News and Commentary

The Daily Wire Speaks With The Youngest 2020 Republican Congressional Candidate, Armani Salado

Armani Salado is a 23-year-old history and political science major at the University of Central Florida, and he’s running for Congress. At the moment, he’s not yet old enough to hold the office, according to Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution — but come the 2020 election, Salado will be the ripe old age of 25, and therefore eligible to run against Democratic incumbent Stephanie Murphy (FL-7).

While Salado, who is running as a Republican, espouses typically Republican viewpoints in most areas, he walks a different line on others.

The Daily Wire had the chance to speak with Salado recently. During our interview, we talked ideology, non-traditional policy positions, why he decided to run for office at such a young age, and what he expects going forward.

DW: So, you were an actor?

SALADO: Yes, at one point in my life. I’m only 23, so my life hasn’t been that long. In high school, I sought out some theater, and then when I graduated high school, I did some local films around my state and the county. From there, I landed an agent, and then they had me do a lot of auditions. There was one point where I almost landed the lead for Disney’s latest “Aladdin.” So that was the extent of my acting career. At one point, I saw myself going that route, but when I started getting more into my associate’s degree, which was for political science, and when I transferred to UCF and began my history major, I said to myself, “I feel like I can better utilize my time with this.”

Then when I saw the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and how he was being dragged through the dirt, how his name was being destroyed, how his family was being taken out and just ripped apart by the media, I realized that what I’m doing right now has no meaning, and I feel like I needed to be out there protecting what our country stands for, which is the rule of law, and just being a voice for my generation.

As soon as I saw that, I jumped into the [Florida Governor Ron] DeSantis campaign, and from there, my political journey started.

DW: What made you want to run for Congress at such a young age?

SALADO: So, the main thing that made me want to get more involved was the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. That made the light bulb up in my head turn on. But what made me want to run at a young age is, we see so many people on the Left that are really young and doing these magnificent things. Then, as a history major, I see so many people who were young, who led kingdoms, who led countries. Our Founding Fathers are a great example. Nathan Hale, Marquis Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton – they were all 18, 20, 21, even younger than me – and they were part of a foundation that created one of the greatest countries in the world.

I told myself, “The only thing restricting you right now is that you’re 23, and you have to be 25 when you run.” And by the time of the election next year, I will be 25. So there’s really nothing holding me back because there’s nothing in the Constitution, nothing legally that says you need to have x, y, and z, other than you need to be 25.

So, that is what inspired me. I think just my love for history, and my love of studying the past, and studying past leaders, past writers, past poets, past creators, launched me into thinking, “Well, I am a history major; I am a poli sci major; I have the passion for politics. Passion for helping my community. So why don’t I just take it to the next level?”

We need to stop and realize that we’re in a very unconventional world right now, with who our president is, how our politics are, where our country’s going, where the world’s going. Everything is very unconventional. So why shouldn’t I be unconventional too, and take this leap, and run for Congress in my district?

DW: Do you think your age will be an advantage or a disadvantage going into the primary, and then the general?

SALADO: As of right now, there is no one running against me in the primary. It’s still pretty early, but we’ve had some people talk around the county, and there’s no one that the GOP in my district is pushing right now. They’ve already kind of shared my platform, and they’ve already kind of shared my stuff on my pages. So hopefully, I’m the one that they’re gonna be pushing. But you never know. Things can change.

I think my age can be used as an advantage because what I say on my website is that I’m going be going into Congress with no scandals, no controversies, and no baggage.

I’m not a 40-year-old, 50-year-old politician who has a track record of making mistakes that don’t better our people. I also think my age will be more of an advantage because I’m going to be bringing in fresh ideas, and a fresh mindset of this changing tide that our country is going through. Right now, the people in Congress, yeah, they had the experience of starting small and working their way up until they got to Congress, but do they really understand the place that we’re in right now in our country? Do they understand the changing tide? Do they understand how people think on social media, and how they think outside of social media? Do they understand what people want for this country?

I feel like with my age, I’m in that mix, and so I understand. What I’m making clear too is, I don’t want to be a know-it-all congressman. I don’t want to be a know-it-all activist or bureaucrat. I want to be a congressman who will open the door and bring people in who know what they’re talking about. I don’t want to go in there thinking that I have all the answers.

DW: In the Republican Party, you have constitutional conservatives like Senators Mike Lee and Ben Sasse, and then you have moderates like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. Where do you fall on that political spectrum?

SALADO: I think I fall in between Sasse and Murkowski. Because I am 100% for the Constitution, and believing what the Founding Fathers wrote for us to follow. But I’m also more moderate on the environment, and more moderate on the legalization of marijuana.

On my platform, I’m a big advocate for the environment. My girlfriend’s going to school for environmental science, and I live in Florida. The Floridian environment is one of the biggest things that brings people to our state, to our county. That’s how people in small businesses here survive. So for me, I’m in the middle because why should I not be for the environment, especially since I live in Florida, and especially with the changing tide that is coming with people who are fighting against climate change, people who are not fighting against climate change, and people who think that the world is going to end in twelve years, even though scientists say that’s not going to happen?

DW: Is there a position on which you’re not typically conservative?

SALADO: It would be the legalization of marijuana, and the environment. I’ve already had some people who are super conservative shut me down for those things. But at the end of the day, I’m going to fight for what I believe in, and I’m going to fight for what I think is right. Some people might disagree; others might agree.

There’s this idea that conservatives aren’t for the environment, and that they’re against legalization of marijuana. Maybe ten years ago you could say that. But if you really sit down and you talk to a conservative, and you talk to someone who’s coming up as a conservative, you’ll understand that they do care about the environment, that they do want to protect our earth and make sure the will of the people is enacted. If the Republican Party were these hateful people who didn’t care about the environment or other social issues, I wouldn’t be a part of it.

You just have to take away the veil that the media puts up that conservatives hate the environment and so on, and just listen. And when you listen, you’ll understand, “Oh okay, so their views are good,” and then that’s when people start shifting to our side.

DW: Where do you stand in terms of man made climate change verses environmental climate change?

SALADO: Man-made climate change, I mean, that’s something that we’re gonna have to deal with regardless of who’s in charge. And if you really want to tackle that, you have to look at India and China.

As an American, as someone who wants to preserve the American way of life, I can only speak for what we do. And we as Americans, we are not the major cause of man-made climate change. That comes from across the world, and I can’t speak on that because I’m here to serve the people in District 7, not people who live in India.

When it comes to environmental climate change, the environment’s changing everyday. Humans have only been around for 200,000 years. The world has been around for, as far as we know, billions of years. So we’re still learning, and we’re still figuring out this thing called climate change. And that’s why I said earlier, I want to bring in the people who know more about this, not go into Congress and think that I have the answers and I know everything. I don’t. I don’t know the answer to climate change, and I don’t know the answers that the scientists who study this for years upon years do.

So, if I get elected to Congress, I want to make sure that I bring in people who do know what they’re talking about.

DW: What’s your position on border security?

SALADO: On my platform, I have a little story of how my parents came from the Dominican Republic. They did everything the right way – and I know that’s tough for some people. But what we’ve got to do for border security, we have to let the people know that we’re a sovereign country, like any other country, and our border is not something you can just disregard and cross over whenever you want. In other countries, that’s not the case. America is very, very lenient on how immigrants cross over.

So, I feel like what we need to do as Americans, and people in Congress, instead of being activists and going in there with our own personal agenda, we need to look at what’s in the law right now that’s not working. We need to figure out how we can fix that in a bipartisan way. Not make this about, “Oh, he’s racist because he doesn’t want immigrants coming in.” That’s not the case. The case is, we have a sovereign country, and people need to know that when they come in, we have laws in place, and that you can’t just do whatever you want.

We need to start funneling more money to border security, and finding new ways to protect the border. And that’s gonna come with people changing their mindset from an activist mindset to a mindset that’s gonna be what the law says.

DW: If you’re elected, are you willing to publicly stand up to the president when you disagree with him?

SALADO: If I’m elected to Congress, I will publicly stand up to anything that doesn’t prove right to the people I’m representing. And as of now, the president hasn’t done anything that affects Americans in a negative light. So if the president does something that I don’t agree with, or that I think is unlawful, or unconstitutional, and it says on the books that what he is doing is wrong, of course I will stand up to the president. I don’t think anyone who’s elected to Congress wouldn’t. And even his most loyal supporter, Lindsey Graham, calls him out when he does something.

And I think that’s what we should do. We should back the president when he’s correct, and we should not back him when he’s wrong. And I think Trump, if you just take the time to study him, he understands that. He understands that if he’s wrong, he’s gonna get called out on it, and if he’s right, he’s gonna get praised for it. And I think we should look at the praise more than the wrong, because as of now, in his two years in office, there’s more good than bad – but people like to focus on the bad rather than the good.

DW: What are your thoughts on the current state of politics?

SALADO: I think the craziness of it is really, we just have people in elected office who have a personal vendetta, or a personal agenda, rather than doing what’s right for the people. I mean, look at AOC. She comes from a background where she wasn’t financially stable when she was younger, she didn’t have money growing up, and that’s totally fine. A lot of Americans have it the same way. But for you to bring that mindset into Congress, and then let it impact the millions of people that you’re representing in your district, what does that say? You’re going in there with your own personal agenda; you’re not going in there defending the people who need you to do the right thing. She just lost 25,000 jobs from Amazon. That could have benefited New Yorkers. But for her, she has this mindset of socialism, she has this mindset that big corporations are bad. But in reality, those jobs would have helped her people.

So I think the current climate that we have in politics needs to change from people having their own activist agendas to people actually going there and doing the right thing for their people.

And then with this whole thing that conservatives and Republicans are racist, and don’t care about the environment, and don’t care about other people, and don’t care about immigrants. I mean, if you just take the time to open up Google or a book, you will see that’s not true. You have people who are fighting for these people, and I’m one of them.

If people on my side were these racists and bigots who didn’t care about the environment, would I really be here calling myself a Republican? No, I feel like that needs to be an eye-opening thing for people who just go by what they see in the media. And will any of this change? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that. But I feel like it will start when we start acting like legislators instead of activists.

DW: Is there anything that we haven’t touched on in this interview, or that you haven’t been able to speak about, that you want our readership to know?

SALADO: I think what I would like the readers from The Daily Wire to know is that I’m a young guy coming from Winter Springs, Florida. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to be guy who brings the people who have the answers.

I think this election’s going to be a really, really strong one on socialism versus capitalism. And if you just take the time to study between the two, no one flees capitalist countries and goes to socialist countries. People flee socialist countries and go to capitalist countries – and that should speak volumes to the people right now in our country who are pushing for socialist ideas, who are pushing for these policies that are going to destroy the American way of life.

I can’t talk much about my voting record, or my experience, because frankly, I don’t have the experience that career politicians have. But I want to be the person for this generation that can build experience with the people who know what they’re talking about.

The Daily Wire would like to thank Armani Salado for speaking with us about his ambitions. For more information about Salado’s platform, check out his official website, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.