Exclusive: Special Forces Veteran Thomas Ludwig, Running for George Santos’ Seat, Says China, Illegal Immigration Greatest Threats

Thomas Ludwig, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel running for the U.S. House seat in the 3rd Congressional District of New York vacated by Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) expulsion from Congress, said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News he would take on China, the migrant crisis, and domestic crime as three of his top priorities.

Ludwig, who is running as a “commonsense Republican,” called China America’s top threat.

“Their navy is the largest in the world, and they’re just aggressive and they have the numbers. And importantly, they’re trying to change the rules-based order. They’re trying to get that world off the dollar standard. And then the way they use AI and the way we use AI, it’s very different,” he said.

“[Chinese President Xi Jinping] is a very Machiavellian leader. He thinks 30-50 years down the line, whereas in the U.S. we barely think a new cycle ahead. They basically just take all the technology or steal it, so they’ve skipped generations of R&D,” he added.

However, he added, “We just have to be careful because, you know, certainly we’re competitors and militarily some other stuff, but there are things that we need to cooperate on, such as climate change and AI. But I think Americans underestimate the existential threat that China poses to this country.”

On illegal immigration, Ludwig — who spent a good amount of his military career in South America with Special Forces 7th Group — said he supports border security and stricter immigration controls, but also work inside the countries that migrants are coming from.

“Obviously you got to make the border strong, but as the 7th Group guy who’s worked in South America, the best way to tackle like migrant issues and immigration is actually work in those countries,” he said.

For example, he said when he was with 7th Group in Honduras, they stood up a police force to arrest drug dealers. “These guys started taking down major drug dealers, and that’s when I realized that these drug dealers — they have a monopoly on violence, but if you put any sort of tactical stuff against them, they’re overwhelmed,” he said.

He also said he would use covert action to take out Mexican cartels.

“People don’t understand the amount of human trafficking that goes on. I’ve worked cartels a lot. These Mexican cartels are the most ruthless I’ve ever seen, to include ISIS. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on counterintelligence and they’re just brutal. They decapitate people, put their heads on the highway and bridges,” he said.

“I would say Mexico is very close to becoming a narco state. Even if these Mexican cops want to do the right thing, they really have no choice because either they’re going to take the money and be on the payroll or they’re going to be targeted. There’s no middle ground,” he said.

“I wouldn’t use the regular military to secure the border, but if you’re gonna go after the cartels, I would focus more on, like, covert action and presidential findings. I think that’s more [CIA] and then 7th Group.”

“I would have a combination of military helping with securing the border and increase border control — make the restrictions harder for illegal immigrants, get them out of the country, but then also focus on the tunnel. There’s no one quick solution,” he said.

On the Ukraine war, he called for a diplomatic solution.

“Nothing’s going to happen on the battlefield. It’s got to be finished diplomatically… I think we should support Ukraine, but we don’t want to do it indefinitely,” he said. “What I would say is that would keep the pressure on, but we need to get this conflict to the negotiating table…America can’t be banking several wars at one time.”

And he expressed support for Israel’s response to being attacked on October 7.

“If you asked Americans a month after 9/11 for a ceasefire, they’d be like, ‘No way,’” he said. “When you’re dealing with Hamas and terrorists, they’re not rational actors… . I’ve dealt with people who are mad at Israel for hitting hospitals and refugee camps and I get it, but the truth is, Hamas is putting their command and control and key staff at these places, where they’re putting in Israel in a situation where if they hit him, then it’s a bad public relations thing.”

“That’s the type of people you’re dealing with — Hamas must doesn’t care about collateral damage or their own people. They’re willing to sacrifice civilians.”

On the domestic front, he said called for empowering the police and ending cashless bail.

“We’re to the point now where it’s society’s fault people are committing crimes, not the criminals’ fault, and it’s baffling to me. So, it’s just giving the police the authority to do their jobs…to arrest people and hold people accountable,” he said.

“Nothing draconian, but you know, you just have to, empower … law enforcement to do their job and hold people accountable,” he added.

After spending his life in the military and Special Forces, as well as graduating with degrees from Stanford and Harvard Universities, he said one of the reasons he is running is because he sees the country declining both domestically and internationally.

“I know I can do a better job than these people, because I’ve met dozens of congressmen and senators and I’ve really never been very impressed,” he said.

Ludwig entered the military a couple of months before 9/11, and was commissioned as an infantry officer. He deployed to Korea and Iraq before becoming a Special Forces soldier and then deploying to South America, Afghanistan, and Europe.

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