Charles Krauthammer joined me Friday on the eve of Father’s Day weekend to discuss his remarkable father, described briefly in Krauthammer’s runaway best-seller Things That Matter, and a complete transcript of that conversation will be posted later. But Krauthammer and I also briefly discussed Congressman Labrador’s candidacy to be GOP Majority Leader, and here is the audio and transcript of that portion of our conversation:
HH: Imagine if you will, I understand that the House GOP politburo has met, and that they’ve anointed Kevin McCarthy. But just imagine that House Majority Leader Raul Labrador was elected, and he would appear on Telemundo and Univision daily, he would answer the MSM’s gotcha immigration questions in Spanish on Meet the Press or Face the Nation or This Week. Imagine a Puerto Rico born son of a single mom being asked about the one percent, you know, a former Mormon missionary who’s worked in the slums of Chile talking about religious liberty, a parent of five talking about the challenges of paying for college or raising kids in this culture, a guy from the west talking about the federal intrusion of states’ rights. I think Raul Labrador as the GOP House leader would be the boldest, best political stroke in a generation. What do you think?
CK: I think establishments are very hard to reform. It’s the reason Eric Cantor went down. For many people in the party, he was, he represented the worst of that. Although to be fair to him, when you’re in leadership, you always have a split loyalty, because you’re thinking of the party nationally. You have to think of appeasing factions in your caucus, and you can’t just devote yourself to the constituency and to their view the way you do when you’re a back bencher. So you know, it’s a common problem with officials. It’s one of the reasons, say, Mitch McConnell was endangered, because either you’re force, or you think it’s your role to do, to play a more middle of the road, more mediating role. But on Labrador, I’m with you. Look, I’m open to all kinds of suggestions. I really do think there’s a native timidity in leadership, simply…particularly in a year like this, Obama’s, I just saw Reuters has Obama’s approval at 37.5%. I don’t think people have experienced the world sort of collapsing all at once the way they look around everywhere – the border, Ukraine, obviously Iraq/Syria, all of this stuff caving in on a presidency, and burying it. And the natural instinct of a leadership is to say we’re going to play it totally safe. We’re not going to take any…now I would disagree, but I do think that’s what they tend to do. Let’s play it safe, let’s get our majority strengthened, majority in the House, get a majority in the Senate, and then we’re in the driver’s seat, because Obama would have to spend two years exercising the veto, which would make his popularity go much lower. And you could enact a lot of laws that would be on the books, vetoed, and ready to go if the Republicans come back.
HH: But imagine Labrador…
CK: No, I’m with you. I think there’s a big lack, there’s a total lack of imagination. There’s one other thing, Hugh. It’s sort of natural succession. They know each other. They worked with him. He was a loyal number three, and people tend to move up to number two. Should they do a stroke like that? Absolutely. Look, rather than pass insane immigration reform as a way to think you’re going to win the Hispanic constituency, showing them some understanding, some sympathy, some affinity and some welcoming in terms of the personality of the leadership is a great idea, Hugh.
HH: Yeah, it would seem to me that if Labrador was their leader, and McCarthy stayed the Whip, like House of Cards…
HH: You would probably pick up the Senate easily, you’d get gains in the House, and you’d have this huge strategic advantage going into the negotiations over an immigration bill in 2015, and maybe even the presidential campaign.
CK: All right, Hugh, I’m going to offer you a Mitch McConnell-like compromise. Let’s do McCarthy at number two, and [Labrador’s] at number three. How about that?
HH: You mean Labrador? Labrador.
CK: I’m sorry. Labrador at number three, yeah. Labrador at number three.
HH: I don’t know. I still want Labrador at number two.
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HH: Charles Krauthammer, have a wonderful Father’s Day. Things That Matter is a wonderful book if anyone is looking around for the perfect book to give Dad this weekend, that’s a good one. And I hope you become part of the Labrador for Majority Leader caucus over the weekend.
CK: Well, maybe I’ll give you, let’s give them a co-two and a half leadership. We’ll put them in equal position in the middle, and everybody will be happy.
HH: You bet, you bet.
CK: Thanks a lot.
HH: Charles Krauthammer, have a happy Father’s Day yourself.