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Mills talks Orlando shooting during campaign kickoff for legislators

GOP candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Stewart Mills III speaks during campaign kickoff event for Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, and Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa at the Falls Ballroom in Little Falls on Friday. Mills, a Republican, is running against incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s 8th U.S. Congressional District. Zach Kayser/Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
Minnesota Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, speaks during a joint campaign kickoff event he held together with Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, at the Falls Ballroom in Little Falls on Friday. Zach Kayser/Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

LITTLE FALLS—GOP candidate for U.S. Congress Stewart Mills III on Friday said America's response to the Orlando attack should be centered on terrorism, as opposed to gun control.

Mills made the remarks at a joint campaign kickoff event for Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls and Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, at the Falls Ballroom.

In a deviation from his standard stump speech, Mills talked about the Orlando mass shooting last week and the aftermath of the attack.

"We had a horrific terrorist attack ... not some rogue gunman, not somebody who was deranged, somebody that had a political, somebody that a religious and ideological agenda to go and kill Americans," he said. "That's what it is. It is jihadism. It is radical Islam. There is not a single thing in any of the legislation that has been proposed that would have saved a single person in Orlando."

"We have to take the enemy head on," Mills added. "The enemy is not our Second Amendment rights."

Mills said Nolan's stance in favor of allowing more Syrian refugees into the country put Americans at risk for another terrorist attack.

"Rick Nolan is leaving us vulnerable to the next Orlando attack, the next San Bernardino attack, and the next Boston attack," he said. "We have to get real."

In an interview following his speech, Mills was asked what policy changes should be implemented to prevent further terrorist attacks. He said the U.S. should take action against the Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, possibly by strikes on oil trucks. Noncombatants associated with the trucks could be warned before a bombing, he said.

"The fact that those people aren't wearing uniforms ... they still are aiding and abetting and fueling the enemy," he said. "If we have to drop leaflets ahead of time, telling them that we're going to start blowing those oil trucks up, then that's what we have to do."

In addition, Mills said America should do more to arm and train the Kurds in Syria.

Mills said he was opposed to the "no fly, no buy" idea of restricting people on the terrorist no-fly list from buying weapons, because the list itself posed civil liberties issues.

"Should somebody be denied a constitutional right because your name is on a watch list that was not created with due process?" he said. "No, I don't believe that."

Kresha had a brief speech that focused on thanking family and supporters. Gazelka talked about the Republican ideal of free enterprise. He also touched on the presidential election. Gazelka, who served as a state co-chair of the Ted Cruz campaign during the Republican primary, said he would vote for Donald Trump although he never actually said Trump's name in his remarks.

"I want somebody that at least says they're pro-life, at least says that they're going to appoint conservative judges, at least says good things about America and that America can be great, doesn't apologize for America," he said. "There's only one candidate that at least says those things. That's who I'm voting for."

As an interlude after Kresha and Gazelka's remarks but before Mills' remarks, the event turned to a bake sale auction conducted by auctioneer Mike Schultz.

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser.

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