Colorado Senator Cory Gardner joined me this AM:
HH: Joining me now, Senator Cory Gardner from the great state of Colorado, the Centennial State. Senator Gardner, is the President right?
CG: Well, good morning. I just wish I had theme music when I sent out a tweet. That was pretty good.
HH: That’s only for the President. That’s presidential tweet…
CG: Exclusively the President, yeah. Well, I mean, look, today the news is that Starbucks is actually giving employees bonuses and new pay because of the tax cut. $350 billion dollars in Apple investments over the next five years because of the tax cuts. More people have confidence in this economy and the country’s direction than they have had in decades. So we’re actually doing some really good things, and we’re starting to see wage growth. We’re starting to see a lot of benefit from the tax bill that just a month ago, when the Democrats lied about what it was doing, they were able to turn public opinion. Now, because people are seeing the proof in the pudding, people are supporting the tax cut bill.
HH: Now I would like you to comment on Chris Van Hollen. Your colleague from Maryland was on with Neil Cavuto yesterday talking about the after effects of the tax bill, and here’s what he said:
CVH: No, I’m not surprised. These corporations got hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts, and I hope people will remember what the President actually promised. I mean, he said this many times. Our Republican Senate colleagues held up charts on the floor of the Senate. They didn’t promise one time bonuses. They promised $4,000 a year increases in people’s base pay. $4,000 pay increase, over ten years, that’s $40,000 dollars. We’ve seen none of that. And in many of these companies, the same day they make the announcements, like AT&T and Wal-Mart, the same day they made announcements, they actually cut their workforce. In the case of Wal-Mart, they cut the Sam’s Club…
HH: So Senator Gardner, your poor Democratic colleagues suffer a strategic defeat in the Schumer Shutdown, and now they have to apologize for growth.
CG: (laughing) Well look, I mean, not only are they apologizing for growth, they’re pretending that a $1,000 dollars, $2,000 dollars doesn’t help people. I mean, this is the modern day Marie Antoinette’s let them eat cake.
HH: Yes, yes it is. And so going into the election cycle, it seems to me their campaign slogan is too much growth, return Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker’s chair, too much growth, we need Chuck Schumer to shut the government down. They don’t have anything, but your colleague, Pat Toomey, just told me it’s just we’re not Trump. That’s their whole campaign.
CG: Well, if you run on a platform of we’re going to make the economy worse, we’re going to take your tax cuts away, we’re going to increase your taxes, you shouldn’t get bonuses, and oh, yeah, if you got stocks in return for that tax cut, we’re taking them away, too? Is that their platform? The American people aren’t going to stand for it. They’ve seen what’s happening, they know this is going to benefit them more and more over the year, and I think that’s going to pay significant dividends electorally in November.
HH: Senator Gardner, let’s turn to the DACA border security deal. The skinny deal that Senator Rubio discussed is between 700,000 and a million Dreamers get to stay if they’re not involved in gangs or violence or felonies, but $25 billion dollars in money must be appropriated, not authorized, appropriated for border security. Would you support such a skinny deal?
CG: Well, look, there’s a lot of things I’m going to support. Certainly, I support border security dollars. I support a solution on DACA. I think there’s more that we can and should do that the President has said he wants, including the other two things that he laid out at the meeting at the White House, including issues revolving around chain migration, issues revolving around the diversity visa lottery. But I think what Senator Rubio has laid out is a sort of foundational, neutral approach that we can build on and make it more successful.
HH: All right, now I want to turn to the Russia investigation, Senator. Should Attorney General Sessions step down?
CG: Look, I’ve never called for Senator, or excuse me, Attorney General Sessions to step down. I think when it comes to the investigation, what needs to happen is a fair, thorough, transparent investigation that needs to be done as quickly as possible so the American people can have the results, and this can get out of the way.
HH: Now the FBI imbroglio, the meltdown at the Bureau, triggered both Senator Toomey and Senator Lee saying the FBI needs to be investigated. Do you agree with their assessment?
CG: Well, there are real questions right now what happened to texts. I mean, technical glitches that wipe out some pretty key information that we seem to not have? I think this investigation is going to head there. And it should, because the American people have a need for answers.
HH: Now we have at the Department of Justice a recused Attorney General, a number two, Rod Rosenstein, who is now tangled up in blue, to quote Bob Dylan, in the firing of Comey, which is a centerpiece of the investigation, as well as going to see Paul Ryan and asking him not to allow Devin Nunes to investigate. Do you think Rod Rosenstein ought to recuse himself from the investigation of the FBI?
CG: You know, that’s something that is, I guess, there are probably people who can make more ethical determinations as to the extent of the law, whether that needs to happen or not. But it seems like there is a question that he needs to answer about that very question.
HH: And if he does, that would either leave Rachel Brand, I think we’re going there, I don’t know how the Deputy Attorney General who is a very good man, a very ethical man, a high reputation, but he’s tangled up on in this, I don’t know how he stays there. But that leaves it in the lap of Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand or a special counsel. If it comes to that, which would you prefer, Senator Gardner?
CG: You know, I’ve known Rachel Brand for a very long time. I think she’s very, very strong, very good. I’ve known her since law school days, and I think she could be a very great leader. But I don’t know that this will come to that, but certainly, I have all the confidence in the world in Rachel.
HH: All right, let’s go to the map, shall we? Mitt Romney is going to have to work hard to keep the vote total under 90% so people will believe it.
HH: So that’s not really keeping you up late at night. Senator McCaskill looks like she’s on the ropes against Josh Hawley. That’s good. Where are your biggest targets?
CG: Well, if you just look at the presidential map from 2016, you mentioned one of them. You mentioned Missouri. And then you look at Indiana, you look at Montana, you look at West Virginia. These are states that Donald Trump won by almost 20 points or more. In the case of West Virginia, 40 points. In North Dakota, 36 points. Indiana, nearly 20. Missouri, nearly 20. And so those are great opportunities to pick up. Missouri, Josh Hawley’s ahead in every single public poll. Rick Scott, if Rick Scott decides he’s going to run, he’s either tied or ahead in every single public poll that has been out there. If you look at other states around, you can see where Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin is going to face a real tough race. Look at Ohio now. I mean, Josh Mandel, great candidate, but Jim Renacci, they’ve got other candidates in that race who are great candidates as well. And so, and what we’ve seen, Hugh, over the past week, is a significant change in the generic ballot, Republican versus Democrat. And that’s all because of the popularity of what we’ve been able to accomplish last year, including the tax cuts.
HH: Let’s stay in Ohio for a second. I like Josh, and I worked hard for him. I hope his wife recovers soon. But I know Jim Renacci. He is a very tenacious campaigner. I don’t think you overlapped in the House, but he is a…
CG: We did. Yeah, we did. We did. Jim is great, yeah.
HH: So he is a real threat to, um, who’s the guy?
CG: Sherrod Brown.
HH: Sherrod Brown. And Sherrod Brown is just old school. He voted to shut down the government. How much is that going to hang around their necks when you’ve got old school lefties trying to shut down the government and not paying the military versus people like Renacci who are get it done guys?
CG: Well, so you’ve seen a number of businesses headquartered in Ohio give out bonuses, give out pay increases, minimum wage increases, making investments because of the tax cut bill that Senator Brown opposed and most likely, I guess, wants to reverse, to take that tax cut away, to take those bonuses away, to take those minimum wage increases away. And then he also voted to shut the government down? These are things that aren’t popular in Ohio. They’re not popular around the country. And they’re going to be a key part of any campaign going forward over who’s more responsible to Ohio voters.
HH: Now Senator Gardner, John James has been on this program a couple of times. He’s my sleeper. I realize there’s a primary, you probably cannot say anything because there’s a primary, but you can talk about individuals that you have met. How impressive is John James?
CG: Oh, John James is very impressive. You know, Michigan’s a tough state, obviously, but it’s a state that Donald Trump won. It’s a state that has moved more and more to, on the presidential ticket at least, toward Republicans over the last several election cycles. And you know, there’s going to be, in elections, you hope that there are brushfires that people didn’t anticipate from an electoral standpoint, from an election standpoint. And I think Michigan can be one of those where this race comes out, somebody like a John James who is an incredible leader, veteran, very accomplished West Point grad, native of Detroit, somebody who can really, really do a good job.
HH: All right, now I want to switch to Senate rules in the couple of minutes we have left. Senator Toomey kind of startled me this morning and said quite bluntly he favors the nuclear option on appropriations bills if the Democrats filibuster agreed upon appropriation bill spending levels. What do you say?
CG: So here’s, this is a growing debate, and I think people who were opposed to changing the filibuster five years ago, a year ago, are now really starting to debate this again. I have a concern about just doing it on appropriations bills, because quite frankly, Congress, that’s one thing it does really well is spend money. And I don’t know that we need any more power or ability to spend money easier. But I do think we have to look at bills that come out of committee with strong bipartisan support, as the appropriations bills have done, as well as other authorizing legislation and say hey, how can this not get stopped or blocked by a partisan minority? How do you stop the filibuster of a motion to proceed, preventing it from even getting onto a debate on legislation? So I do think there has to be a discussion about what to do.
HH: Now that brings me to the appointments process. You are yourself using holds right now to make clear your displeasure with the Attorney General with regards to marijuana enforcement. And I understand that’s a tradition in the Senate. I hate it. I just don’t like blue slips. I just think that the appointments power is vested in the Senate as a body as a Constitutional…you’re a lawyer as well. Would you support at least changing the debate time rules for people who get to the floor, because this is absurd that we have not gotten an ambassador to Germany like Rick Grenell, who will get a 100-1, or 100-0 vote when he finally gets to the floor.
CG: Oh, well, you know what? Look, the only reason, once you’ve agreed to have a debate on it, you know there’s support for that nominee. So why do you have a mandatory time under it? Yes, absolutely, you should reduce that 30 hour requirement, because it is simply a sort of artifact, or excuse me, just this leftover piece of legislative language that should have been changed to begin with. So that’s something that needs to be changed, and it’s being used right now to delay and stall with no change in the outcome.
HH: So if they do not agree, the Democrats, to a legislative, a set of packages on rules changes that includes reasonable time measures on non-Supreme Court nominees and things like that, would you support using the Reid Rule to change the rules with a simple majority with regards to the time allotted for debate?
CG: Well, I think the time allotted for debate, I think Democrats will support that. They should support that. But certainly, that is something that’s going to have to be discussed, and I, at this point, it would be hard pressed to see why it should be opposed if it’s simply alliance with what we’ve done on everything else. And it is part of something that should have been changed then.
HH: Senator Cory Gardner, always good to catch up with you. We’ll keep checking in with you throughout the year on these NRSC races, but it’s a lot better running with the wind at your back than it is with the economic growth in your face as Democrats had to do in 2014 and 2010 when they lost Senate ground. This time, in 2018, Republicans running for Senate seats, defending Senate seats, have got a huge wind at their back called economic growth.
End of interview.