OTR Interviews

Democrats Turning Health Care Debate Into 'Manhood Contest'?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 5, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Our next guest says Democrats will turn the health care vote will into a manhood contest. What does that mean? Joining us live is Byron York, chief political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner." What is a manhood contest?

BYRON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, as you know, Democrats barely, barely passed the health care bill in the House last November, and they are trying do it again. And their biggest priority is to make sure they don't lose any of the people who voted for the bill last November who are now terrified of voting for it now.

And what they are trying to do is make sure none of their members chicken out. And what you are referring to, I had a conversation with a Democratic strategist for a new column who basically said you have to go to members and say, look, you're stuck with this vote, you have already voted for it. It is hanging around your neck like an albatross, you cannot chicken out.

And I think there's a lot of arm-twisting going on in private now because you have so many members who are scared of getting defeated this November.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the answer not the members say that was November, early November when I voted. In the meantime, I went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I talked to my constituents and they are going to vote me out so fast my head is going to spin come November if I go your way. Go find a vote someplace else.

YORK: Greta, there's two different arguments about this. The pro health care people are saying, look, you have already voted for this. This November when you run against a Republican opponent, they are going to run this ad you whether you vote for it again or not, because you are already stuck with this vote. You can't hurt yourself anymore. Why not get the benefits they think will come from passing this?

But on the other hand, they are saying if I make a mistake one time, do really I need to compound it by doing it again? If you cheat on your spouse and say I'm sorry I only don't did it one time I will never do it again, should you do that or assume the damage is done and you can act like Tiger Woods? Which is the better way saving a relationship?

So they are thinking if we don't do it again, it will help.

VAN SUSTEREN: Two things. One is there are 39 people in that category who -- I don't know what the numbers are. There just aren't that many ambassadorships that will be available after the election. So that's a drawback, unless they want to get first in line once they get beaten at the polls so they can get an ambassadorship.

The second thing is, is it not powerful ad to say I voted for it, yes. I went home, I listened to you. Do you not want someone to represent you who has the courage to change his or her mind to reflect what my overwhelming number of constituents now want?

Do you want someone who going to play a game and say I'm going along with the crowd, or do you want somebody who really represents you? Is that not a safe ad?

YORK: Greta, that is the kind of flip-flopped that is actually safe for politicians. You had John McCain earlier who almost got killed in his party by supporting comprehensive immigration reform, went out in Republican primaries in '08 and started telling the audience, I heard you, I changed my position.

When you tell audiences and voters that you changed their position because you heard them loud and clear, you can get away with that as a politician.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is going on with Speaker Pelosi? Is she calling up all the people in the House and saying what to them to try to hold these votes together?

YORK: The Speaker has enormous amount of power in the House both to make your life good and make your life bad in terms of committee assignments, where your office is, what your budget is, what your staff is. All of those things she has enormous power on.

And she also has power to help you make a soft landing in case you do vote for it and lose in November. There are think tanks, university jobs, lobbyist jobs, all sorts of things the Speaker of the House can help you get if you walk the plank for her now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Byron, thank you.

YORK: Thank you, Greta.

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