This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: No compromise is what Republican congressman Mike Pence is promising if the GOP takes back Congress in November. Now, does he mean no compromise on anything? Well, we'll ask because Congressman Pence joins us live. He's the House Republican Conference chairman. Good evening, sir.
REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.: Good evening, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: No compromise?
PENCE: Well, look, you know, there were media reports earlier this week that suggested that -- that Republicans were going to learn from the mistakes of 1995 and were going to look for more compromise.
Look, I want to be very, very clear with people around the country. There's going to be no compromise on ending the era of runaway federal spending, borrowing, bailouts, takeovers, deficits and debts. There's going to be no compromise on repealing Obamacare lock, stock and barrel. There's going to be no compromise on supporting our troops or protecting the values of the American people in the way we spend the people's money. So, you know, let's be clear on this.
You know, the American people -- the millions of Americans that are rising up in this election are speaking with one voice and saying, "Enough is enough." And they're sending the men and women across this country into these competitive congressional races, and I hope down to Congress in just a couple of weeks, because they want to change the course of this government. And there's going to be no compromise on changing the course back to fiscal responsibility, limited government and reform.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do we get bipartisanship in our government if right out of the gate, assuming you take the majority in the House -- and we still got to wait 10 days to see if that happens -- but how do we have bipartisanship if right out of the gate, you say no compromise?
PENCE: Well, look...
VAN SUSTEREN: Because that's important. You agree that bipartisanship is important?
PENCE: Yes, but you know, the way they define bipartisanship, in my experience since the Pelosi Congress took over, was they give Republicans a chance to vote on Democrat bills. I mean, real bipartisanship...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that what you would do on the flip side then?
PENCE: Well, no, look, real bipartisanship is looking for what is authentically common ground. You know, we can find common ground on support for our military. We can find common ground, I believe, on -- on reforming the way Congress does business. We can find common ground in extending all the current tax relief for two years, as been proposed by people on the left and the right.
But you're -- but common ground is not compromise. I mean, if -- if people are looking in and they think that men and women like Todd Young and Jackie Walorski, who are running great campaigns in Indiana, or people like Dennis Ross and Daniel Webster down in Florida, who I was with earlier today and yesterday, are coming to Washington, D.C., to meet liberals in Washington, D.C., halfway, they've got another thing coming. These people are coming to Washington, D.C., to change the way we do business, to change the direction of our national government back toward fiscal disciplined limited government and reform.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And we should say though that the fiscal discipline, that your party itself has had problems in the past. Do you agree, the Republican Party, in terms of having discipline?
PENCE: Yes, Greta. I think that's -- I agree strongly. You know, I said after 2006 that Republicans didn't just lose our majority, we lost our way. I mean, our party walked away from the principles that men in our national governing majority first in 1980 and again in 1994, and the American people walked away from us.
I mean, the very suggestion, as I read some in the media promoting, that the mistakes of the past Republican Congress were that they didn't compromise enough, good heavens! The Republican Congress failed because there was too much compromise. There was too much spending, deficits, debt, borrowing, even bailouts. And the American people are saying we want this new generation coming to Washington, D.C., to partner with the principled men and women in the Republican minority in Congress today and put our fiscal house in order.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We tend to grab sound-bites, so of course, we hear that Congressman Mike Pence says no compromise. Everyone thinks, you know, right away, no compromise. Is this -- so that I understand what you mean by it, take the health care. I know the Republicans want to repeal it. And I assume that that's a done deal if you get the majority, you're going to fight to repeal it. If you do repeal it, does it mean that you're unwilling to compromise, to discuss and create a new -- any health care improvements? Are you willing to talk to the opposing party?
PENCE: Well, I think that -- I think that's a very good question. When I said no compromise yesterday down in Tampa, Florida, I said there's going to be no compromise on our commitment to repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel. But Republicans are also committed to starting over with health care reform that will focus on lowering the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government. I mean, you got Democrat Ron Wyden, who had a proposal to allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. Republicans support that idea in principle. Again, that's common ground, that's not compromise. We'll look for opportunities to pass medical malpractice reform to lower the cost of junk lawsuits.
VAN SUSTEREN: So...
PENCE: So -- so yes, there, I think...
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess we should be cautious then in saying that you're not -- that -- you know, that you just -- it's...
VAN SUSTEREN: ...not going to be, like, now we got the power, so tough luck to the other side. It's not going to be that way?
PENCE: Well, no -- look, we've had -- we've had several years of now, you know, the we won, you lost, here's the way it's going to be approach to governance. What Republicans are going to do is we're going to keep our word with the American people. We're going to take a stand to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C. We're going to get this economy moving again by standing up against more bailouts and more borrowing, by defending the current tax relief, promoting additional tax relief. We're going to stand on principle and not compromise on principle.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why should we believe you? Because in -- I mean, there have been Republican Congresses...
PENCE: It's a fair question.
VAN SUSTEREN: ...that have said the same thing, and it hasn't happened. So I mean, you know, always, as we approach the elections, we hear, you know, great passion on both sides and great promises. And then of course, we hear the nasty ads, too. But I mean, why should we believe you this time?
PENCE: Well, look, I think -- you know, I know that in recent years, finding backbone in the Republican Party was like finding water on the moon. So I -- we get that. I understand that people were disappointed in Republican governance in the recent past.
But what I always point to when I'm out traveling around the country and around Indiana is -- is, you know, when every single House Republican voted against that phony stimulus bill, every single House Republican voted against their budget, against their government takeover of health care -- I think the American people have started to figure out that Republicans in Congress have learned our lesson.
And you combine them with this extraordinary generation of men and women that are rising up in House and Senate races around the country, and I think -- I think they recognize that this is a -- this is a new movement on Capitol Hill, and it's a movement that's going to say we're not going to compromise with political elites, with the establishment in Washington, D.C., that want to -- want to grow government and expand the role of government in our lives.
VAN SUSTEREN: Then what are you going to do about earmarks? Are earmarks out, in your mind? Because that's a sneaky way to expand government. That's a sneaky way to spend money. Are -- you know, are you willing to say, you know, end to -- you know, no earmarks?
PENCE: Look, I think there's no -- House Republican leadership is united that we are committed to continuing our moratorium on earmarks. This year, Republicans...
VAN SUSTEREN: Moratorium or get rid of them?
PENCE: Republicans embraced a moratorium on earmarks...
VAN SUSTEREN: What's wrong with getting rid of them?
PENCE: ...this year in the Congress...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I don't even know -- immunity, actually, as a fundamental matter, some earmarks are good. People -- I mean, some earmarks are important, you know, but they're all -- they're, like, fighting words, as well. But -- but I mean, a moratorium seems to me not the courage to say we're going to get rid of them totally.
PENCE: Well, look, I think what we have to do is we have to extend the moratorium for the next Congress. And then we have to engage in a conversation with the American people about the nature of federal spending as a whole. I mean, we're going to look at this budget in totality. We're going to look at domestic spending, defense spending, entitlement spending, and we're going to make the tough choices to put our fiscal house in order. But we're also going to look at the way Congress spends money in small ways. And call them earmarks or call them plus-ups, it's absolutely imperative that we end the practice of earmarking as it exists in the Congress today.