McConnell: On the current state of the GOP – Full interview | VIEWPOINT


Ramesh: Senator McConnell, thanks for joining
us. McConnell: Sure, glad to be here. Ramesh: I wanted to start by asking you, now
that the Republicans have had control of the Senate, we’re in the midst of another election
season, what have Americans gotten out of this Republican Senate and why should they
give Republicans control of the Senate again? McConnell: Well even though if you listen
to the Presidential candidates you’d think not much was happening, it’s been a very productive
Congress. We’ve taken…our view was, even though you had divided government, we had
big differences with the administration, there were plenty of things we could agree on and
make some progress for the country. Among the things we put on his desk that he did
not sign, the Keystone Pipeline, repeal of Obamacare, the defunding of Planned Parenthood,
the clean power plant regulations, none of which he signed. But we thought it was important
to point out the differences. Then on things that we could agree on, we did trade promotion
authority. We did a rewrite of No Child Left Behind, the elementary and secondary education
law. We did a five-year highway bill that hadn’t happened since the ’90s. We did a cyber
security bill. We did permanent tax relief, or R & D tax credit for section 179 and also
for the internet tax moratorium, permanent law. So we think it was, by any objective
standard, a productive year. We’d loved to have done more, but after all, Barack Obama’s
in the White House. Ramesh: So it sounds to me as though you’re
suggesting that maybe that story of the accomplishments isn’t really getting through, even with some
Republicans. McConnell: Yeah. It’s not getting through
because, you know, I think a lot of people in the media world promoted the notion that
things could be achieved that couldn’t be achieved. That we could overcome the President’s
veto pen and change the country with him there. That’s what George Will, the columnist, calls
the politics of futile gesture. You set up a mission that cannot possibly be achieved
and then when it doesn’t get achieved, rather than blaming the President who keeps you from
achieving it, you blame yourselves. Ramesh: Speaking of, one of the areas where
the President is at odds with Senate Republicans, the Supreme Court and this vacancy. Do you
think that some Senate Republicans are going to suffer at the polls because they are not
going forward with the nomination? McConnell: Not a single one. We know the Democrats,
if the shoe were on the other foot, they would not be confirming a Republican president’s
nomination for the Supreme Court in the middle of a Presidential election year. We think
the American people ought to decide this. We’re not going to move on this nomination.
We’re not going to have hearings. We’re not going to have votes on it. Whoever the next
president is will get to make this nomination. Look, it’s been 80 years, Ramesh, since a
vacancy created in a Presidential election year was filled. You had to go back to 1888,
Grover Cleveland was in the White House, to find the last time when a vacancy was created
in a presidential year, the Senate controlled by the party opposite the President filled
a vacancy. Not going to happen and it’s not going to cost a single Republican candidate
for the Senate any votes at all. Ramesh: Could you tell our viewers without
betraying any confidence, how your White House meeting went, where this presumably came up? McConnell: Well I reminded the President that
this era of contentious confirmations of Supreme Court justices was all started by Democratic
Senates. I also reminded the President, the Vice President, the Democratic leader and
the ranking member of the judiciary committee that they were the only ones who have ever
filibustered a Supreme Court justice. None of us had, us meaning Senator Grassley and
myself. So we didn’t…I told the President I thought we had not spent the whole meeting
talking about this because clearly we were not going to confirm his nominee. Ramesh: How was that received? McConnell: Well, he sort of knew what we were
going to say, so we spent the rest of the meeting talking about other matters. Ramesh: The press has carried some reports
that you’ve said that if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, Senate Republicans will
drop him like a hot rock. Can you confirm whether that’s true? McConnell: Look, you know there’s been all
kinds of discussions about what goes on in private meetings, and what I’m hoping for
is a nominee who can win. And the definition of a nominee who can win is one who can carry
purple states. We all know red, and we know blue. A purple state is a state that can go
either way. The next president of the United States will carry New Hampshire, Pennsylvania,
Ohio, maybe Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, and Florida. President Obama carried
all of them twice. President Bush, 43, carried all but one of them, twice. And that’s why
they had eight years in the White House. So we know what it takes to win, and I’m hoping
we have a nominee who can appeal to the kind of voters you find in those swing states who
are going to determine who the president is. Ramesh: If the election goes the other way
and Hillary Clinton were to be the next President, do you foresee her acting the way President
Obama has, or more the way her husband governed? McConnell: No, she’ll be an Obama Democrat.
I think it’s perfectly clear that that’s what she always was. She was not the president.
Her husband was flexible because he decided to deal with the government he had rather
than the government he wished he had. President Reagan did the same thing. President Obama,
on the other hand, has pressed the envelope on the executive side, regulations, executive
orders. He’s not been interested in coming to the political center. And I think Hillary
Clinton has been a dedicated liberal her entire life, and I don’t expect her to act any differently
from President Obama. She will be a third term for Barack Obama. Ramesh: And a lot of your colleagues, I know,
are exercised about executive power and what they see as excessive unilateralism from this
president. Do you believe that President Obama’s now set a precedent that a future Republican
president will use? Or do you think that there’s enough of a party-wide reaction against this
that that won’t happen? McConnell: Well it’s certainly going to be
tempting for whoever the next president is. Anytime they can’t get what they want through
Congress, to try to press for limits. I don’t think there’s any question about it. It’ll
be a precedent. It will be very tempting for the next president regardless of party. It’s
very difficult for Congress to stop that because the only way you can stop it, is through some
funding bill, which of course he has to sign. And it reminds everybody of just how important
the presidency is in our system. If we’re fortunate enough to elect a conservative president
next year, I hope that right after taking the oath of office, he goes into the Oval
Office and starts undoing as many of these onerous executive orders that have ground
our economy into this slow, tepid two percent or less growth rate, and give our country
the chance to get going again. So the presidency is really, really important. Ramesh: Speaker Ryan has talked about creating
a Republican agenda from the Congress. Do you agree with him that that’s what should
be done? Or do you think that the presidential candidate should lead the way? McConnell: Well I think it’s a good idea.
I support it, and the house is particularly suited for that because they can do things
so quickly. Senate procedurally is not a great place for rolling out things. But I like what
he’s up to. I know what he’s doing. We’re coordinating on it. I’m in favor of it, and
hopefully, we have a nominee who’s open to our ideas. I mean, we need to have a nominee
who’s actually a conservative, and that’s not clear as we speak. Ramesh: All right, thank you very much. McConnell: Thank you.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. "This has been a very productive congress" …. How stupid does he think we are? We can MEASURE that! This IS the worst congress in the HISTORY of the United States.

  2. I don't envy McConnel. There is a deep rift in the GOP and even if a Rep. even so much as hinted at compromise in order to get shit done he or she would be hounded out of office by the tea party nutters.

    Not that the last generation of republicans was any better (being resposible for the clusterfuck that is the middle east right now), that is.

    Alas, the current ills the of the GOP are of their own making, playing to the insanity that is the tea party. Now that they let the ghost out of the bottle, we have Trump and Cruz as front runners.

  3. they have to put subtitles so you can understand McConnell's mealy mouthed lockjaw. How do these men get elected?

  4. Some good responses, yet nothing but excuse making around 2:00. "Obama has a veto" is not a concern for a co-equal branch of government that has the power of the purse and can stop a big-spending Democrat simply by refusing to approve funds. The establishment simply decided not to fight, and actually joined with Democrats to pass huge debt-driving measures.

    So as a result we have two parties that are the same: There's the Obama Democrats, "give us everything we want or we shut everything down and barricade vets from open-air monuments" and then there's the so-called opposition side that says "No…wait 24 hours and then we'll completely cave, and give you everything."

    If Republicans actually used their historic majorities, it would be Obama in front of the cameras complaining that Congress vetoed the funding he wanted. But they didn't, so now our loser is the one who makes excuses.

  5. Even a lot of Republicans will call BS on this. Mitch McConnell once said he takes pride in gridlock. No wonder the Republican voter base is so angry at party elites.

  6. Everything the GOP-controlled congress "accomplished" or attempted to accomplish was in direct opposition to what the majority of the people who pay his salary want. Luckily, the era of the crusty old white men is coming to an end … they're kicking and screaming, trying desperately to rebuild their empire with pillars that have long since turned to dust.

  7. Shame libertarians don't take over the GOP, while I'm not one myself, these wankers are what the democrats would be if they were less intelligent and not complete push-over twats. Democrats compromise all the fucking time and then GOP screams they didn't afterward. Gotta hand it to them, they know how to play the game. And he's flatout lying about supreme court vacancy, American people did decide, the president doesn't stop being president because its election year. Fuck'em all, two sides of the party for crony capitalism

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