Congressman Raul Labrador opened the show Friday with a confident declaration of his ability to win the race for GOP House Leader:
HH: Big change in the race to succeed Eric Cantor as Majority Leader. Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho has thrown his hat into the ring to square off against Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California. I’m pleased to welcome Raul Labrador back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Congressman, good to talk to you, thanks for joining me.
RL: It’s great to be on your show, Hugh.
HH: Are you going to win?
RL: I am going to win. You know, I’m already getting a lot of calls from people who are telling me that they’re switching their vote, that they’re excited about having a choice in this race, and that they want a different direction for the conference. They want more conservative leadership in the House.
HH: Can we get a little bio for people? You’ve been on before, and I’ve written about you over at Hughhewitt.com, and I urge people to go and read that, but tell people a little bit about the Raul Labrador story.
RL: Absolutely. You know, I was actually born and raised in Puerto Rico. I was born to a single mom. She was a wonderful woman, and she taught me to believe in myself, to work hard, play by the rules. She wanted me to get a good education, and she just told me that the best thing I could do is just study hard. So I went to school in Puerto Rico until the age of 13. I moved to the mainland at the age of 13, and I went to high school in Las Vegas. And I moved to Las Vegas in 1981. And you know who the president was in 1981. I hope your audience all know.
HH: President Reagan, you bet.
RL: Absolutely. And my mom was an amazing woman. She had been a Democrat her whole life. She was a JFK Democrat. And when she moved to Las Vegas, she decided that she was going to register as a Republican, and I was a little bit surprised. And I asked her why, and she just said that the Jimmy Carter years had been terrible for America, and that she wanted, she just loved what Reagan was doing as president at the time, and that her first vote for president there in Las Vegas, she wanted it to be for Ronald Reagan when she registered to vote. So that’s how I…
HH: So after that?
RL: After that, what?
HH: You went to BYU, I believe, right?
RL: I went to BYU, went to college in Utah, and then I met and married a beautiful woman from Boise, Idaho, and that’s how I ended up in Idaho.
HH: Now I see a picture, and I’ve put it up at Hughhewitt.com. You have five beautiful children and a wonderful wife, and you were a lawyer before going to Congress. And here’s what I wrote. Imagine House GOP Majority Leader Raul Labrador appearing on Telemundo and Univision daily, or answering mainstream media’s gotcha immigration questions in Spanish on Meet the Press or Face the Nation or This Week. So answer both in English and Spanish this question for me, Congressman Labrador. Are the Republicans anti-Latino?
RL: The Republicans are not anti-Latinos. You know, I tell the story all the time that the Tea Party is the one that has actually brought out the Latinos. Look at Idaho. I actually ran against a person in my primary who was born and raised in Idaho who happened to be Caucasian, and they elected the guy who was from Puerto Rico with an accent. So you know, so there can’t be any better story than that. You see the same story in Texas with Ted Cruz, you see the same story in Florida with Marco Rubio. We’re for the American people. We want people to succeed. We want people to thrive. We want people to do better.
HH: And how does that sound in…
RL: And what we don’t do…go ahead.
HH: How does that sound in Spanish?
RL: Bueno. [Lengthy answer in Spanish]
HH: That’s exactly what I would have said.
HH: Now my next question is what is your position on bringing an immigration bill to the floor this session? Should it wait until 2015?
RL: I think it should wait until 2015. I have actually been really clear that it would be a mistake for us to actually negotiate with the Democrats right now. The only thing that we should be doing is encouraging the President, and actually demanding from the President, that he seal the border. You see this incredible rush to the border by all these children that are coming from South and Central America, and I think this is the direct result of the policies of this President. And we need to make sure that the President actually is serious about enforcing the law, because right now, he has a welcome sign out there saying that anybody who wants to come to the United States, they can stay here, because we’re going to grant them amnesty. I think that is the wrong message, and I think he needs to start enforcing the law, and I think the American people are fair people. Once he starts enforcing the law, we can start changing the immigration system, because it is a broken system, and you and I have talked about this before. It’s a broken system, and we have to fix it. But we have to do it the right way. There should be no bill going to the floor this year, and there should be no bill going to conference. I have rejected any kind of conference with the Senate. The only bill that could or might go to the floor is the bill that we drafted as Republicans, and we tell the Democrats this is the only bill, and it’s not going anywhere. If you want to conference it…
HH: I also told people that you were a Mormon missionary in Chile. And I assume that you worked the toughest slums of Chile as well as some of the middle class neighborhoods, so you’re no stranger to poverty. And should the Republican Party be afraid of issues having to deal with the 1% rhetoric they ran into two years ago?
RL: You know, I think that the Republican Party needs to start talking to the middle class a little bit better. We need to start talking to the poor people. You know, I always get a little bit frustrated with Republicans, because we always talk about job creators, and really who we should be talking to is their employees. I think we, there’s people that are suffering in the United States right now. There’s a lot of people, the middle class, you have people that are poor that want a better life, and we need to show them how to get that better life. And that better life is not through government dependency, but it’s through personal accountability. And it’s through actually making sure that these people work hard and play by the rules. That’s what we…
HH: There’s a question out there that Kevin McCarthy knows the rules of the House, and you know, he’s got all the chairmen on his side. Do you think you could run the House? And do you think you could work well with a Whip McCarthy if you beat him? Do you think you’d be able to turn around and work with Kevin?
RL: Absolutely. I called both the Speaker and Kevin McCarthy this morning to tell them that I was running. I told them that obviously, I’m in it to win, and I’m going to win this race, and I want to work with them. This is, you know, I have a good relationship with them. I have been a critic of leadership, and I think we need to go in a new direction. That’s why I think we have a good, strong opportunity, because 90% of the members of the House feel like they’re not relevant. They think that it’s all a top-down approach in the House of Representatives, and that they’re not really relevant, because what they want to do, the bills that they want to pass, and the things that they want to do, are not even being heard in the committees. And that’s what I want to do.
HH: I think your election as leader would energize into the fall. I think we’d win the Senate for sure, I think we would pick up seats in the House. Would you be active out there raising money? Could you raise money? Could you raise awareness for candidates who are running for seats currently held by Democrats in both bodies?
RL: Absolutely. I think we need to have a better message that reaches out to all the different communities. I think my voice and having a new face for the Republican Party will energize America. Having people like myself who are talking about conservative principles is actually a good thing for the Republican Party.
HH: Any chairman step up and say I’m a Labrador guy?
RL: I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think I’m going to win this through the regular way of having the chairmen support me. I think it’s by having just the regular people in the House, the rank and file members of the Republican conference. I think they’re the ones who are asking and hungering for change.
HH: Now I think people can help you if they call their Congressmen and urge that, and I also think reporters need to ask every Republican Congressman out there bluntly, are you a Labrador or are you a McCarthy vote? I’ve been trying to get Kevin McCarthy to come on all day. He hasn’t been on the show in two years. If you win, will you be available to the grassroots via the platforms, not just this show, but every show and television and Twitter and the blogosphere to talk to them?
RL: Absolutely. That’s the only way you can win elections is by talking to just the individuals. If you’re only talking to businesses and your donors, it’s impossible for you to actually win major elections.
HH: All right, now let me ask some issues so people can be certain where you are ideologically. Where do you stand on the 2nd Amendment?
RL: I’m 100% behind the 2nd Amendment. I believe it’s not just a hunting right. It’s a right for everyone to carry their weapons.
HH: And are you a defender of unborn children?
HH: How about religious liberty?
RL: You know, I actually have a religious liberty bill in the House that I have drafted, and that has been co-sponsored by Heritage Action, and it’s getting a lot of steam.
HH: Do you support the investigation, the Special Committee, into Benghazi?
RL: Absolutely. I support it, and I’m a good friend with Trey Gowdy. He and I sit next to each other on the Judiciary Committee, and I think he’s going to do a fantastic job.
HH: The IRS and Fast & Furious investigations were blocked. As majority leader, will you attempt to reinvigorate them and get to the bottom of them?
RL: You know, we have to do that. We do need to figure out, we have been doing something wrong in our communications. Somehow, we have not been able to get the American people to understand the importance of these issues, and I think that’s one of the things that I want to do.
HH: And Defense spending, does it need to rise? And what about this mess in Iraq?
RL: You know, Defense spending, I actually think that we need to be careful with Defense spending. You look at how much money we’re spending at the Pentagon, I actually think there are things that we could do in the Pentagon that we can cut. And you talk to the generals, and they will admit that there are things that we can do in the Pentagon. Iraq? What you have is a failure of leadership. You have absolutely no plan and no strategy from this President, and look at it. This is the result that we have, the latest failure of leadership.
HH: 30 seconds, how do people help you, Raul Labrador?
RL: They start calling all their Congressman and letting them know that they support having new leadership in the House of Representative.
HH: Good luck, Raul Labrador. We’ll keep following this over the weekend. Do not give even a second’s notice to those who say it can’t be done. It can be done.
End of interview.