For Mike Durant, the objective is still making sure people know who he is rather than what he would do if elected to the U.S. Senate.
Speaking Saturday to an overflow crowd of more than 200 people at the Republican Men’s Club in Huntsville, Durant spent the majority of his 19-minute address recounting his decorated service in the U.S. Army.
And even if you don’t know Durant’s name, you may well know his story that was documented in the 2001 hit movie “Black Hawk Down” that told of the helicopter he was piloting being shot down in Somalia in 1993.
“I’ve been telling people since I joined the campaign, we need to get the name ID up,” Durant said. “People need to know who I am. So we talk about ‘Black Hawk Down’ because people remember, even though it’s been almost 30 years.”
While that convenient calling card perhaps makes Durant instantly relatable to those who don’t know him, he also made the point that it shortchanges who he is.
“I had a 22-year career (in the Army),” Durant said. “And that’s one day that went really bad. So it isn’t what I’m proud of. It’s just something that I experienced because I was part of the operation. But every other day of that 22-year career went really, really well. And unfortunately, the one day that went really, really bad is the one that people will remember.”
Durant is one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the May 24 primary. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks has served in Congress for six terms, announced his candidacy almost 10 months ago and has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Katie Britt, former chief of staff for Sen. Richard Shelby, is running for office for the first time and has been on the campaign trail for seven months and has billboards scattered throughout the state.
Durant is the race’s newcomer, announcing his candidacy in October. He’s sought to boost his ID through a wave of television ads.
An independent poll last month in the GOP Senate primary race had Brooks with 31 percent support, followed by Britt at 26 and Durant at 16. The asterisk to those numbers is nearly 22 percent said they were undecided and the 4 percent garnered by businesswoman Jessica Taylor – who dropped out of the race and endorsed Durant.
Durant also touched on his life after the Army. The president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions in Huntsville, Durant built the business from the ground up and now has about 500 employees with locations throughout the world.
Durant did not address Alabama issues he would tackle if elected to the Senate, instead repeating familiar GOP talking points of opposing vaccine mandates and concern over the issues on the U.S.-Mexican border. He also declared himself an “outsider” to Washington politics – an effort to distinguish himself from his opponents in the race.
Durant did not mention Trump’s name nor the questions over the results of the 2020 election the former president continues to raise more than 14 months later. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race.
President Joe Biden, though, received a heavy dose of criticism from Durant – particularly over the military withdrawal last year from Afghanistan.
“If you need a better example of why veterans all over this country that are absolutely beside themselves about this administration, whether we’re more worried about inclusion and woke culture than we are about mission readiness, whether it’s about how we withdrew from Afghanistan,” Durant said. “If you want to get my anger really up, you tell me that Afghanistan was a military failure. You’re liable to get physically assaulted because it was not a military failure. It was a political failure.”
The U.S. has lost credibility under Biden, Durant said, and that was a motivation for him to run for office.
“A huge weapon we have as a nation is our credibility,” Durant said. “People fear us. They know we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do until you got somebody like Joe Biden in office. They don’t believe a thing he says and they shouldn’t believe a thing he says because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And he abandoned our allies, he abandoned our mission. And no one is going to believe at any point in the future that what he says is actually what we’re going to do as a nation and that makes everything we try to do in the future 10 times harder. That’s why our credibility is so important. And it’s it has been compromised.”
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