'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable

Van Jones, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Rich Lowry, and Cokie Roberts on the Tea Party and 2014 elections.
3:00 | 03/02/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable
I think the tea party is the most exciting political development in decades. We're going to restore constitutional rights in America. We are the adults in the room when it comes to dealing with our budget. That's the tea party. While we're talking about leadership, isn't it high time we retired John Boehner? A lot of passion there at the tea party's fifth birthday party this week. Back with the roundtable. Cokie Roberts, tea party turns five, you heard the call for John Boehner to go. They have not been successful in that. John Boehner is stronger than he's been in some ways because congress -- we were talking about this, the government shutdown did affect the tea party. They understood that this was not working for them. And they had a five-year anniversary they liked. And I would rook closely at what happens in the primaries coming up to see what their strength is. It does appear there are a lot of republican primaries. The next one coming up is Texas on Tuesday. It does appear, rich Lowry, that establishment republicans are learning their lessons. Showing great strength against tea party challengers this time. Yeah. I think probably the incumbent who has the most to fear is Cochran down in Mississippi, a long-time big-spending republican. Has a smooth-talking tea party candidate who's a state senator to worry about. But a lot of these tea party challengers had rough weeks or two. You know, down there in Mississippi, Chris Mcdaniel, the challenger, got wrapped around the Axel in whether he supported Katrina funding or not. Matt bevan, tea party challenger to Mitch Mcconnell wrapped around the Axel on whether he supported T.A.R.P. Or not. It was one of the key pillars of his campaign. So far the incumbents are looking good. Except in the house. That's where you have to look at it. Texas has a big primary coming up this week. And these are safe republican districts that are empty, where the people have resigned. Then what you have is a republican against a republican, and in those situations, you tend to have the more conservative republican win. What difference is that going to make in the house, congressman? Cokie was saying, the tea party wanted a confrontation over the government shutdown. They seem to have last that. That seems so far liberated John Boehner and others to say no to the tea party. 2014 was a low point in house politics in general. This isn't just republicans. A lot of times democrats refuse to engage on anything. But the tea party brings energy to the republican party. But the difference is the idea of tactics. It's a very monolithic party. The debt's too high, too much unemployment, smaller government, et cetera. As a minority position, do you shut down the government and compel the other side to action? When we tried that, the American people and even the base saw that the shutdown idea is not going to work. Look at what we have done in the first couple months this year. We have achieved a lot of things from the farm bill to the budget deal everything and else. We're on a better path today. And a clean path for the midterms. To pick up on what rich was talking about, it does appear that in the key senate races, the senate control is up for grabs in November, that the republican nominees will not be as easy targets as they were in 2010 or 2012. Darn. Darn. Yeah. In fact -- first, let me give president Obama a little bit of credit. When he stood up to the tea party and said we're not going to do this. He helped to defang the tea party. It helped the republicans and Boehner. He's in a stronger position because Obama refused to go along with the nonsense in the fall. It's good for the republican party. I don't think the republican party looks ready to govern. People to want thenarrow it down to the tea party. This is not just a tea party problem, this is a republican party problem. They look like the party of obstruction, the party of no and the party of pain. They also look like a party that's going to pick up a lot of seats in the senate, don't they? We have been banking on them making dumb mistakes. I have been telling democrats for a long time that because the other guy looks dumb doesn't make you a genius. They are learning. But the republican party positions are unpopular on minimum wage, unpopular on unemployment, on a number of issues. I think democrats have a shot. The only way they don't take the senate is if they do screw up with the nominees, saying things like Egypt rape. They're working hard to keep the nominees from doing that. And -- Don't shoot themselves in the foot. If the democrats get out the presidential year voters. That's a difficult thing to do in an off year. Very hard to do. Obviously the republicans had weak senate candidates, but also very strong ones. And this new generation of conservatives brought into the senate because of the tea party. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike lee, Ted Cruz, they will have an impact for decades. I want a half or a quarter or one-fifth agree with van, I don't know how to calibrate it. Obstruction was important, but a positive agenda in this new phase is really important as well. That's where the most valuable player is Mike lee who recognized that the party has to be bold but constructive and positive. Maybe the most valuable player on the democratic side, bill Clinton campaigning against Mitch Mcconnell. He's the republican leader of the senate. I want to bring this to you, he going much more popular in Kentucky, in Arkansas, in north Carolina than Barack Obama who won't go and campaign. No. They don't want him -- the democrats don't want him in the states. And he's fine with that. Presidents understand that. George bush was in the same position. But bill Clinton must be in ecstasy. Al gore would not let him campaign for him in 2000. And he was chafing at the bit, and now he's the most popular guy in the democratic party. In American politics. The problem is he's not the president. The guy who is the president has an approval rating in the low 40s. And the key battle and the senate, even lower. The only thing -- You know what's amazing to me is that you look at George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, they get out of public life and go away and be statesman. I think bill Clinton's probably a great guy, he's a great campaigner. But you see the dichotomy, the difference. The democrats need bill Clinton to be effective because president Obama isn't going to be. Raising money and -- I can't let that one go. Five seconds. I don't think George W. Bush going away and painting pictures and being a statesman. Bill Clinton has been on the world stage -- has been on the world stage -- Are you attacking -- Bill Clinton has done a lot more -- Are you attacking bush's paintings, man? The ex-presidents are doing good things. Not that easy to get out of it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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