Skip to main content

tv   Newsmakers Sarah Longwell. GOP  CSPAN  October 20, 2019 6:00pm-6:35pm EDT

6:00 pm
monday morning. join the discussion. c-span hosts a conversation next week with some republican candidates against president trump starting at 8:00 eastern on c-span. executive director of republicans for the rule of law, which is what? sarah: well, we're a group of republicans that started in late 2017, really around trying to protect the mueller investigation from political interference, but obviously we have found that there is a need for republicans to stand up for the rule of law on a lot of fronts, whether it is trump's abuse of power, his self-enrichment, but essentially we're just a group of republicans who want to stand up for traditional republican values. we were always the rule of law party, and we see that not being the case as much anymore,
6:01 pm
and wee very concerned about it. host: joining us here with questioning in washington, simone, senior politics reporter with "roll call," and josh, who is national journals ace political editor. thanks for joining in. i do want to begin with news this sunday, the tweet bit president late yesterday regarding his property in miami, the doral, his decision to scrub plans to host the g-7 in miami. he wrote the following -- i thought i was doing something very good for our country by using trump national doral in miami for hosting the g-7 leaders. it is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to miami international airport, has tremendous ballrooms, meeting rooms, and each delegation would essentially have its own 50 to 750-unit building, which is set up better than any of the alternative. i announce i would be willing to do it at no profit for legally permissible at zero cost to the u.s.a., but as usual, the hostile media and the democratic partners went crazy, and so this announcement
6:02 pm
from the president, therefore, based on both media and democratic crazed and irrational hostility, we will no longer consider trump national doral miami as the host site for the g-7 in 2020. we will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of camp david, immediately. thank you. exclamation mark. sarah longwell, your reaction? sarah: i mean, it's good that he is no longer holding the event at the doral, but, of course, first he managed to give himself what is millions of dollars of free publicity for one of his hotels by, you know, making sure we all knew how good ballrooms were. but this is the kind of behavior from the president that we've been seeing from the beginning. you know, he doesn't seem to be taking the presidency seriously. you know, he treats it as though it is from start to finish an opportunity for him to build his brand, build his wealth, and for people who love
6:03 pm
this country, for republicans who love this party, to see -- forget trump. trump is who he is. but to see republicans going out and saying that that was ok, to say that -- for marco rubio to say, well, as a floridians, selfishly i'm very glad we're going to host this at the doral. republicans know this kind of thing is wrong. you know, it's unconstitutional. it's against he will on the umet clause. thnts the kind of behavior that we want to see out of a republican president, and republicans should be condemning this kind of thing. and that's really the reason that we started, because we just didn't see many republicans standing up for the values that we know they at least iced to hold. host: let me turn to the senior politics reporter for roll call. >> sarah, your group is spending a lot of money on television timentses. tell us, what is your strategy there? who's your audience? who are you trying to convince? sarah: you know, there's a group of republicans that we feel like are the kind of
6:04 pm
people who will stand up and do the right thing when push comes to shove. even though i'll admit there's a lot of evidence to the contrary. and, yes, we've launched a million dollar campaign targeted at about 15 house members and 12 senate -- 12 members of the senate, in order to encourage them to speak out, specifically on the issue of ukraine, where the president is accused of withholding funds or a quid pro quo in order to pressure a vulnerable ally, you know, from -- in order to pressure a vulnerable ally to investigate his political opponent. that's wrong. that is foreign interference in an american election. and so our goal is to get republicans to simply say that, to say it's wrong, whether it's doral or whether it's foreign interference, we're trying to encourage republicans to say this is not ok. because for too long the behavior that we've seen from
6:05 pm
republicans is to just kind of either duck the questions, hey, i haven't read the report, hey, i haven't read the whistleblower testimony, or they've actively supported this type of thifpblgt i mean, mick mulvaney saying this week, yeah, there was a quid pro quo, get over it, this is what happens all the time. this is not what republicans believe. it is genuinely not. and so our goal is to really try to find the people who might say something and give them -- to encourage them to speak out, northbound one, and number two, we really want to focus on educating their quit a about the what the president did. one of the things we see all the time, there was a poll that came out where only 40% of republicans knew that the president had told ukraine to investigate the bidens. even though he admitted it. and so part of it is really just educating republicans. i mean, we do most of our advertising on fox news or online targeted at republicans, because we see a big part of our mission at giving these
6:06 pm
republicans the information them might not otherwise be getting. simone: i'm curious, when it comes to republican lawmakers, who do you think has the spoast credibility to speak out? a lot of folks in districts you've advertised in, they're retiring. we saw most recently a florida representative rooney expressing legitimate concerns about the president and potentially leaving the door open to supporting impeachment. then he come out last night and says he's not running for reelection. what kind of credibility do these republicans have to speak to their constituents about this issue, if they're not running? sarah: well, they absolutely still have credibility, and what's incredibly sad -- i mean, it's funny, rooney wasn't even on the list of people we were targeting. that was quite heartening to see there's republicans we weren't necessarily thinking about who might stand up and say something. but it is a real shame that he feels like in order to say what he believes, he has to retire. and that seems to be, you know, what -- i mean, you see so many republicans in texas retiring. it seems like people, to feel like they can say what they
6:07 pm
actually believe, they feel like they can no longer continue their role in congress, which is a huge problem. but there's a lot of people that i think -- look i still think those people have credibility, but also, there's a number of people in the senate who have tremendous credibility to speak out on this,, and you know, i'm eyes right now are on mitt romney, because mitt romney, in terms quhaff he's been out there saying, it seems like he really is ready to step up into this kind of elder statesman role and call things out for what they are. and i think because he was the leader and the standard-bearer of the republican party for quite some time, does he have the credibility to go to some of the other senators, like susan collins, like ben sass, like lamar alexander, and say, look, enough is enough. it is our responsibility, it is our role in this moment to say that this is not ok, to make sure that all the facts come out in this investigation, and to stand up for the future of
6:08 pm
the party. i mean, that's what -- that's why mitt romney is so important, because this is a person who's been a republican for lot longer than donald trump has been a republican. he cares about the future of the party regardless of whether or not he's going to be part of it. host: he's also getting that at a lot of criticism, senator romney that is, within the republican party, often accused of being a rhino and getting some really sharp blowback from supporters of the president. sarah: yeah, i mean, there was -- i actually think it was a crazy advertisement from club for growth accusing him of being a democratic asset. but look, this is just -- this is the environment we're in, where a republican who tries to stand up to the president either thinks they have to retire or they get smeared by other republicans. trump attacks them on twitter. and frankly, that's why there's not a lot of incentive to speak out, because when you do, lot of the democrats say, well, it's too little, too late.
6:09 pm
there's not really a tremendous constituency for doing the right thing. and i would say that again is sort of why we wanted to, you know, why we started the organization and why we want to spend money to support people who are willing to speak out and run advertisements to explain to their constituency why it's the right thing and why it's so important to do that. host: josh is the politics he had for for national journal. josh? josh: a luded to there's not much of a constituency within the republican party to do the right thing in your mind, and certainly 80% to 90% of republicans have pretty much been with president trump since the beginning of his administration. have you seen in the last couple of weeks, with the developments in ukraine, with the withdrawal from syria abruptly, with the news about doral and then the change in mind under republican pressure, do you see any polling or any developments that make you think the republican voting base has changed in the view of the president? sarah: the voting base. that's a good question.
6:10 pm
i thought where you were going to go is do you see any sort of chinks in the armor among republican legislators, and the answer is yes, i do. i think you've seen a lot of republicans rebuking the president, whether it was on doral, syria. i mean, lot of republicans are actively heartbroken about what's happening in syria, and just from a rank political standpoint, it's bad timing for the president, because he needs all the republicans, you know, lining up to support him on this impeachment inquiry, and instead of doing things that would encourage them to kind of stick with him, he's, you know, pulling out of syria, this incredibly irresponsible way. he's doing these self-enrichment things with doral that embarrasses republicans. there's a "washington post" story yesterday that jells with what i hear from republicans hinted scenes, where they feel like he's taking their support for granted, and he's really sort of pushing them to the most embarrassing places possible in terms of defending him. but your question about
6:11 pm
rank-and-file republicans, you know, the republican party is interesting, because trump has really changed the contours of the republican party. but i would say in a very crude breakdown of republicans, there's about 60% that sort of view themselves as trump supporting primarily, and then there's sort of another 40% that view themselves as supporting the party primarily. and i think among that 40%, where they're kind of republicans first as opposed to kind of in that cult of trump, those are the ones who get really -- you know, they like their judges. they like their tax cuts. they like that he sort of calls out some of the democratic excesses. but these are also the people who do not like the withdrawal from syria, who are very skeptical about the trade war with china, who do see some of the behavior, like quid pro quo for a political investigation, that makes them concerned. and i think one of the nabs you've seen moving the most is
6:12 pm
actually among independents. so a lot of those republicans are sort of right-leaning independents. those are a lot of the people you saw break in 2018 and go ascommed vote for democrats -- and vote for democrats and allow them to flip 40 seats. there's always going to be this base of republican support for trump that, again, he shoots someone on fifth avenue, they'll find an excuse for why he did it, but there's another sort of cohort of republicans that at some point could say enough is enough. the struggle is always with that group, you know, what are the democrats doing? who is their nominee? you know, what do they see happening on the democrats' side that gives them a place to go? because, you know, ultimately a lot of times republicans are doing this, which is worse. but trump is really, really testing that right now. josh: what do you think the odds are of a impeachment trial and getting the 20 republican senators necessary to remove him from office? as you allude, there are
6:13 pm
republicans privately who have concerns about some of the actions that the president has taken, but when they sandole they listen to the republicans in their districts or states, that supply side of the folks who elect them are pretty much with trump no matter what. how would you assess the odds or the chance of any senate trial getting enough republicans to break with the president? sarah: i think that's hard to game out right now, because it's really going to come down to what are the facts on the ground. republicans were with nixon until they weren't, you know? and what happened was something came out that was incontrovertible evidence that nixon had done the thing that he was accused of. and so republicans, they actually didn't impeach him. you know, barry goldwater walked in with, you know, the republican leadership and said, look it's over, we're not going to defend you anymore. and so, you know, if you have to game out right this second, do i think it's incredibly difficult to think that 20 republican senators are going
6:14 pm
break with the president? yeah, it seems unlikely, but first of all, i think that -- i think some will. i don't think they will get no republican votes. and i think that, you know, there's a lot more that could potentially come out. i mean, whatever rudy giuliani was doing seems very sketchy, and you've got all of these ambassadors coming in now that clearly are providing evidence that i think republicans are probably very nervous about. again, mick mulvaney saying yes, there was a quid pro quo, if that continues, i do think at some point, you know, despite all of the sunk costs into trump, republicans are going to want to maintain some shred of credibility and may just say, you know what, maybe it's time for president mike pence. it's just all gone too far. but clearly we're not there yet. so it's going to be a matter of what else comes out in the course of this investigation. josh: you mentioned mitt
6:15 pm
romney's name as a leading advocate for your position, but can you name a few other senators that you think will be willing to hear your side, would be willing possibly to break with the president if there was a trial that takes place? sarah: yeah, i think lisa murkowski definitely somebody to look at. sheems the one person who voted -- sheets one person who voted against brett kavanaugh. i would look at all of the republicans who voted against the president's emergency declaration to take money and build the wall. lamar alexander's retiring. johnny isaac son, the senator, is retiring. there's a few of those people. i mean, lamar alexander is an incredibly serious statesman. i could see him looking at this and just saying, look, the last thing i do in my senate career is not going to be to vote to exonerate a president who has clearly done something wrong. i remain hopeful every day
6:16 pm
about ben sass. he has broken my heart time and time again. he voted -- he's a tremendous constitutional conservative, and he voted for that national emergency, which i've really never been able to understand. but i know that he's a good person and that he cares about the rule of law and he cares about the constitution. so i think that the difference between the impeachment vote -- and this is something i think people forget. it's one thing for these republicans to have to -- when they're talking to the press or whatever, kind of brush these things aside. this will be an up or down vote that they will have to take. so they know that they will be on the record saying, yeah, it's ok that he obstructed justice. it's ok that he abused his power and invited foreign interference into our election. it will be an up and down vote on that. so i think that there's -- people keep asking me. you know, what's the over-under? maybe two republican senators. i would put my money, even if i
6:17 pm
had to game it out right now, closer to five or six. simone: where does vice president pence stand on the rule of and law how tied up in this administration he? is he someone you would support as a republican president? sarah: well, i think that in this moment, it would be absolutely better if mike pence were president than donald trump. that being said, i have been extremely disappointed in how mike pence has behaved. you know, if you go back and look at some of the tape of all republicans, but particularly of mike pence, talking about values, talking about the rule of larbgs talking about the clintons, and talking about how -- balls the clinton foundation, he has lots of statements where he says, you know, it's not ok for foreign governments to participate in american politics. so for him to now sort of say
6:18 pm
get over it, it doesn't matter, it's wildly disappointing. and i think, you know, this is going to be the question for a lot of republicans who have kind of abandoned all of our principles and proven their ethics to be quite situational in an effort to support the president. i think the question is, when all of this is over, when trump is gone, you know, it's hard to just go back and say, no, no, no, really, we're the party of values. no, really, we're the party of the rule of law. people have sort of gambled their credibility on this president, and it will be very hard to exert any kind of moral credibility when we have to rein in the democrats on executive power. and basic, nobody has been more disappointing than mike pence on that. host: joining us on c-span radio here on "newsmakers," our guest is sarah longwell, executive director of the organization republicans for
6:19 pm
the rule of law. joining us in the questioning is simone and we'll turn back to josh, who covers politics for the national journal. josh: we've got a presidential race coming up. there are three, at least three republicans running in a primary against president trump. is it possible your group will endorse any one of those primary challengesers? and why not go -- is there any possibility you kind of pursue an alternative from to have trump on the independent ticket or someone who may have a better chance if democrats nominate someone to the left, trump is renominated, someone who may have a chance to win on a third-party candidacy? sarah: yeah, we're certainly not going to endorse donald trump, and right now we sort of endorse those three republican challengers as a package and think that it is great that there are republicans out there , two former governors, a former congressman, who said i'm not just going to stand by and let this happen, i'm going to try to do something about that. i do think that there's a real chance that we see an
6:20 pm
independent challenger coming from the right. i think justin amash has been doing a lot of hiring lately. he's obviously changed his party to independent and left the republican party, and he's been very outspoken. so it would surprise me at all to see him run as an independent or potentially as a libertarian. and i also think if the nominee is elizabeth warren, there's going to be a lot of conversation about the idea that there's kind of a big group of voters in the middle who are underserved. now, we've seen howard schulz kind of, you know, take a run at that, and that didn't go so well. but he was coming at this as a democrat, somebody from the center left. i think there's a real opportunity for somebody kind of from the center right who what are some rt old-school republican values, and then more modernized republican values or maybe puts forward a more modern vision of
6:21 pm
what the -- either the republican party could be or even just articulate a vision for the country that is sort of -- brings together center right and center left. at this point, those are the people that are quite underserved, assuming -- that's assuming it is elizabeth wear refpblet but it feels like there's a voice for sort of the exhausted majority that could emerge. simone: would your group ever support a democrat? sarah: you know, the group has not really made endorsements one way or the other. you know, nobody has asked me during this conversation about never trump, but i would put myself in that never trump category, so never means never. look, if joe biden was the nominee, just speaking for myself personally, i would have no trouble voting for him. in this moment.
6:22 pm
that doesn't mean i would support all of his policies, but look, i would believe that he would put the country first, that he would not be running to just enrich himself wildly. i mean, i even think the reason he's doing this -- i mean, he's quite advanced in age at this point. i don't think he's doing this for himself. i think he's doing it because he's very worried that the options that the country is going to be faced with is somebody very far left, like elizabeth warren or bernie sanders, and trump. and so if he was the nominee, i would happily vote for him in this political moment, while at the same time trying to figure out how do you rebuild the republican party so that it can become a responsible governing party again? if you look at the numbers of support for donald trump, his constituency is quite old. it is sort of 65 plus. and so i think that there's a real opportunity with sort of a new generation of republicans top try to take a run at a new vision for the party. but, you know, to do that,
6:23 pm
frankly, i think that -- not just donald trump has to lose, but there has to be an active repudiation of trump and trumpism and the country sort of needs to stand up in one big scomboop say, you know what, we did this, it was the wrong decision, and we'll never do it again. host: sarah longwell, let me follow up. because if you do nominate a center left or center right candidate as an independent, and if hypothetically elizabeth warren is the democratic nominee, does that not then almost ensure the reelection of donald trump from your standpoint? sfoip it's a center left candidate, it does. i think that's why howard schulz got out and mike bloomberg hasn't run. but i think if there's a more center right candidate -- host: such as? sarah: i'm not going to name any names, but i think all along, there's people who have known that it's possible that either bernie searneds or elizabeth warren would be the nominee and donald trump would not nominee, and there are people who sort of looked at the race to say neighbor another republican got in
6:24 pm
there, you know, you wouldn't be a spoiler, and that would reelectricity donald trump, and you would have the potential to maybe even bring together enough of a constituency to win. i'll go back to justin amash as one name that is out there and is fair to say i would have a hard time seeing tons of democrats voting for justin amash. he's very conservative. one of the most conservative members of congress. so i think if he ran, do i think he can win? probably not. do i think he takes much more -- many more votes from donald trump than elizabeth warren? i do. josh: just to clarify, you said you're a never trumper under all circumstances, but would you support if it came down to a two-candidate race between warren or sanders versus trump, would you vote for the democrat? sarah: we're going to assume they're the only two people in there. yeah. it's a tough thing to have to answer. but there's no -- and look, if
6:25 pm
it was elizabeth wear rernings i would probably turn around immediately and figure out how do you, again, how do you reconstitute the republican party, how do you beat elizabeth warren with somebody who is a responsible and hopefully inspiring person on the right who has kind of a new vision for what the party could be? but i think that donald trump is an existential threat to the country. i don't think he has read or cares about the constitution. i don't think he puts the country first. i think what is happening in syria, what is happening to the way that we respect values and norms and institutions, i'm not sure our country can sustain another four years of donald trump and not have there be some quite catastrophic consequences. and in fact, there already have been, some that are really bad. i do not think elizabeth warren should be president. i would not support many of her
6:26 pm
policies. but if it's a binary scommoice births making sure that trump is no longer running the country, then i will do that, and i will figure out what the next step is from there. josh: if trump does lose next november, how bitter a fight do you envision the future for that soul of the republican party being, and who are some names of politicians that you would like to see republican the party that you think actually republican your vision of what the g.o.p. should be looking like? sarah: there are some excellent young congressmen. congressman will h ru d, who is very, unfortunately, retiring. republican active adam kinsinger is somebody who i respect a great deal. mike gallagher, representative mike gala dwer, there's a group of younger lodge fors who i think at one point were really looked at as the future of the party, and now you get a guy like will hurd who's retiring, but he has said that it's possible he would run for
6:27 pm
president in 2024. and, you know, somebody like, i would say, this is just my personal opinion, my jury is still out a little bit on nikki haley. she's somebody who i think three or four years ago i would have been extremely excited about. i think it gets harder when you see how people have behaved in terms of being complicit to trump. but, you know, there's an opportunity for -- i don't quite know how they'd navigate stepping back and presenting something new if you're nikki haley or somebody else who's kind of worked in this administration. but again, there's a sort of younger group of legislators that i think could really blaze just an entirely new path, which is really what's needed. simone: if a lot of the members you alluded to feel like they can no longer stray in congress, speaking out against trump, what path are they going to blaze? what role are they going play in rebuilding the party, and how do they do that from outside of politics? sarah: well, will hurd is going
6:28 pm
to be outside of politics. the other two will still be -- the ones i mentioned are still in congress. but look, i think it's possible that some of the blazing of this might have to be outside of congress. that's too bad, but, you know, the republicans dashte reason that so many people are retiring is because republicans know they're not going to be in power and that their power probably going to diminish even further in 2020. so i think there is going to have to be something done from sort of outside the party, and again, done from sort of a group of younger republicans. but to the point of question nasty is that fight going to be, i think the answer is pretty nasty. in already -- that warfare the party is quite severe. but it has to be done. i mean, you see things like sarah huckaby sanders running for governor of arkansas or
6:29 pm
cory lieu ban dow ski talking about running for senate in new hampshire. the republican party is going to have one of two paths. either sanity is going to rear its head and we're going to make a real stand kind of for the soul of the party, or it's going to become a trumpist party for a long time, in which case i'd imagine the people in the first group either have to start their own party or figure out how to pull the democrats back to the center. i mean, i don't know what the answer is. i wish i d. these are incredibly difficult questions. but the fact is the party has been hijacked. it no longer represents what it once did. and, you know, it's a real open question about how we get it back. but i will say this. it is very important that we do, in the sense that you have to have two responsible good morning parties. i'm very concerned about sort of the grievance politics, populist sentiment that is taking over, and i look at somebody like elizabeth warren or bernie sanders and donald trump, and there's actually quite a bit in common between those two groups. there's this sort burn it all
6:30 pm
down mentality. i find it very frightening, and i think it's extremely important that people who believe in the constitution, in the promise of democracy, and in capitalism, frankly, to come together and try to fight for the country. sarah: sarah longwell joining us here in washington. she is the executive director of an organization, republicans for the rule of law. thank you for being with us on "newsmakers." sarah: thanks so much. host: we continue our conversation, bottom line, is this organization where the republican party is based on the polling? josh: not right now. and the big question is, has this tumultuous two, three-week period for the white house changed republican voting positions? you do have these cracks. you do have francis rooney, now retiring congressman from florida, speaking out very critically of a president he once close al lined with. mitt romney, i mean, you have names, sunes collins, certain mainstream republican senators and congressmen have spoken
6:31 pm
out, but they've been zpue far between. 80% plus of the republican party voting base is with trump no matter what. simone: time and time again, in primaries especial, we've seen loyalty to trump is the litmus test in the republican party. i'm not sure how a group like this airs ads supporting the folks that they want to support without potentially hurting them. host: i'm going to get some reaction to this editorial this morning that's been getting a lot of teaningts last couple of days from mitch mcconnell, basically stating president's decision in syria a grave mistake. so where does this put the senate republican leader and the white house? simone: it's interesting he chose not to use the president's name, so he's obviously trying to protect that relationship a little bit. but clearly, for the first time that i can remember in the past two years, you're seeing a large break between senate republicans and house republicans and the white house. i think the question is whether that is sustainable or whether we'll see them walk it back and become more in lock step with the white house. host: earlier torked a tweet from the president, quoting his defense secretary, saying
6:32 pm
basically the cease-fire is holding along the border and saying that we are bringing our soldiers home. this is a minor point, but he called his defense secretary another name. josh: and troops are not coming home to the united states. they're still being stationed in iraq. there's been a lot of inconsistencies with the president's foreign policy. mcconnell's op-ed on syria has given republicans in the senate space, political space, to criticize the president's decisions. lindsey graham has also been very vocal in criticizing what's been going on. this is not a moment where trump can afford too much, too many defections from his own party. i mean, the impeachment battle is going to take up every ounce of energy from republicans that defend him. they can't be busy having to deal with his decision initially to go to doral for the g-7 or defend his foreign policy on syria. host: on that decision, the president is not one to back down. did he back down on the doral, and if so, why? simone: i think he did.
6:33 pm
i think the political pressure here was just too much about a decision that really, the optics of it undercut his entire argument about the bidens being corrupt, so i don't know who told him that. but i think at the end of the day, it just became too much weight for him to bear. josh: yeah, the president -- the math is very difficult to get any -- if it goes to a senate trial, to get 20 republicans calling for his removal. but we can see what happens with a few loud voices that speak out, romney and a few others. you could see things falling apart if the president doesn't tend to his own base, to his allies in the senate. i think he realized that with the decision on doral. host: what are you looking for this week? simone: to see how democrats treekt all this. do they overplay their hand? how do they make sure, especially some of the moderate democrats in competitive districts, how do they make sure that they are standing up for what they believe in, but still tending the voters who bucked parties to support them and elect them in 2018? josh: what's going on in syria? is the cease-fire over? if things get worse in the middle east, that's going put
6:34 pm
more pressure on this president. host: we will look for your reporting at cq onaljournal.com and at roll caufment this program also available on the web at c-span.org. thanks for tuning tonight, on q&a, american university distinguished professor of looks atlan kraut policies on migrating immigration. >> nativism, anti-immigrant sentiment, xenophobia is not different from what we have seen in the past. while it seems to us to be peppered with acts of violence and ferocity, there have been other acts of violence, anti-immigrant riots, before the civil war, in the 1880's. there have been a lot of moments in american history

29 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on