on homosexuality and adultery, Heimbach said he will work to help restore the principles of character and integrity in government.
“We have in the last seven years been through quite a tragic period in our history,” he said. “A person can be no better, no more trustworthy, no more a man of honor, no more a man of moral conviction, of leadership in public than he is in private. Someone who is a scoundrel in private can’t become a moral hero in public. It’s just impossible.”
Heimbach, who as a member of a county task force which helped create a strategy for introducing “character education” in the Wake County public schools based on a consensus approach, said he will be a strong advocate in Congress for implementing similar strategies nationwide.
He said that by insisting that public schools advocate character traits that are supported by the majority of the community prevents any group from using the schools as a platform to advance its ideology or beliefs under the guise of “tolerance.”
“Tolerance is not a virtue,” Heimbach said. “It depends what you’re tolerating. Some things should be tolerated. Other things, if you tolerate them, you are being very irresponsible.”
“There is a lot of common ground,” he said. “Everybody wants their kids to be honest, everybody wants their kids to be kind and thoughtful,” he said. “I don’t want the schools teaching my kids that homosexual practice is normal or that everybody’s religion is just the same and that they are being disrespectful or bigoted if they believe that Christianity or whatever is unique.”
Heimbach pledges to be a strong proponent of the sanctity of human life. He said he will work to ban the partial birth abortion procedure, where a baby is killed during the final stage of delivery with an instrument which punctures the infant’s skull and suctions the brain.
“Human life is sacred,” Heimbach said. “It’s not simply a possession to do with whatever we wish. It is the responsibility of a just, responsible government to protect innocent human life.”
To date, only one other candidate has announced intentions to seek the Republican nomination for the state’s 2nd congressional district in the May 2000 primary. Doug Haynes of Rocky Mount, N.C., has formed an exploratory committee. The district includes parts of nine counties in central North Carolina.
Candidates may officially file their candidacy with the state Board of Elections on Jan. 2.