The following is a rush transcript of the April 4, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: The 2010 midterms are shaping up as a possible wave election. Will Republicans take back control of the House and Senate?
Here to discuss GOP prospects, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the party's top recruiter of House candidates who's also in charge of writing this year's version of the contract with America. The Congressman is making his first Sunday show appearance from his hometown of Bakersfield, California.
Congressman McCarthy, let's start with the political landscape. According to the latest Gallup poll on the generic ballot question of which candidate do you prefer in your congressional district, registered voters picked the Republican over the Democrat by a margin of 47 percent to 44 percent. Congressman, how good a year is this shaping up to be for the GOP?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIF.: Well, if we compare this to the 1994, in March of '94 Republicans were only ahead by one point. And as you said, in this Gallup poll, this is registered voters. If you go to likely voters, that probably gives you about a four-more-point advantage to Republicans.
So this is a much better year shaping up earlier, but there's still a distance to go before we get to November.
WALLACE: Charlie Cook, perhaps the independent analyst who watches these House races most closely here in Washington — he projects a Republican pickup this year of 25 to 35 seats. Of course, you need a net gain of 40 seats in order to take back control of the House. Are you going to get there?
MCCARTHY: Chris, I think the opportunity is there for Republicans to take control of the House. This is going to be a national campaign. That means it goes beyond the district.
If you look at every measurement, from the Gallup poll, to the number of recruits that we have, to New Jersey and Virginia, much like '93 and 2005, they were early indicators of where the country was going.
The country is very frustrated and angry at the arrogance of Washington. That doesn't mean they're happy with Republicans, but they're upset with the arrogance of Washington. And I think Republicans have an opportunity. And really, when you look at the election, it's not just about politics. Obviously, I do want Republicans to do well, but this is really more importantly about America. I'm very proud to be an American. I want my children to have that pride. I want every child to have that pride. This is about the direction of where America is going to go.
WALLACE: When you talk about, Congressman, the arrogance of Washington, are you suggesting that more than the economy, more than health care or even the reach of government, that this general distaste with the arrogance or the overreach of Washington, as you call it, that that's really going to be the key issue in November?
MCCARTHY: I think it's going to be about jobs. It's going to be about liberty. It's going to be about listening to the individual. And it's going to be about hope and prosperity. Do you still have the hope and direction within this country?
And as the country sees that Washington continues to fight, they wonder what are they fighting about. Why aren't we fighting for jobs? Why aren't we fighting for rebuilding this country? And when they look at it, they just think Washington is not listening.
WALLACE: Well, all right. As we said, you're in charge of coming up with this year's version of what in 1994 they called the contract with America. That was, of course, the '94 platform that helped Republicans gain back control of the House.
Let's take a look at what was in the contract with America. It called for a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget, strict term limits, and that all laws would apply equally to members of Congress. As I say, you're going to call your version the commitment to America. What's going to be in it?
MCCARTHY: Well, I don't predetermine what's in it, because this is an opportunity in our efforts to have the American people have a voice again. We're going to use all tools available. You're going to find from the Internet, from town hall meetings, from phone apps that people can bring forward solutions, work with us to make America move forward. And that will help restore the trust.
But you will find between April and September us engaging the America public, listening to them, using our principles to find solutions that's best for America and putting them forward.
WALLACE: But will it be mostly — the contract with America, as I looked back on it yesterday, was a lot about process because, of course, you hadn't been in control of the Congress for 40 years, so it had to do with term limits, it had to do with issues like how long members could serve as chairmen of committees.
Do you see the commitment to America being about process again or do you see it more about the issues that affect people's daily lives?
MCCARTHY: I won't predetermine, but I think the one thing American people will see — they want to see this country move forward, so they're probably going to talk about jobs, national defense, where we're going. But they also are going to talk about the transparency, looking at how government has performed, Congress not listening to them.
I think you're going to see some process in there with transparency on how bills are created, when are they delivered, when can the American public read them, when can you see them before they're even voted on. I believe that will probably be a part of it as well.
WALLACE: Do you think that you can recapture the magic, the impact, that the contract with America had with voters in 1994?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think you see a frustration out there. Of course, America's angry. I'm angry. Look at the amount of money we are spending. Look at the amount of debt that is accumulating. I mean, we're borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar. This administration will double our debt in less than five years. That's as much as all 43 administrations before.
I see the American public frustrated out there and looking for a new direction, and I think the Republicans have an opportunity. Yeah, we can win some seats by just being opposed, but there's no way can we govern America without showing what we're for. And that's what the commitment's going to be about. It's going to show us the new direction, the road map, of where America can go.
WALLACE: But Dick Army, who was part of the Gingrich team back in '94 and who then subsequently became the House majority leader, says they had a big advantage back then that you don't have this time, and the advantage is that they had not been running the House, had not been running either house of Congress — well, no, had not been running the House — for the previous four decades.
And then he wrote this, "Then we just had to say, 'We're not them, the Democrats.' Now we have to say, 'We're not them and, by the way, we are not the same Republicans who just broke your heart a few years ago.'"
How do you persuade voters — you're talking about the Democrats — how do you persuade voters — because they got pretty sick of you guys, too — that you're not the same big spending, big government Republicans who were controlling the House and ended up losing it just four years ago?
MCCARTHY: Chris, that's true. Did the Republicans lose their way? Yes, they did. I didn't come to Congress till 2006. And when I ran, I ran against the Democrats and the Republicans.
But one thing I will say to the American people, I think we've been earning our way back. Look at the stimulus. Every Republican said no. But we didn't just say no. We wrote our own bill that showed a new direction, that focused on small business for job creation, not one that focused on greater government and government taking over. So did we lose our way? Yes, we did. But have — we have a new group of individuals, a new generation of leaders, that have said there is a new direction. And earning our way back — I think we've been working hard towards that.
WALLACE: But why shouldn't voters suspect or perhaps believe that if you guys get back control that it's going to be — I know that you're taking a one year moratorium on earmarks — but that it'll be the same earmarks, it'll be the same big spending, that turned off so many conservatives over the previous 12 years?
MCCARTHY: Well, hold our feet to the fire. That's the one thing you're going to find in the commitment, that we will lay out to the American public about what we're going to do.
You may also see in the — from the commitment — of things that we will not do, and we will make that pledge and that commitment to the American people. If we do not do the job, throw us out. And that's the opportunity and that's why you have campaigns.
But that's also why you are able to see what has transpired in the last two years of Republicans earning their way back, showing where they will be and the commitment that they'd make to the American people.
WALLACE: What about the Tea Party, which is obviously a big force, or we think it will be a big force in 2010 — obviously, very unhappy, as you say, with the arrogance of Washington, but as disenchanted, I think it's fair to say, with the Republican establishment as they are with the Democrats?
According to the polls, if they decide in some races to field third- party independent candidates, that's going to come mostly out of your hide.
MCCARTHY: It very well could. But the one thing that you have found across this country — much of it has been an engagement in the campaigns. Much of the Tea Party is an organically grown frustration out there, frustration with the size of government, the amount of debt we're accumulating, the lack of listening.
I think a lot of that — when you see from Republicans what we're offering — that there's a place for them to go. There are a lot of — there are a lot of primaries that they're engaged in.
But I find that one of the reasons I'm a Republican — I believe in the free market, and I believe in the free market of ideas. I think that's very positive and very helpful. The American public should engage in their government. The American public should engage in this process as well as in the campaign.
WALLACE: But how do you feel about the Tea Party running independent candidates against both the Democrat and the Republican?
MCCARTHY: At the end of the day, I think everybody across the country can lay out their ideas. But I believe if you want a new direction in America, if you want a check and balance, if you want to look at focus of jobs and the debt, you've got to look at if you want to make a real change in where Washington is going.
And that's why I say this is a national campaign. At the end of the day in November, I think people are going to come home and see from the direction of where they want. Do they want Congress continuing to go where they are? Do they want a check and balance on this president? Do they want to keep — change in where the debt is going?
I think they'll find that the Republican Party has something to offer, and that's why it's very important that we lay out a commitment to America, we lay out what we're for.
WALLACE: Stan Greenberg, who was Bill Clinton's pollster, commented this week — he said that you guys have already had your 1994 big explosion of support and big revulsion against the Democratic majority, and that was with Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts on January 19th. He says that the Republicans have peaked too early this year.
MCCARTHY: I don't find that to be the case. Why do we continue to grow? Why does the Gallop poll continue to show it? And if he's making that statement after they shoved down health care without the American people being for it, I think that's very difficult, when they continue to not focus on job creation.
Yeah, do we have our work cut out for you? Yes, we do, and we should be held accountable. But I don't think the direction and what the Democrats are selling is what the American public is buying.
I mean, I understand he could be a pollster, and November is a ways away, but I think there's a fundamental difference, a greater contrast than you've ever seen before, between the Republican versus Democrat. And yeah, this election is going to be more about America and who lays out the plan for the direction of where America should go.
WALLACE: Finally — and we've got about 30 seconds left, Congressman — I want to ask you the same question I asked Senator Kyl. How troubled are you by these reports about spending and what the spending was for at the Republican National Committee? And do you feel full confidence — do you have full confidence in RNC chairman Michael Steele?
MCCARTHY: Look, I'm very focused on House races, but the RNC does have some challenges that they need to correct. Not only does the American people request it but the Republicans requested it as well.
And as we move forward in this campaign, look at where — the victories we've had from New Jersey to Virginia that they've been engaged in. They've outraised the Democrats 7 of the last 12 months. But if we are going to show that — the American public that we believe in accountability and bringing it back to Washington, we have to make sure that the RNC has the accountability just the same.
WALLACE: Well, as part of that accountability, you did not give — when I just asked you, you did not give Michael Steele a vote of confidence, sir.
MCCARTHY: Well, I think Michael Steele has worked very hard. I think when you find the challenges going forward that you heard in the last week — he was not at location. He's trying to correct it. But you've got to bring the trust back, and that may mean shaking some other roles inside the RNC as well.
WALLACE: Congressman McCarthy, we want to thank you so much for talking with us today. And now that you know your way here to "Fox News Sunday," please come back, sir.
MCCARTHY: Be glad to be back.
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