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Guest Host: Katty Kay
Seven states held primaries yesterday. Two were runoffs. In a Mississippi runoff, veteran Republican Senator Thad Cochran held his seat against a tea-party-backed state senator. In Oklahoma’s primary, Republican Congressman James Lankford beat back a crowd of challengers vying for a chance at Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat, including the state house speaker supported by high-profile tea party lawmakers. In New York, long-time Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel declared victory, though questions remained about absentee ballots. Join guest host Katty Kay and her guests for analysis of results across the country and how they could affect the makeup of the next Congress.
- Christina Bellantoni editor-in-chief, Roll Call.
- David Winston Republican strategist, president of the Winston Group and CBS News consultant. He has served as an adviser to the House and Senate Republican leadership for more than a decade.
- Adam Brandon executive vice president, FreedomWorks.
- E.J. Dionne Jr. senior fellow, Brookings Institution; columnist for The Washington Post; and author of "Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent."
MS. KATTY KAYThanks for joining us. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane hopes to be back on the air with you all next week. Across the country yesterday seven states had primary elections. Two Senate races in Mississippi and Oklahoma would billed as contests between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party. In both, traditional GOP candidates prevailed.
MS. KATTY KAYIn Colorado's primary, an establishment-backed Republican beat out an immigration hardliner for the chance to run for governor. We discuss the primary results and whether they offer clues to what could happen in the midterms in November. Joining me in the studio, E. J. Dionne Jr., of the Brookings Institution, Christina Bellantoni of Roll Call, David Winston of the Winston Group, and Adam Brandon of Freedom Works. Thank you all so much for joining me this morning after primary night.
MR. E. J. DIONNEGood to be with you.
MR. DAVID WINSTONThanks for having me.
MS. CHRISTINA BELLANTONIGood morning.
KAYWe will be taking your calls and questions and comments. 1-800-433-8850 is the phone number here. Drshow@wamu.org is the email address. You can, of course, send us tweets as well. We'll be looking forward to your questions and comments on this primary-fest yesterday and what it all means for both parties and for the makeup, possibly, of Congress when we get to those midterm elections.
KAYLet's start with you, Christina, since you've just walked in. How -- the race that everybody was really watching yesterday was the race in Mississippi and Senator Thad Cochran who had been under attack and had lost his initial round to a Tea Party-backed candidate. He managed to prevail last night. What happened?
BELLANTONIHe did. There's a lot of interesting dynamics here. But the primary tension is between Republicans who feel that it was an -- unfair that Democrats and particularly African American Democrats were the base of support to really come forward and allow Thad Cochran to win another term here, essentially. It's a Republican state. So he's going to be elected in the general election.
BELLANTONINow, the Thad Cochran camp, they said, look, this was a real wakeup call for us. We thought that we were fighting as hard as we could the first time around on June 3, but now, for this runoff, we are going to activate the people that understand all politics is local. And I'm going to go everywhere. And I'm going to say this is what I can bring home for my state, this is what I have brought home for my state.
BELLANTONIAnd, by the way, the guy that you're talking about electing said that he wouldn't even support Hurricane Katrina aid. And I've made sure that I've championed issues like that for my state. So it's another example of the importance of voting, how engaged electorates can actually make a difference. And it really shows that when you're scared you can actually activate your supporters.
KAYDavid Winston, all of this, of course, followed the election in Virginia, the shock election in which Eric Cantor lost his seat to somebody who'd also been backed, in the end, by Tea Party forces. Do we go back now to a pre-David Brat world, is all the -- is all the sort of storm around the Tea Party over? Are we back in, in a normal world again?
WINSTONI think those are two dramatically different cases. I mean, Eric Cantor didn't really see that one coming. His political operation, I think, completely failed him. He had no idea this was coming. I mean, if he had had some idea he would have been doing things differently, and he wasn't. This is a situation where the Cochran folks knew what was coming. But I think one of the -- for me one of the key takeaways that I find interesting is actually both candidates ended up increasing the amount of votes they got.
WINSTONThis is kind of a weird dynamic where the turnout went from about 315,000 back June 3rd, it was 375,000. That's a pretty massive increase. And both candidates increased. What happened is Cochran increased more so than McDaniel did. McDaniel increased by 29 and Cochran increased by 35 and ultimately that led to a win.
WINSTONI have to say from my perspective, that's really positive. And I also thought the other thing is, look, you know, we, as a party, need to start growing if we're going to sustain a majority. And I think one of the things we saw out of that -- this particular primary is that growth, you know, growing the party clearly contributed to Cochran's win, but also both candidates were able to do it as well.
WINSTONIn terms of increasing their vote.
KAYAdam, you're executive vice president of Freedom Works, a Tea Party group. Not a great night, was it, for the Tea Party.
MR. ADAM BRANDONNo. You always like to win, but I'm a Cleveland Browns fan so…
KAYBetter than losing.
BRANDON…I'm used to this at this point in my life. But I actually woke up shockingly optimistic this morning because if you see what the old GOP K Street establishment had to do to win, I think their time's about up. I think we'll look back in history and see this was kind of that high water mark where they finally -- they've been exposed. The only way they're going to win these elections is by bringing in Democratic voters, that's kind of a -- not a way to build a winning strategy.
KAYRight. But hold on a second, in Mississippi the Tea Party wheeled out every celebrity it has. It poured money, various groups poured money into the race and you still couldn't prevail there.
BRANDONWell, I think we gave him a run for his money, that's for sure. And I know especially in the second part, the runoff, we definitely had a significant money disadvantage. I mean, our real advantage were the guys on the ground, the activists on the ground. And I'm proud of their efforts. I mean, they actually -- I think it was just mentioned, that we increased the turnout.
KAYOkay. E. J., if you were to outline your big takeaways from the primary day yesterday, what would they be?
DIONNEWell, I wouldn't expect to do this, but I think the soundbite of the night does come from Chris McDaniel, who was beaten by Thad Cochran. He said, "There's something unusual about a Republican primary decided by liberal Democrats. And with the, I mean, the Cochran campaign has to give it all credit for a brilliant turnout effort. And they didn't just turn out additional Democratic voters. They also turned out additional, kind of moderate country club, moderate conservative. I mean, everybody's conservative in Mississippi.
BELLANTONIIncluding Thad Cochran.
DIONNEVoters -- but the turnout of African American voters was really key to that victory. Sam Hall, an excellent writer and editor at the Clarion-Ledger, down in Mississippi, sort of says there are four reasons why Cochran defeated McDaniel. First, he made the race about him and not McDaniel, about the things he delivered, but also really turned on McDaniel in a very powerful way. And I think made essentially Democratic arguments, which is Mississippi needs federal money. You don't want a guy who's against that.
KAYHe made the case for government spending.
DIONNEHe did. And the Republicans made a better Democratic case than the Democrats sometimes do. Second, Sam points to the expanded electorate with traditionally Democratic voters. Cochran energized the stay-at-homes the first time around. And McDaniel really reached his peak in the first round. He didn't have a lot to turn out. I mean, he had won his home county of Jones by just a walloping margin, the first time around.
DIONNESo there wasn't a lot left for -- as much left for McDaniel to turn out. But I think, you know, the message here is that you can make a -- fight a good case for government if you're willing to do so, and even -- and you an even win a Republican primary doing that.
BELLANTONIBut it's important to point out here that the Republican Party is really in the middle of a reckoning. And they spent $17 million, combined with the forces of the party, the outside groups, all the Tea Party affiliated organizations, on a race that was always going to stay a Republican seat regardless. And is that really where you want to be targeting your efforts when you have, again, a real chance at taking back the Senate?
BELLANTONIAnd so the question is, if you had brought a Chris McDaniel to the Republican caucus, he's going to have a lot less seniority than somebody like Thad Cochran. He's not going to be able to influence the direction of leadership, even if that becomes the majority. So what is the -- are you a Ted Cruz Senate Republican Conference? Or are you a John McCain, Thad Cochran, at least trying to get something done and maybe bring something home for your state?
DIONNEAlthough, could I just say, that one -- the most disappointed people this morning are the people at the Senate Democratic -- the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee…
DIONNE…who really thought that if McDaniel won they had a shot at that seat. They've got a good conservative Democrat, Travis Childers, and they felt that given the turmoil in the Republican Party, they would have a shot. Now, I think they are less optimistic about winning Mississippi.
KAYRight. And that's been the mood…
WINSTONBut that assessment, by the way, was true also for the NRSC. I mean there was real concern in terms of Thad Cochran would make sure that that seat would comfortably stay in Republican hands. McDaniel was going to be more a question mark. And given the fact that every race at this point is so central in terms of trying to get a Republican majority, taking that kind of risk when it wasn't needed was obviously the strategy that they employed.
BRANDONAnd here's the contrarian point of view on that, I believe Mississippi's probably now more in play for the Democrat. Because what happens if these McDaniel supporters, who I know are demoralized, don't show up? That -- that all -- that seat is in play.
KAYE. J., is that possible? I mean, a tool?
DIONNEWell, I heard one Mississippi Democrat this morning, I talked to, make that very case. That -- but, of course, he's a Mississippi Democrat who's friendly with Travis Childers. And that there is, you know, if you look at this, you do have a lot of people who voted against the incumbent. And a clearly angry and demoralized Tea Party. It's still hard for me to see how Cochran loses in the fall, but…
KAYIt's hard to see, isn't it, Adam, how…
DIONNE…you'll have a lot of friends at the Democratic Senatorial Committee.
KAY…the Tea Party supporters would willingly let Mississippi fall to a Democratic senator, and possibly jeopardize majority control of the Senate.
BRANDONThese folks that we're talking about, they really don't care about the partisan angle. What they care about is the policy angle. So if they're not inspired, they may not turn out. They may decide it's more fun to watch college football this weekend then to go out and go door-to-door again.
BELLANTONIWhich could possibly have an effect on some House races, but it just doesn't work that way. I mean, think about Kentucky in 2010, where you had Rand Paul end up defeating the establishment pick, you know, for the Republican Senate nomination there. The Republicans all come home. They're not going to elect a Democrat in a state like Mississippi. The numbers just aren't there. I mean, this is a state that Mitt Romney run -- I don't have the number right in front of me, but it was by a lot. This is a Republican state.
KAYOkay. David, how big is the sigh of relief in the establishment wing of the Republican Party this morning? More broadly, than just Mississippi. Are they taking yesterday's results as an indication that the era of the Tea Party is waning?
WINSTONThere may be some who have a sigh of relief, but that's not the reaction that should exist at this point. I mean, look, what you're watching is a very good example of how difficult it is to manage a majority coalition. You're going to have competing elements within that coalition and leadership is how do you get, keep them all pointed in the same direction. What it means is at least for a momentary period we were able to create a situation where everybody was pointed in the same direction, but that's a constant process.
WINSTONI mean, I will tell you. You know, having watched a variety of speakers, the single most difficult thing to do is sustain a majority coalition. And it requires constant attention. Once you take your eye off the ball, in terms of that, your coalition falls apart.
BRANDONWell, I was hoping that we could probably start to table the conversation that the Tea Party is dead. After every victory, we're alive and well. And after every defeat we're dead.
KAYAfter Virginia everyone's hair was on…
KAY…fire with either dismay or jubilation, depending on where you stand.
BRANDONBut what's happening here is…
KAYAnd now it's the opposite reaction.
BRANDON…the Tea Party's the most successful social movement America has seen since the American Civil Rights movement. And it's going to be a permanent fixture for a long time to come. And we're going to have good cycles and we're going to have bad cycles. But at the end of each cycle, we're going to continue to expand the freedom and liberty caucus in both the House and Senate.
KAYOkay. Adam Brandon of Freedom Works, David Winston is here. He's a Republican strategist. Christina Bellantoni's here from Roll Call. E. J. Dionne is also with us. We'll be taking your calls and questions after this break. 1-800-433-8850 is our phone number. Drshow@wamu.org is the email address. Do send us your questions and comments. We'd love to hear them. Get the panel's reaction. We're gonna have a quick break. Stay listening.
KAYWelcome back. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC sitting in for Diane Rehm. You've joined our conversation on the primaries that took place across the country yesterday in seven states including two runoffs there, what it means for the future of both parties and the future makeup of congress come those midterm elections.
KAYIn the studio I have E. J. Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post, Christina Bellantoni. She's editor-in-chief at Roll Call. David Winston is here. He's a Republic strategist and president of the Winston Group. Adam Brandon is here. He's the executive vice president of Freedom Works. We will be taking your calls, questions and comments in just a moment. We were talking about the Mississippi race primarily before the break. Christina, tells us about what happened in Oklahoma, also an important race last night.
BELLANTONIYeah, I find this race really interesting. So you have James Lankford, a member of congress, was able to clear the nomination. A lot of people had expected that would be close enough that it would be forced into a runoff election which, as we've been discussing, can be unpredictable. And he pretty easily defeated T. W. Shannon who was supported really staunchly by groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has Ted Cruz helping that and Jim DeMint had started it.
BELLANTONIAnd this really was -- you could call it a defeat for the Tea Party. I mean, again, this is a conservative person so it's not as if you're sending a liberal Republican to the Senate. But he is going to be the next senator again. This is another seat where this is someone who will be joining that Senate Republican Conference and was able to somehow defeat outside groups. This was a pretty ugly race. They were fighting for weeks and weeks. And it looked as if they would be real close. And he pretty easily defeated.
MR. E.J. DIONNEOklahoma is interesting in another way, and I agree with that, but that it shows how hard it is just to stick Tea Party, non-Tea Party labels on races. On the one hand it's clear that this is a blow to Ted Cruz, to Sarah Palin who campaigned very hard for T.W. Shannon who was a very interesting candidate, half African American, half Native American. And so it's a blow to them.
MR. E.J. DIONNEOn the other hand, James Lankford is very, very, very conservative. And indeed it shows that there are different strains on the Republican right. Lankford was much more a candidate of the old Christian rite and he got a very solidly, you know, religious conservative vote. And so, you know, the -- I agree with what Adam said that the Tea Party isn't about to disappear, but also I think it's important when you look at the Republican conservatism, it comes in many varieties these days.
KAYOkay. Adam, I want to pick up on something they're talking about, what happened in Oklahoma and Langford, as we were saying, was seen as conservative. A former Republican official said to me the other day that the Tea Party has morphed from being a group which in 2009 when it first emerged was really about one guiding principle, and that was fiscal conservatism to being a disparate group of various forces that has somehow become litmus test Republicanism. Do you think that's a fair characterization?
BRANDONNo, I don't at all. I just think it's still just about fiscal conservative issues. The only other issues we kind of dipped our toes into is some of the more Bill of Rights civil liberties issues. I haven't met a Tea Partier who isn't willing just to fight against the NSA right now. So outside of some of these privacy issues, the only other issues that I see that unify the coalition are the fiscal issues. And when we stay on those issues, we're strong.
KAYRight. What about when social issues become part of the equation there?
BRANDONI think it starts splitting up the coalition. I mean, I believe if you fast forward the GOP in ten years, it's going to be a much more libertarian GOP than it is today.
DIONNEI just think that's problematic for the Republicans because so much of their base has been made up of social and religious conservatives. And on the NSA issue, I think you're going to see a real fight in the party over those issues. It doesn't necessarily split again on predictable lines. On the civil liberties issues you've got very conservative Republicans aligned with very liberal Democrats with more moderate people in the middle saying, well we need some of this to protect us against terrorism. So you've got a landscape out there that again defies sort of simple characterization.
BELLANTONIAnd getting at that coalition, what about the war and the fact that you're seeing the president really facing a choice of does he escalate with any type of force or airstrikes in Iraq and a lot of liberal democrats very war weary. I mean, where does the Tea Party stand on that? You're not hearing that conversation.
BRANDONI think it's very clear if you look at when the buildup to war in Syria was beginning. It was Tea Party Republicans who were the first one out to break and say, no more war.
KAYThe Rand Paul message.
WINSTONBut ultimately here, again, and here's the challenge, I mean, the reason Republicans did so well in 2010 was the economy was the number one issue. Part of the dynamics here that are evolving is what sort of economic program -- what sort of economic policies are being promoted here? And one of the challenges that has emerged here is, so if the Republican Party, the party of austerity or the party of economic growth. And one of the things that's been confused here in terms of some of the statements from some Tea Party folks is, no, we're the party of austerity, right.
WINSTONAnd ultimately if you're going to sort of go back to the sort of Reagan era and what Reagan changed the structural dynamic of the economic argument which Jimmy Carter was, no, this wasn't about more government, less government. This was about economic growth as the outcome and how to you achieve that? And that's going to be -- and that's a very interesting challenge within the party in terms of how do we resolve that.
KAYOkay. We have emails and calls coming in on these broader issues about where the Republican Party goes. Let's have a quick look at some of the other races though first of all. There were of course gubernatorial primary races in both Maryland and Colorado. E. J., you voted in Maryland yesterday. What happened there?
DIONNEI did and it was basically a good day for Martin O'Malley, the incumbent governor because it was a good day for Anthony Brown who really won an overwhelming victory. His lieutenant governor...
KAYWho's a (unintelligible)
DIONNE...who would be the first African American governor of Maryland over Doug Gansler, the attorney general that stayed. And Heather Mizeur who ran from the west on a very interesting core program of let's legalize marijuana and use that money to finance preschool for everybody, and she did exceedingly well. She almost topped Gansler who early on was seen as if not the favorite, certainly the main challenger to Anthony Brown.
DIONNEAnd in Colorado Republicans dodged a bullet. The Democrats were really hoping that Tom Tancredo, the former congress -- the former member of congress, not only a Tea Partier, but...
KAYA presidential hopeful.
DIONNE...rather extreme in many of his statements about race and immigration. Democrats actually ran some ads that were seen as trying to help Tancredo win. Instead the Republicans nominated Bob Beauprez, who will give Governor Hickenlooper a much tougher race or so I think most Democrats and Republicans think.
BELLANTONIAnd Colorado's one of those really interesting states that is an experiment in some ways in this, like, purple idea of a state, right.
KAYA state in transition.
BELLANTONIVery independent. It's got this western spirit, you know, fairly pro-gun yet somehow was able to implement very strict gun control. You've got environmental issues. You've got legalized marijuana there. So it's a really interesting state from that national perspective.
BELLANTONIAnd I'll point out also in Colorado, Ken Buck was able to get the nomination to replace Cory Gardner who's running for Senate in that state against Senator Udall. And Ken Buck is likely to be coming to congress. And this is another one that the Democrats just love because he has given them a lot of ammunition for, you know, inflammatory rhetoric and things that they can campaign against. But it's a conservative seat.
DIONNEThe challenge of governing Colorado, a state that includes both Boulder and Colorado Springs, it's a most extraordinarily diverse state.
KAYWithin a couple of hundred miles, you have the dichotomy there of Colorado.
WINSTONBut going to E. J.'s point, in terms of Beauprez being potentially a -- clearly a stronger challenger in terms of running against the Democrat. Another winner was actually Cory Gardner. This gives Republicans a really good position in terms of being able to take that Senate seat. And that was really a help.
WINSTONI want to go back to one other thing about Shannon versus -- in terms of there was -- those two folks were actually very highly regarded. I have to say that that was the surprise. The margin between Lankford and Shannon was a real serious surprise. And one of the things -- and this is one of the things that if I were going to walk away in terms of being very positive about what happened in terms of Republicans on Tuesday -- both in Cochran's case and Lankford's case this is about the reason why they should be elected.
WINSTONIt wasn't a negative-based campaign. It was asserting the reasons why they should get elected. And what I'm hoping is that's a precursor to the fall in terms of how Republicans are going to be talking about their candidates.
DIONNEI love my friend David, but to say that Mississippi didn't have a very, very, very high quotient of negativity, you know...
WINSTONNo, no. But I would tell you the ad that I think -- and the Chamber of Commerce deserves credit for it -- is that Brett Favre had. It was a real clear assertion of why Thad Cochran should be Senator. And it was very positive. Here's the value that he represents to the state. That's a very different sort of theme than Republicans have driven in more -- and, again, you go back to the Cantor where Cantor did all the negative attack spots and clearly helped Brat in that particular situation.
KAYAdam, do you want to weigh in on this?
BRANDONWell, there's so many things to weigh in on here and I love the conversation about T.W. Shannon because I view him as a rising rock star in the conservative ranks.
WINSTONAnd I wouldn't disagree with that. I think he's a terrific guy.
BRANDONOne -- there's a few trends going on this year, one even in states where we've lost, our movement has done extremely well down ballad. So while the case street lobbyists are all rallying to, you know, 70- and 80-year-old senators to keep them in power, we're building the bench. So in five years the bench is going to be completely our team. And our guys tend to be younger. And frankly, if the GOP is serious about minority outreach, I'd much rather we have Tea Party candidates T. W. Shannon out front campaigning for us than Thad Cochran.
WINSTONWell, I -- look, I mean, Cochran was able to effectively get African Americans to vote in a Republican primary. That is the first step to a growing majority. I mean, that was a positive outcome. Will they stay there? Will they stay there? I don't know but...
KAYBut, Adam, you mentioned Shannon there as your example of diversity. What about McDaniels?
BRANDONWell, I mean, I'm just looking around. Because of the Tea Party movement, you know, you have a black senator from South Carolina in Tim Scott. You're going to have the first female black Republican Mia Love from Utah. I mean, it's the Tea Party movement that's injecting diversity and the different folks into the Republican Party right now.
DIONNEBut I think the problem that you have is that you could see it on Twitter last night. There was a really racialized discourse, to put it in as bland a way as I can, on the Tea Party side about how Thad Cochran beat Chris McDaniel. There was a lot of anger on the right that African Americans in Mississippi had been either, depending on how you want to count the votes, wholly or partly responsible for Cochran's victory. That's a real problem.
DIONNEAnd just on the Democratic side, you know, Brown's victory, you know, you now had, you know, some very important African American figures below the president. We made a big deal, rightly so, about Barack Obama's election, about Patrick in Massachusetts, now Anthony Brown. I think he could become a very important voice in national politics.
WINSTONBut if I -- again, Mia Love and Senator Scott, I mean, those are great additions in terms of the party. But there isn't just one way to be able to sort of grow the party. And I think what you see is you see a multiplicity and I think that's good for Republicans. But I don't think we should say this is the right way and this is the wrong way when you actually get people participating in the process.
BELLANTONIAnd the key to growing a party is looking at young voters, which Democrats have been able to successfully do. And I will just say that the media has to take some responsibility for furthering that racism sort of feeling about what happened in Mississippi. We fan the flames of that because it makes it a more tense story to cover.
DIONNEExcept that I do think there's just a reality that African Americans who are critical to Cochran's election, that's not -- I think that's not fanning flames. That's just talking about what the Cochran campaign did, no?
KAYYou're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Stay with us. Okay. We're going to go to the phones now to Roger in Tallahassee, Fla. Roger, you've joined "The Diane Rehm Show."
ROGERHi, how are you doing? Can you hear me?
KAYI can hear you fine. Thanks, Roger.
ROGERVery good. I wanted to make the observation or the opinion that the Tea Party is just one side of -- or one undeveloped side of what I consider to be a common American populism. I believe the Occupy Wall Street and the Coffee Party, other aspirations to this populism that's coming. But the true signature of the populism that's coming will be a bipartisan spirit among Americans, not just any -- no longer a partisan sense, no longer elements of racism, of discrimination, but a true embrace of adversity.
ROGERAnd I hold this opinion because I'm actually working diligently towards making this possible. I'm actually organizing a rally in Washington called "We Have a Dream 2015 at the Martin Luther King Memorial Park in Washington, D.C., calling for this resurgence of true American populism.
KAYOkay. Christina, let's pick up on that, what Roger was saying, is that he sees that whether it's with Occupy on the left or the Tea Party on the right, we're seeing a resurgence of populism in the country. And actually it's interesting, you know, this is not just in America. Because if you look at recent elections in Europe, we have seen a similar -- mostly on the right but we have seen a similar emergency of populist parties.
BELLANTONII cannot argue with that. I completely agree. And I think that one of the most interesting things about this, it makes me -- one of the reasons I love being a political journalist, is that people do have power here. You know, individuals in every single state have the ability to have their voice be heard. And whether that's on an issue like Syria, as we pointed out, or whether that's activists that are able to get their preferred candidate into the race or whether that's forcing change within the Republican structure because you're making so many calls to their offices, that is very interesting to me. And I don't think it's bad for democracy.
WINSTONAnd I think when you look at the Brat race against Cantor, people talked a lot early on about immigration. But there was a very strong anti-Wall Street strain to Brat's campaign, which suggests there is some kind of populism out there. I think the notion that these two movements could ever come together is wrong. I think the fundamental views of them are different but there is something going on. And you hear it in Elizabeth Warren's rhetoric and why she has -- I think, has gathered a real national audience to her.
BRANDONI believe the best opportunity for that bipartisanship coming together is going to be on some of these privacy and NSA issues. I know at Freedom Works we're working with a lot of people on the other side, the far left on some of these issues on what your rights to privacy are online. And I believe that's a strong coalition right now and that's going to get only stronger heading into 2016.
KAYBefore we take any more calls I want to get to the New York race as well. Christina, it does look -- we don't have all -- of course, the absentee ballots haven't all come in but it looks like Charlie Rangel's managed to hang on there.
BELLANTONIAnd he certainly has already declared victory several times, even though there's not been a concession there. The last time I looked at the results, which we've been tracking at RollCall.com, he was up by about 2,000 votes. He only won in 2012 by 1500 votes in that general election. So -- or in that case against Espaillat, Adriano Espaillat. And it's just -- this is a man who wants to leave Congress on his own terms. He has made clear this is his last term...
KAYDespite a nudge from the president.
BELLANTONIRight. And he is somehow a survivor yet again. He is well respected within the caucus and he still has something to do, which is why he fought real hard in that race. I -- it looks like he's going to prevail no matter what. I mean, that's a pretty big margin.
KAYE.J., we've talked a lot about, you know, an anti-incumbent feeling in the country but actually when you flick through this list, whether it's Charlie Rangel or Thad Cochran, I mean, I'm seeing a lot of ticks. I've got a long list here of all the election results last night. There's an awful lot of ticks next to incumbents.
DIONNEIt's a funny thing that every election we talk about an anti-incumbent feeling, yet most incumbents survive. I mean, you know, they -- and I just think that reflects the fact that most of these folks are elected in fairly safe districts, even in primaries that are not as threatened as we think. But to beat any -- you know, to beat a few incumbents in primaries is still a very big deal because it is so unusual.
DIONNEI mean, when we look to the fall there is a very strong anti-congress feeling. I mean, congress couldn't rank lower than I suppose the head of ISIS would rank lower in a poll, the terrorist group. And yet, still the vast majority of incumbents are going to survive.
KAYOkay. And we will talk about that midterm election and what the primaries mean for that after this short break. E.J. Dionne, Christina Bellantoni, David Winston, Adam Brandon all with me. Do stay listening. We'll take more of your calls, questions and comments.
KAYWelcome back. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC sitting in for Diane Rehm. You've joined our conversation on the primary races yesterday and what they herald for the midterm elections in November. We're going to go straight back to the phones to Dax in Louisville, Kentucky. Dax, you've joined "The Diane Rehm Show." Thanks for waiting.
DAXHello, everyone. Thanks for taking my call.
DAXI had a question primary for the Tea Party representative. My question was what type of bargaining power or ammunition would the Tea Party have going into negotiations against Democrats and fellow Republicans when their platform seems to be mainly, well, other than fiscal conservatism, the platform seems to be not working with the other side.
BRANDONWell, too often when you see these great touted bipartisan compromises in Washington, they've been brokered by K Street lobbyists. There's pork for everyone and spending goes up. So if you're running as someone who's going to come to Washington and actually, you know, shrink the size and scope of government and free up the economy, it's pretty hard to be part of a negotiation that the final agreement's going to be spending more money and spending more of other people's money.
KAYOkay. I don't want to play -- go ahead, E.J.
DIONNEOh, no. I was going to say, I think one of the problems in politics right now -- and that's why the nature of Cochran's campaign is so interesting is if you have one side of politics saying our only goal is to shrink government, that's the central thing we're about, then you really can't have any negotiations over proposals to use government to solve public problems.
DIONNEAnd I think what you saw in Mississippi in that Republican primary is a lot of Republicans sitting back thinking about it and saying, okay, we actually think, after all, there is a role for government. We certainly think there's a role for government in disaster relief, but we also understand that Mississippi actually gets more federal government spending per capita, I think, than any state in the union and that it's essential to their hospitals, their roads, their schools.
DIONNEAnd, you know, I think conservatism really has to sort of think hard about whether it can maintain this oppositional approach. And it's a principled approach if you want smaller government all the time, but I don't think it's where most Americans are. Most Americans are operationally -- they may have some ideologically conservative views, it's an old political science observation, but operationally, they want the government to solve certain problems and they like Washington to try.
BRANDONWell, I have so much to respond there. I think one of the main lessons is when we keep hearing about when we talk about Mississippi, at the end of the day, it was Democrats that ended up deciding this primary. The Republican vote was clear. They want change in Washington. They want to see Washington not continue to add onto $17 trillion in debt. That's what conservatives and Republicans in Mississippi said yesterday.
BRANDONYeah, it's pretty easy to campaign to Democrats about expanding government and that's what Thad Cochran did.
WINSTONLet me -- 'cause, again, I think the debate is actually slightly different than what is occurring here and I think that's where you hear the frustration of the American people and why they rate everything so poorly at this point. Interesting in terms of size of government, yes, that has an impact, yes, services, yes, that's interesting, but what about economic growth?
WINSTONYou know, people have their day to day lives to live and we just had a disastrous report come out where the economic GDP went down 2.9 percent, right? And where the American are is when is somebody going to start talking about economic growth, job creation, get this country moving rather than having these debates about so how much more can we cut or how much more can we add as opposed to how are we going to get the economy working.
WINSTONUnderstand that that was Reagan's response to Jimmy Carter and that redefined what the electorate looked like post-1980.
DIONNEAt the risk of taking us way off on an argument about economics...
WINSTONWhich we've done before.
DIONNE...which (word?) and I have done many times in private. You know, the unemployment rate in the country would be a point lower if we had not had all these cuts. Reagan's recovery was partly built on increased state spending. Paradoxically, spending has gone at the government level under Barack Obama. Government employment has gone down, partly because of austerity in the states, partly because what the Congress has done.
DIONNEBut that's a long argument about which economic approach makes sense. As best I can tell, most economists believe that a certain amount of Keynesian was essential to pulling this economy out.
KAYLet's go to Steven who's joining us from Collinsville, Alabama. Steven, you've joined "The Diane Rehm Show."
STEVENYes. All this talk about FreedomWorks new warm and fuzzy Tea Party, it's not happening here in Alabama where House Speaker Mike Hubbard's immigration plan of a couple years ago would've deported half the soccer team that won the state championship here in my town of Collinsville. But what I'm calling about is a little bit of an esoteric, but I think E.J. Dionne may pick on it.
STEVENJames Langford is the son-in-law of a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tom Elliff, and Langford, with his First Baptist Church Spartanburg, South Carolina, church member Trey Goudy, which now is also the church of Billy Graham, that's where Billy Graham's membership is now, have embraced the Christian world view of Francis Schaeffer that's been the subject of a lot of research.
STEVENAnd now, it's even splitting the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who many of your panel know, is a great Christian martyr that resisted Hitler in Nazi times, has a new biography by a Baptist minister's son, a progressive from Mississippi that teaches at the University of Virginia, Charles Mars. And I've been reading it and it is beautiful. But First Baptist Spartanburg, this fall, will host Eric Metaxas, who is also a biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who campaigned for Rick Santorum in the South Carolina primary in 2012.
STEVENSo this Christian world view shared by the Tea Party of Prayer, which is pretty much the Southern Baptist Convention in the Southeast, is a part of this Tea Party commotion right now and I'd like to bring that to your attention and I may follow up on Facebook by the end of the week and would like E.J, in particular, to look for that comment. Thanks for taking my call.
KAYOkay. Steven, thanks very much. I'm going to get E.J. and Adam to weigh in on this 'cause Adam, you were making the case earlier that really the Tea Party is still fundamentally about fiscal conservatism and that it prefers not to weigh in on social views, but it just may be that in some areas of the country, the Tea Party is being associated with socially conservative views.
KAYAnd as you said, that is sometimes causing splinters within the movement.
BRANDONThe movement is absolutely the strongest -- when I got to a rally and I see someone standing in a corner with a Ron Paul For President T-shirt and on the other side of the room, you see someone with a Sarah Palin For President T-shirt and everyone's having a good time together. That's when we're at our strongest.
BRANDONAnd when we work together on the issues that united us -- and we were talking about the economy. The word that we haven't heard is regulation. That's something I hear from small business owners all the time, from Obamacare to EPA regulations. When we talk about shrinking government, part of it is shrinking the regulatory state to allow entrepreneurs to be entrepreneurs.
DIONNEFirst of all, god bless any caller who brings out the name Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a very brave Christian who gave his life to resist Hitler and he's a fascinating man and that new biography is very interesting. I do think that when you look at the Tea Party and look at the Christian conservative movement, you have to realize there's enormous overlap. We did a...
KAYThere may not have been initially. It has become the case, you think...
DIONNENo, I think there has been all along because of the nature of the people who rally to the Tea Party. The Tea Party is older, white and tends to be Christian. We did a survey, Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute that showed about half of Tea Partiers also identified themselves as religious conservatives and even a larger number of Tea Partiers had views on social issues that were very conservative.
BRANDONDavid Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network coined the term Teavangelical and there are a lot of Teavangelicals out there. And I think it's one of the complications for the movement because there is part of it that is libertarian and that does not necessarily either see social issues as most important or even have conservatives views on them. But a very substantial part of it, again, because of the age and other commitments of Tea Party members are, in fact, Christian conservatives.
KAYHow does the movement marry those two groups, Christina?
BELLANTONIWell, I don't know. I haven't seen -- it's not a very comfortable marriage and what I was going to point out is that don't forget the undercurrent of a lot of this is that there is a next presidential election coming up with a non-incumbent in the field and the Republican caucuses in Iowa are going to be very interesting. You tend to have the religious conservative either win them or perform very well or push the rest of the party top a religious conservative kind of right.
BELLANTONIAnd so this debate does still matter, but it gets me, you know, the idea of a third party, you know, a social conservative party and then sort of a civil libertarian smaller government party within Republicans broadly is fascinating as a journalist to look at. I don't know that you're actually going to see it happen and so instead you have this real war going on among the GOP.
WINSTONBut, again, those economic concerns, as were being described, that was the centerpiece in terms of where the Tea Party impacted in terms of 2010. What they were able to do was create a focus on the economy and make the election about the economy at such a scale so exit polls said the economy was 63 percent and healthcare was actually on 18 in terms of what was the number one issue. That focus on the economy really helped Republicans significantly in 2010 as one of the major reasons why we won the majority.
KAYOkay. I want to read this email that's come into us from John, who's writing to us from D.C. Why doesn't the Tea Party simply form a separate party. If the hostility between Tea Party and traditional Republicans is acute why are the Tea Party votes hanging around and trying to take over the Republican Party rather than simply forming their own party?" Adam.
BRANDONWell, this is a question I get probably on a daily basis and the simple answer is, is that third parties, traditionally, in America have not worked. But we do have an opportunity to take over the GOP. And when I look at the party now, the party that has Massey from Kentucky, Mike Lee from Utah and Amash from Michigan, I mean, the march is moving forward. I think we're doing all right. It's going to take -- we didn't get into these problems overnight.
BRANDONIt's gonna take us multiple election cycles to change things. But I believe we're building what we call at FreedomWorks the Liberty Caucus, which is some of those gentlemen I just mentioned, and we're getting stronger and stronger in both houses of Congress.
BELLANTONIBut, in fact, those gentlemen you just mentioned are not influential when it comes to the Republican Party. I mean, Raul Labrador was not able to come remotely close to Kevin McCarthy. Last night, you had Senator Ted Cruz meeting with a group of House conservatives, you know, probably a dozen in all, who were trying to talk about ways that they can change the -- I mean, it's real inside baseball, but the actual processes so the establishment Republicans can't make deals with the Democrats.
BELLANTONII mean, and that's not working. I mean, Justin Amash is well-respected within a certain segment of that conference, but is -- and has a national name recognition, but is not going to be able to influence within leadership.
BRANDONI disagree fundamentally there because I believe that we are making a difference. If Labrador was the only alternative and you got to start somewhere. I'm not expecting to win everything overnight. This is going to take 10 years to continue to win the hearts and minds and voters across the country. I mean, one of the things that's driving me crazy when I hear about Cochran's efforts to African American voters is where has he been for the last 41 years and then he shows up in the last two weeks.
BRANDONAnd this has been a chronic problem for Republicans to show up in different communities, say, hey, I want your vote and then they disappear after election. And I believe what you see is going to be happening from the Tea Party side is this continued outreach that you're not going to see overnight results, but we're gonna -- just the fact that we're challenging now for leadership positions shows that we're in the game.
WINSTONNow, but understand when you get to the process of governing, and I will tell you, last fall's shutdown was an example in terms of the electorate is now shifted. An individual may have interesting ideas, a party may have interesting ideas, but what the public wants to know is how are you going to make them real, how are you going to execute them and make sure that, in fact, they're going to happen.
WINSTONAnd one of the challenges that clearly emerged after last fall's shutdown is there was a sense that there was no understanding in terms of some folks on the Republican side, and in terms of your folks, to some degree, that actually implementation could occur.
DIONNEI want to jump in, but I'll cede to a caller and make my point later.
KAYI'm Katty Kay of the BBC. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you like to join us, do call 1-800-433-8850's the phone number. You can send us an email as well, email@example.com. E.J., you can jump in.
DIONNEThank you. I think the problem for the Republicans right now is this fight is paralyzing them. They haven't resolved it yet and they're gonna have to resolve it. I was struck by a quote from Speaker Boehner who had traditionally supported the export/import bank, which, you know, helps people export overseas. Tea Partiers view it as corporate welfare. And he had support in the past and this time, he's being kind of neither this nor that and he said, my job is to make my members feel comfortable.
DIONNEA, that's not exactly leadership, but put that aside. He's got a really hard job. but the reason he has a hard job is because of the very splits we've been talking about for the last 53 minutes and at some point, there's going to have to be a philosophical showdown within the Republican Party over do you or do you not believe in the use of government for particular purposes. And we're not there yet.
BRANDONIf you look at the vote totals, Ron Paul won the under 30 in the Republican primary. Even Ken Cuccinelli won the under 25s in Virginia. You mentioned youth earlier. Well, youth and time is on our side.
KAYOkay. I want to read this email. It's from Renee from D.C. "As someone who grew up in D.C. and has spent his career working in the policy world, I tire of hearing some Americans complain about those politicians in Washington failing to get anything done and then sending their Senators here who refuse to work together. The most disturbing thing about Chris McDaniel's campaign was his open declaration that he was not going to compromise.
KAYHe criticized Senator Cochran for reaching across the aisle. As a country, we cannot function properly with so many elected officials in one of our two major parties operating in fear of reaching across the aisle." Christina, is that fair?
BELLANTONIVote. It's totally fair. But participate.
KAYIs it fair that Chris McDaniel's made a pointed effort -- comment that he was not going to compromise?
BELLANTONIAnd that is the, like, the uncompromising message is exactly what -- and I wouldn't even put a Tea Party label on it. It is what people are saying. Like, do something, you know. Shake it up some way because people are so dissatisfied with what's there.
KAYRight. But I mean, we keep hearing this, but look at turnout in the primaries yesterday. E.J.
DIONNEWell, but I think the turnout, there's a vicious cycle going on out there, which is that when people are disaffected from government and politics, when they think government can't act successfully, a lot of times the reaction is exit, give up. These guys won't change anything. And the result is, as you said, some rather anemic turnouts all across the board.
DIONNEWhat the anemic turnouts also do is empower minorities to feel very, very strongly and some of the, you know, on the one hand in the Cantor race, turnout went up compared to the last race, but it was still 65,000 people in a district of probably 800 or 900,000 people deciding something very important.
BRANDONI have to step in and defend the poor Tea Party folks for getting beaten up for not being compromising. If you go back to that debt ceiling vote, this is what I remember happening. President Obama and Speaker Boehner said we need a clean debt hike, period. We need more cash to throw on our deficit with no cuts, no discussion of cuts. I mean, how is that compromising and that's the position that we've been put into.
BELLANTONIThere's been plenty of discussion of cuts and that's -- it's as if you're saying that government spending is, like, run afoul.
KAYAnd there have actually been plenty of cuts, too.
BRANDONThe sequester cut was $85 billion out of a $3.6 trillion deficit.
KAYOkay. I don't want to get into debt numbers right now. We have a minute left on the program. I want to ask David and E.J. what they think yesterday means for November's elections. We have literally a minute so briefly, please, both of you.
WINSTONI think the outcomes yesterday clearly put Republican candidates in a positive position. Clearly, in terms of Colorado, that was a good outcome. Mississippi is now not on the table and so that helps in terms of other states for Republicans. So yesterday was a good day for Republicans.
DIONNEI want to -- I'll make Adam happy by saying Thad Cochran showed that you can make a core Democratic argument in defense of government and actually persuade people and so paradoxically Democrats might learn something from Thad Cochran.
BRANDONE.J., I'm going to suggest that that wasn't what he was saying, but E.J., I know you want to say that.
KAYOkay. E.J. Dionne, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also columnist at The Washington Post, Christina Bellantoni, editor and chief at Roll Call, David Winston, Republican strategist and president of the Winston Group, Adam Brandon, executive vice president of FreedomWorks. Thank you all so much for joining me.
KAYThank you all so much for listening. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC sitting in for Diane Rehm.
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