tv Newsmakers CSPAN March 13, 2016 10:00am-10:31am EDT
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> here on c-span, "newsmakers," is next, with tony perkins, followed by the funeral service for former first lady nancy reagan, and later events with senators ted cruz and arco rubio. "newsmakers," welcomes tony perkins from his home in baton rouge. our reporters asking questions -- meet tom hamburger of "washington post," the returns to "newsmakers," and david sherfinski, making his first
visit. hamburger, you are up first. mr. hamburger: thank you for being with us. i have a question we are hanging -- london's,, and and some of our readers. what is going on with evangelicals this election cycle? i know you have seen comments its, but inom pund our paper, russell moore has wondered our evangelical voters just, "are they drunk" this cycle? that is my opener to you. what is going on? mr. perkins: all right, how much time do we have? [laughter] evangelicalsstion themselves are asking.
people have said what has happened to these evangelicals -- have they backslid on their way to the polls to vote? first, i think the term evangelical is like the elastic in an old pair of socks. it is being stretched. it is being used to encompass a lot of people that are not technically evangelicals. when you talk about evangelicals -- those who go to church on a weekly basis -- their faith is important to them, it guides the decisions they make beyond the walls of the church -- that begins too narrow. we see from polling, exit surveys, that those who attend church on a weekly basis are not breaking for donald trump. in the southern states, 64% of evangelicals that not vote for donald trump. i think the term is being used more broadly than is appropriate, but given the are a number of what i would say are true evangelicals supporting
donald trump, i think there are -- there is a lot of fear in the election cycle. fear of a nation that has lost its way, is changing, is unrecognizable, and then frustration, the dominant emotion being expressed. the frustration with the political class, particularly the republican party, that is over-promised and under -performed routinely. i think they see this guy coming along who, quite frankly, his past holdings on issues, and his toduct is antithetical evangelical teaching, yet he has struck a chord with them. he is going to throw the political class out on its head. mr. sherfinski: mr. perkins, you are supporting ted cruz. to what extent what a donald trump nomination be disappointment to you
personally, and those who may have not been enamored with john inain in 2008 or mitt romney 2012, who seemingly found their guy this time around in ted cruz? mr. perkins: first of all, the support i have made it is a personal endorsement. it is not any of the nonprofit organizations that i laid. look, -- lead. look, i share some of the frustrations that many evangelicals and many americans have with the political class in this country. i like some of the things donald trump is saying. i agree with the things -- some of the things he says. i do not agree with his policy prescriptions. i think he is identified the problem. i do not think he has the public -- the solution. as i have sat down with all the candidates -- with the exception of john kasich and governor christie -- all the other candidates i've stalked to, and
most of them i know pretty well. it was a difficult decision to come to. i saw ted cruz, and his track record. thats been doing this as a -- senator, standing up to the political class and his own party and washington, d.c., and the importance of the supreme court, which is more in focus since the death of justice and team -- antonin scalia a. the next president will appoint at least one, possibly two or three supreme court judges. ted cruz has argued nine cases before the supreme court, , and we wantriefs someone that will understand mindset,temperament, and make sure we have constitutionalists appointed to the court. that really was the deciding factor for me. host: mr. perkins, marco rubio as suggested that a trumpet nomination would fracture the
gop. do you see that as a possible scenario if he wins the nomination? mr. perkins: i think the gop is already fractured. there has been a fault line in the party for quite some time. i go back to the earlier question about evangelicals. i do not know if it is over or intentional, -- overt or intentional, but there might be some siding against the establishment or people are fed up and they want to see a free-for-all within the party and that might be why they are supporting donald trump. i do not endorse that. i think it is a bad idea. the party is very fragile as it is. i am not sure what the outcome would be of a donald trump presidency or administration. will he follow through on his commitments to uproot the city and the political class in ?ashington, d c
i have my doubts. i certainly have my doubts about what he would replace it with if he did. i do think there will be a lot of consternation on full-size of the republican party. mr. hamburger: you imagine -- tell us what you would do if donald trump have the votes, the delegates to get the republican nomination. will you back his campaign for the presidency? mr. perkins: i do not know. we have not come to that point. consider where we are today compared to where we were four years ago. mitt romney had basically -- he did not have a total delegate count, but he had pre-much sewn up the nomination, and there was only one contender against him, rick santorum, left in the race, and he did not have the money or organization to go the distance. he fought a valiant fight. this is a different situation. right now, as of this weekend, -- only have 100 delegates
actually, little bit less, 99, i think, separating donald trump and ted cruz. ted cruz has the funds. he has infrastructure across the country to go the distance. i think we could very well be on our way to a broker convention where the outcome might not be decided until july, in cleveland , ohio. mr. hamburger: i appreciate that, and if i could just follow up with this question -- assuming we get past the brokered convention and donald trump is the nominee, i believe you said you had not quite decided yet whether you would back him? i have not pondered that because i do not think that is our only option. i still am working very hard, campaigning across the country for ted cruz, helping his candidacy. i do not give blanket endorsements or words of support. i mean, if we came to that
point, it would require sitting down with donald trump to see what his pathway forward was in terms of the supreme court, who would be vetting judicial nominees, who would be his running mates, who would be involved in his cabinet, what type of policies with the advocate? i am not a lackey for the republican party. just because it is a republican candidate, i'm not going to fall in line. it has to be someone committed to the core values we represent at the family research council. i do not advocate evangelicals and christians not participating in the process, but i am not going to back someone who would be added to the moral or cultural decline of our country, regardless of what party they are in. mr. sherfinski: you mentioned the supreme court. based on what we know -- the public statements,
would you trust donald trump to appoint the next one justice, two justices, three justices, more than you would hillary clinton or bernie sanders? mr. perkins: that is an interesting question here the president makes the nomination, -- question. the president makes the nomination, but the senate confirms. depending on what would be the way forward -- who would be candidates, what he, for instance, have the federalist society do the bedding for judicial candidates -- that is a huge factor in my decision making. if you have hillary clinton making nominations, but you have a republican controlled congress, it is very unlikely she is going to get liberal nominees through the process and seated. is, the concern i would have if donald trump would not agree to the proper vetting, if the republican senate continues to
control the senate, which i think is highly probable, that would be more inclined to regardless nominees of judicial temperament or qualifications, and that would be very concerning to me. mr. hamburger: can i jump back again, mr. perkins, to something we were talking about a moment ago -- this question of endorsement. i understand you said you are not a lackey for the republican party and it is not a given that you would endorse the republican nominee. i wanted to follow it up by asking two questions -- is it possible you would endorse hillary clinton or bernie sanders if they were the nominee, or is it possible you would not even endorse or sit out the 2016 general election? i think it is very unlikely that i would be on the stage with bernie or hillary, but, you know, i could be on a hunting trip in november of 2016. look, i am going to be advocating for values, the
concerns that affect american families, and that includes the rights of parents to control the whate of their children by they pass on to them, and i'm not going to be in favor of advocating for a candidate who stands in contrast of that, regardless of what party they are in. here in lies the problem republicans are facing. mitt romney -- you mentioned mitt romney earlier. i personally supported mitt romney in the general election and actually campaigned for him. i like mitt romney as an individual. he was not my first choice. i think he was a very decent man, or is a very decent man, and i believed him on policy positions. i know there was a different in positions he had when he was a candidate for the senate in massachusetts, but he explained his evolution on those issues, and where he stood today. he was so adamant in repeating his new positions that there was
no way for him to go back on those, so i trusted him. i was culpable in supporting him. however, despite my support -- confident in supporting him. however, despite my support and supportive other evangelical christian leaders, there was a lot of evangelicals that stayed home on election day because of withan -- inconsistency his past positions and is presently stated positions. i think that becomes a real problem for donald trump if he is a nominee in a general have no because i doubt that if he were to get the nomination we would hear several worth of explaining of his past positions, his casinos, strip clubs, all of these other things that would be used to really suppress evangelical turnout in the general elections. i think it is a huge problem for the republicans. susan: senator sanders name came
up. some christian columnists say millennial appeal to evangelicals to senator sander'' words about the poor in america. have you seen any of this evidence with younger voters who are evangelical? mr. perkins: you know, not widespread, but anecdotally, i would say there is some. there is clearly a connection with millennials, and this is where i think the republican party has missed it to some degree in their economic policy. by no means do i advocate that we need a socialist government, as bernie sanders would, but i do think we need to have a more encompassing, broader conversation about how we, as individuals, as citizens in this country can be a part of it alleviated the burdens, -- alleviating the burdens, the struggles that our fellow americans have. the thing about millennials -- i
spent a lot of time studying them, working with them, writing about them. , "no fear"ecent book about young people standing up for their faith. they want to be hands-on. they do not want to talk about problems. they do not want to go to a voting booth and sent someone to washington who will promise but rarely deliver. they want to see things happening. i think bernie sanders is so different than what we have heard before, there is something attractive. it is the same thing about donald trump. he is so far out there on the margins, it is new, different, attracting attention. susan: you have 10 minutes left. mr. sherfinski: mr. perkins, we had the final republican debate last night before the election contests on tuesday. issues like same-sex marriage, abortion, were not really mentioned. have those issues and issues
important to social conservatives been given enough attention in the cycle in your opinion? mr. perkins: i think they have been prominently featured. in fact, i think that was the only debate they were not mentioned in. it was interesting and very telling, especially on the life issue, that all of the republican candidates have been very aggressive from the very start in promoting pro-life credentials, about the defunding of planned parenthood. that has been very clear. while donald trump has sent some mixed signals, saying he thinks they do great work, most of the republicans have been very clear in wanting to defund or get taxpayers out of the business with this partnership with planned parenthood. on the marriage issue -- it has been discussed repeatedly in the context of the loss of religious freedom in the country, another issue that has been prominently discussed.
look, we have so many problems facing this country after the policies of his last administration have been imposed upon us. i do not think we can cover it if we continue to have debates every week until the election. we have a lot of problems facing -- isd that, in part, it what has made this election so complex. mr. hamburger: there was some discussion in the debate about u.s. policy toward israel. i wonder as you look at the theirates, how you viewed response, and if you would comment briefly on that. a. perkins: again, we see not whole lot of difference between the candidates in terms of what .hey say on the issue of israel i mean, donald trump was talking about -- you know, his credentials. he was the grand marshall of a parade down 5th avenue, a pro-israel parade, which is
interesting for your set of credentials. has been very clear on his support of israel. i actually think ted cruz is the only one -- i could be mistaken on this -- but he has made very clear that under his administration the capital, or the embassy of the united states would be in the israeli capital of jerusalem. so, it all has been up there. i think john, even, has been clear in his support of israel. i do not think we are going to see a republican who is going to back away from this key ally in the middle east. mr. sherfinski: also, you mentioned the four candidates standing up there on the stage. looking back to 2006-2007, how would you say -- where does the conservative movement stand? has president obama's time in a setback for the
conservative movement, or has it reenergized it? mr. perkins: well, i would say look at the numbers in terms of the increased voter turnout. i know donald trump wants to take credit for that, and i think some credit does go to him, but i think the largest credit goes to barack obama for energizing the conservative movement. in fact, anecdotally, on my daily radio program this week, a few days running, i put out the question, if you did not vote quarter years ago, but you voted this time, call me. i want to know why. it was very steep. --hought few people would interesting. i thought few people would actually call because they did not want to admit they did not vote quarter years ago, but i couldn't take all the phone calls. everyone of them said they had not been involved, they did not think it was that important, they did not like politics, but they began to personalize it. they began to see the policies
affecting families and personal freedoms and said i have to vote. i think barack obama has inspired a lot of people who have been sitting on the sidelines to get on the field to defend these fundamental freedoms. youhamburger: could i ask about something i know you have worked on for a few election cycles, which is the notion of bringing evangelical conservatives together early in the nomination cycle? i think in 2012 you were backing rick santorum and hoped that an early endorsement of rick santorum might give momentum to his cause. this year a group that i think you health pull together -- helped pull together endorsed ted cruz early, and as you have been discussing, we might end up with a brokered convention before we know who the nominee is. how, in retrospect, do you view its effort to bring together evangelical christians as a -- conservatives as a united front
early in the campaign? is it just the individual vagaries of an election year, or something you have second thoughts about? is it too difficult to do? mr. perkins: you know, that is a question you could probably write a book about, because i have been involved in several election cycles, and, quite frankly, went into this election cycle that something like that could ever happen, because it has not happened -- not in a timely manner. there was a coalescing around rick santorum, but it was basically -- i think it was right after south carolina that that occurred, and there was just a few people left in the race. it happened early in this cycle. in fact, it happened before the first contest, and i do think it had an impact on ted cruz winning iowa, launching forward, and continuing to be a serious contender for the presidency. this election cycle, as i think you all would agree, does not fit any normal patterns we have
seen anytime. the truck factor has -- trump factor has clearly had an impact on this cycle. i think the conservatives -- not all -- obviously i do not want to speak for all conservatives -- but those that have like minds on many issues, not just social issues, but foreign-policy issues and physical issues as well, i do think there was some success. we will see at the end of the process how successful it was, but i'm actually pleased with what we have seen so far. mr. sherfinski: you mentioned earlier that the definition of evangelicals has, kind of, then thisched -- been stretched cycle. can you go into more detail about evangelical voters that are supporting donald trump versus evangelical voters supporting ted cruz -- any more of the characteristics he started to get into earlier, and whether those two can be reconciled come the fall?
your last question -- the latter part of that question -- i am not sure they can be reconciled. as i said earlier, i'm very concerned about what can happen in a general election, especially once a lot of focus --based on donald trump, his placed on donald trump, his past positions, his personal affairs, conduct, various things -- i think i will have an impact on how evangelicals respond to the general election. in terms of the difference was in the evangelical title, george -- the barna group has a very narrow definition of evangelical, and essentially it is seven points. the key part of it is understanding the authoritative word of god. it is infallible. it is the word of god, authoritative over our lives. salvation is by faith, through faith in jesus christ. one must make a personal commitment to jesus christ,
receiving that forgiveness, and then live one's life according to the teachings of scripture. that is in a nutshell what it is. that is not a term or a definition that would embraced by all of those who would be labeled evangelical. i had, i go to a less technical definition that writers and thers used in exit polling, those that went to church on a weekly basis, meaning their fate -- saint, relationship with god was important to them. they read their bibles. exit polls show they broke for ted cruz, ben carson, and to a lesser degree, marco rubio, in that order. that category did not vote. significantly at all for donald trump. susan: have just one minute left. let me turn to your endorsed candidate, ted cruz. regularly, on the campaign trail, points to his
lack of likability, and i am wondering what you think about his appeal if we get to a brokered convention. can he emerge as a favorite candidate given the concerns about his likability. washington, d.c., and among the political class? mr. perkins: it is kind of funny coming from donald trump, because he is about as huggable as a porcupine himself. the reality is if you are not like in washington, d.c., there must be something good about you. that is the message ted cruz has had. he cares about the american people. i know him very well. it is difficult to shift all those emotions, and display all of those various agile beats people want to see, but i -- attributes people want to see, but i believe in a general election when people get a chance to see him, clearly focus on him, they will know he has a vision for the future of the
country and he is unafraid to stand up to the political class in washington, d.c., including his own party, and the most elite club in the world, the united states senate. he has done that. he has proven himself. that is one of the reasons i'm standing with him. i have no doubt what he would do as president of the united states. susan: tony perkins, president of the family research council, joint just joining us from baton rouge, louisiana, this week. thank you. mr. perkins: thank you to you all. susan: what did we hear in his responses? is there a frustration on the part of evangelical leaders with what is happening in the electorate this time around? mr. hamburger: we could hear it to questionsses about endorsing trump if he is the nominee. this gets to the marco rubio concern about the split within the party. evangelical voters are a huge come important part of the
republican party base, and have explained victories in key battleground states in the past, including two that are voting this next week, next tuesday, ohio and florida. the idea that a leader of the angelical -- evangelical movement, mike, as he suggested, go hunting in november, would be a terrifying thing for republican strategists, i think. this is a vital group of the republican base, and if there is continued doubt about supporting the nominee by some of their leaders, it is a huge drag on the ticket. , it isdavid sherfinski somewhat ironic that we are talking on friday afternoon as nancy reagan is being laid to rest, because this ultimately is a coalition formed by ronald reagan in the 1980's. what has happened to the coalition over the decades that they are still frustrated?
today? -- today? mr. sherfinski: right. that is what i was trying to get at when i asked him if president obama's time in office has made conservatives more despondent, or enter -- energize them. as tom was much ink, trying to walk through the possibility of a donald trump -- was mentioning, trying to walk through the possibility of a nomination, and what we do not correlate with traditional christian values. you see ted cruz talking about reagan democrats, how he will bring them back into the fold, talking about the coalition, but it is a good question, and one that obviously leaders like mr. perkins thinks we are going through right now. susan: at the debate, the
chairman of the republican party began by speaking to the crowd saying let me make this clear, we will support the nominee of our party. what was that message intended to signal? mr. hamburger: well, i think -- susan: does it mean no brokered convention? mr. hamburger: well, i think we are seeing a couple of things go on. pending the results of next tuesday night in particular, it is increasingly likely that donald trump is on the way to being the nominee. he is in the lead at this moment. rinse pre-this is trying to hold the party together with that knowledge that donald trump is in the lead and well on the way to getting the nomination. tapink the party wanted to down the notion of a brokered convention, but it was really the idea of bringing everyone in the room as part of the republican party. the message from tony perkins tonight -- though i know, he is, as he said, a ted cruz backer for the moment.
so much of this is strategic, but reticence about backing in november the person who is now in the lead for the nomination is a big deal, and terribly disconcerting to rinse pre-this and other leaders of the republican party. about ted cruzsk not just likability, but a left ability, because you see a few ,nd dormant -- electability because you are starting to see a few endorsements. what do the polls say? mr. sherfinski: well, the polls say that no matter what donald about his electability against hillary clinton, that ted cruz, marco rubio, and john kasich, for that matter, generally do better head-to-head against hillary clinton. i think ted cruz's