Skip to main content

tv   After Words with Senator Mitch Mc Connell  CSPAN  July 4, 2016 1:30pm-2:31pm EDT

1:30 pm
let's go back to where we started. is this a campaign playbook? >> i think it can be seen as such and there are lots of books that he has written or cowritten or have been written for him that all added up i think our campaign playbook for 2016 for donald trump . >> monica langley. >> i say definitively yes.i think it is classic donald trump and i think that elements of the deal are all the elements of his campaign. >> carlos lozada with the washingtonpost, michael kruse with politico, thank you for being on this roundtable on the tv.>> thank you . >> when i tune into it on the weekends, usually as authors sharing their new releases. >> watching the nonfiction authors on book tv is thebest television or serious readers . >> on c-span, they can have a longer conversation and delve
1:31 pm
into their subject 's book tv weekends. they bring you author after author afterauthor . it's all the work of fascinating people. >> i love book tv and i'm a c-span fan.>> c-span: created by america's television companies and brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. afterwords is next on tv with senator mitch mcconnell talk about his life and politics with senator lamar alexander. >> this is a book about a shy boy who grew up in alabama, overcame polio, was inspired by henry clay at the university of louisville to become a senator, did. then set out to be the
1:32 pm
majority leader of the united states senate and did but mitch, i have a confession to make. when i was asked to do this, here is what i thought. how can anyone get mitch mcconnell to talk for an hour? because in your own book, you point out that you only the press when it's to your advantage. you talk about a time when bill gates came in to see you and the two of you just sat there and people are uncomfortable waiting for one of you to speak and your account someone once told president george w. bush that you were excited over a certain vote and he said really? how can you tell so why so few words?s?>> well, i'm not afraid of talking but i found i learned a lot more by listening and so frequently i start out listening and think about what i want tosay before i do it . i think it's fair to say that i'm in the era of trump, probably a very different approach to commenting on
1:33 pm
public affairs. >> are not the first one. i remembered bob novak used to say the hardest interview ever had on meet the press was with senator mike mansfield because he asked him a question, he said yes. he'd asked him another one and he'd say no and he run out of questions and easiest one was hubert humphrey. one question and he talked for 30 minutes. >> you don't get in trouble for what you don't say and i think there'snothing wrong with being cautious about your comments . i certainly don't mind talking but i usually like to know what i'm talking about. before i ventured down that path. >> you're not socautious in your book. there's a lot of unexpected material in there. there's a polio, will talk about that. his fight with edema grew . your vote for lyndon johnson in 1954 over civil rights and then when it gets to professor obama and senator harry reid, your democratic counterparts and the senate
1:34 pm
conservative fund, you don't hold back there and i think most people would be the price to learn that you're an all-american tailgater at the university of louisville, will talk about that but why don't we start with polio? it's 1944. you're two years old. you're living with your mom and five points alabama and the doctor, your dad is a season the war and the doctor says mitch as polio. it's hard today to imagine how terrifying those words must have been for parents. >> absolutely and i subsequently learned there was a serious epidemic in 1944 all over the country . and the disease is very, very unpredictable. some people, of courseyou'd have the flu . you would think you have the flu and a couple of weeks later, some people would be completely normal. a couple weeks later, some people would be in an iron lung or dead . in my case, it affected my
1:35 pm
left quadriceps, muscle between your knee and your thigh. and in one of the great good fortunes of my life, this little crossroads, five points alabama, there was not even a stoplight there where my mother as you indicated was living with her sister while my dad was overseas fighting the germans. it happened to be 60 miles from warm springs. roosevelt, having gone there himself in the 20s ... >> because he had polio. >> he got it at age 39. completely paralyzed below the waist. >> but your mother had no way of knowing if you might be like the president, completely paralyzed. >> notcompletely but what they predicted, the worst case an area for me would have been a brace on my left leg . so i didn't have as severe a case as president roosevelt had but the key, imagine i'm
1:36 pm
twoyears old . you know what two-year-old kids are like. my mother took me over to warm springs, they taught her a physical therapy regimen and told her to administer it four times a day and to keep me off my feet. so she literally watched me like a hawk for two years, every waking moment. and try to convey to me the subtle message that they didn't want me to think i couldn't walk but i shouldn't walk, a very subtle message. >> how do you keep a two-year-old from walking? that's what two-year-olds do. >> she wants me every minute and prevented me from prematurely walking. obviously, she told me that years later. my first memory in life was the last visit to warm springs where they told my mother i was going to be okay, that i'd be able to walk without a limp and we's stop in a shoe store in lagrange georgia on the way
1:37 pm
back to alabama. i had to get a pair of low top shoes which were kind of a symbol that i was going have a normal childhood and i did have a normal childhood. >> how old were you? asked for at that point and that went on for two years, she watched me like a hawk what an amazing thing. you got a chapter in your book calledresilience . i guess resilience must come from that, to some extent. >> if impressions being made on us at really early ages are as significant as some people think, it sure had to have one on me which was if you stick to something, you keep working on it and giving it your best, the chances are you may actually overcome whatever problem you are currently having. >> you have any impediments today? >> some the quadricep is more important going downstairs and up . i'm not great at going downstairs but i had a perfectly normal life. when i was a kid i wasn't good at running longdistances that i could play baseball .
1:38 pm
it doesn't have the kind of back and forth like basketball does. >> let's move on to dickie mcgrew. your fatherencouraged you to have a fistfight with dickie mcgrew, what was that about? >> he didn't encourage me, i had no choice. i was about seven and we lived in athens alabama . i had a friend across the street named dickie mcgrew who was a year older than i wasn't considerably bigger. he was also a bully and he kept pushing me around and my dad was out working in the yard one day and he saw that. again, he'd seen it before. he called me over and he said , son, i'd have been watching the way he's been pushing you around and i want you to go over there and beat him up. i said dad, he's older than i am and bigger than i am. he said i'm older than he is and bigger than he is and given what some would say hobson's choice, i chose dickie . i went across the street and
1:39 pm
started swinging and i beat him up and that his glasses. it was an incredible lesson in standing up to bullies and i thought about that throughout my life at critical moments when people are trying topush you around . >> you got a chapter standing your ground. >> yes. >> let's jump ahead to kentucky, the university of louisville. people looking at c-span might wonder what those senators talk about when there on the floor? watching you, the odds are you'retalking about the university of louisville sports program.before i get to that, your honors thesis was henry clay, senator henry clay and that inspired you , that inspired you to want to be a united states senator? >> i had gotten interested in politics in school. i ran for president of the student body in high school and it was a big high school, a very contentious race. >> you said you were hooked. >> i won last night so i began to follow politics.
1:40 pm
i remember at age 14 when the conventions were really the coverage of conventions was really dull. they focus on the podium and listen to all the speeches on tv. >> we use two, there was a big scene at radio and we listen to the whole thing. >> pretty boring. you may have been doing this to but ithought i was the only 14-year-old . >> only 14 is-year-old in america, maybe you were watching too. watchingfrom gavel to gavel so i began to try to practice this craft to see if i could get good at it. and i was, ran for president of student council in college and in law school and clay was the most famous politician in kentucky. >> what about clay inspired you most?
1:41 pm
>> the fact that he, in a not terribly significant state, some would argue had become a major statesman. in kentucky, i wanted to learn more about him so ... >> when he was known for crafting compromises which is a dirty word today with some people. >> it is but absolutely essential. the constitution is full of compromises. you and i in our daily lives you every single day in order to make the senate function. so i did my senior thesis on henry clay and the compromise of 1850 and continued to follow him as a lot of us in kentucky politics do. >> there was another aspect at the university of louisville and that this athletic program. describe your tailgating schedule. >> well, football is an
1:42 pm
important part of life but. >> but you take it pretty seriously. >> i do, i have about 12 season tickets every year. i have regulars, one of them goes back to college and we go to every home game and on occasion, and away game. we make a day of it, we goout early, one of my friends has an rv . in the parking lot and we talk about what will happen in the game and then we go to the game and talk about what did happen in the game and it's a complete lengthy exercise and one ofthe great joys of life . >> let's jump ahead a little bit. we're talking about theearly 1960s when you are at the university of louisville . you and i both drove to washington, we each realize in a green mustangs for the end of 1960s and i can still view the work from howard buell from kentucky and i remember in 1969 senator baker saying you need to go
1:43 pm
over and meet that smart young legislative aide from marlo cook, mitch mcconnell. but let's go back to louisville. in louisville you lead a march or part of a march on the capital about civil rights. you were in washington as i was to hear martin luther king's speech in 19 63, the i have a dreamspeech. you had had goldwater , speak to the university of louisville because you are president of the college of republicans but you voted for lyndon johnson in 1964, what happened? >> in our generation i think the civil rights issue was the defining issue of our generation and in 62, i have was fortunate enough when i was in college republican president, goldwater accepted an invitation to come to you about, it was terrific and in the summer of 63, people like you and myself got to see the
1:44 pm
i have a dream speech and in 64 i was an intern in senator cooper's office, two important things happened in 64. we broke the filibuster of the civil rights bill, senator cooper was in the middle of breaking the bill and we nominated very goldwater, one of the few people who voted against the civil rights bill. i was mad as hell about it and i was so irritated about goldwater voting against the civil rights bill and kind of defining the republican party in a way i thought would be unfortunate that i voted for lyndonjohnson which in retrospect was a huge mistake . but it was a protest vote. and ... >> that feeling. over into your tenant days. when president reagan vetoed the sanctions on south africa , for apartheid, you voted not to override his veto. >> i voted to override.
1:45 pm
>> you would override his veto which most republicans did not do. >> right. i just don't like reagan who was widely admired by people like you and me, who was simply wrong about whether or not south african sanctions could work. i know there are people who think sanctions never work, occasionally they do. they worked in south africa, they worked in burma. a number of years later and i thought reagan was wrong and i did vote to override his veto. >> you mentioned burma. how do you get interested in aung san suu kyi. that was an extraordinary thing that lasted over 20 years. i remember watching you make speeches on the senate floor, i wonder what you were doing. >> i started following her after she won the nobel peace prize in 91. and for the listeners who are not familiar with her, she, her father was sort of the founder of modern burma but
1:46 pm
he didn't live very long, got assassinated . she went off to europe and went to school, lived in the united states for a while, married a guy from britain. had two sons from england that have gone back to burma in 1988 to care for his six mother. when this movement started. and she was sort of thrust into the leadership, the military junta which ran the country since the early 60s decided to have a free and fair election and they got creamed. and their reaction to getting creamed in the free and fair election was to arrest all the people who had gotten elected and put her under house arrest in her own house where she remained most of the time for 21 years so we would flip notes to each other over the years and i've offered along with some others a burma sanctions bill that actually ultimately made a difference and ...
1:47 pm
>> you visited her, did you not? not long ago? >> amazingly enough, the regime began to crumble and in 2011 and so then we were able to talk on the phone and i actually went to burma in january 2012 and got to see her in person, invite her to come to the university of louisville to the mccallum center earlier that year and she did come in september 2012 and now she's the de facto elected leader of the country, even though the constitution prohibits anyone from married to a foreigner who has been married to a four-year to be president . that keeps her from being president. she's the de facto president, she's put in a president who is a close ally.
1:48 pm
>> you mentioned the mcconnell center at the university of louisville, what is that? >> it basically a scholarship program for the best and brightest kids that i started about 25 years ago. you have to be from kentucky and there are 10 each year, 10 freshmen, 10 sophomores, 10 seniors and so it's designed to try to compete with ivy league schools and they get sharper kids to stay in kentucky for education, believing that if they stay there they're more likely to stay there after school. 70 percent of the graduates have chosen to stay in kentucky where most of the sharp kids who grow up to the east to school never come back. what i do is i bring in speakers and we had some great ones over the years, hillary clinton, she wasthere while she was secretary of state and joe biden's been there when he was vice president, chief justice roberts has been there . not only for the 40 get to meet privately with whoever the speaker is but they address a larger audience while they are there.
1:49 pm
>> let's which the politics, a subject you like to discuss and something you're pretty good at. you on races in kentucky, counting primaries so let's talk about the first one, the bloodhound commercial. you were, well i think all of us inthe united states senate are political activists, not all of us will admit it but we all are and you surely were .you were 30 points behind. >> in july of the election-year. >> so the bloodhound dad, what was that? >> it was a desperate situation. roger ailes who is now pretty well known ... >> how do you find roger ailes? in those days he was doing political consulting, doing commercials. >> he was willing to take on somebody in a democratic state 30 points behind? >> he had a couple of clients he thought were going to win and then me and i appreciated the fact that he was willing to take me on but this is a tough competitor, you can see
1:50 pm
how he started seeing cnbc for fox4nownews.com rupert murdoch. here's the situation. it was july of the election. i was down ... >> 1984. >> i was down 30 points. we had a meeting in louisville and i said roger, is this race over? here's what he said. i've never known anybody to come this far behind thislate to win but i don't think it's over . a very competitive guy. i was running against a pretty smart democratic incumbent who didn't have a lot of obvious vulnerabilities. we were looking for some kind of issue that needle in the haystack and it turned out, this was back in the honoraria days which i didn't have any problem with able making speeches for money but he had been making speeches for money while he was missing votes on the senate floor . so ailes turned back in to a couple of featuring a
1:51 pm
kentucky hunter type person with a bloodhound out looking for huddleston to get him back to work and it electrified the campaign, got people interested in it, got people talking about it and there was a sequel later where we had a guy who looked like huddleston, an actor who was being chased by the dogs and literally ended up in a tree . and the key line there was we got you now the huddleston, they freed him right at the end. not exactly a landslide, one vote present. but there was a way of looking at it, even though reagan carried 150 states, we lost two seats in the senate and he was the only democratic incumbent editor in the country that your toulouse. >> i think your opponents would probably say that they find a method of campaigning a smashed them in the mouth before they get started .
1:52 pm
probably, and i'm just guessing, your toughest campaign other than that was the last one, 2014 as you have sent conservative fund coming at you from the right, you had harry reed coming from the left and it was a pretty big brawl that you started right out by an ad that called yourrepublican opponent, now the governor of kentucky ,bailout devon . >> well, you and i witness the results in 2010 and 2012. >> i was glad all the attention was on you . >>. [laughter] the senate conservatives fund and its allies had basically cost us fiveraces . in 2010 and 2012. nominating people whocouldn't win . and so at the beginning of 2014, i said not only in our race but other races, were not one to let that happen anymore. so what we did, not only in my race but other races around the country, we got the most electable people
1:53 pm
nominated. basically took them on because if you are dealing with a group of people who think compromise is a dirty word and who always want to make a point but never want to make a difference, they only thing to do if you want to win the election is to beat them so we on every primary including my own and as you indicated, my primary opponent was a pretty credible guy and i'm sure he got elected governor of kentucky but in my primary he carried two of under 20 counties. >> you say take them on, it's like the fistfight with dickie mcgrew. josh holmes said this in 2013. the senate conservative fund has been wandering around the country destroying the republican party like a drunk who tears of every bar he walked in. he referenced this one as a stroll into mitch mcconnell's barn, he's not going to throw you out, he's going to lock the door. those are fighting words. >> that's what needed to be
1:54 pm
done and as a result, if you look at 2014, lamar as a result of that approach, not only in my race but several others, we took the senate back. we had the most electable candidates on the november ballot everywhere . >> let's cross the island talk about the senate democraticleader harry reid . you and i were at center general two days ago and you and senator reid both spoke and he said what i've often heard both of you say, that people think mitch mcconnell and i don't like each other but we're good friends. you say in your book you are good friends with harry reid but then you say he's got a jekyll and hyde personality. when reed hears that, he says your classlessand you like donald trump that women are dogs and pigs . you say not in your book but i think you said other places that he may be the worst majority leader so the senate is a place of relationships.
1:55 pm
what about this relationship between the democratic and republican leader? are you friends, are you not? look, i've been very public about a couple of things about harry. number one, i didn't like the way he shut the senate down and prevented people from voting. and i didn't like the way he ran the senate and i think his public rhetoric is frequently very inappropriate . so i don't think ... >> like what? >> the example you mentioned, a few weeks before taking this he took all of donald trump's most outrageous comments and attributed them to me. i don't do that to him so i don't think there's an equivalence here but nevertheless, i think a lot of people it looks like we're feuding all the time you we are feuding all the time. we have to talk on a daily basis.
1:56 pm
i do the heavenly objects to the way he ran the senate and my goal in this current majority is to be as different in every way from harry and the way he ran the previous majority. in other words, i'm trying to do everything totally different so i do object to the way he ran the senate and i do object to the inflammatory rhetoric like calling alan greenspan a political. alan greenspan may be many things but a political hack he certainly isn't. or calling george w. bush a loser forcing the iraq war is lost right in the middle of a major military exercise there so i can fail to express my objection to that kind of rhetoric which is frequently flat out wrong. >> let's take one other person. you talk about the senate conservative fund, you write about senator we. you have chapter entitled professor obama. why did you choose those
1:57 pm
words? >> thepresident is a very smart guy . i think he knows a lot about a lot of things. i think he would do a better job of dealing with others if he was less time trying to appoint weber he's talking to at the moment with his brilliance and more time listening. just to draw contrast between the president and vice president, i've been in a number of major deals with the vice president. they were worth doing for the country. he doesn't spend any time trying to convince me of things he knows i don't believe and i don't spend time trying to get mid him of things that he doesn't believe. in other words, you don't waste any time on all that. we get down to trying to figure out what we can do together because he knows how
1:58 pm
far i can go and i know how hard you can go. i think the president would be better off, he's a brilliant guy. he's a successful in his political career, rising quickly to the top in american politics but i don't think these sort of incessant lectures are very helpful in getting an outcome if you're in some kind of negotiation. >> let's talk about divided government for a minute. i heard you talk about that a lot and say your disappointment that you and the president haven't been able to accomplish more together because i heard you say that invited government is the time when you do hard things because use spread the responsibility around. the democrats say about you that you said early on that your main goal is to make president obama a oneterm president . i've heard you say you made a speech early on, it's time to go to work on entitlements and offer a hand to do that and you never heard back from anybody so whose fault is it that we haven't taken advantage of this seven years
1:59 pm
of divided government to do more together? >> obviously i have a point of view on that, on the obama one term president, i admire bob woodward who was the only major reporter in town recorded the rest of what i said right after that. >> which was? >> that in the meantime we have plenty of work to do and we have to look for ways to worktogether. that was conveniently snipped off by almost everyone . >> ... divided government is probably the only time you can do big, transformative things. i'll give you a poor example. reagan and bone meal raise the age for social security. reagan and tip o'neill did the last comprehensive tax reform. bill clinton and the republican congress did arguably, none none of that
2:00 pm
could have been identified with a unified government. they couldn't produce a big outcome. george w. bush was just reelected in 2004. he asked all of us to tackle social security peer i was number two in the conference at that time and i spent a year trying to get any democrat, any democrat to join with us and their attitude was, you have the white house, you have the house, you have the senate. if you want to do something on social security, you do it. what that means what that means is we will see you next election. my big disappointment with brock obama, there are two things that have to be done to save america from the path that were headed.t entitlement eligibility changes. in other words you have to change the eligibility for things like medicare and social security fit the demographics of america tomorrow. not america in the 30s or the 60s. social security and the 30s
2:01 pm
and medicare in the 60s. the president knows that. he's a very smart guy. he doesn't want to do it. it's not for the purpose of getting more revenue for the government, it's for the purpose of making america more competitive but he won't do comprehensive tax reform in any way other than to get additional revenue for the government. these two big transformative issues, we have been unable to address because the nation ceo simply doesn't want to do it.'so >> i suppose the best example when we did do that was with civil rights in the 60s and we both saw that. i remember when i came up here working for senator baker, for days around the big table, senators came in and out as they work together to see if they could get enough votes to get 67
2:02 pm
which is what it then took and they did that and johnson and dirksen did that together because their special relationship. you have in your book, a story, he took you as a youngster toas the signing of the voting rights act in 1965 and you had a conversation with the president's daughter lucy. >> yes, i had never met her before the celebration of her dad's hundredth birthday. i said lucy we've never met, but i was in this very room when your dad signed the voting rights back in 1965. five. she said i was too. i said i'm sure everybody knew you were there but nobody knew i was there. i was at the back of the room she said to tell you i was there. my daddy said to me, get in the
2:03 pm
car in a minute take you down to witness something important and explain to me why this was going to be prominently featured in the remarks. she said bye would you have a republican there. she said president johnson said to her, not only are mostlyid republicans vote for, but theot nation will be more likely to accept it if they think we have done this together. lucy johnson in 2008, explaining why she was there in 1965. >> of course they had, to do course they had, to do that they had a relationship, senator baker used to tell me about the time he hurt his father take a phone call and he said no mr. president i can't come down and have a drink with you tonight. i did that last night. then there was a rustle outside of the two beagles came in and lyndon johnson said everett, if
2:04 pm
you'll come have a drink with me, i'm here to have a drink with you and they disappeared in the back office of where the civil rights bill was written. that relationship precedeshe set --dash you said your main goalyo is to restore the senate as an institution. you're something of a historian and you thought about getting your phd in history at one time. you went on the floor before you are majority leader and said you wanted to run the senate the wae senator mike mansfield run it. >> what i meant by that, and we were talking about that earlier, first of all you have to open the senate up. the last year of the previous majority there were only 15ma votes on amendment the entire year.
2:05 pm
the first year of the new majority in 2015, we had over 200. you open the senate up, let people vote. number two, when we talk about regular order, which which most people don't know what that means. >> it glazes the eyes. >> it means the bill is actually worked on together, comes out to the floor with bipartisan support and has a better chance of success. the best example i can think of happens to be your bill, to completely rewrite the no child left behind bill passed in the early bush years which proved to be unworkable and unpopular. by the time you brought it out of committee, you had the democrats and the republicans lined up and you took it to the floor and it was relatively open for amendments and not everybody got what they wanted but in the end it passed with a very large
2:06 pm
majority.th we have done that time after time after time under this new majority, whether was trade promotion authority or the highway bill. people think we haven't done that in 20 years. cyber security and permanent tax moratorium. major opioid and heroin addiction bill, we are hoping to achieve something really important again coming out of your committee related to some of the incredible cures that seem to be just around the corner for our country. now, what does all of this have in common?th in a time of divided government we are focusing on the things that we can agree on and do those. when people elect a divided government, i think what they're saying is we know you have differences, but why don't you look for the things you agree on and do those.is that's how this majority is totally different from the previous one.
2:07 pm
>> i think it's important to say, and i've heard you say, what you have to do is give thet other side credit. in my instance with fixing no child left behind, that would've never happened if patty murray hadn't been as interested in a result as i am and it's not a bad thing to give somebody else credit.. usually it helps you get where you want to go. you came here 50 years ago working for, networking for senator clipper. what's different about the senate today and what something that is the same? >> i think what's different is the two party labels really sor of mean something today. when you and i first came to washington, they were liberal republicans and conservative democrats.ve i think the two party labels are more descriptive of america's two-party system, the
2:08 pm
republicans are mostly alright and center and the democrats are all left of center. i think the labels mean more today than they did then. that's different. what i think isn't different is there isn't as much animosity or unwillingness to work together as is per trade in the media. with the internet and 24 hour cable television going on, people get hammered that only bad news and conflict is new so people are way more upset about the process than they ought to be. they are legitimately upset about where they are in their lives. it's a fact that the average american is three or $4000 worsn off today than they were whenhe president obama came to office.
2:09 pm
that's a legitimate complaint. the senate is not dysfunctional. it used to be but is not anymore.. not many people know that. >> i remember when i came to the senate, i thought i knew what i was getting into, but i didn't realize what it was like to work in a bind that operates by unanimous consent. if you listen carefully on c-span you hear i asked consent that they open at this time and we have a prayer we go to this bill. if one senator objects, you have to start over. how would you, if you had to suggest to someone a book to read, about understanding the senate, do one or two come to
2:10 pm
mind? >> oh my goodness, it would would probably put people to sleep because the senate is working the way george washington predicted. according to legend, he was asked when he provided over the constitutional convention, he said what do you think it will be like. he said it would be like a saucer under a teacup and itd will wash down to the saucer and cool off. why does he say that? until hundred years ago they were not popularly elected. i think on purpose, the founders wanted the senate to be a place where the brakes could be applied pretty easily and then, over the years as you suggest, the notion of unlimited debate empowered every single senator to have an impact. the house is like a triangle
2:11 pm
with the speaker at the top with the majority leader having to write a first recognition. after that it's pretty much a jump ball. stepping back from all minutia, what should people take away about the senate? the senate is a place where things slow down and are thought over and are rarely done on a straggly partisan basis unless you have a huge number of your party. >> i think the first chapter of robert caro's book about lyndon johnson, master of the senate, it's called the death of the senate.he that struck me, after the election when the engineers come in and if the democrats have one more than the republicans, they unbolt a desk and move it over to the other side to even it out and to me that's a wonderful way to begin to think about the way
2:12 pm
the place works. let me switch gears. you were married and had three daughters while you were mayor of jefferson county which is liberal. you're a bachelor for 13 years and then at the suggestion of a friend you had your assistant telephone the assistant for the chairman of the federal maritime commission and that's how you met elaine chao who you now married. that wasn't a very romantic beginning. >> you know, i had befriended a couple people when i was a staffer in the senate and kept up with them over the years as i went home and had my own career. i have been single for quite a while. i was single when i came to the senate. i wanted to meet somebody new. i called up a friend from a long time ago and said you know anybody new and she said i have
2:13 pm
the woman you want to meet.elaic that was a lane whose family was a classic example of why we never want to totally curtail immigration in the country. >> she has a remarkable story. >> her mom and dad born inr mainland china, when they were young they were dodging the japanese invasion of china. then when they got to be a little bit older, there was the communist revolution. they separately managed to get out of mainland china and go to taiwan. they had met briefly on the mainland my father-in-law had taken a liking to her so he searched in two years in taiwan to find her. they got married, have three daughters over there, my wife elaine is the oldest but he was an ambitious young man. he wanted to do better. so he came to america three years by himself, worked multiple jobs trying to get a
2:14 pm
start in the shipping business. he had been a ship's captain in taiwan. he wanted to be more than that. so for three years he worked multiple jobs to get his start, he called for my late mother-in-law in the three daughters to come over. they didn't have enough money for an airline ticket. they came over on a freighter. they were the only people other than the crew on a big crater.ep finally ended up in a small apartment in queens and he kept working. he kept having kids and they ended up with six daughters, four of them have gone to harvard business school and he built a very successful shipping business. that is the kind of story that you see all across america which is another reason why even in
2:15 pm
moments where we are frustratedn about our attitudes of illegal immigration, to remember thaty virtually all of us, unless we were african-americans who were brought here against our will, the sons and daughters are risk takers. this constant renewal process that we have for the people who come here illegally with ambition and want to accomplish to be the best americans, i think alain and her family are classic example of that. >> i would ask about some senators.sk about s one living and some deceased but the living one is john mccain.n you and he had a big brawl over the first amendment and most people may not know that your first amendment view had to doo with basically no limits on campaign finance disclosure and you voted against the constitutional amendment that would ban desecration of the american flag. you're pretty far out there on the first amendment but john mccain disagreed with you.
2:16 pm
you fought at the supreme court and you lost, that was pretty acrimonious. what's your relationship with john mccain today. >> very close. that's a good example of being able to have drag out knockdown fight over issues. it went over about ten years. it was really pretty stressful. the point is, at various points, i called him up the day after he won in the supreme court. actually it was one of the worst day of my life was watching a republican house and republican senate that passed a bill that i was opposed to. i was deeply opposed to it and i called him up the day after and i said congratulations, you one, i lost. we found there are a lot other things we could work on together and we had become fast friends and allies on a variety of things and that's the way the
2:17 pm
senate ought to work. frequently it does. i'm not sure many of the people in public know that. >> you consider john mccain anid american hero? >> absolutely. i'd like you to to ask for you to give me some followinger statements, what's the first thing that comes to mind about henry clay - he's a great compromiser. >> lyndon johnson? >> is a senator? overrated. i think the master the senate. >> well mike mansfield. >> master the senate. >> everett dirks? >> indispensable player who knew when to oppose and when to join up in an on song hero of the civil rights movement. >> senator john sherman of kentucky? >> a role model as a young man.
2:18 pm
great conviction, very smart. >> ted kennedy. >> he was, one of the many books about him that have been written and he roared and you and i both knew when he was passionate, which he was about almost everything, but in many ways, i think the most accomplished kennedy, he never got to be president, never was attorney general but i think in many ways the most accomplished kennedy. >> certainly most accomplished senator. >> we used to laugh with him about going to lincoln day dinner's and all you how to do was mention a kennedy and people would get fired up. he came over unsolicited, took my bill and went out and got 200
2:19 pm
sponsors within a day. he knew exactly how to make the senate work. senator robert byrd. >> he could well have been senate historian. >> during the presidentiald. campaign this year, governor christie got all over senator rubio for repeating himself during a debate. in your book, you say when i start pouring myself to tears, i know i am beginning to drive the message home. in other words, you think redundancy is a good thing. >> yes, i am probably one of the few people in america who felt rubio was doing the right thing. i think that politics is repetition. if you're trying to drive a message, you have to repeated a lot to make the point.
2:20 pm
i tried to do that in meetings that we have with our colleagues >> i've noticed. >> well, one time is not enough. you can always count on about three force not paying attention the first time. if you're really trying to make a point, repetition is a good thing. >> i want to talk to you about a period of time and your emotions at that time.. this was in november 13, 2002. a month later trent went to a birthday party and said something about thurman and had to resigned from his leader, a position you always wanted. you would seem to be the logical person to move up but senator bill frist took the position. then at the end of january, you had triple bypass surgery so what was your range of emotion during that two and half months? >> i think my feeling was,
2:21 pm
although i was never going to have an opportunity to be a leader in the senate because i was ten years older than bill frist. fortunately the health problem i had worked out fine, but i had doubts during that period.e. i had just been bypassed bye 10 somebody ten years younger than me. i had significant health problems. i wondered if i would ever have an opportunity to have the job that i had clearly been hoping to have for quite a while. >> was a challenging period, but like other challenges i and others have, i don't want to make my story seem all that unique.ke if you just don't quit, if you just keep plugging, chances are you will get where you're headed i always tell students, the only way to fail in america is to
2:22 pm
quit or die. we all have speed bumps that we all have setbacks. are we defeated by them or do we just shake it off and keep going.nd i got my second chance and he decided to leave the senate and i got to be leader of the party like i wanted to be and then there was another disappointment. one of the majority leader. i was the minority leader. and, you gave the blame for some of that to republican violence. you talked in your book quite a bit about that, about the politics of utile jester. what you mean by that? >> it would be something like why do we shutdown the government to defend obamacare. that's a futile gesture. obama's and in the white house, obviously obama is not going to sign such a bill.ch the politics of futile gesture is a way of describing tactical
2:23 pm
maneuvers that have no chance of success that only divide the party. a that has been a challenge. i think it's been a bigger challenge in the house of representatives than it has been in the senate, only a a couple people in senate who have that kind of approach, but it's been a challenge. on the outside, you you thought with the actions of the senate conservatives, the way we'vebu dealt with that on the outside is to beat them. simply defeat them in thet primaries and then you don't have a nominee who comes into the senate, who first of all win second comes into the senate with that kind of mentality thinking that our job is only to throw stones everyday. then they never achieve anything. >> one of the disadvantages ofhr it is that the message that you would like to deliver which is that the republican majority iss accomplishing a lot gets diluted because you have some republicans going around saying it's not an even presidential candidate saying it's not which makes it harder to elect a republican president.
2:24 pm
>> it's not just about messaging we all want to do things for our country. no matter what our backgrounds are, i think virtually, not everybody but virtually everybody who comes here once to actually accomplish things for our country. you have to deal with it with the government you have. barack obama, whether i like it or not got elected. he's been there for eight years. to suggest that we ought to spend a hundred% of our time amply fighting with him rather than trying to look for some of the things we can agree on that would make progress for the country always struck me as absurd. >> why did you decide to write the book now? >> i think it was becoming majority leader after all these years. i called at the long game and it didn't happen overnight. i was certainly not an overnight sensation. i thought it was a time in which
2:25 pm
the senate needed to be operated differently, it was a pivot point for the senate and i think that's the reason why i chose this particular time. >> if there was one law, if you are the king and there were one law that you could pass, what would it be? >> think i would fix the entitlement eligibility problem. i think the one issue that can sink the country is the unsustainable, the way medicarea and social security are currently crafted is unsustainable. it's the one thing that could completely crack our country. >> senators have a breakfast on wednesday we don't talk about that much, but tom daschle who had your job before the senate majority leader said something that stuck in my mind. he said he often thinks that he wishes he had prized even more
2:26 pm
than he did the power he had when he had it. in other words, he was saying, take advantage of this incredible accidental power that you have. you ever think about that? >> yes, i do. all majorities are fleeting.. depending upon what the american people decide this november, i could be the minority leader next year. that position does present a real opportunity, even a body like the senate which is very difficult to make function, there are advantages to setting the agenda and the right of first recognition, to move the country in the direction you would like it to go. you just don't know how long that's going to last and youyo don't want to miss any opportunity to try to make the country better. you have to deal with the government that you had. i wish obama was not president,i but he is.four
2:27 pm
>> you have about three or four minutes left. i want to give you a chance to answer question i get asked. that speech i made to senator kenny that i got cosponsors for was about encouraging and teaching american history in our schools where children can growl up learning what it means to be an american. i think those teachers, when they come on the senate floor, when a senator can do that they go to a various desk and invariably, one will last me the question i want to ask you which is my last question. they say senator, what message would you like for us to take back to our students about the united states senate and the future of our country? >> i think the senate has been indispensable legislative body. that's the place where things are sorted out, the place were only rarely does the majority get things exactly their own way, the place where stability
2:28 pm
can occur and most people, obviously, don't think that. >> in an era in which everybody wants instant gratification, if you're looking for instant gratification or perfection, the senate would not be a good place for you. >> and, at a time when many americans are not optimistic about our country's future, what would you want those teachers to tell their students about their future in this country? >> look, i think because of our ignorance of american history, we always think the current. that we are in is tougher than others, we've had nothing like the civil war. we haven't had a single instance where a congressman almost beat to death a senator, we've had
2:29 pm
plenty of challenges, world wars, wars, depressions, this is a great country. working a deal with whatever our current problems are and move on to another level. i'm just as optimistic as i ever was that this generation is going to leave behind a better america than our parents left behind for us. >> that's an optimistic message from a kid who had polio and overcame it and set his sights to be in the united states senate, made it and became the majority leader after about 50 years of keeping his eye on the ball. in this life you have to be mighty careful where you aim because you're likely to get there and senator mitch mcconnell did. thank you very much for speaking with us. >> cspan, created by america's cable televisions. c
2:30 pm
: and thought, i want to read that bo. it is pretty thick and pretty heavy reading. president insights to him and his family. the challenges he face i have never seen before, never heard of before. highly recommend the book. >> do you, is your go-to biographies, non-fiction? >> i like biographies but up here there is so much we have to read factual stuff anyway. a lot of other stuff i like reading. i love peter schweizer's book, throw them all out, extortion. he has written

3 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on