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Karl Rove On Where The GOP Goes Next With Shutdown 2.0 Happening Again In January

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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HH: On retreat day, Dunkirk for the Republicans, or was it? I’m joined by Karl Rove as we get the latest. And I’ll bring you the latest throughout the afternoon as this vote nears its completion by the end of the day, I hope, in the House. Karl, welcome, how are you?

KR: Well, I’ve been better, I’ve been worse.

HH: (laughing) Look, I believe that we’re off the beach and this thing’s over. But there are two major questions. Can the Republicans still win the Senate in 2014? And are the Republicans going to lose the House in 2014? What do you think?

KR: No, they won’t lose the House in 2014. The districts are such that there are only 17 Republicans in seats that were carried by Barack Obama, many of them by just a small percentage of the vote. And he’s going to be in worse shape in 2014 than he was in 2012, so downward pull on the Democrats in those districts. The Senate, I’m a little bit more worried about, because look, this has done damage to our brand. And the question is, is it going to be like 1995-1996 when the shutdown hurt the Republican brand, we lost a couple of seats in the House, but because in 1996, there were more races in red states than in blue states, the Republicans actually picked up two seats in the Senate. I mean, we lost the White House, lost, I think, 11 of, you know, only won 11 of 40 governor races, lost a net of 95 seats in the state house and state senate races, I think it was c couple of, I think it was seven or eight or nine seats in the Congress. But we picked up seats in the Senate. Again, this next year, we have an election which there are more races, seven Democrats up in states that Mitt Romney carried, six of the seven that he carried by ten percent or more.

HH: Now I look down my list, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Treadwell in Alaska, Cassidy in Louisiana, Danes in Montana, Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia, Rounds in South Dakota. And I say well, there are six. Did this last two weeks hurt any of those six?

KR: Well, you’ve got to have North Carolina in there with Thom Tillis. But look, the fact of the matter is, is that we don’t know just yet. Some of those are going to be safe seats. I’m convinced South Dakota’s going to be a safe seat. I think Shelley Moore Capito is so strong that while the race will tighten, the state is so good for her that she’s going to win. But look, let’s be honest. Montana, Steve Danes is a terrific candidate, but he’s a freshman Republican Congressman. He’s going to be opposed by the current sitting lieutenant governor who’s a former adjutant general of the National Guard, and sort of apolitical. And this is a state where you know, we have not won this particular seat in fifty-some odd years. And we’ve had episodically a couple of senators hold the other seat, but I mean, you take a look at it, and I think it’s something like the last 29 U.S. Senate races in Montana, we won like six. And so we shouldn’t underestimate that some of these states, while they look red, do have a lot of independent minded voters in them.

HH: Now Karl, I’ve got a different taken than I think you do. I know you’re a Fox News contributor, and I’ve been watching you very closely, and I try and listen to between the lines as well as above the fold when Karl Rove starts talking on Fox News. And I believe this is the first chapter in a long book titled 2014, and it’s a pretty horrific first chapter. I wanted it to be a better first chapter, but that it could still serve to set up the plot very well. And I see too many Republicans falling into the equivalent of what I used to call about your old boss, Bush Derangement Syndrome. There’s now Cruz Derangement Syndrome. And whatever you think of his tactics, he’s not responsible for this fiasco. That’s my view. What do you think?

KR: Well, look, no one person’s responsible for it. But it was a failed tactic, and it was not a good one from the beginning. It was based upon improbables or impossibilities. It was based on a belief that there would be five or six Democrats in the Senate who would vote for a defunding of Obamacare, and that the president of the United State would agree to put his signature on a bill defunding this principal domestic achievement, and that if he didn’t, if he vetoed such a measure, that there would be 21 Democrats in the Senate, and fifty-some odd Democrats in the House who would step forward and support defunding Obamacare. It wasn’t going to happen. But I admire, look, Republicans, conservatives wanted somebody to stand up and fight, and he and Mike Lee stood up and fought. The mistake was when it became apparent, on that Wednesday when the House of Representatives passed the measure and Senator Cruz went out and said thanks be to the House, congratulations, but you know, I can’t pass this through the Senate, we’ll be happy to stand strong, we can’t win it in the Senate, I mean, we should have shifted gears. And we should have gone a different direction where we had a chance to pick up Democrat votes. 79 Republicans and Democrats in the Senate voted to kill the medical device tax.

HH: Amen. Amen, yeah. I do not know how in the world the House Republicans convinced themselves that that was a bad idea yesterday. That is malevolent, actually.

KR Yeah, yeah.

HH: That is the death of common sense.

KR: Yeah, no, look, in fact, a couple of members who had, you know, remember when there was the Plan B that Eric Cantor came up with? There were a couple of members who after that Wednesday when Cruz said we can’t pass this through the Senate, came back and said is there any way we can pull Plan B back up, because we’ve had four or five very sensible things which would have advanced the ball, put the Democrats on the defensive, and I think conceivably, even put it in a place where the President had to sign it. I mean, the president of the United States presented with a piece of legislation, the Senate presented with a piece of legislation from the House that said Congress has got to live under the laws the rest of the country lives under, and oh, incidentally, you gave a break to the corporations, why don’t you give the same break to the American working families. It would have been hard for Democrats not to have voted for that. And what’s the President doing to do then, veto it?

HH: Yeah, now let me probe a little bit deeper here, though, why the Republicans failed to deliver in the House. I don’t blame that on Ted Cruz. I’m not falling prey to Cruz Derangement Syndrome. I think it’s this. If you add up the number of time Cruz has appeared on, say, the top ten talk radio show hosts in America, and that’s one number, and then you add up the number of times the Speaker, the Majority Leader and the Majority Whip of the House have appeared on the same ten shows, I’m sure Cruz wins. Those guys don’t try, Karl. They do not message. They do not fight the way that Cruz fights, and the base wants people to fight, which is transparently, and provocatively with argument.

KR: Yeah.

HH: What is wrong with our House leadership?

KR: Well, you know, look, there’s a tension being the House Leader and being on television. You’ll notice that today, something really extraordinary came out. Some of the harshest, you know, some of the strongest advocates of the Cruz tactic, and some of the strongest defenders of the defund tactic were Raul Labrador of Idaho, and Jim Jordan of Ohio.

HH: Yup.

KR: And both of them came out today and were extremely complimentary of Boehner. See, I think Boehner looks at this and says I’ve got a choice. I can either be the face on television, or I can be the guy trying to keep this fractious coalition of Republicans together, and that requires me to spend my time listening and talking and working with the members, and trying to persuade them to go in the right direction. And I think he puts his emphasis on the second. I think he would like to have a lot of the younger faces. I think it’s frankly helpful to have some of these younger faces like Jordan and Sean Duffy, who’s been on television recently, and Adam Kinzinger, and I think it would be useful…

HH: Trey Gowdy, you bet.

KR: …for the leadership not to say we’re going do both things, be the face and be the guys who are trying to make this thing work.

HH: You can credential the young guys, still, but the Speaker’s the Speaker. And when they walked past the microphones Thursday night at the White House, and don’t put a chip on the table, and don’t corner the President, I think to myself do they have a strategy? Let me quickly ask you about Mitch McConnelll, who I think, you know, we owe him a round of applause. He got us off the beaches at Dunkirk. There’s a famous scene in Private Ryan when the private’s yelling, ‘Where’s the rallying point? Where’s the rallying point?’

KR: Yeah. Normandy, yeah.

HH: And Captain Miller says, ‘Anywhere but here.’

KR: Anywhere but here.

HH: And so Mitch McConnell, does he profit from this? I mean, does he do well in Kentucky? Rand Paul’s backing him up.

KR: Yeah, look, Rand Paul has been, incidentally, a great ally to Leader McConnell. Look, Leader McConnell has got a tough race. I mean, he is, the Democrats are gunning for him, and they are, particularly the Hollywood liberals are out there raising a bundle of money for him. His opponent raised as much money the last quarter as Mitch did. Now fortunately, Mitch has got $10 million dollars, and Grimes has got $2 million dollars cash on hand. But it was a sign of the enthusiasm of Democrats to beat him. They know how effective he is, they fear him, and just like we feared and wanted to make certain that we removed an excellent player from their squad in Daschle, they want to try and do the same to us. And we’ve got to make certain that doesn’t happen.

HH: And then last question, in terms of the memory, we will forget this? Or will we remember this come January, because we’re set up for Shutdown 2.0? What happens in January and February as we come up against these deadlines?

KR: Well look, we have not solved any of the underlying problems. We have a huge disagreement over spending. Democrats in the Senate want $92 billion dollars more in spending than is called for in the budget agreement of 2011. And we have done nothing to address the long term entitlement spending that is driving our deficits up and up and up and up and up. So we’re going to have these battles back again. I do hope this. I hope that the reaction, looking now at the defund strategy and how it played out, that we ought to realize that bad tactics led to bad outcomes. And we’d better be smarter as we approach these two battles, because we’ve got the same battles all over again. In the C.R., are we going to hold to the budget caps which have finally, in the last two years, have actually reduced the amount of money that the government is spending? Or are we going to blow them, and with them, raise taxes? And then on the debt ceiling, are we going to insist the Boehner rule of you’re going to have to offset all or part of the increase in the debt ceiling by structural changes in entitlement to reduce our long term deficits?

HH: I hope you’re fight. Karl Rove, Fox News contributor extraordinaire, thank you, Karl.

End of interview.

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