On this week’s podcast, we spoke to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, about Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts, President Obama’s State of the Union speech, the prospects of bipartisanship and the 2010 mid-term elections.
The Political Punch Podcast can be downloaded on iTunes or by clicking HERE. The Podcast is produced by Huma Khan.
On the lighter side, Cornyn admitted he was slightly concerned when a Cosmo photograph of a partially nude Brown was revealed.
“I wondered whether a lot of the nice little old ladies in tennis shoes who were going to vote for Scott Brown would see that and have a negative reaction,” he said. “But I think in some ways it made Scott Brown more unique. It made him more human and less of a cutout figure and less of a typical politician, so actually in this unusual way, I think it helped him some rather than hurt him.”
And the senator from Texas agreed with my wife that there was a double standard; that a female candidate in Brown’s place, she likely would’ve received a very different response.
“I hadn’t thought about it that way but I would have to agree with your wife” about there being a double-standard, he said. “There is, in this case.”
As for the way the NRSC funded Brown, Cornyn says there’s a lesson to be learnt in the way Brown’s campaign was funded “beneath the radar.”
Instead of funding Brown’s campaign directly, the NRSC instead funneled money into the Massachusetts Republican Party, which then gave it to Brown.
“We didn’t want to become the issue,” Cornyn said. “Scott Brown ran as the kind of candidate that was his own man and certainly, I think, not making the national party an issue but keeping the focus on Scott Brown and the issues he talked about was a smart thing to do. So I think it’s something that we need to learn from.”
Cornyn admitted that it was not Mass. support for the GOP agenda but rather Brown’s candidacy that led to his victory. He said he’s doubtful that the GOP can win back the majority in the Senate in this year’s elections, but he does think the party will do well.
“I think the arithmetic and the math makes it very hard for us to win a majority back but I do think we’re going to have significant gains,” Cornyn said. “I expect that 2010 will be a good year for us. It will a better year to the extent that we listen to what the voters were saying in Massachusetts and what they’re saying around the country and that’s one reason I think we will do well.”
As for President Obama’s call to bipartisanship, Cornyn says Republicans are eager to work with Democrats but that the president’s agenda hasn’t been very centrist, making it hard for the GOP.
“I don’t think the Obama health care plan can be salvaged around the edges or around the margins. I think we really need to start over and take a step by step approach. There’s plenty of areas where we could find common ground,” he said.
Cornyn also assailed the Democrats’ economic agenda, saying that direct government spending has been “kind of a wet blanket” and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has “turned into being just a credit card for borrowing more government money.”
What about the massive deficit accumulated during the Bush administration and the policies that only added to it?
“I understand that people were upset with the Bush administration and Republicans when Republicans were in charge, about the level of spending. … I hope that we’ve learnt an important lesson when it comes to fiscal responsibility. This is an important issue to voters and certainly, we intend to run on a restoration of fiscal responsibility,” he said.
Cornyn admitted that not paying for the prescription drug coverage plan, which he voted for, “was a mistake” but at the same time he defended Bush administration tax cuts.
“I do think those tax cuts were responsible for a huge spurt in economic growth where a lot more Americans were employed and a lot more revenue came in to the Treasury,” he said.
The Political Punch Podcast can be downloaded HERE or on iTunes.