Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on the Democrats’ MoveOn.org all-night anti-war stunt in the Senate.
HH: Now I’ve got to go to Senator Mitch McConnell from Washington, D.C. Senator, I’m broadcasting from Disneyland today, but you’ve got your own Mickey Mouse production going in the Senate tonight. Senator McConnell, you with me?
MM: I’m with you.
HH: Well, is this worth the charade that’s going on tonight? Is there anything important happening in the Senate?
MM: No, this is theater, and bad theater at that. They’re insisting that the Senate stay in all night to debate a Levin proposal to have a date certain for withdrawal, which we would have been more than happy to give them a vote on yesterday, or today. We’re happy to vote on it at any time they’d like to. So it’s just a game. You know, what…all you need to know is that MoveOn.org is out in front of the Capitol, and they’re having a press conference at 8:30.
HH: That is coincidental…not. You know, Senator, when the Republicans did one of these for judges, I was all in favor of it, because I wanted to draw attention to the obstructionism, and the extra-Constitutional obstructionism of the Democrats. Here, however, Democrats want to draw attention to their desire to surrender. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me from a PR standpoint.
MM: I don’t think it does, either. And of course, we were fortunate today to be visited by a number of Vets For Freedom, a great group of young men, I don’t think there were any women in the group, although I’m sure they have women members who believe in what we’re doing in Iraq, think it’s the right thing to do, and more importantly, think that we’re winning. And it was stunning, after we had the press conference, I asked if there were any questions of this young guy, Pete Hegseth…
HH: He was on my program yesterday, yeah, very, very good guy.
MM: Yeah, and it was silence. All these cynical reporters who love to point out everything they think is going wrong in Iraq, were absolutely quiet.
HH: Wow, not one question?
MM: They simply were bowled over by him, and I don’t think they had the guts to ask him anything.
HH: Wow. Well, Senator McConnell, he told me he was going to be visiting today with some of the GOP Senators, members of your caucus who are perceived as being wobbly on the cloture vote. How many Republicans will you lose on that vote?
MM: Well, we’ll lose some. We’ve lost some on this issue all year long. But the Democrats will not get to sixty, and sixty is the way things work in the Senate. Sometimes, you’re frustrated by it, but frankly, in this situation, it’s great news for those who believe that the war in Iraq is not lost, and the chance to prevail is still very much there.
HH: Now there are three Democrat Senators from red states, Max Baucus from Montana, Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, and Mark Pryor from Arkansas, who are up for reelection in sixteen months, who come from states, I believe, are very much supportive of victory. Are they thinking, rethinking their position here, Senator McConnell?
MM: Well, I don’t know. We’ll find out tomorrow. I believe that Harry Reid believes he is going to get all the Democrats. It’ll be really interesting to see whether he has them all or not.
HH: And do you expect by September that significant new information will arrive to bring back some of the Republicans who’ve gone wobbly on us here?
MM: Well, I do think everybody’s going to be interested in the Petraeus report. The President himself has said he’s interested in it. The facts are not irrelevant in this whole effort. I think the Democrats have decided the war is over, the war is lost, and they don’t want to be inconvenienced by any factual indicators of success.
HH: Senator McConnell, General Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, today, walking through Ramadi, declared a C-change on the ground in Iraq, with events going in our direction. Has that made any impact at all on the Senators?
MM: Well, we’re going to find out beginning tomorrow. But I don’t think the Democrats…you know, my experience with these visits to Iraq, for example, is that members go over there, and find whatever they want to find to support what their point of view was before they went.
MM: And that the facts at this stage of the game, particularly to the Democrats, seem to be largely irrelevant. They’ve sort of made up their mind, they don’t want to be confused by such unpleasant truths as that Al Anbar Province is now been won back from al Qaeda. When you say that, they just sort of sit there and look at you.
HH: I watched with applause Lindsey Graham mixing it up with Jim Webb on Meet the Press.
MM: It was great, wasn’t it?
HH: Are more Republicans inclined to go right at it that way than perhaps in the past?
MM: Yeah, I think Lindsey is going to invite Senator Webb down to the floor to have a do-over, and we’re all looking forward to it.
HH: (laughing) Last question, Senator McConnell, what day do you actually expect to receive the Petraeus report in September? And when does the money have to be voted again to keep the offensive that is surging to success going?
MM: Well, the troop supplemental bill that we passed a month or so ago goes through September 30th. We’ll be doing a new defense appropriation bill sometime presumably in September. And that would begin to fund the effort beyond September 30th. So there’ll be another funding bill. The bill that’s on the floor now does not have actual funding in it. It’s an authorization bill. But the real thing will be back before us on or about the time of the Petraeus report.
HH: And do you have a date certain for the Petraeus report yet?
MM: No, I don’t know the specific date. We just keep hearing it’ll be sometime in September.
HH: Senator Mitch McConnell, I appreciate the update. Good luck staying awake tonight. You’ll need your No-Doze, and we will check back with you next week on how that goes, and thank Senator Graham for putting up the good fight. We liked that a lot. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, thanks.
End of interview.