I know it's his job as Chair of the NRSC to paint a happy face on this, but Sen. John Cornyn does his best to pretend that the right wing Tea Party candidates who are pushing the Republican Party even further to the right aren't going to do any damage to the chance of them regaining a majority in the Congress this mid-term election.
As Steve Benen pointed out after the hacks over at The Politico called some of the GOP right wing candidates "offbeat", the party's run to the right might not work out so well for them:
But there's one point I'd disagree with here. The crux of the piece is that the "offbeat" candidates are winning because they bring a non-traditional background to the table. This year, the argument goes, credible, relevant experience in public policy and/or government is a turnoff to voters seeking a wholesale break with the status quo.
That's not a bad argument, but I don't see the landscape this way. These bizarre candidates won major primary campaigns because of their far-right, often radical, ideologies. That they're coming from outside the world of government and politics is just gravy.
Did Linda McMahon win in Connecticut because she ran a wrestling company? No, she won because she spent a lot of money, and convinced Republicans her primary opponent was too moderate. Ken Buck won in Colorado for the same reason -- his party-preferred rival was deemed insufficiently right-wing. Dan Maes got a boost from McInnis' plagiarism scandal, but he capitalized because the party's base appreciated his extreme ideology.
And in Kentucky, Rand Paul didn't thrive because primary voters were impressed with his "outsider" ophthalmological background; they liked his radical worldview.
This isn't, in other words, a year for "offbeat" candidates to thrive; it's a year for right-wing candidates to win GOP primaries, without much regard for electability.
John Cornyn also claims that we need more Republicans in the Congress to move President Obama "toward the middle". I'm not sure what he's been smoking if he actually believes that himself, but sadly the propagandized viewers at Fox will believe his bull pucky.
Transcript below the fold.
BAIER: Senator Cornyn, politics. Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine said of Republicans last week running in November, quote, "The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party is really producing millstones for them."
He pointed to Sharron Angle, the candidate in Nevada, and Ken Buck in Colorado, saying they are, quote, "wacky with ideas about the role of government that are way outside of the mainstream that are just going to be offensive to people." Your response?
CORNYN: Well, I think what the American people are sensing and the reason why they are voting in such large numbers -- 65,000 -- 68,000, I think it was, more people voted in the Republican primary in Colorado than in the Democratic primary -- is because they think that what's happening in Washington is out of the mainstream -- 9.5 percent unemployment, spending, unsustainable debt, failure to deal like adults with real problems in an adult-like fashion.
Look, I think, you know, these races are going to be decided based on how people feel about the economy, how they feel about spending and debt. In Nevada, for example, 14.2 percent unemployment, 70 percent of the home mortgages are under water. If you like the way things are going in Nevada, I suppose that people will vote for Harry Reid. If they don't, then I think they have a good alternative in Sharron Angle.
BAIER: So the fact that six candidates that you all supported lost in the primaries -- you don't see that as a negative for the party?
CORNYN: Well, we support the nominee and respect the right of the primary voters to make that selection.
I suppose the Democrats in Florida with Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene running in a spirited primary down there and in South Carolina with Al Greene, who's now been indicted on obscenity charges, who's running against Jim DeMint -- I mean, these sorts of things happen in the context of politics. But the American people will be able to render their verdict on November the 2nd.
BAIER: You bring that race up.
Senator Reed, should Alvin Greene step aside in South Carolina?
REED: That's a decision he'll have to weigh. Again, I think what John has talked about is a very, very difficult primary season for both parties, frankly, because people are very upset. They're very frustrated. They see economic opportunities that they took for granted now evaporating before them. And so this is a very unpredictable season.
I think the campaigns will come down, really, to the individual candidates now that the primaries have sorted them out and their skill at communicating to the public what they want to do and how effectively they can work here in Washington. BAIER: Chairman Kaine says the millstone for Republicans are these candidates for the Tea Party. Republicans charge that President Obama may be a millstone with his approval ratings in the mid 40s for some Democratic candidates especially in moderate districts and moderate states.
Do you think that many candidates will want President Obama to campaign in their district?
REED: I think the president will be campaigning -- I know the president will be campaigning throughout the country. He'll be campaigning in many, many districts.
I think his ability to talk about what his administration has accomplished in terms of health reform, in terms of stabilizing a terrible situation -- and I recall when he became president we were losing 790,000 jobs a month. We had -- the Bush administration had taken a surplus and turned it into a deficit. He dealt with those problems -- still dealing with the problems.
So I think he will be out there and making the case that we have to go forward. To go back to the Bush policies would be a disaster for the country. And many candidates will be wanting that message.
BAIER: Two quick lightning-round questions here.
Senator Cornyn, looking at the landscape now, how many Senate seats do you believe your side can pick up? Do you think that you can take control of the Senate how it's shaping up right now?
CORNYN: If everything goes our way on November the 2nd, I could see a plausible pathway there. But realistically, I think it's going to be a two-cycle effort.
But we're going to try to get as many Republicans because we think that will force President Obama to the middle, for example, when President Clinton had a Republican Congress. And we think that would be a good thing for the country, forcing things back toward the middle instead of the extreme policies that we've seen coming out of Washington.
BAIER: Senator Reed, there's a report that Vicky Kennedy is being encouraged to run against Republican Scott Brown in 2012 in Massachusetts. Will you add your name to the list encouraging her?
REED: I think she is a tremendously talented person. She certainly has been involved in the public life of Massachusetts and here in Washington for many, many years with her husband Ted.
As I've said before, I haven't talked anybody into a race or out of a race in my entire history, and I'm not going to start now.
BAIER: Senator Reed, Senator Cornyn, thank you much for being with us.
REED: Thank you.
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