'This Week' Transcript: O'Donnell and Coons

Transcript: O'Donnell and Coons

ByABC News
October 17, 2010, 5:00 AM

October 17, 2010 — -- AMANPOUR: So to discuss all of this, I'm joined now by our roundtable, with George Will; Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain, who recently published "Dirty Sexy Politics," her own take on the future of her party; political analyst Matthew Dowd; and ABC "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran.

Thank you all for being here.

Has the Tea Party gone one step too far with Christine O'Donnell? I mean, this was a safe Republican seat.

WILL: Presumably, and they probably did. But I don't think that's going to make the difference between controlling the Senate or not. And the Senate -- the story of the Senate is already written in stone, and that is that Mitch McConnell is going to have 47, 48 Senate seats, which means he's going to have 41 votes for anything, which means nothing shall pass that he doesn't want to pass.

AMANPOUR: Matthew, do you think that that's right? Because everybody there was saying the Republicans would have to look elsewhere to get a seat to gain control of the Senate.

DOWD: Well, obviously, this is -- if you're wanting to win, Christine O'Donnell does not help that cause. Any time you run an ad that says "I am not witch," you know you've got problems in a campaign, even if it's Halloween this month.

But I think the real thing here that she has identified is that there's a huge passion in this country right now, that's a lot of anger and a lot of frustration. It's not helpful that she got nominated, but she is evidence that that is not going away. And the only party benefiting from this in this year's election is the Republican Party, which is probably why they will take the House back, which is why they'll probably gain seven or eight seats in the Senate, even if they lose Delaware, because they have the passion and enthusiasm behind them.

AMANPOUR: And what about -- a lot of sort of things are coming up just this week, sort of some of the unvetted -- like she. She was an unvetted, untested -- although she's run now three times for the Senate, things with Joe Miller, things with West (ph). Do you think that that is a risk for the Tea Party movement, that there are these personal issues that are coming up?

DOWD: Well, I think that it's just like (inaudible) to passion. And they're like crime of passion, that in the aftermath you think, "Maybe I shouldn't have done that." But in this -- in the middle of a time when the country is so angry at Washington, they don't want the Democrats, they turn to candidates that are so outside that many of those candidates are either nuts or are somewhat off or not competent.

But in the end, if you had to switch places with the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, the Democrats would switch places with the Republicans in a minute if they could in this year's election cycle.

MORAN: In the election. After the election, the vetting, that's when it's going to happen in some ways. It's going to be Mitch McConnell who's going to find out exactly what these new senators from this movement believe, what they will do to the Republican conference in the Senate, and I think that's the real challenge happening.

AMANPOUR: You said "nuts." And, you know, as you know, Karl Rove said that Christine O'Donnell has been saying some nutty things. And then he got the sort of FOX-Beck-Palin bandwagon, and he quickly came back into line. I saw you just as we were looking at that piece, sort of holding your head in your hands. What is your view on where the Republican Party and the Tea Party is right now?

MCCAIN: Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman. And my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O'Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business. And what that sends to my generation is, one day, you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how lack of experience you have.

And it scares me for a lot of reasons, and I just know (inaudible) it just turns people off, because she's seen as a nutjob.

DOWD: Well, the good news is, the system is going to work, because the Republicans, which they can do -- they can nominee anybody they want -- they nominated somebody that's not qualified, that's probably incompetent, that has said some crazy stuff. And the -- the great news is, the Delaware electorate is probably going to send her packing one more time.

AMANPOUR: Let's raise -- let's put up what Sharron Angle in Nevada and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, said to each other and about each other during the debate this week.


REID: We have now almost $2 billion worth of work going on in Nevada with renewable energy jobs, and that's a result of tax policy, incentives to have them do that. Harrah's, as a result of language in a bill there, we've saved 31,000 jobs at Harrah's alone. All these things I've talked about doing, my opponent is against those. She wouldn't do that. My job is to create jobs.

ANGLE: Harry Reid, it's not your job to create jobs. It's your job to create policies that create the confidence for the private sector to create those jobs.


AMANPOUR: So where is that race going to end up? I mean, it's pretty much neck and neck right now.

WILL: Harry Reid -- Harry Reid's challenge has been to get to 45 percent, because he pretty clearly can't get above that. After three terms representing that state, that's his ceiling. So they've got a whole bunch of people on the ballot you can vote "none of the above," in which case your vote doesn't count for anything, but you can't vote for one of the candidates.

The most remarkable number out there right now, Christiane, is the fourth -- third quarter fundraising by Sharron Angle, $14.3 million.

AMANPOUR: It's huge.

WILL: I -- I got some facts here. Her filing on this quarter with the Senate -- report on her earnings, 9,112 pages. It weighs 103 pounds. She got 194 contributors, average contribution $73.

AMANPOUR: So why isn't she further ahead? Why is it so close?

WILL: Well, because, A, it's a swing state right now; B, she's running against the most powerful senator; C, she's made a lot of mistakes; D, she wasn't vetted by these people. However, she has the great Republican narrative this year, which is people say, "Well, these people are from outside the system," and they say, "Damn right we're from outside the system. Don't send Washington to fix Washington, the same people who messed it up."

AMANPOUR: When you say great Republican narrative, I mean, there's been a long and venerable tradition of conservativism in this country. You can go back at least to Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, all of that sort of intellectual conservativism that lasted about 30 years. And people are saying that right now it's really gone to the extreme, people are looking at the Tea Party and saying, "This is not conservativism as we knew it"...

WILL: Which is -- which is...

AMANPOUR: ... "but it's extreme."

WILL: Which is exactly what they said about Bill Buckley and Bill Buckley's candidate, Barry Goldwater, who is supposedly representing the paranoid...


AMANPOUR: Reagan had moderates on his -- as vice president and in his cabinet.

MORAN: A different Republican Party. Hard times make anxious people do extreme things sometimes. If you look at the Tea Party constitution, if there is such a thing, at Joe Miller in Alaska saying unemployment compensation is unconstitutional, the emphasis on the 10th Amendment, which is a very vague amendment which they want returned power -- power returned to the states, this is going to be a real challenge for the Republican Party going forward. And it's born of this anxiety.

DOWD: Well, all movements in this country start out with people on the extremes. And the success of those movements over time are either -- are when one of the parties co-opts that movement and the tactics and the message is then moderated.

It started -- it was Barack Obama who sits in the White House was the -- was the beneficiary of a very extreme movement that started in -- after the Iraq war, which was very few people were protesting the war. In the end, that became a majority in this country, and Barack Obama got elected based upon that movement.

The conservative movement -- Ronald Reagan was not considered a moderate when he ran against Gerald Ford in 1976. He ran against moderates. He then ultimately mirrored the country and he got elected. All movements start out that way.

AMANPOUR: So you think, then, that what they're saying right now is not going to be what they say if they get elected?

DOWD: No, what I'm saying is, is that if somebody co-opts this movement, which is an anti-Washington, anti-federal government movement, and then -- then takes that movement and then puts a brand of politics on that, that moderates -- and can appeal to younger voters, it will have a huge amount of success in this country.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, let me ask you, Meghan McCain...

MCCAIN: It's not possible.

AMANPOUR: ... because -- well, you represent younger voters, and particularly younger Republican voters. And in your book, you have talked about the Republican Party, saying that rather than the party of openness and individual freedom, it's now the party of limited message and less freedom. Along with ideological narrowness, an important P.R. battle is being lost. Rather than leading us into the exhilarating fresh air of liberty, a chorus of voices on the radical right is taking us to a place of intolerance and anger.

So radical right?

MCCAIN: I wrote this out of personal experience. I know how I'm vilified on an absolutely daily basis. No matter what the Republican Party wants to think about this Tea Party movement, it is losing young voters at a rapid rate. And this isn't going to change unless we start changing our message.

Maybe we won't care. But I still care...


WILL: Twenty months ago...

AMANPOUR: She has a point, right? Young voters are the future.

WILL: Well, that's -- that's...


WILL: Yes, that's tautology, but not -- not...


WILL: Not a political point. No, 20 months ago the question was, does the Republican Party have a future? In the last 20 months, we've had two things happen. A, the Tea Party movement has energized the Republican Party, and the Democrats are trying to hold onto one house of Congress right now. I don't think that's the sign of a party that's in trouble.

DOWD: And I think Meghan's right, but you have to also make the counterpoint. As Barack Obama won younger voters by 30 points. He as of right now has a difficulty getting any of those voters to a rally who have lost -- a great deal are disappointed in what's happened...


AMANPOUR: Is that about the economy?

DOWD: I think it's about two things. It's what they thought, like many people did, that Barack Obama and the Democrats were going to come to Washington and were going to change things, and they feel like -- in my view, they feel like it's politics as usual.

So now you have a Republican Party that's gone off on too many social issues, too many issues that's not in line with the younger voters. They're very disappointed, and my guess is there's a lot of younger voters who are totally fed up with both political parties at the time and are looking for something else.

MCCAIN: Of course. I mean...

WILL: But the Tea Party -- what the Tea Party has done, among other things, and surely you'd acknowledge this, is they have driven the Republican Party, pulled it away from the social issues.

MORAN: Because it's an emphasis on the fiscal issues.

WILL: Precisely.

MORAN: And they're co-opting the party, and that -- that is important. A lot of the money behind the Tea Party is not mom-and-pop money. It's...

AMANPOUR: It's very wealthy money.

MORAN: It's very wealthy money. People definitely purchasing, trying to purchase the Tea Party movement. And a lot of those issues -- free trade, the kinds of issues that the Chamber of Commerce and that some of the other big money behind the Republican Party this year, trying to co-opt the Tea Party movement -- I'm sure quite how many of those Tea Party activists would agree with them.


AMANPOUR: ... about this, because, you know, everybody would think by the -- what they stand for that perhaps business would get behind them. BusinessWeek -- Bloomberg this week had the following, on the front, basically, saying that the Tea Party is not trusted by business. And it says the Tea Party's brand of political nitroglycerin, in short, is too unstable for businesses that look to government for predictability, moderation, and the creation of a stable economic environment.