• With: Dan Henninger, Jason Riley, Collin Levy, James Freeman

    GIGOT: Yeah. How so?

    RILEY: Because he once again showed poor political judgment in backing an unvetted, undisciplined candidate. And he has --

    (CROSSTALK)

    GIGOT: In Greg Brannan?

    RILEY: In Greg Brannan in North Carolina. And Kay Hagan, the incumbent Democrat there, is extremely vulnerable. And I think the GOP in that state wants to be throwing everything at her right now. If Rand Paul had had his way, I think he would have increased the chances of her holding on.

    GIGOT: So why did his endorsement fail, whereas it has succeeded in other places?

    RILEY: Again, I think he was backing an undisciplined candidate here, and that candidate was going up you against a conservative in Thom Tillis.

    That's the problem.

    Rand -- part of the problem here is trying to purify your party when you're in the minority in terms of the Senate and not controlling the White House.

    So the timing here is also off. I think the establishment is more focused on putting Republicans in seats right now. And whereas you have another faction here led by the Tea Party who is trying to find purer and purer and purer individuals.

    FREEMAN: OK --

    GIGOT: It's interesting. The Democrats, Kay Hagan in this case, but previously, they have tried to pick their own opponents.

    FREEMAN: Right.

    GIGOT: They wanted to knock out Tillis. So they were -- Democrats were running ads against Tillis to be able to try to make sure that either it was extended to a runoff or they could run against Brannan.

    FREEMAN: Yeah, but I think it would be wrong to take away the lesson somehow that it's always the winning move for Republicans to take the more liberal or the more moderate candidate. I mean, when the establishment has chosen candidates -- I think the last few years, Denny Rehberg in Montana; Rick Berg, North Dakota -- so --

    GIGOT: They lost.

    FREEMAN: They lost.

    (LAUGHTER)

    And were acceptable to the establishment. You go back, in recent presidential history, Mitt Romney, John McCain, these were not the conservative alternatives in those years. So the winning formula is a conservative one for Republicans, and I think in a Thom Tillis, they have a conservative.

    GIGOT: It's also a unified party. You can't have the Tea Party in revolt against Republicans, or that would play right into the hands of the Democrats.

    HENNINGER: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, the goal here now is to win back the majority in the Senate in the November elections.

    I mean, let's face it. Politics is simple. It's about numbers. Either you have more votes than the other guy or you don't. If you don't, you lose. That was the problem with the government shutdown. And I think that's the basic lesson that has to be learned here. Yes, conservative candidates, but strong conservative candidates who can know politics and can win these elections.

    GIGOT: Is there a danger, Jason, that if the Tea Party fades, and these challenges from the outside become less salient, that you could get a lot of these Republican incumbents, saying it's back to business as usual, baby. Spend, spend, spend.

    RILEY: There is a chance of that. But there are a number of groups out there, I think, that have established themselves, Freedom Works, Club for Growth, Heritage. They're going to keep Republicans on their toes.

    GIGOT: All right.

    Thank you all.

    When we come back, rewriting the First Amendment. Democrats take a crack at revising the Bill of Rights, believe it or not, in their latest effort to regulate campaign spending.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: When the Supreme Court or any of my colleagues say that the Koch brothers' First Amendment rights are being deprived, that they're not being heard, it defies common sense. It defies logic. The ability to be heard is different than the ability to drown out every other point of view using modern technology simply because you have a lot more money.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    GIGOT: That was New York's Chuck Schumer at a Rules Committee hearing last week where he announced that the Senate will vote this year on a constitutional amendment allowing Congress and the states to regulate campaign spending. The amendment, written by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, is a response to a recent Supreme Court ruling seen by Democrats as injecting a new flow of so-called dark money into politics. And it has the support of at least one former justice, John Paul Stevens.

    Wall Street Journal editorial page writer, Collin Levy, joins us with more.

    So, Collin, what does Chuck Schumer -- what's his problem with the First Amendment?

    (LAUGHTER)

    COLLIN LEVY, EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: Yeah. I think that's the question that everyone is asking, Paul. I mean, this was essentially a declaration of war by Schumer and Udall on the Supreme Court. This was them saying, look, the Supreme Court has been finding that the First Amendment protects political speech, and we're not going to allow them to continue to knock down our efforts to regulate that kind of speech. This is incredible. I mean, this really would create an unlimited ability for -- an unlimited authority for Congress to regulate whatever political activism of private citizens.

    GIGOT: So it would basically re-define the First Amendment and political speech to say that it does not include money that you spend to try to amplify speech. So the states and the federal government could say, you can speak all you want if you're on a street corner, but if you want to buy advertising or spend somehow to amplify that speech, we're going to regulate that as much as we want.

    LEVY: Right. And guess what? I mean, all of this is being done, supposedly, to regulate dark money. Can we use another term for dark money? Dark money is issue advocacy money. OK? So all of the money they're concerned about is the core political kind of speech that the First Amendment was intended to protect.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GIGOT: Well, when you say issue advocacy, when you say issue advocacy, what you mean is that somebody goes on the airwaves, spends money to buy an ad to promote a cause, an issue. It could be gun control, it could be opposition to gun control, it could be environmental rules, right?