tv Newsmakers CSPAN July 18, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
for the supreme court. >> our guest on news makers this week is the chairman of the national republican senatorial committee of. of competitive is not respond to be? -- >> how competitive is that race going to be? >> the governor, who is a popular governor, has made it clear he wants to run in a special election if the law changed to allow that. but i think this election will show if whether voters want checks and balances. it could be a very interesting election. we will have a competitive candidate. >> let me introduce our two
reporters. john mcardle and ken rudin. >> thanks for coming. i'm very interested in the role of the tea party. my understanding is that they have energized conservatives whose may have sat home during 2006 and 2008. they have made a big impact in the republican party this year. i'm interested in the role of the tea party in the committee. there have been several endorsements, as you have no doubt been reminded of. i think senator cornyn, when arlen specter was a republican, because he was an incumbent. there was the charlie crist, grayson -- is it fair to say that some of your endorsements show that you may have misread how conservative republican party voters are? >> i think it represents the
continuum on how the recruiting process takes place. when i got to the chairmanship of the nrsc in january of 2009, we came off a very bad election. republicans were pretty demoralized. i had a hard time getting people agree to see me, much less run for office. over time, things got a little better. i encouraged candidates to get into the race. as circumstances change, a lot more people got into the races. we had a competitive primaries. the tea party movement is a positive development. republicans have always considered our party to be a bottom-up party, not a top-down party. i respect the selection of the republican primary voters wherever they are, to choose their candidate. then we will support that candidate and hopefully win that seat in november. but it has been an unusual election year. i'm not the only one to make that observation. this has been a dynamic year.
a lot of changes. a lot of unique circumstances. that is just part of it. >> talk about it being the tea party being a positive impact. but at the same time there has been instances where, for example, alaska tea party folks are painting lisa murkowski as our rhino -- a republican in name only. >> i thiink she has done a good job. i don't think she as rhino. i think she deserves to be reelected. it's a free country. people can run for office, they can say what they want to say. the voters will be the jury and the judge as to who should be the nominee. that is what makes politics so much fun. it is so unpredictable. people will say the darndest things. >> one quick followup. new first-time candidates, first-time state candidates, like sharron angle and grand paul, they have said some things
that might not be perceived as politically correct, or at least politically smart. how much of your time do you spend trying to clean up after candidates like that? >> well, i would say novice candidates for statewide office are not the only ones who say the darnedest things. harry reid had called the surge in iraq a failure before it had even started. he called general david petraeus a liar. people will say strange things at different times. for the new kid, the role of being a candidate and running for office is different, i think, than what they might have imagined, particularly the scrutiny they will get. for example, in nevada, sharron angle running against the majority leader, whose numbers are very low in the purple, is going to have tens and millions of dollars of negative advertising run against her. that is sort of what the playing field looks like this time. voters are going to have to make
the decision whether they want to continue business as usual in washington, d.c., or whether they want to send someone who will operate as a check on single-party power and on unpopular policies. >> a few questions on fund- raising for you. the big story this week is that the second quarter fund-raising reports are do. give me an assessment of how your candidates did this quarter, specifically. >> i think republican candidates are running very strong and raising significant amounts of money. i think that's also an indication of the energy and the support that they're getting and the desire that voters have for change in washington, d.c. in modern politics, particularly at the national level, you're going to have a number of different people participating in these elections, including the party committees, independent groups, the chamber, 527, 5 01, and the
like. when the scott brown election took place in massachusetts on the 19th of january, at the last few days, we were looking at whether or not we were going to make an independent expenditure in that state. i was told there were 13 different groups advertising for and against the candidates. it has become basically white noise. running campaigns is about the message. it is about the messenger. it is about the discipline that candidates show. is about campaign tactics. it is also about timing. the timing this year will be very good for republican candidates. a big part is the money that you can spend on your candidates. committee fund raising reports are due on tuesday. what is your july report going to look like? >> it's somewhere north of $4 million but i don't know. i don't remember but i think that's about right. but our numbers have been strong. we are up about
20% or more over were we were two years ago. people ask how much money we need to win the election and i always say, as much as we can raise. you never know what the circumstances will be. our biggest challenge is going to the allocation. we have so many competitive races. charlie cook just put california and wisconsin in the tossup category. two republicans running against patrick shimmery out in washington state are bleeding. -- pat marie out in washington state are leaving. this is an extraordinary electoral environment. there will be more opportunities. >> one follow-up, if you don't mind. north of $4 million. i know your committee was down. do you think this movement in cash on hand is due to republican donors channeling their money to the nrss as opposed to the rnc?
d.c. donors avoiding michael steele and the rnc to bring your money -- to bring their money to you? >> well, we are where the action is. of course, in a mid term election the congressional races are where the action is. in a presidential year, the rnc is the titular committee for the presidential nominee and they would tend to get more attention. it is no secret that the rnc has had some problems this time. frankly, we have reached out to major donors and said, for this cycle, we would encourage you to contribute to the senate committee, because of the structure of the senate, because of the importance of 41 votes. every additional vote we can get in the senate is going to be our chance to reorder the balance of power in washington, d.c. it seems to be a message that people are accepting and responding to. >> republicans need 10 seats to
gain control, and everybody claims the expectation in washington, john boehner said that maybe 100 house seats are in play. is lack of a majority -- failing to win the majority and disappointment or defeat for john cornyn? assuming there are republican gains in november, do you expect president obama will reach out more to republicans in 2011? >> i think in terms of the expectations gain, right now we are either leading or tied in eight seats currently held by democrats and all of the seats currently held by republicans, are candidates are leading in. if the election were held today, that would be very good. it is not 10, but eight. i am pleased with the direction we're going in. i think it will be a two-cycle process. if we are elected with a number of reinforcements in 2010, in 2012, there are only nine
republican seats up. 23 democrats. we have a structural opportunity there. i am praying for a tsunami. i hope the wave hits. i want to be realistic about expectations. my biggest concern, to be quite honest with you, is going to be the met -- to be the money disadvantage that republicans will be operating under because organized labor and others have shown their willingness to spend huge sums of money, even in arkansas primary -- it is just the tip of the iceberg. >> let's get back to messaging. twice you've referenced checks and balances. is that sufficient to win elections this year? do you think it's important for the voters? more and more columnists on your side of the aisle are suggesting the party has to stand for something, not simply be obstructionist. what are your thoughts on that? >> it is a two-step process. when it comes to perpetual bailouts, when it commed to --
comes to endless spending and unsuspending debt, massive health care bills that the american people did not want. my constituents in texas are happy for me to say no to that. they also want the government to work to propose solutions to real problems, but not in the words of rahm emanuel, that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, to use the crisis to not just fix the problem, but to exert a role of federal government that the american people did not think they were voting for in 2008, along with the spending and the debt, which is the biggest two issues confronting the american people. i think it is our responsibility to come up with a positive message. i think you'll hear more about that, particularly in the house, but i think there will be some common themes in the senate as well.
>> and you won't give ause sense of what those will be? >> we did propose, you remember the summit at the white house on health care, i will just use as an example. the president seemed surprised that republicans actually had competing pieces of legislation and ideas that we thought would have bent the cost curve down and make health care more affordable. all he was really talking about was his plan. the public option, taking half a trillion dollars from medicare to raise taxes -- , to raising taxes, to increasing the premiums of those who had health care. part of the problem is that the minority party is getting the message to penetrate. you'll hear that from each of our candidates in each of these races. people like rob portman in ohio, dean r. rossi, carly the arena
-- carly the arena -- carly fiorina. >> we're about halfway through. >> can we talk about some of these specific races? >> sure. >> we reached out to both of those individuals that you mentioned and of course the law at least i don't think as we sit here has passed providing for the special election. we anticipate that it will. i think it presents a great opportunity. even though the governor is a popular governor, i think the policies of this administration and democrats in washington is not. the idea that the governor manchin would have voted for the stimulus, supported the health care bill -- those are unpopular policies in west virginia, which has about 35% approval rating
for the president. i think it presents a great opportunity for our candidates, whoever that person might be. >> could you devote the resources to west virginia? you have a lot of places in play. there's a lot of different groups out there spending money against you. are you willing to put money into west virginia? >> as you know, not all states are the same in terms of the cost. some are more efficient and cheaper, let me use that word, to help those candidates win. we're going to use -- go anywhere and everywhere we sense an opportunity. yes, we will have to pay attention to the entire map. the thing about the united states senate is, a new senator from an inexpensive state, that vote counts just as much as a new senator from an expensive state. we will have to make a practical decision as we approach the election on where we can pick up additional seats. >> in arizona, john mccain seems to have a substantial lead over
his primary challenger. you've been in the senate eight years. you know john mccain. you've seen different incarnations of john mccain. i know you need to do what you need to do to get reelected, but what do you make of the old john mccain and the new john mccain? >> i must say, since the 2008 presidential election, senator mccain has been a strong and loyal leader of the republican opposition. and i think he's been outstanding. of course, in addition to being a hero in his own right, he is one of our leaders on national- security issues. he has taken this primary race seriously, as he should. i think, given that -- i think he has given it the attention it deserves. i think the numbers are reflective of that, leading by more than 10 points against j.d. hayworth.
i think he will win by a comfortable margin, but that does not mean he should act comfortable. he should continue to work hard so he can win. we need him back in the senate. >> moving down to louisiana. senator vitter got a primary opponent the end of last week, very late getting into that. are you behind vitter in his reelection effort? i know governor jindal is staying on the sidelines. >> we are supporting senator vitter four square. as was alluded to earlier, one of my jobs is to help our incumbents get reelected if we can. the truth is senator vitter has been running a very strong campaign in a state that is trending republican. his fund raising has been very strong. his poll numbers have been very strong. against congressman -- against the congressman who i think is too liberal for the state of louisiana and to has been a reliable vote for nancy obama -- nancy pelosi and the obama
administration's policies, which are not popular in louisiana. i feel very good about his chances. >> speaking of liberal candidates, the tea party might say that mark kirk in illinois and others might not be as conservative as they like but they might be heading to taking over democratic senate seats. what do you make of that? >> i think that is a good thing. i think that's a good thing. any time a republican can win a democrat-held seat is a good thing in my vote. >> do you havean ideological litmus test, like some people might wish you did. >> well, i'm a pretty conservative guy but i reflect my constituency in texas. that is the way i vote. and i'm very comfortable with that, and that's the way i vote. but recognizing that there are challenges in states like illinois and delaware, we need to get them best, most delectable candidates -- electable
candidates, who will agree with us the most often. when somebody agrees with me eight times out of 10, i call them a friend and ally, not a 20% trader. >> we have about seven minutes left. look to the future. you said the debt and the deficit are the issues number one and number two. what it be like to be in national polls ticks in an eroaff -- national politics in an era -- in the era ahead? >> i think it's going to be very tough. and one reason why i think we need to fully engage with president obama i hope his debt commission which i hope will come out with a realistic and effective ways to deal with are mounting fiscal crisis. it is a good time for republicans and democrats to work together to confront this. it is not going away. i think that is what the american people want us to do
and what we need to do. it is not going to be pleasant. that is what we signed on for. that is what i think you will see republicans and democrats do together. if the president and democrat -- of the president and democrats are serious, we will meet them more than halfway. >> you talk about getting the most electable candidate. did you get the most electable candidate in nevada? senator reed just said he is up seven points now. he has been attacking sharron angle for being outside the mainstream. can she get elected? >> the best indication is can you get elected and she got elected in the primary. and you can't win a general if you can't get elected in the primary. she is our nominee. we are working closely with her and her team to prepare her for what is going to be a carpet bombing of negative ads. that is the only way that harry reid can get reelected. >> where does she need for more
preparation? i know she's been criticized in not talking to the media enough. >> i think part of this is going to be incredible scrutiny that comes with being the opponent for the majority leader of the united states senate. of course, with all of the outside interest groups that will comb through every trash can and every bit of a record, every statement she ever made, it is only reasonable to say, you need to get prepared to deal with that kind of negative onslaught of attention. out. still about 110 days she had a good fund-raising time and beat harry reid in terms of fund-raising. it is going to be a very competitive election. this is -- in almost every poll, other than the last one, harry reid has been losing to the republican candidates. i think this is a snapshot. i expect her numbers to improve. i have confidence that she is --
you will win in november. >> about five minutes left. >> susan just earlier asked you to look ahead. let me ask you to look ahead even further. right now texas is a republican state. not too long in the future it will be a predominantly latino state. george w. bush, as governor and president, reached out to hispanic voters with his views on immigration so-called reform. your position on immigration is different than his. what does the republican party need to do to keep taxes are republican state and win back hispanic voters? >> well, i have about a third of my constituents who are hispanic, and i do my very best to represent their interests together with all 24 million of us in the state of texas. i would say the hispanic voters are predominately, culturally conservative, very family oriented, patriotic, small businessmen and women, entrepreneurs. they're interested in education
and opportunities to basically realize the american dream. >> and they vote for democrats. >> well, i got 35% of the hispanic vote in 2008 and i'm working hard to earn a larger portion of the vote the next time. but the immigration issue has been divisive. we do need to find a solution to it appeared that is why in 2005, i introduced a bill with jon kyl that we called the comprehensive border security and immigration reform act of 2005. i was very much involved in the debate and i will continue to be finding -- be involved in trying to find a solution. on almost every issue, other than party registration, hispanics are conservative. i think they find themselves comfortable with the policies of the republican party. we have to continue to reach out. we have to continue to engage on a lot of issues where we find common ground. i found a mistake that people sometimes make in politics is
when you only communicate with somebody on something you disagree on pier there is no real basis for relationship and working through that to build consensus. this is something that the republican party needs to do better. i am trying to do my part. i can see that we need to do a better job. >> this will be my last question. i followed you to the breakfast and covered the nrsc. you seem to like your job and seemed to make gains this fall. do you want to be chairman again next cycle? is that something you want to do? >> well, it depends on my colleagues who make that choice, not me. >> would you put fours forward? -- would you put yourself forward? >> my attitude is i volume tird for this job not because of the glamour and all the excitement. >> you get to be on c-span. >> but because it's a job that needed to be done. i come from a state, texas, that is one of the important states
when it comes to fund raising for republican causes. we have a little bit of wind at our back. i am open to the possibility. i really think we need to focus on november the second, then we can have the conversation. we will talk about what makes sense for our conference. >> correct me if i am wrong. i think the last person to chair it twice in a row was minority leader mitch mcconnell. correct? >> i think you may be right. >> do you have future ambitions to possibly one day be the leader of your party? >> well, you know, i don't know whether that's in the cards or not. what i do want to do is continue to be involved and engaged and try to make a difference. i did not get elected in this senate seat that was first held by sam houston to be irrelevant or to be window dressing. i'm going to do everything i can as a senator and help the cause and the party that i believe in and help my state.
whatever capacity that is, i am fine with. >> last question. we learned this week that president bush's mem ware is -- memoir is going to be available really in mid october. people begin to be digesting. and i've heard it's going to be very candid. is that positive for your candidates to have president bush paused administration do this -- president bush's administration do this at this time? >> well, i was busy with president bush in his office in dallas about three months ago and he told me the release date was about november 10, but i'm reading that some experts -- some experts are going to come out early. i do not think he wants to go out on tour is before the election. i do not think he wants to be the play-by-play announcer. i think president bush's stock has gone up a lot since he left office. people appreciate his resolve and commitment in the face of the national security threat
like 9/11. he had his challenges, no doubt. we have learned a lot about things we could have done better as republicans come in terms of fiscal responsibility. when he left office, the deficit was 3.2% of the gross domestic product. today it is about 10%. we have added $2.30 trillion to the national debt since president obama got there. people are looking back with fellow more fondness on president bush's administration. >> so the book will be a plus for your candidates? >> i haven't read it and so i don't know what's going to be in it. but it's intriguing when you say it's going to be candid. i'm looking forward to reading it. >> thank you for being with us, senator. >> thank you. >> we're back with john mcardle and ken rudin. we were talking with senator
john cornyn. if you had the opportunity to be in politics right now, would you rather be the head of the democratic senate campaign or the republican? whose got the advantage? >> well, i would rather be part of the national republican senatorial committee and the democratic. i would love to do both because i would like to see. -- i would like to see if i could outsmart myself. the republicans have better numbers. their fund-raising is better. they are anywhere between three and six seats. there is a tsunami as senator cornyn suggested, which is possible, they could get up to eight or nine seats. >> talk about you always want to be playing offense in politics and clearly you could see from senator cornyn he was excited about playing offense. his numbers -- the fund-raising numbers show that his candidates are doing well. >> but his comments and your
questions, he kept using the word this is a dynamic year. a year really unlike many we've ever seen. and so how confident can you be? how do you capture the mood of the voters in this year? >> every time somebody talks to me about confidence and polls i go to new hampshire in 2008 when we were convinced barack obama was going to win, and hillary clinton won. we do not know what will happen five months from now. the point is -- there is a perception that president obama is not doing anything -- the democrats are not doing a good job. they could come back. we have seen stranger things happen. the republicans are sailing along. >> at the beginning of the cycle they didn't mings george bush's -- they did not mention george bush's name at the beginning of the cycle. cornyn now seems to think his stock has gone up and didn't
mind talking about him. it is amazing how things have changed since january, 2009. >> and on messaging, we talked with him about checks and balances. but in fact is it going to be a state by state campaign in messaging, or is there a national message going out? >> i think on the democratic side it is state by state. we saw that in pennsylvania when the republicans wanted to run against president obama, speaker nancy policy. the democrats said they care more about washington p.a., then they do about washington, d.c. republicans intend to nationalize in 2010. democrats would love to run on local issues. >> speaking of that, let me turn to capitol hill for the last question. they just passed the financial reform. what are the next couple of months look like -- going to look like legislatively? >> well, legislatively we