From NBC's Shawna Thomas and Carrie Dann
INWOOD W.V.— West Virginia Republican candidate John Raese on Tuesday outlined his focus on national defense by calling for an extensive laser-based missile defense system.
A very extensive one.
"If there is a rogue missile aimed at our country, we have 33 minutes to figure out what we’re going to do," Raese said at an event sponsored by the League of American Voters. "We are sitting with the only technology in the world that works and it’s laser technology. We need 1000 laser systems put in the sky and we need it right now. That is [of] paramount importance."
Raese said the system would cost $20 billion.
Laser-based technology has been long discussed as a promising method for deterring missiles, but experts say that components of a system like the one Raese described are in the infant stages of research and development and would require the negotiation of staggeringly complex international treaties.
Riki Ellison, the chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said that Raese appeared to be referring to DPALs (diode pumped alkali lasers), which have shown great promise in the field of missile defense but - at least at current funding levels for the development of such programs - could take two decades to develop. He said that the development of DPAL technology would be accelerated by Raese's proposed budget infusion (the Obama administration recently reduced funding for the Missile Defense Agency). But, he added, deploying that technology in space would require the negotiation of a treaty among world powers.
"That's a significant policy challenge," Ellison said.
Raese's wide-ranging conversation Monday was sponsored by the League of American Voters in association with local Tea Party group Blue Ridge Patriots. In addition to national defense, Raese touched on term limits, the war in Afghanistan, getting rid of the minimum wage and abolishing the IRS and the Department of Energy. About 100 people attended.
If elected, Raese said that on his first day as a senator, he will introduce a “termination and repeal of Obamacare.” He also said he supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent and ensuring that the “cap and trade” bill in the Senate does not become law.
A Blue Ridge Patriot representative said the town hall was advertised on local radio as well as to a list of at least 100 journalists statewide. Most of the crowd seemed to be Raese supporters.
The Patriots invited Raese's Democratic opponent, Gov. Joe Manchin, but they said he respectfully declined the invitation.
Here's the video: