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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Arizona Senator on Republican chances in November, and Democratic chances in a lame duck session of Congress

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HH: Joined now by our favorite United States Senator, Arizona’s Jon Kyl. He is the Republican Whip. Soon, we hope, he’ll be the majority whip. Senator Kyl, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JK: Thanks, Hugh, always great to be with you and your great listeners.

HH: We’ve got a lot to cover, but I’ve got to ask you first, you ran and successfully won reelection in 2008 when there was a wind in your face, and every Republican’s like a storm. Are you a little bit envious of the Republicans right now?

JK: (laughing) 2006 was…

HH: 2006, yeah.

JK: Well, it would be nice to be running this year, but it’s great to be helping all the folks who are running with the wind behind their back.

HH: Now let’s talk about Arizona to start, because you’ve been out there helping Schweikert and Ruth McClung and Jesse Kelly, and of course Paul Gosar. How’s it look?

JK: It looks real good. It’s going to be really close, and I guess John McCain and I had a little meeting today with our governor, and the three of us were comparing notes. We’ve got those four takeover races, and also the Ben Quayle race for my old Congressional seat. You had, I think, three or four of them on your program the other day when I was traveling in Arizona, listened to the whole thing, very impressed. They all did a great job, and thank you, by the way, for being here and giving them that airtime. Every one of those races is going to be close. I mean, I could make some predictions here, but let me just make a general prediction, which is we’re going to pick up at least two seats in Arizona. We have the possibility of picking up four. But my guess is that the number of votes that separate any of these candidates is going to be very, very thin, so that every bit of effort from now all the way through is going to have to be expended for us to win.

HH: Now I’ve also got to ask you for years, I’ve said to Californians Jon Kyl’s the closest thing we’ve got to a Senator in California, because we can at least drive there within seven or eight hours. What do you think as you look across the border at all those U-Hauls coming your way fleeing Democrats and Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown? What do you think about Carly Fiorina’s chances?

JK: It’s great to see those folks coming to Arizona, but some of them may make a u-turn and head back when Carly Fiorina wins. She is, let me just, not to put any other candidate down, but I don’t know of any better candidate for U.S. Senate ever than Carly Fiorina. She’s terrific, she’s coming up, I’m going to be going over to California next week to do what I can to help. And I like her chances. More than that, I like her. She’s just going to be a terrific colleague.

HH: Your colleague, a great American, John McCain, was over here for Carly Fiorina last week.

JK: Right.

HH: And he said candidly and respectfully of Barbara Boxer, your colleague, that you can’t be more different than Fiorina and Boxer when it comes to the national defense.

JK: Well, and he mentioned the fact that he had gotten some gasps for referring to Senator Boxer as a highly partisan Democrat. That’s nothing that the newspapers in California themselves haven’t said.

HH: Right.

JK: And it’s well recognized. There’s nothing wrong with being highly partisan. But I think to represent your state well, a state as diverse as California, it would help to be a little less partisan. And I think you’ll see in Carly Fiorina just a very smart person who really cares. And she’s had the courage to stand up for her convictions, even though not everybody in California might agree with her totally all the way down the line. But if you want to turn things around, you’ve got to change the people in Washington. And that means getting Carly Fiorina elected as U.S. Senator in California.

HH: Now Jon Kyl, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is a couple of days ago, Mitch McConnell had to send a note out to Rush, and Bob Corker had to get out and correct a misimpression. The Washington press corps is eager to paint the Republican Senators and House members as round-heeled and compromising and collapsing already. I know that’s not your view, but what’s going on here?

JK: I don’t know what it is. Sometimes, we don’t state the entire thought that we’re thinking, and then you take a comment and you say oh, that proves that you’re going to do X, Y or Z. Let me be very clear. The position of the Republican Senators, all of us, is to repeal Obamacare if we can. If we can’t, having tried to do so, we will do everything we can to defund all or parts of it, to shave parts of it off, to make the rules and regulations as, well, to try to reduce the scope of the rules and regulations. In other words, in every way that we can, we’re going to try to reduce the effect of Obamacare. And it starts with the repeal effort, which we will not give up on, even if we don’t first succeed. But if you try it, and you can’t get it done because we don’t have the majority in the Senate, and really in the Senate, it would take 60 votes, so that isn’t going to happen, then the next thing you do is instead of just giving up and saying okay, we tried to repeal it and that’s the end of it, then you being going to Plan B and Plan C and so on, and you hope that someday, you can get back to Plan A, which is to ensure its full repeal.

HH: Now Senator Kyl, you’ve worked with Senator, President Obama when he was Senator Obama. And I’m not having you declare victory, and you never do that. You’re a cautious run to the finish line veteran campaigner. But if these numbers show up, and Republicans make big gains, based upon what you know of President Obama when he was a Senator, is he going to be someone to take the message of no, you got it wrong?

JK: That’s the question that everybody’s asking, and it’s a good question. And let’s just take the premise that Republicans do very well, and that the Democrats and their agenda are essentially repudiated. What will he do? Will he be like Bill Clinton and tack to the right, compromise with Republicans and probably get reelected? Or will he continue his hard left drive because of his ideological predilections? I tend to think it’ll be the latter, both based on what I know of him, and also the things that he and his folks are saying these days. It seems to be everybody’s fault but theirs that the country may be moving back toward a Republican point of view on these things. And when they fail to recognize the reasons why the public is doing that, then you have to conclude that they’re probably not going to change their approach to governing, even after the election. But obviously, we’ll have to wait and see.

HH: Now if that happens, and you’re into an extended confrontation collision with a hard left administration, and for example, Eric Holder suing your state of Arizona, and more of that, and more of that comes on, do the Republicans have, do you think, the right approach in terms of both firmness but also style points? We lost style points so often in these debates. It’s not what we believe, it’s how it’s been explained.

JK: Well, we’ll…all I can say is that from my standpoint, we’re going to do our very best, and put our best foot forward. What’s the evidence of the fact we can be effective? Well, we had 40 votes, and then 41 votes, the absolute bare minimum needed to prevent the Democrats from passing most of their agenda. And with a couple of exceptions, we succeeded. Every single Republican held tight. So we have shown that we can act together in a very strong way. And I just have to think that with greater numbers in the Senate, and potentially taking over the House, we’re just going to be in a much stronger position.

HH: And Senator Kyl, I want to conclude by talking about Judiciary Committee, which we have talked about so many different times. President Obama’s nominees have gone from the left to the far left, and they’re getting even more left. How much action is going to be in Judiciary, and what kind of numbers, if the Republicans get to 49 Senators, how does that committee divide out?

JK: Well then, that means there is only a majority of one on the committee for Democrats. And so all we would have to do is persuade one Democrat to agree with us, and you’d have a tie vote. And so it’s conceivable that we could have a better result in the committee, even if we don’t get the full 51 majority in the Senate, because we’ll be within one vote on the Judiciary Committee itself.

HH: And I right about his nominees, that they are getting more and more to the left?

JK: Well, he has a bunch of really left wing nominees. I wouldn’t put a percentage on it, but there are several who I think we are committed to not voting on, and…although there are many others who we are perfectly happy to vote on. So it’s not like we’re holding up his nominees just because he’s the president and he’s nominated people. What we’ve tried to do is to be discriminating in the sense that if he’s got a nominee that is as Democrat, and is a good judge, let’s say, or a good lawyer, and doesn’t appear to be too ideological, then we’re happy to vote and to confirm that individual. But if the individual has a record of partisanship or believing and applying international law, or something else that we think is disqualifying, then we’ve been pretty firm in making sure that those individuals aren’t confirmed.

HH: Senator Kyl, I’ve got time for one more. You’ve got a lame duck coming up. Even if Mark Kirk gets seated, or Christine O’Donnell, or any of the Republicans who would immediately take the seat, will you have the ability to stop the Democrats from doing anything like cap and tax, or anything very mischievous in these closing few weeks of this Congress?

JK: We’ve held together with our 41. There is no mood to let them just run roughshod. So I think on all of those things, on cap and trade, on the Disclose Act, on the card check, all of those things, no, they’re not going to be done in a lame duck session. They will have their hands full just doing the two or three things that absolutely have to be done. We’ve got to find a way to continue to fund government, whether that’s for a ten month continuing resolution, or an omnibus appropriations bill, or whatever. That has to be done. We should act to do something to prevent the tax hike, the biggest tax hike in the history of the country from taking effect on January 1st. That’s going to take some time, but we need to do that. we also should pass a defense authorization bill. We haven’t done that. So many of the basic things that every Congress does have not been done in this Congress, because of the Democratic leadership in the Senate. And so we’ll have a busy enough time in the lame duck session just doing things that should be done, let alone trying to run up the flagpole some of their partisan agenda.

HH: Senator Jon Kyl, thanks very much, good luck in helping Carly Fiorina get over the top, and all of your Congressional candidates in Arizona.

End of interview.


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