tv Newsmakers CSPAN May 23, 2010 10:00am-10:30am EDT
especially as the technology, you know, gets better? host: what efforts are being done to open up the society in north korea? could we the u.s. deliver unscensor -- would we deliver free and uncensored satellite? guest there are been attempts at student exchanges and structural changes, but it requires two to tango. the problem is the north remains resistant to allowing that sort of information. because the strength of this regime has always been the weakness of the people. host: victor cha, thank you for joining us. served three years in the bush administration, in the n.f.c. staff. we appreciate four position on the situation in north korea. guest: thank you, steve. always a pleasure.
>> representative chris van hollen, the man in charge of getting democratics reelected this year. >> good to be here. >> chuck, i think you have the first question. >> let's talk about what happened, and some very interesting primaries and one general election last tuesday and what lessons that you take from that good and bad for your party and how it might help you shape your thinking about the general election in november. >> sure. we had a lot of primaries and each has its own unique characteristics. one thing that became clear on the republican side was the power of the teap movement. -- tea party movement. that is a real phenomena in the
republican primaries and the impact is that it's driving the nominee farther and farther to the right in districts that are independent, mainstream, centrist. and i think that's going to present a real challenge at the end of the day for the republicans. now, the one election that was on the ballot last tuesday where you had a republican matched up against the democrat was the special election in pennsylvania. and the republicans did a test drive of their november strategy and it did crash. and what happened was republicans tried to make president obama and speaker pelosi into these boogiemen. mark crist, the democratic candidate focused on chick issues, jobs, and what people are caring about in their daily lives and at the end of the day people said they want to move forward on a positive jobs agenda. >> but mark crist, the one who won the seat john murtha held
for many years and john mccake carried over barack obama. -- mccain carried over barack obama. the health care bill, he said he opposed that and some of the economic -- the bank bailout for example. doesn't that give you some concerns about your agenda and message? >> no. he ran like many of our members of congress as an independent-minded democrat. there are some issues where he agrees with the president, there are some issues where he will disagree with the president. that's true of a lot of our members as well. when it comes to the health care bill, he was very much against repeal. his republican opponents said let's relitigate this, let's start from scratch. mark said let's work with the bill we have, improve it as we move along. and although the republicans tried to make a big deal about that, it fell flat. in terms of some of the other issues, he reflected the
district just as jack had. jack described himself as a pro-life, pro-gun democrat. + mark crist took the same position. so the real difference here is that mark focused on the economy and jobs and the republican candidate had nothing to offer there except the same kind of economic agenda that got us into the mess to begin with. and i think that's what we're gining to find in these elokeses is that when voters say, what are you going to do about the economy? all they've got to offer is the same old economic policies they created the mess to begin with. nothing more. they've been standing on the sidelines for 18 months while we've been working hard to get economy out of the ditch. and people aren't going to want to go back to the policies that created that mess to begin with. >> one thing that did seem to come clear through tuesday and in democratic primaries as well is that there is a feeling in pennsylvania in particular, you had jose sestak, a 58-year-old
challenger to articlen spector, an 80--year-old incumbent. and people seemed to go with this ew generation of leadership message that sestak was promoting. there are obviously some circumstances with specter, the party switch that made it difficult. but you have a half dozen or more older incumbents, people like ikeskelten and john spratt. spratt. are you worried that even democratic voters seem to have latched on to this new generation of leadership message and that those guys look even more vulnerable?nt >> no. because i interpret the senate race in pennsylvania a little differently. i think the fact that arlen specter switched parties was a major issue in this race. this was not any ordinary incumbent senator running. it was an incumbent senator who had been a republican. and the primary voters are the
same voters that for years have been voting against arlen specter. so when joe reminded them of the connection between arlen speckeder and president bush, i think it made it very difficult for specter to say he was the guy who was changing things. but with respect to the -- some of the chairmen and members on the democrat dwrick side who are veteran members, they have been through tough elections before. many of these members went through the 1994 republican wave and these members are the ones that came out on top. i don't see this as another 1994 at all. i think we obviously face a very difficult political environment. i mean, that's very clear. but is it going to be the kind of wave we saw in 1994? i don't think so. because one major difference today is that in every public survey people do not see the republican party as a credible
alternative to democrats. we're not where we would like to be in the public standing. we understand that. but republicans are a lot lower. and it's because people have seen the consequences and costs of their policies, especially their economic policies. and people, why would you give the keys to the car back to the guys who drove it into the ditch to begin with? and that's what the republicans are asking voters to do. >> you currently have 38 seat majority i think. after some other special elections it will be 37, 39. is there a number that -- of seats that you can sort of afford to lose and still be able to sort of govern effectively in 2011? at what point are the marnlance so narrow that it almost becomes impossible to govern? >> that's a good question. again, we're many months out now and we're not talking about
any particular numbers in this election in terms of where we'll end up. clearly, a healthy majority in the house has helped us pass things like wall street reform, health care reform, fiscal responsibility and paying legislation, we have not gotten any help from the republicans on any of those issues. not a single republican in the house voted for wall street reform even though the republican leadership was all there to bail out the banks. but having done that, they were not there when it came to recovery for main street. and then, they voted against wall street reform which is to prevent taxpayers from having to foot the bill again. so to answer your question, a healthier majority helps us pass things like wall street reform, making sure that banks don't suck up a lot of money that was supposed to go to student loans, those kinds of things. but that's why we're going to be very clear with the voters.
here's where the republicans were, they voted no on wall street reform. they voted no on fiscal accountability and pay go. they voted no when it came to the issue of student loans and taking power away from the banks, and they want the big hins companies to have -- health insurance companies. and we need to remind people that that's how the republicans would lead if they were in charge. >> what role do you see president obama playing in these election sns and what role would you like to see him play? should he be going into district after district to campaign very openly in a public way for your candidates? or is he going to be a little more in the background, help raise money but not be quite so outfront in a lot of these races? >> i think he is going to be front and center in delivering the message about why it's so important to have a strong majority in the house of representatives. and he will point out, as he
did just the other night in new york, that it would be a big mistake to turn back the clock and adopt the economic policies that got us into this mess. after all, what are the republicans offering when it comes to the economy? they want to do another big tax cut for the wealthiest americans. president obama and the democrats did middle-class tax relief. the republicans said we want it for the top again. when it comes to the issue of offshoring of american jobs, mark campaigned on that as an issue. issue. the president wants to close down those loopholes. now, the president will take his lead from members of the house and the senate as to where he can be most effective campaigning for them. there are oversly some places where the president is strong, there's some places where he is a little less strong. but he is a great national spokesman. he is the best at making clear what the stakes are in this election. the importance in moving
forward and the costs and consequences of going back to the same economic agenda that got us into this mess. >> will republicans be making a mistake if they couch this election as somewhat of a referendum on the president? if they run against barack obama, how successful will that be? how much trouble would that cause your candidates? cause your candidates? >> i think that would be a big mistake for the republicans. if they want to do that, go ahead. but they did test drive that strategy in pennsylvania. if you were to look at the republican ads, four out of five were trying to create a bogeyman out of president obama, out of speaker pelosi, obama, out of speaker pelosi, and the voters said we're not going to be distracted by that kind of tactic. we want a candidate and a congressman who is going to focus on the issues that we care about. we have a choice. and that will be the choice all the voteders around the countries face in these upcoming congressional elections. two candidates, two competing views of the future, and the
main difference is going to be that the republicans' prescription for the future are the same policies they had in the past that created this mess. and i don't think people are going to want to turn back the going to want to turn back the clock. >> your republican counterpart has said that he would like to go after some of these long-time democratic chairmen. what kind of conversations are you having with your chairman about how you run against this anti-establishment mood that's out there? out there? >> sure. well, these are people who are battle-tested in the sense that they've been through many elections. phey went through the very rocky elections of 1994 and came out on top. so they're battle tested from a campaign perspective. and we've been working very closely with them. they're not taking anything for granted in these elections. they saw the tremors coming, and they have been preparing. but, again, each of them will be running against a republican opponent and it will be a
contest between two different ways forward. and with the chairman, you also find independent-minded democrats. you've got ike skeleton from missouri on some issues he votes with the president, on some issues he doesn't. and at the end of the day, i think voters want people who they know are going to be looking at the facts and deciding what is best for their particular community. and that's what these chairmen have done. so they realize what they're up against, they're ready, and they're confident that when you compare what they stand for with what the republicans stand for, they'll come out on top. because one of the other issues that's really surfacing in these campaigns also surfaced in the pennsylvania special election was the republican proposal to turn medicare into a voucher program. to hand the senior voucher and say, hey, you're on your own. go fight with the insurance industry and to partially privatize social security.
those are issues that are coming up in races. like these. and people don't want the government to take away some of that economic security that those programs provide. >> in pennsylvania, all of the smart people that i talk to the day before and the day of that race basically thought that it was a jump ball, coin toss, use whatever meta foreyou want to say. you guys ended up winning by seven, eight points. how much of a campaign is decided in the end by the infrastructure of campaigns and the campaign committees that you guys do? not just the advertisements, but that getting out the vote and those things. is it 1 point, two 2 points? explain that to viewers. >> it's a good question. what is the impact of a goo campaign. and i believe a campaign can
make a big difference. and the campaigns that i've seen over the years that have grassroots enthusiasm and a great field operation that great field operation that mobilize volunteers do much better than those that don't because that makes it clear they're connecting with voters. and one of the things in the special election in pennsylvania was not only was our candidate stronger in terms of the message he was communicating to voters on the air, he had a great ground operation. knocking on doors, phoning voters, and in my view is it's very important and it's especially important in a mid-term election, an off presidential year election, because you don't have all the excitement, enthusiasm of a presidential race. to bring out the voters. so it's especially important in that kind of scenario. and mark crits had a great field operation on top of his very important message. >> what do you make of the restlessness that's out there
in the electorate, the passion on the part of the teap act tea party that you -- 18 months ago that barack obama got elected by a fairly easy margin. and you democrats retook the house and senate in the last two elections, and yet here we are a fairly short time later which what looks like a lot of anti-incumbent sentiment. did the democrats overplay did the democrats overplay their hands or are we dealing with a population that is just never satisfied, when the republicans are in they want the democrats and vice versa? >> i think a lot of the tea party movement is a reflection of the tough economic times that we've been through. and different views of the best way through these difficult economic times. now, clearly the steps that have been taken are improving the economy, jobs are coming back, and it would be a mistake to go back to the policies that created the mess to begin with.
movement, you're finding a double edged sword, because the republicans hope to capitalize on the political energy among the tea party movement, which is clearly there. on the other hand, the tea party movement is drige candidates farther and farther to the right where you get a rand paul, for example, and in kentucky just the other day john yarmuth, a new member of congress, was expecting that the washington republican favorite candidate would win and a tea party candidate won instead. and that candidate is really way out of the mainstream. so it does create a dilemma in some way for the republicans. they would love to exploit that energy, but they also want to keep a little bit of distance. and from the tea party's per spebtive, they're understandably very suspicious of washington plins. because washington republicans would love to use them, but then not adopt many of their policies.
and i think the wall street reform bill is a case in point. i would bet a lot of money that if you were to ask most of the tea party movement whether they wanted to reen in the power of wall street and make sure they were never left holding the bag again, yes, let's rain in wall street. but yet not a single republican voted for wall street reform and in the senate only four the other day voted for that. that is not something that the tea party movement is going to take too kindly, i don't think, because it clearly showed that mitch mcconnell and john boehner, when they met with the boehner, when they met with the big wall street loobyists and said we're going to try to slow down this effort, they did. they tried to slow down the effort. and we have overcome that, at least so far. but that's not something that is going to bring a smile to the tea party movement's face, the idea of the republican leadership huddling with the big wall street bankers and lobbyists. >> wouldn't you like to have some of the passion and energy
that you do see among the tea party activists? and i think you make a good point. it's not quite clear how the republicans can harness that. but on the other hand, aren't the democrats in danger of having the reverse problem, some lack of energy, some lack of enthusiasm, and maybe quite a number of voters who were excited about barack obama and 2008 not turning out this year. 2008 not turning out this year. >> well, there is a danger of that. and we understand that that is a big challenge between now and election day. two things have happened, though. one is that the passage of the health care reform bill, which is a big issue that president obama campaigned upon, has restored a lot of faith of the democratic activist voters in our ability to get big things done for the country, thing that is we've worked on for a long time and no longer can sweep under the rug. number two, the republicans have been talking about taking back the majority. they've been measuring the curtains, they've been popping
the champagne bootles. that has led more and more voters not just democrats but independents, too, to begin to focus on the consequences of them taking back the house. it's very easy when you're in the opposition party to be negative about everything. but i think the voters are going to ask these candidates, what do you stand for? other than just all the nay saying and voting no on everything and wanting to bring back the old bush economic policies wlarks is your proposal? and they don't have anything and they don't have anything new. theyyjust got a rerun of the old stuff. and that's why i think that as people focus on that choice as we get closer to november, they're not going to want to hand the congress back over to hand the congress back over to the republicans. and that's why the poles polls show that thai today, unlike 1994, people don't see the republicans as a credible alternative. they've just been playing a
game of cynical no politics in washington. and when they do have an idea, it's a rerun of an old run. >> we have time for a handful more of questions. let me ask you about rand paul. do you see or do you plan to try to tie other candidates that are running and the republican field to rand paul directly? >> well, no. i think every race is different. and the question will be whether or not the republican candidates subscribe to the same particular views as rand paul. i mean, if they embrace him and his agenda, and we're finding out more and more about what he believes and what he stands for. if they do that, of course then that's something that could become an issue in a particular race. if they distance themselves through rand paul, that's something else. but i do think that he is a reflection of the great uncertainty that surrouppeds a lot of the tea party candidates. and the tea party movement is a diverse movement. it's not a homo genius movement.
but we are finding that a lot of the views of the tea party candidates are out of the mainstream, that they don't represent the middle in american politics. and they are driving these republican primaries farther and farther right. people are signing statements and pledges that lock themselves into positions that are out of the mainstream on a lot of these issues. again, privatizing medicare is not something seniors want to see. you know, putting all your retirement savings from social security into the stock market, notta good move. so that's the kind of thing so that's the kind of thing that i think people will begin to focus on as we get close tore election day. >> what do centrist voters, those people who aren't part of the tea party, who aren't part of move on, people say in patrick murphies, that district has twing, the last 32 years
represented by a republican, 16 by a democrat. what are those voters looking for? they're going to really decide this election. aren't they? >> i think they're looking for a candidate that reflects their values, and their priorities. and that means, whether you're a candidate or incumbent, that they know that your first priority is to vote for your community. not for what the president's agenda is, not for what agenda is, not for what somebody else, the republican agenda is, but someone who is going to make up his or her mind on the facts. and we've got members like that. we urge all our members to do what they plan to do anyway, which is to vote with their constituents. but let me mention an issue that i think is front and center in a place like that and center in a place like that and it was important in the mark crist special election. and when it comes to jobs, people want to eliminate these tax loopholes that encourage american companies to ship jobs overseas, to export american jobs. now, this coming week we expect
in the house to have a vote on legislation that will invest more money in the united states, the build america bonds and some other important investments here for r and d tax credits, research and development. and we're going to pay for them in part by shutting down a loophole that encourages companies to move overseas and take jobs overseas. it's the exact kind of issue that i think voters in patrick murphy's district or mark crist's district or these other swing districts are going to look at because it's a very clear choice. clear choice. are you for investing in jobs here at home, or do you want to continue this loophole that a lot of creative tax lawyers have exploited to ship jobs overseas? >> maybe one quick answer to this. how do you see the sentiment, the passion that's out there right now? is it mostly anti-incumbent? is it anti establishment, is it anti-obama? what is your sense of the nature of this passion? >> i think it's anti-business as usual.
it's anti-the kind of policies and culture that got us into this economic mess. >> but business as usual is not good for the incumbent party. >> well, here's the bing thing this year. we are the party in power in sense that wetch a majority in congress, and we have the white house, but ironically we've also been the party of reform. all the measures that we've been trying to push through the congress are to change the old business as usual that got us into this mess to begin with. that's what the wall street reform bill is all about. it's reforming the system so taxpayers aren't left holding the bag. and that's why it's so interesting to see republicans who voted to come to the rescue of the big banks saying well, look, we're going to make the taxpayers do it again if we have a future crisis, because the whole purpose of this bill is to prevent taxpayers from being left holding the bag again and having to pay for
stupid decisions made unf on wall street. people on wall street should have to pay for their own stupid decisions not ask everybody else to. so whether it's wall street reform, whether it's health care reform and diminishing the power of the big insurance companies, whether it's clean energy reform and invest more in clean energy or whether it's taking the banks out of the taking the banks out of the student loan program where they were getting a lot of money without taking any risk, republicans have said we'd like it the old way. and so i think voters are going to see this election as are you for the old business as usual that created this messor or are you for something to get us moving again? and when it comes to getting us moving again, the recovery bill has been a big part of it. we've got a republican colleague showing up at those ground-breaking ceremonies and ribbon cutting ceremonies even though they would never occur if they had their way. but that's going to be the question. where do you want to move on
the economy and the jobs? and they've been carping from the sidelines. that's -- people don't like that. >> we'll have to leave it there. thank you very much for being on "newsmakers." >> thank you. >> i want to turn to our + wrapup of what we heard from representative chris van hollen, paul keen with the "washington post" and charles with the associated press. chuck, you were asking him about to try to characterize the mood. is it anti-establishment? anti-washington, incumbent, anti-obama. what did you make of his answer? >> his answer was interesting because he thinks it's anti-business as usual. and i did sbraupt him to say it's interesting because your party controls the house, senate and white house. and his answer was he didn't mean so much exactly the way that government has been operating the last few months but the longer term efforts to change things that he thinks
the public doesn't like, such as the abuses that led to the mortgage crisis, meltdown, what he sees as too much influence by wall street and that sort of thing. so i thought that wasn't a bad answer if the democrats can sell that argument. what i think he seemed to be saying was we haven't had quite enough time to make these changes. he didn't put it in those words but it seemed to be what he was getting at. >> and the threading of the needle, the really hard part is he brought up, you and i bodes asked him about some of the older chairmen who have been around a long time and how, if it is anti-business as usual, ike skeleton is 78 years old, he is the chairman of the house armed services committee, john spratt is 67, he's chairman of the budget committee. i mean, those guys are business as usual. they've been here combined i think something like 50 or 60 years. and how do you make them into