Hardball | February 20, 2013
>>> devastating blow to republicans, of course. since november the gop has admitted it must broaden its appeal to bring back women, minorities and younger voters. we all know this. in their first big meeting of conservatives this year coming up you'd expect to see some fresh faces to speak for all of america, not just rural white males. not so fast. the gop circus is coming to town. the conservative political action congress which is always held here in washington, the cpac , is bringing back the clown show. their scheduled speakers, you're not going to believe this. sarah palin . i know, attractive to many, but only on the far right, apparently. rand paul, who i am amazed by that he exists. newt gingrich , there's a fresh face. alan rich , rick santorum . don't forget wayne lapierre , the kid on the block. and even a curtain call for mitt romney . it doesn't look like the far right's grip on the gop is fading after all. john is a senior adviser to the santorum presidential committee, at least for the last one and roger simon is a pro here at political comments for politico. john, why the same old song, the same old faces?
>> well, you know, everybody is talking about this rebranding and they almost this is like money ball where we're supposed to get rid of all our players and bring new players in. the change in marketing terms is not rebranding, it's repositioning. what the republicans did wrong, it wasn't except for a few cases bad messengers, we didn't resonate with the hard- working people around this country. we fight too much for taxpayers for the wealthy, we look like we fight for loopholes for big corporations and we've lost our way fighting for average hard- working blue collar americans . and that's where we have to change. not the players per se . although there are new players like a tim scott from south carolina , which is a great new player for the republican party .
>> i don't think he's off the contraception bandwagon, though, is he? i'm serious about this. if you say that he isn't going to talk about that anymore?
>> i will tell you this. if you listen -- what he is talking about more than anything else is that we've lost our way and fighting for hard-working, middle income americans . if you go back and look at the primaries where rick santorum won 11 states, tied two others, it was by galvanizing blue collar and lunch bucket republicans who felt that the rest of the republican party had left them and, frankly, they liked the idea of a blue collar guy from pittsburgh who was going to fight for them.
>> i agree with that part. let me go to roger simon . the show business quality of sarah palin , when she gets up on a stage, i don't want to get into why it works, but it works. she's kinetic, exciting. she will bring the house down when she shows up there. i don't know what mitt romney -- nobody has asked for an encore from him. but this regular crowd of newt gingrich , who seems to be freddie kruger , he will never go away.
>> what's the definition of insanlt, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. this is what we're seeing at cpac .
>> i think they say that at alcoholics anonymous too.
>> well, cpac is the warm, emotional, beating heart of the republican party . not necessarily the brains. i don't mean they're stupid, i mean they're not looking for cool intellectualism here. they are looking for people who will appeal to the emotional heart strings --
>> would they rather win with a mitt romney ?
>> they would rather lose with a purist than win with a pragmatist.
>> go with that, john. a lot of liberal democrats enjoyed add lie stevenson because they had the awareness he's a lot smarter than ike, although i'm not sure he was. would you rather win or be right, far right?
>> there's no reason we can't be both. look at the governors in 2010 where we ran about bringing taxes under control, about bringing spending under control. one of the speakers at cpac is scott walker , who's a star. you know, you can still be right --
>> i want to ask you about that. how bad would conditions have to be in this country for us to elect someone of the far right as our president? not a governor of wisconsin, president of the united states . how bad would conditions have to be? we know how bad they were in '80 for reagan who came in who was right but not hard right. what would it take for a hard guy like santorum or palin or the rest of this crowd to get elected president of the united states .
>> let's be honest, hard right is your sort of label that you're putting on this.
>> well, i studied nate what's his name this morning.
>> john casic in ohio. all these people.
>> corbett has a hard time getting re-elected.
>> they all ran on very hard core principles of less spending, less taxes and creating jobs and more economic freedom . that's what a lot of people wanting. that doesn't have to be considered a right wing message. and everybody thinks that we're only talking about social issues. we do have to talk more about fiscal issues. but particularly the ones that hit hard-working americans .
>> why when you -- you seem like a reasonable guy and i agree with you about the lunch bucket guy. i root for that guy. i think joe biden does too from a different perspective. how can you say that sarah palin stands for the working class regular people ? how can you say that they successfully got the message across if you're rick santorum . people think of rick santorum and think fantastic, overwhelmingly, rigid, orthodox, classic, pro-lifer who would like to go back and get rid of contraception as well. when they think of sarah palin , she got elected for a term of office and didn't know even complete it. that's what they think of. they don't think of these things you're talking about.
>> chris, well let's set the record straight . rick santorum in no way supported getting rid of contraception, number one.
>> he said he wanted that to be a big issue in the campaign. you want to get the tape out? we'll show it tomorrow night.
>> i'm not going to worry about whether it was contraception. the argument that he was making on contraception he did not wanting the president of the united states telling everybody that they had to sell it. to be honest with you, if you look at the economic policy of rick santorum , the number one issue was bringing back manufacturing to this country. something that this president said those jobs are lost forever.
>> john -- john, i wish you were -- i hope you get the job as a speechwriter because that would be something i'd like to hear too. by the way, ed schultz and a lot of people would like to hear it. what's he talking about?
>> he's talking about an imaginary party respectfully. protecting tax cuts for people who own corporate jets is not a lunch bucket issue. and that's where the republican party is now. the republican party -- i mean everything that you just heard was correct, it just doesn't happen to be what the republican party is pushing.
>> you mean that 47% that romney is putting down is actually the republican party ?
>> the 47% who always want a handout with government programs because they can't earn livings otherwise. you know, the cpac convention is like going to the produce department and thumping the cantaloupes to see who's ripe. that's what the republicans are looking for.
>> let's go back to something that's hot right now. what about wayne lapierre being a featured speaker? is there an identity when the pro- gun lobby , the second amendment people who believe in idea logically that we've got to have a gun to protect ourselves from a tie ran cal government some kay, is that part of the republican -- i went back and looked at the republican platform. it's all pro nra language. is your party, the republican party now, identified pretty much uniquely with the nra .
>> first of all, i would say we're the pro liberty, pro freedom party which i believe is part of what the nra platform is. second of all, if you look at states like pennsylvania, ohio, wisconsin, michigan, where we pick up a lot of democratic votes is on that issue where they do feel that obama and others are coming to take away their gun. that's why gun sales are up all across the country.
>> do you think obama is coming to take away somebody's gun?
>> well, you explain to me why gun sales are up in all these places, where there are very strong democratic bases.
>> i wish you'd answer a simple question. do you as an obviously articulate person believe that president obama wants to take away people's guns? i haven't seen any proposal for confiscation. not a single one.
>> i believe, i believe -- i believe that this president greatly wants to limit gun rights . and what i also believe is that he is leveraged terrible tragedies across this country in an emotional way to try to advance a liberal agenda when it comes to guns and i think that's unfortunate.
>> i think it's a gun safety agenda, but thank you, john. really thank you. please come back. i want to hear from you.
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