Castellanos: The Way to Moderate for Republicans Is That You Don't Moderate
Alex Castellanos has some advice for Republicans on how to lose a few more elections. Hearing this GOP dirty trickster talk about having principles is pretty rich. The only principles I've seen them espousing are how to use the government to enrich themselves and their campaign contributors and redistribute wealth to the have-mores. Talk is cheap Alex. I think most of the public has had a belly full of your type of "principles".
BLITZER: There's a story out there -- Alex, I will start with you -- that Republicans should look to Rahm Emanuel's playbook on how to get members elected, how to get people elected to the House and Senate, and forget about ideology, focus strictly on who can win a district or a state.
What do you think about that strategy?
CASTELLANOS: Well, you know, Rahm Emanuel has certainly been successful, but America doesn't need Republicans to be Democrat-lite. You need to draw a difference.
And Republicans have principles. We don't need to be lite beer. We just need to be a better beer. The way to moderate for Republicans is that you don't moderate. The way to win the middle is to say, look, we have got our principles, but here how -- here's how they work better. And we will lead the country to a better place.
I actually was looking at some election data. And it -- from the American National Election survey, 2008, a very respected survey -- it said that John McCain was closer to the ideological center than Barack Obama was, and that Republicans were closer to the center than Democrats were.
BLITZER: You know...
CASTELLANOS: What -- what -- the reason we lost is, we couldn't take the next step, which is, hey, do you -- how will those principles work?
CASTELLANOS: Democrats had a can-opener. We had none.
BLITZER: But Rahm Emanuel, when he was in the Congress, Donna, as you well remember, and he was raising money to get Democrats elected to the House of Representatives, he said it was less important if they -- if they opposed abortion rights, for example, or supported gun rights, for example, stances not necessarily in line with most of the Democrats. What was most important was to get Democrats elected in various congressional districts, and, if it meant going out with a rifle, so be it.
BRAZILE: Well, what the White House chief of staff was trying to do, Wolf, was to basically recruit Democrats that could really articulate a vision and a message for the country that, at a time when the American people were exhausted with the cultural wars, would bring the country together.
And let me just say, in due respect to Alex, I don't think voters wanted a beer, lite beer or regular beer. What they wanted, because they saw the hangover from the -- the failure and misguided policies of the Bush administration, they wanted a clear path to the future. And they wanted a new direction. And that's why there was a wave of support for the Democrats in both 2006 and 2008.
CASTELLANOS: But, Wolf, without any kind of principle, we're just talking about elections, power for power's sake, not power for -- for any reason. And that's the worst kind of politics.
BLITZER: But what I hear you saying, Alex, is that they have to be lockstep in line with all the positions...
CASTELLANOS: No, no, no, no.
BLITZER: ... the social social -- the issues, the economic issues.
CASTELLANOS: No, no, no.
BLITZER: You can't deviate from that?
CASTELLANOS: No, issues are one thing, but principles are another.
And, you know, generally, Republicans lost -- we didn't -- we have said we're supposed to be the party of smaller government in Washington and more bottom-up things that work, government out in the real world. We didn't do that. We said we were supposed to control spending. We didn't do that.
Those are principles that the American people still want. As a matter of fact, right now, they're telling Barack Obama, slow down, you're spending too much, you're going too fast. Those principles still obtain.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about something else.
I'm curious, Donna, to hear what you think, on the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. She's speaking out now and defending Miss California, all of us familiar with the story out there. She says that she's the victim of liberal -- a liberal onslaught of malicious attacks, Governor Palin saying this: "The liberal onslaught of malicious attacks against Miss California, Carrie Prejean, for expressing her opinion is despicable. What I find so remarkable is that these politically-motivated attacks fail to show that what Carrie and I believe is also what President Obama and Secretary Clinton believe. Marriage is between a man and a woman."
All right, what do you think about this latest development, Governor Palin coming to the defense of Carrie Prejean -- Prejean?
BRAZILE: Honestly, Wolf, I don't care.
I care more about the -- the -- the people who are losing their jobs, the Chrysler workers and those dealers, than I care about some beauty queen who has a difference of opinion that I have. I respect her views. I respect the right for her to have her own views, but I disagree with her profoundly. And I don't think it's all liberals.
And, once again, Sarah Palin is painting every liberal as if we care about Miss USA -- Miss California. We simply don't.
CASTELLANOS: Well, it's -- it's not caring about Miss California that's important here.
The important thing here is that the left in this country preaches tolerance, until a conservative disagrees with them. And, then, all of a sudden, they become scathingly intolerant. And that's one of the things that may have cost...
BRAZILE: Alex, I disagree with you. Once again, you're painting a -- you're painting a broad brush, Alex.
CASTELLANOS: It may have cost Miss California her opportunity.
No, we're talking about in this case specifically and also...
BRAZILE: It's not everyone, Alex.
CASTELLANOS: But look at college campuses. Conservatives are -- in many college campuses, are prohibited from speaking.
BRAZILE: Stop whining.
BRAZILE: Stop whining, Alex.
This is all about you guys feel that you're victims. Victims of what? Victims of not practicing what you preach? Victims of not understanding morality and equality?
CASTELLANOS: Donna, Donna, you don't think Miss...
BRAZILE: That's what you're practicing?
CASTELLANOS: You don't this may have cost Miss California a shot at the crown, because she disagreed?
BRAZILE: No. No, absolutely not.
CASTELLANOS: I think a lot of people do.
BRAZILE: But let me just be honest. I did not watch it, Alex.
BLITZER: All right, guys, we will continue this down the road. But we have got to leave it right there.
BRAZILE: I know why you watch it, Alex.
BLITZER: All right.
CASTELLANOS: I was hoping Miss Alaska would wear a fur bikini.
BRAZILE: Oh, stop it.
BLITZER: She was Miss Congeniality when she was running for Miss Alaska.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.