Morning Joe | January 09, 2013
>> right. speaking of fun --
>> oh, he's so fun.
>> he's, like, mr. fun. with us now, chief white house correspondent for "politico," mike allen who is here with the "morning playbook." mike, republicans have signaled that it could be a tough confirmation process for chuck hagel . we were talking a lot about this yesterday. also some other nominees as well. but you say the white house is looking forward to these fights. why would that be?
>> no, that's exactly right. this is a real window into why the president made this tough choice of chuck hagel . and that is we talked to people around the white house who said that the president wants fights with congress. and there's both a short-term strategy here and a long-term strategy. in the short term, the president wants to take advantage of the fact that he's the only person in these negotiations who's not running for re-election. so he can afford to be tough. he can afford to stand up for what he said. second, simple contempt by the president. these republicans who lost to him so badly in 2012 , in his view, just won't take yes for an answer. so there's a little bit of exasperation by the president. but pull back the camera, and you see the bigger strategy, which is looking ahead to the midterm elections in 2014 . by picking tough fights with the hill, the president uses his office to draw contrast with the republicans might make it easier for house democrats to get a majority back in 2014 . it would be a long shot, but that would be bookends for the majority the president started his presidency with.
>> let me ask you about another piece you're working on, mitch mcconnell facing ads from the right. there's a conservative advocacy group targeting him?
>> we've talked before about mcconnell running for re-election this year. to what degree that might tie his hands or constrain him on some of these big deals. and we're seeing here one example of that. brent bozell , leading conservative name, is behind a group that's spending five figures on digital ads in kentucky that show a picture of a morose mitch mcconnell . you don't often get a picture of a happy, giddy mitch mcconnell , but a morose mcconnell in between obama and biden. this is trying to stir up in states at the same time democrats are looking to challenge him just as republicans challenged harry reid in nevada. so this is the first of a series of efforts by conservatives to really pressure mitch mcconnell at the same time that he's trying to be the one adult in washington.
>> you know, i want to talk about 2014 for a second. you know, the republicans have, i think, gotten off to a terrible start. and i think the president's strategy is pretty darn good. please, fight against a vietnam hero, a republican that you said four years ago was the expert of all experts on foreign policy . please do that. yeah, please do that after you fought against susan rice . and please --
>> you ask why there aren't women in the inner circle .
>> and by the way, there's going to be a gun debate coming up. and if republicans take an extremist stance and instead of fighting for handguns and fighting for the right to keep and bear, you know, hunting weapons and the right to keep and bear arms, instead fight for these massive clips, these high-capacity magazine clips and assault weapons , 2014 , you've put all of this stuff together, jon meacham , 2014 is going to be a rough year for the republican party . i said '12 was moving them toward wig status. if they continue to be the party of extreme ideas and extreme factions instead of the party of balanced budgets, the party of less taxes, the party of less regulation, the party of more economic freedom , then they're going to get -- seriously, they are going to move one step closer to political oblivion.
>> yeah. i still think it's really important to look at the analogy of the democratic party which spent so much time in the wilderness and the --
>> '84, the san francisco democrats when they were radical.
>> the 49-state sweep, and you got the deal, you got al frum and a lot of folks trying to reorient the party . and there was significant rethinking. and the democratic base didn't love that. steve knows this. but guess what? in 1992 , you got the first president -- first democratic president in 12 years who then became the first democratic president since fdr to be re-elected. and now you've had the second democratic president to be re-elected since fdr who's the first guy who had a chance. and so but right now we're at a point where republicans can't rethink themselves if they don't accept that they need to do something.
>> quick numbers here. so in the middle of this when democrats went too far left starting in 1968 and lost people like my parents who had been democrats going all the way back to fdr .
>> let's just say '66. reagan wins midterm.
>> so we start '66. the next 5 out of 6 presidential elections , republicans win the popular vote . so democrats get their act together. they offend the base. they move to the center. like you said, it's instituted, and then what happens? democrats win 5 of the next 6 presidential elections in the popular vote . this is not that hard. republicans have gone too far right. they are owned now by extremists. they are owned now by survivalists instead of hunters. they are owned now by people that are far more radical on issues than ronald reagan ever dreamed of being, and that's why they just keep losing.
>> this is precisely the point. and everything you guys described having happened, i was there, as meacham said, i was part of it, but i think the difference was that while we certainly had our share of ideologues on the democratic party , we had the democratic wing of the democratic party that resisted to some degree this move back to the center, what you see now in terms of ideologues and rigidity and just complete zero tolerance passion on certain issues, whether it's guns, taxes, whatever, does not make me optimistic that the republicans that they're going to follow this historic precedent and make this transition. it's certainly not by 2014 .
>> certainly there's a challenge on the national level. you look at the state level, you've got some really good republican governors that are problem solvers, that don't have extremists on the far right, who are trying to make money with their special interest groups or their talk radio shows or selling their books. you know, of course, there's some great conservative authors, some great conservative talk show hosts, but there are also some real extremists that try to drive the party 's far right --
>> and things have to get really bad for real thing.
>> this is about winning. i've been saying it for years. it's about winning. you know, people have said in the past i'm a rhino, a republican in name only. you know what? i'm starting to look that way because you know what i do when i run? i win. you know why? because i like winning. i want every vote. i want every dollar, and i get really angry when i lose a vote, and i get really angry when i lose a dollar. that's why i've never lost an election. if i ever get back into politics, i'll never lose an election again. there i said it. it's about winning! like nick saban , when nick saban coaches a football team , he doesn't implement strategies to make him feel good about himself. he doesn't implement strategies -- i mean, he does everything to win. because that's how you move it down the field. and this republican party , it's not about winning on the national level.
>> not right now.
>> and that's why, guess what? they lose and keep losing.
>>> mike allen , thank you very much.
>> have a great day.
>> we'll see you tomorrow.