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Arizona Senator Jon Kyl

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

HH: Senator Kyl, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show. How are you, Senator?

JK: Well, I’m great, Hugh, and I’m sorry to interrupt.

HH: Oh, no.

JK: You had a great conversation going. I’ll just be a second here. But I just wanted to clarify something I said the other night that I think was technically wrong. And being a careful lawyer, I’d like to make sure I can set the record straight…

HH: Please do.

JK: …so that your listeners know the exact truth of the matter. We were talking about Bill Haynes, judicial nominee, and I said that a couple of Senators were holding him up. And my use of the term holding was imprecise. Most of the time, we mean that there’s a hold placed on him, and that is not true. He is still in the Judiciary Committee, and what Senator Graham has told me is that right now, he’s inclined to vote against him, but he’s happy to have the vote. The problem is that taking a vote on him, and Senator Graham voting against him, would probably doom his nomination, because with…other than Supreme Court nominees, you don’t send them to the Senate floor unless they have a positive recommendation. And assuming all the Democrats voted against him, he would not have a positive recommendation. So in effect, he wouldn’t be reported out of the committee. Now I don’t know that Senator Graham has made a final decision on how he would vote, but at least at the time, he expressed the opinion he would vote no.

HH: But there is no formal hold? I’m glad you…

JK: No formal hold.

HH: I wasn’t taking it that way, either, because I hadn’t seen a formal hold reported by anyone.

JK: No, and it was in the committee, and so I frankly shouldn’t have said it the way that I did. Senator Graham is…I mean, he may have a different opinion with respect to this nominee, and I would hope that he would consider a different vote. But he is careful in what he says, and he always thinks these things through very carfully, and so I didn’t want to express an opinion that wasn’t accurate with respect to his position.

HH: Who gets to decide when that…you know, to me, Senator Kyl, I’d just like to get it on the record. And if he’s not going to get through, clear it up and get a new nominee, and then blame, or have praise for Senator Graham, depending on what people think of it. I personally will consider it an enormous error on his part, as do I think most conservatives in the country. But you know, he’s the Senator from South Carolina. It’s up to the people of South Carolina to decide that.

JK: Yeah, and…

HH: My question is, we’ve got to get judges moving, and this Hamlet stuff from him is driving me crazy.

JK: Well, I’m not sure that it’s Hamlet from him, though, because I suspect, don’t know for sure, but I suspect what’s happened is that the chairman of the committee is saying well, if there’s any chance that he might vote the right way, let’s see…and I do know that he reviewed some material, and I think he interviewed Mr. Haynes personally, which is the way that Senator Graham would ordinarily do it, being very careful about it. But I don’t think he’s changed his mind yet, and so I think you’re right. At some point, you just have to make the decision well, is he or not? And if he’s not going to support him, then perhaps make the decision and move on. But I think up to now, it’s been more a matter of seeing if there were a way to gain his confidence so that he could vote yes.

HH: Is the Keisler hearing this week, by the way, Senator Kyl?

JK: Yes, it is. It’s on Thursday.

HH: That’s great.

HH: There’s a hearing on Tuesday, I guess, Senator. Is that right?

JK: Yeah. Once again, I misspoke. It’s Tuesday, not Thursday.

HH: Well, that’s great. Tomorrow with Peter Keisler. But then, you’ve got to get back to Arizona and start campaigning. When does recess begin?

JK: It may begin Saturday. We’ve got a lot of important business here before we conclude. We, first of all, pass tomorrow, hopefully, or maybe Wednesday morning, the energy bill which will now allow exploration in the deep waters off the Gulf Coast. That should be a pretty short-term, strong impact for oil and natural gas. Then, we also have the bill that combines the estate tax reform with an increase in minimum wage, and a group of provision of the tax code that are extended. And that vote will be on Friday morning to see whether we proceed with that. And then following that, a vote on the pension bill. And somewhere in between there, trying to finish the defense appropriations bill. So we still have a lot of work to do this week.

HH: And how is the campaign shaping up?, America.

JK: Well, we’re doing very well, and I appreciate your asking. There was just a new Rasmussen poll put out, and I’ve found them to be very accurate. And they show me with a substantial lead right now, and for that, I’m grateful. We know that it’ll tighten up. All these races will. But as of right now, there’s been a lot of expression of confidence in me, and I’m very grateful, as I’ve said.

HH: Now you’ve got a deep pocket opponent. Is he spending freely?

JK: He is. He has spent about $4…well, a little over $4 million. I think four million, two hundred fifty thousand dollars so far of his own money. He said it’ll be about a $15 million dollar campaign, so it’ll be very expensive.

HH: Wow.

JK: And that’s why I have to rely on my friends to help me out.

HH: Jon Kyl, don’t voters hate that?

JK: I suspect that people wonder why somebody would spend that kind of money, in effect, buying the office. It’s fine with me if somebody wants to spend their wealth on politics. But I think it’s also fair to point out that he does not have a depth of support. You know, if he had the same kind…I’ve got something like 13,000 contributors. And if he had 13,000 contributors, people that were willing to support him, then that would be one thing if he then wanted to also add his own money. But in effect, he’s substituting his money for grass roots support from the folks in Arizona, and I think that makes his candidacy less viable.

HH: 30 seconds, Senator Kyl. Israel under fierce international criticism, even though we’re now seeing the body count in Qana was falling, and there are questions about what actually happened there. What’s your assessment, as we go into week four of the war?

JK: It’s a bum rap. Israel is trying to be as careful as it can. And when it does make a mistake, or civilians are hurt or killed, Israel is very, very sorry for that, unlike Hezbollah, which deliberately launches rockets to hit anything they hit, including women and children, if that’s the case.

HH: Senator Jon Kyl, always a pleasure. Good luck getting the work done. We’ll look at that Keisler hearing tomorrow, and talk to you about it later.

End of interview.

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