HH: I am joined now by the half of the Sith lords themselves, Rove and Gillespie. It’s Ed Gillespie. Hello, Ed, welcome back.
EG: Great to be back, Hugh. Thanks for having me on.
HH: You know, Ed, when I last saw you in New York in the green room at Fox, I didn’t realize you were busy tearing down American democracy.
EG: (laughing) Well, I wasn’t at the time. It took me a while.
EG: You know, it is remarkable, Hugh, that these folks in power in Washington, D.C., in the White House and in the halls of Congress, actually equate the threat to their grasp on power as a threat to democracy. But that tells you a lot about their mindset.
HH: Well, I just had Ben Ginsberg on to start the show, to affirm what anyone with a passing knowledge of the law already knows, is that there is absolutely no evidence, not a shred of evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever by the Chamber, by Karl, by you, by anyone, other than the fact you’re awfully good at raising money and using it to expose political discontent with the Obama administration.
EG: Well, and they’ve been good at it themselves. And what they don’t like is having an even playing field. The fact is that Barack Obama benefitted from over $400 million dollars in outside group efforts on his behalf in 2008, much of it undisclosed. And they didn’t complain then. It was only after conservatives got engaged and started playing by the same rules that they began to complain about it, and started to hurl these unfounded charges. It is remarkable to me, Hugh. You know, the President of the United States is not only the commander in chief. He is the chief law enforcement officer in the land. And for him to accuse the Chamber of Commerce of criminal activity without any shred of evidence is breathtaking.
HH: It is a smear, and it’s also completely unfounded. But when Bob Schieffer looks at David Axelrod, and you’ve been in that chair as the head of communications for the White House. How do you think David Axelrod felt, Ed Gillespie, when Bob Schieffer said is that all you’ve got?
EG: (laughing) Well, I hope he felt a sense of shame, but I’m not sure that they have that in this White House, unfortunately, in the West Wing. You know, their mentality is obviously they believe the American principle is guilty until proven innocent, and that’s what Axelrod basically said when asked what evidence do you have. He said well, what evidence do you have that they didn’t do something wrong.
EG: That’s the mentality, and it’s their job, as our top elected and appointed officials, to hurl accusations, baseless accusations, at people that then have to go out and disprove somehow.
HH: Now what is it, do you think, they’re actually trying to articulate, Ed Gillespie, because I can’t figure out what the charge is, really. Have you been able to put your finger on it yet?
EG: What…this is all picked up from a liberal blog posting on ThinkProgress, which is affiliated with the Center For American Progress, which is, by the way, Hugh, a liberal, non-profit advocacy organization that does not disclose its donors…
EG: And they picked this up, and they said that the Chamber takes dues from foreign enterprises, foreign entities, American Chamber of Commerce, in other countries, pay dues into the U.S. Chamber. By the way, the AFL-CIO has foreign affiliates who pay dues into the AFL-CIO. They have pledged to send $52 million dollars in advertising to help elect Democrats in this cycle. But…so the question with that tenuous connection was that they’re funneling this money into U.S. campaigns. I understand that those dues amount to about $100,000 dollars. They all go to support the efforts of those chambers abroad. And the Chamber has a budget of $200 million dollars. So it is an incredibly specious charge, but that doesn’t matter. What they’re really trying to do is to try to distract attention. It’s not a surprise to me that this was launched on a day that Americans lost 95,000 jobs. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.6%, above 9.5% for 14 straight months, and that it came out that the stimulus spending resulted in $18 million dollars going to 72,000 people who are deceased. So they’re trying to distract attention from their dismal economic record and their job-killing policies.
HH: Now Ed Gillespie, putting on your campaign consultant hat for a second, it’s a little Jon Lovitz-like when they’re sitting around the basement in the DNC and saying that’s it, that’s the ticket, let’s use that blog post, and try and get something going. And then Axelrod picks it up and runs with it. But what would you do in their situation? They’ve got woefully unprepared candidates, and deeply unpopular leaders and policies. What can they do?
EG: Well I mean, if they were true to their convictions and their principles, they would try to explain why their policies are best. But I think they’ve thrown up their hands on that, because the American people aren’t buying it, because the American people see the impact of their policies in our economy and on their home values, and in their jobs. So I’d still try to do that. I mean, in ’06, when we took a pretty big beating at the polls, our candidates were out there saying you know, we think lower taxes, and economic growth is the way to do, and that our policies will result in that. We got beat over Iraq, frankly. But that’s what you’ve got to do. But they don’t want to engage in the war of ideas, because they’re losing on the war of ideas. People are, a lot of people, Hugh, voted for Barack Obama because they thought he would change Washington. Now, they realize he’s trying to change America, and move us from a free enterprise system to a command and control economy, and they’re rejecting it.
HH: Ed, as you look at the numbers out there, I asked Karl this yesterday. Where do you put your prediction right now if we were voting today on Republican pick ups in the House, the Senate and the governorships?
EG: Well, I’m a little more bullish on this than Karl is. I believe we’ll be north of 45 seats in the House, which is enough to win control of the House, which I believe we will. I believe in the Senate, we’ll be between six and eight seats picked up in the Senate, so not quite enough to get us control, although I would not be surprised to wake up on November 3rd and find us in control of the Senate, but that’s not my estimate right now. Governorships, we’ll net about eight governorships. And interestingly enough, in the Great Lakes area, you’re going to see Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois all flip from Democratic governorships to Republican governorships. And that will leave 30 Republican governors in the country, which is, you know, obviously a sizeable majority of governors, three out of five. And then in the state legislative chambers, I chair the Republican State Leadership Committee, and we’re trying to help elect state house and senate candidates all across the country, as well as attorneys general. I think we’ll net ten legislative chambers…
EG: …which is very important because of redistricting. These legislators who get elected this year will draw the Congressional district lines for a decade.
HH: And last question, Ed, as you study California, how do you see that Senate and governorship race running out?
EG: Oh, I think they’re both, we have a very good chance to win them both. It’s one of those state, like Ohio, like Pennsylvania, you know, where we’ll win the governorship and the Senate seat. I think that Carly Fiorina has run a fantastic campaign out there against liberal icon Barbara Boxer, and pressed her to explain exactly how her policies have helped the people of California from Washington. And then you know, Meg Whitman, California could be the West Coast New Jersey. I think they’re ready to try to say you know, we have got to shake up Sacramento, got to get control of these government employee unions, and in the way that Chris Christie has done in New Jersey. So I’m optimistic on both those races.
HH: Ed Gillespie, thanks for spending some time to talk with us about these charges tonight. We know you’re one of the two Sith lords of politics, but we’re glad you joined us. Thank you, Ed.
End of interview.