Texas Elections 2018

Joseph Kopser talks Trump, Republicans and health care

The Texas Tribune hosted a conversation with Joseph Kopser, the Democratic candidate for Texas' 21st Congressional District. The discussion was moderated by Tribune co-founder and CEO Evan Smith.

Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

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The Democratic candidate for Texas’ 21st Congressional District, Joseph Kopser, said Friday that he admired Donald Trump until the billionaire said former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

“For a very long time I thought that he was who he said he was, until the whole birther movement,” Kopser said.

Kopser, who faces Republican Chip Roy in the race for the San Antonio-based district, was speaking with The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith during an hourlong event. You can watch the replay above.

Here are a few highlights:

Donald Trump

Kopser said he didn’t like that President Trump in 2015 called late U.S. Sen. John McCain a “loser.” Like McCain, Kopser is a veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star.

Kopser said that Trump should “knock off” his attacks against political opponents in the context of the recent pipe bombs sent to Trump critics like Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“That’s not the role and position of the commander-in-chief,” Kopser said.

Kopser said he would support a Trump impeachment depending on the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 elections. The congressional hopeful also said he doesn’t believe Democrats should adopt Trump’s political tactics.

“The guy is doing enough of his own digging,” Kopser said. “So I say hand him a shovel and let him keep digging.”

Republicans

Kopser said he was a “Ronald Reagan Republican” as a kid, but that he is running as a Democrat because the Democratic Party is doing a much better job at looking out for one another, an attribute that Kopser said he learned in the military.

“We leave no one behind, whether it’s because they have pre-existing conditions, whether it’s because they don’t have the education they need, or because their ZIP code happens to be the wrong one,” Kopser said.

Kopser said that Texas Republicans censured outgoing Texas House Speaker Joe Straus for not being conservative enough.

“I thought Joe Straus did a pretty damn good job in his years as speaker, especially with issues like pushing back on the extreme parts of his party,” Kopser said.

Health care

Kopser wants to improve the Affordable Care Act so that everyone has health insurance, particularly people with pre-existing conditions.

In the district, there are more than 300,000 people that fall into that category, according to Kopser. He said that private companies will not voluntarily protect these patients because the cost is too high.

“There is no incentive for a private company to pick up a person with pre-existing conditions,” Kopser said.

Disclosure: Joseph Kopser has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.