Morning Joe | December 13, 2012
>>> here with us now, chairman of the american conservative union , al cardenas. and al and a group of more than 100 conservatives recently sent a letter to congressional republicans writing in part this. "in the house, the nation elected in 2012 one of the largest republican majorities in the past 100 years. you have a mandate to fight for conservative principles that is arguably much broader than the one that narrowly re-elected president barack obama claims to have for his leftist agenda. if republicans cave in now when it really counts, next time you will be baeker, because your conservative base will be outraged. many who worked hard to elect you in the past will never lift a finger for you again."
>> those are tough words!
>> you know the old bob novak , he used to say that republicans were put on earth to cut taxes. and if they don't, they have no purpose.
>> no purpose, yeah.
>> that was bob novak . you know, all of a sudden we're faced with a set of circumstances where we're talking about cutting taxes on spending, and now we've got stuff on the table to react to, and conservatives don't feel comfortable with what's on the table.
>> so what is it that conservatives would like to have happen? in other words, compromise. you need compromise to get a deal done, but you're sort of saying don't compromise.
>> no, we're saying have a serious conversation. the president is proposing taking an aspirin when we've got a bad case of pneumonia. you've got a trillion-dollar deficit this year, $172 billion just in november. 60% of our budget more or less is on entitlements. and he's proposing not to touch entitlements? that's a nonstarter. i mean, that is an irresponsible position to take. you've got cost of living --
>> that's not his position. it's not his position.
>> he said no entitlements.
>> no, he did not say that.
>> sequester is not going to happen. well, look at the campaign. he said three things. sequester won't happen. that was his campaign pledge. he pledged that entitlement reform is not going to take place now, we won't cut your benefits. that's what he said. and the third thing he said was that he was going to implement obamacare this is a $1.5 trillion tax increase on americans comprised of 19 separate taxes. now, you put that on the table, and where do you start?
>> michael steele .
>> hey, al, how are you doing, buddy? good to see you.
>> i'm doing great. good to talk to you.
>> quick question for you. in terms of this sort of notice that conservatives have given to members of the house, how do you expect boehner to go into the negotiations with that kind of sitting in his hip pocket? do you see it weighing him down at all? is the emphasis from conservatives around the country that you're talking to more on, look, let's see what those cuts are going to be to entitlement programs that the president has not put on the table so far, or is it something more or less than that?
>> well, we want to start a conversation on much deeper cuts. and then we think it gets serious. and then you could put whatever you want to on the table. we want to do one of two things, give the speaker some backbone on these negotiations. and "b," you know, he's going to be better off telling the president, look at my constituents and the conservative movement about where we are and look how much do i have in talking with you. and we believe we're the conscience of the nation when it comes to reasonable spending. we're in a fiscal crisis, and we're downplaying it, michael , to a dangerous point. i believe that the sequestration money or whatever else the president's put in front of us now is irresponsible. that's just not enough. you know, the crisis is much deeper than the solutions that are being proffered.
>> the question i would have for al and michael is this. this sounds how it was litigated during the campaign and the republicans lost. i'm hearing about taxes and spending, but the president ran on a specific plan of we're going to raise taxes on the highest earners which taxes should go up on the highest earners. i think the country's accepted that. i think your argument is entitlement cuts have to come. but this is the argument that was made during the campaign. what is the difference now? i don't understand where -- i have great respect for you and michael both, but i don't understand how that political argument differs from what we saw over the last six months. as we well now, democrats picked up seats in the senate and the president was re-elected.
>> harold, there's no winning hand in politics in this argument. every poll i have seen since the election showing different ways to solve the crisis, americans don't want them. we proposed -- you know, we exposed the challenge, americans buy in on the challenge, by and large, and then you proffer all these solutions, and we don't want to take the medicine. so congress is going to have to make decisions that allow americans to take the medicine whether they want it or not. and then when things get better, americans will react in a positive way. there's no solution on the table i have seen that wins popularity.
>> al, how do republicans, more specifically and i think more importantly to you and me, how do conservatives make the conservative message of ronald reagan , of margaret thatcher , of milton freedman as relevant in the 21st century to an 18-year-old latino in los angeles , as a 65-year-old banker in greenwich, connecticut?
>> doesn't that come down to the candidate?
>> it comes down to everything. you know, the first rule of engagement is to engage. and just like last time i saw mika, she was dancing salsa at our reagan awards dinner, if you remember.
>> wow! that's engagement.
>> that's -- you know, that's a point. and i'm just not being -- i'm just not trying to bring levity into the equation.
>> but you've got to engage!
>> but you've got to engage. you know, when we have the republican national convention , what did i do?
>> al, is it fair to say that if you've got a candidate that's dweeding america between 47% and 53%, that may not engage the way we need to engage?
>> if you have a candidate who doesn't speak to 100% of america, he'll lose. someone won't buy it, but at least most americans will believe i may or may not vote for you, but i know you care. the most significant question asked in the polling data in the election i thought was, does so and so care for people like me? and if you're scoring 38%, you ain't going to win. and so what we need to do moving forward is making sure that whoever we select as a candidate well over 50% of americans say yes, this person cares for people like me. let me tell you, it's a right side of the brain/ left side of the brain . this republican campaign was run on the left side of the brain , you know, only right side of the brain wins politics, and it's all about the heart.
>> it's the heart and we got killed there.
>> we got killed.
>> al cardenas, thank you very much. great to see you.
>>> still ahead, chuck todd , chris matthews and david gregory . you're watching " morning joe " brewed by