Now that the primary is over and the general election looms in November, Republican candidate Ryan Zinke stopped by the KGVO studios to answer questions from Talk Back listeners, of which there was no lack.

All four phone lines were jammed for most of Zinke’s 30-minute appearance.

Zinke hearkened back to the Trump administration when he served both in Congress and as Trump’s Secretary of the Interior when gas prices were lower, much lower.

“When Trump and I came in our (oil) production as a country was 8.3 million barrels a day and declining. In less than two years. We were at 12.5 million barrels a day, which made the U.S. the world's largest exporter of energy. We did it by lowering emissions. We had the best safety record in the history of this country. We weren't beholden to anybody on our energy and by the way, gasoline was only two bucks a gallon.”

Zinke was confident that with the right administration in Washington, D.C. that those days could return.

“It can be reversed,” he said. “We can get gasoline back to two dollars a gallon. We can curb spending and get inflation down. By the way, inflation today was 11.3 wholesale and you can add a few points for Montana because we're at the end of the supply chain up here. Everyone drives trucks and distances are longer. So when you see 11.3 percent, you can add a couple of points onto Montana.”

Zinke was asked to discuss the U.S. Department of Defense, due to his career in the U.S. Navy and as a SEAL Team Six Commander.

“The Department of Defense is now transitioning into a health care and pension fund that happens to make a few bullets,” he said. “We're going to have to change this because you're right, it's trillions of dollars going right now, but we have a budget of $760 billion a year because the defense is the big gun, right? No pun intended. Of that, how much defense do we get out of that? Probably $200 billion. And the rest of it we're going to have to restructure to look at what we face tomorrow.”

Zinke wrapped up the interview by confirming that his two primary candidates Dr. Al Olszewski and Mary Todd have both endorsed his candidacy against Democrat Monica Tranel.

“Al and Mary both have endorsed me, so the Republican Party is focused as one would think we would because we share common values and we face the same hurdles going forward,” he said. “So we're all together as a team. My pledge is across the board and makes sure that I'm out and helping candidates get through because I am at the top of the ticket and I want to get the people motivated and get people to sign up to vote. Let's get people out there and let's look at November altogether.”

The Zinke campaign told KGVO News that there will be a forum in Missoula on August 8 and a debate in Butte on September 29.

LOOK: Historic 2022 Flooding in Southern Montana Not Soon to Be Forgotten

Widespread flooding wiped out roads, bridges, buildings, and powerlines throughout riverside communities from Yellowstone National Park and Paradise Valley to Red Lodge. The Yellowstone River winding through Billings crested Tuesday, June 14, 2022. At 11:30 a.m. the National Weather Service in Billings reported the river rose above flood stage and was forecasted to hit 14.7 feet, nearly hitting the 15-foot record set in 1997.

24 Closed Missoula Businesses We Wish We Could Bring Back

We asked Missoulians which of their favorite businesses that have closed down would they like to see make a triumphant return. Here's what they came up with.

Most Expensive Airbnb in Western Montana

  1. Entire villa available on Airbnb
  2. Near Superior, Montana

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM