Gilbert Cope lives in his friend’s garage in Carlsbad. He may move out when he becomes governor of California.
“I definitely have plans to run for governor and president,” he says. “I have a niche that will get me known. I have a solution to our country’s problems.”
A Tea Party stalwart who spent part of Sunday on the road outside Skyline Church during the Glenn Beck talks displaying his signs, he says his cure is “the equally tripartitioned Congress.”
“What I want to do is take the majority rule away. That divides Congress into thirds. There would be three representatives per district instead of just one.”
In a video, he says each state should also have three senators—with one representing the Red, White and Blue parties.
With 1,305 national representatives, “They might have to sit on each others’ laps. What I want to eliminate is the power of majority rule.”
Cope, 57, grew up in the Ohio Valley (Illinois and Kentucky), but lived in Vista for 25 years. He says he became homeless in May 2009.
But now he goes by a different name—Hustusa.
“Hustusa is an acronym for ‘Help Us Save The USA,’ I’m planning on changing my name to that,” he said during an interview Tuesday.
A licensed general contractor since 1985, Hustusa says: “I do repairs, remodels, anything,” but he’s had trouble getting work and blames “the infiltration of illegal workers that caused a downfall of my industry. White old-guy companies got shafted to minority companies.”
Hustusa is often seen at Tea Party events with a large sign that reads, “I didn’t vote for this Obamanation.”
He says he copyrighted the phrase.
A YouTube video shows him pictured on the The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News.
He’d also like to rework the primary system.
“It should be like American Idol. I’d like to vote on my cell phone or laptop using my Social Security number,” he says. “Seventy-five million votes are cast in the final night on American Idol. I think 77 million people voted in the last election for Obama. We also know the winner of Idol the next day.”
Past congressmen have rigged the system, he says.
Hustusa also opposes undocumented workers.
“I really want to fix California. I’m a handyman; I fix things. I want to do that with the state. The border needs to get closed. Illegal aliens cost the country $338 billion per year,” he said.
Hustusa says he has handed out 10,000 buttons, shirts and stickers with that slogan on it.
“The slogan starts a conversation,” he says.
When Hustusa is wearing his shirt with the slogan and people tell him “I will vote for [Obama] again,” he said he responds with “enjoy those higher taxes.”
When he became homeless, he figured he had two choices.
“I could go live under a bridge or hit the road. I hit the road, driving more than 40,000 miles,” he says. “The event in San Diego was my 115th event. I started traveling with the Tea Party Express, and did 78 events with them. I’m in the Tea Party, but I’m more of a constitutionalist.”
In all those miles of driving, he said he never once had a full tank of gas.
In fact, to get to the Patch interview at Starbucks, he stopped by a Coinstar [machine to convert his change], so he could buy more gas for his van.
He said he doesn’t sell the shirts or buttons at events because of the costs of permits. He also said he does not get many donations on his website helpussavetheusa.com.
When asked who he’d vote for in the upcoming election he replied: “I don’t like [Mitt] Romney, but if he’s the nominee, I will vote for him.”
Like Romney, Hustusa hopes to become a household name.
“I’m not trying to offend people,” he says. “When I started out in June of ’09, I got about a 60 percent negative response to me. Now it’s about 20 percent negative.”