Former USF president runs gamut on radio

Former USF President Betty Castor didn’t hold back any answers. On Wednesday, Castor talked politics on WBUL’s Jordan Radio Show. She covered her campaign, the war in Iraq and the Terri Schiavo case.

Host Ryan “Jordan” Gorman said the interview with Castor is the only high-profile interview the station has ever broadcast.

Castor, 62, is continuing her campaign for the U.S. Senate along with three other Democratic candidates who are waiting for Sen. Bob Graham to decide whether he will return to the Senate.

“I talked to him last week, and I will probably talk to him today, but he hasn’t made any explicit decision,” Castor said on the show. “I do know that he is very anxious to make a decision and so everyone is on pins and needles waiting.”

If Graham would have continued his campaign for president, Castor said she would have supported him. And if he decides to run for re-election, Castor said she would drop out of the race. She added that she and Graham have worked together before on education issues.

“He would have been my choice for president,” Castor said. “I know him, I’ve worked with him and I know what he believes in with our country and in Florida.”

During the interview, Gorman pointed out that Graham said in other media interviews that President George W. Bush should be on grounds for impeachment if the statements he made concerning Iraq and weapons of mass destruction were false.

Castor said she disagrees with Graham’s statements because they were too harsh.

“I would not have made those comments. They were too strong,” Castor said.

Castor added that she would have voted in support of the $87-billion aid package that was passed to pay for the war.

“What are we going to do, not support our troops?” she asked. “We have 150,000 troops in Iraq, and it is the job of Congress and the American people to support them, but at the same time we should be working on an exit strategy.”

Though Castor supports the troops, she does not support Bush’s decision to go into Iraq without the United Nations’ assistance.

“I think in hindsight the way we went in by ourselves without getting a U.N. mandate is very troublesome,” she said. “I would have tried to get the mandate and to get the U.N. because it probably would have been wiser. That, and to take some time and build the case with other countries.”

Investing more time into intelligence agencies and intelligence gathering should be a priority of the government, Castor said, adding that it starts with education.

“In our universities we need to be helping out students understand the world, the government and where they are coming from,” she said. “What we are dealing with now is a consequence of not investing enough time in the dynamics throughout the world.”

Regarding Terri Schiavo, who has been in a vegetative state for 13 years and has been kept alive with a feeding tube, Castor said Gov. Jeb Bush should not have used government authority to allow a feeding tube to be reinserted.

Castor said she believes in separation of powers adding that the United States has laws and rules.

“I would not agree with the governor,” she said.

As Castor waits for Graham to announce his campaign status, which is expected to be given Monday, she continues fund-raising along with Democratic opponents Rep. Allen Boyd of Monticello; Rep. Peter Deutsch of Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade mayor Alex Penelas.

“I feel well-positioned, and I don’t think that there has ever been a U.S. Senator from West Florida,” she said. “Negative campaigning makes me uncomfortable, and it is very distasteful to me. And I think really that people are tired of it.”

Castor is the only candidate who has won a statewide race, as a state senator from 1976-86. She was elected as the state education commissioner in 1986, followed by a re-election in 1990. In 1990, when she ran for the education commissioner, she received more than 2.2 million votes, which was more than any other Democrat on the ticket, to win re-election against former Gov. Claude Kirk.