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The Huntsville Times - Rep. Griffith Delivers Annual Update On Washington

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Location: Washington, DC

This is the way U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith sees it: Arizona has the right idea on illegal immigration. President Barack Obama has the wrong idea on manned spaceflight. And while it may be difficult and dangerous, America must keep searching for oil on the ocean floor.

"We must continue to drill. We must continue to do it safely," Griffith said Monday, delivering his annual update on Washington to hundreds of members of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

"These kind of accidents are going to happen," he said of the oil spill approaching Alabama shores, but he added the nation must avoid a "knee-jerk" opposition to offshore drilling.

Those comments came after his speech, as Griffith stayed at the microphone to take a few written questions from the audience in North Hall of the Von Braun Center.

Answering a question on immigration reform, Griffith said the U.S. border can be controlled, but that the federal government has not done its job. And that's why Arizona has to act.

"The governor of Arizona is on the right track," said Griffith, referring to Arizona's new law that allows local law enforcement agencies to question the immigration status of anybody they have stopped and suspect of being in this country illegally.

During his prepared comments, Griffith began lauding the ingenuity, creativity and hard work in North Alabama, calling the 5th Congressional District a national model for business.

On a national level, he called for the repeal of the estate tax and a moratorium on capital gains tax, and predicted that Republicans would win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives during the November elections.

In fact, before his speech, he told The Times he expected to win his own Republican primary in June without a runoff. Griffith, who switched to the Republican party in December, faces primary opposition from small businessman Les Phillip of Madison and Huntsville attorney and Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks.

"Democrats are now dealing with the reality they are going to lose the House," Griffith told The Times, and he said North Alabama has also changed. "I see it now as decidedly Republican and independent."

In his comments to the audience, Griffith also focused on NASA and missile defense.

Griffith criticized Obama for pulling the funding for the Constellation manned spaceflight program. "He replaced that with nothing - no vision, no goal," said Griffith, adding that: "He sent a message to China that we are basically walking off the court."

Griffith, referring to space as a military objective and manned spaceflight as a national security issue, said the fight's not over. He said he and other lawmakers would dig in to save Constellation. That won a round of applause.

Griffith also said he would fight to repeal the health care reforms passed under Obama. And he said the current administration has lowered expectations for missile defense, sending the wrong message to allies such as Israel and Japan.

The last written question of the luncheon offered a sort of psychiatrist's inkblot, the index card reading simply: "Help!"

Griffith interpreted this to mean the American people had lost confidence in government. He said the country can't sustain the current national debt, and can't afford in lean times to divert dollars to increased social programs such as health care reforms.

"Help is on the way. Not only do we need better leaders, we need better citizens," said Griffith, coming back to his predictions for a Republican surge in November. "America is wide awake now, and they're ready to act."

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