Updated: May 28
Former Cranston Mayor and current 2024 presidential candidate, Steve Laffey, was back in Rhode Island Friday. During his visit, Laffey made a number of stops such as a town hall organized by the Ocean State Current, interviews on local television and radio stations, a visit to Cranston City Hall and more.
Laffey also went back to his Rhode Island campaign roots and even did a honk and wave holding “Laffey for President” signs where both Reservoir Avenue and Park Avenue meet in Cranston.
During his visit, Laffey sat down with The Anchor for a follow up interview.
“It’s really good, I love being back here,” Laffey said when asked how he feels being back in Rhode Island. “It’s always very sad in some respects because I wasn’t the governor and didn’t run and I felt like the time had slipped away. If you look back a long time ago, 2006, I ran for the Senate. What I actually wanted to do was run for governor in a sense, but I couldn’t get Governor Carcieri to run for the Senate. I talked to him about it. And I always believe, politically, that if he had run for the Senate and I had run for governor, I think we both would have won.”
Reflecting on both his time as a Republican mayor in Rhode Island and looking at how things have gone since, Laffey has one major piece of advice for the state GOP: To close its primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote in them. Currently, any unaffiliated voter in Rhode Island can choose to vote in a party's primary of their choosing during the September primaries.
The Rhode Island GOP is holding an election for its next chairperson on Saturday, March 25. Joe Powers, the 2022 GOP candidate for Rhode Island Senate District 26, and former Party Chair Giovanni Cicione are running for the open position. Laffey said “Powers” when asked who he supports out of the two.
As Laffey mentioned during an interview with The Anchor last month, he’s currently living and campaigning in New Hampshire, a crucial early primary state. However, Laffey does plan to come back to Rhode Island every few weeks and is confident that he can even win Rhode Island’s 2024 GOP presidential primary.
“This is not the first primary, but I’ll be in this primary, and I think we can win this primary no matter what,” Laffey said. “As long as I’m in New England, I’ll be back here for a day or half a day meeting with Rhode Island people.”
Up North in New Hampshire, continuing his grassroots approach, Laffey said he has recently been “Going to restaurants, going to a business district in Manchester, telling who I [am], giving out a business card now, printing up some palm cards soon and just having people go to the website, which more people are going to the website.”
In terms of fundraising and advertising right now, Laffey said, “No ads. Fundraising won’t really take place until we can flip the campaign. In a campaign this big, unlike Cranston mayor race, U.S. Senate race in Rhode Island, it’s going to have to just flip where everybody knows who I am.”
Laffey added he doesn’t have to worry about fundraising until “after June.”
Other critical early states in a presidential primary include Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada. As of right now, Laffey hasn’t visited those states yet, but said that he will.
Laffey supports both term limits for members of Congress and banning members of Congress from trading stocks.
A key issue Republican primary voters will see where candidates stand on is securing the Southern border. Laffey said he supports increasing infrastructure at the border, passing legislation and reducing the problems causing an influx of illegal immigration.
“We have to tell Mexico if you’re not going to deal with your gangs, the drug lords, the ones I actually physically saw, the ones who are making fentanyl now, it’s not just being made in China, that’s killing 100,000 people a year in America, that we’re going to have to come deal with it,” Laffey added. “And I’ll just leave it at that because there’s a lot of things we can’t do, but we’re going to have to come deal with it, because we can’t have this.”
Another policy position popular amongst Republican voters is holding China accountable. Laffey explained two main parts are needed to accomplish that: Move away from trading with China at all and having the United States building up its Navy.
As for what he does in his down time during the presidential campaign, Laffey said he enjoys spending time with his family.