Steele Challenges Caine's Claims

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 19, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: All right, well, what’s that they say about when life gives you lemons? Get a load of Tim Kaine’s lemonade.


TIM KAINE, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: So, with virtually no help from Republicans, President Obama and Democrats in Congress rescued the American economy from the brink of disaster.

But there’s still more work to be done to find clean and innovative energy solutions to reform our nation’s immigration laws, to restore America to number one again in higher education attainment. That’s why it’s so important that we elect Democrats this fall.


CAVUTO: All right. The upshot is the DNC chairman telling reporters today that voters can only trust Democrats to nurse the economy back to health, the morning after voters appeared to be saying, do Democrats have the economy on life support?

We requested an interview with Tim Kaine. He wasn’t available. His Republican counterpart is.

And let’s say Michael Steele is stunned.

Michael, what do you make of that?


You know, it flies in the face of what’s happening around the country and has been happening around the country since last November. Very much as Jennifer just noted, your previous guest, there is a grassroots movement afoot that has nothing to do with establishment politics, nothing to do with the same old brand, and certainly nothing to do with supporting an agenda that dismantles our American economy, as opposed to relying on small businesses to build it up.

So, I think that, you know, the chairman is putting a good face on a bad night. A lot of folks want to write a lot of stories, but the one that I think really needs to be written is just how much dysfunction really exists beneath the veneer of the Democratic Party right now in terms of their ability...

CAVUTO: Well, what about any dysfunction in the Republican Party?

STEELE: Oh, well, we...


CAVUTO: I mean, there was a concern that maybe -- you know, you were very early on trying to tell the established leadership in the Republican Party go slow trying to distance yourself from these Tea Partiers, because they have got a winning message.

STEELE: No, no, no, no. I -- no, Neil, let me be -- I have never...


CAVUTO: But now I’m wondering -- but where’s it going, where’s it going now? Because the party establishment candidate in Kentucky was overwhelmingly defeated. So, there does seem to be a disconnect with Republicans.


STEELE: Well, they can connect. And this is what I have said with Tea Party leadership -- and I have been meeting with them since April of last year -- is that, look, we’re in the same fight here.

And to the extent that, as in the case of Rand and Grayson, if we have a situation where your guy prevails, we’re backing that candidate. We’re very much looking forward to supporting Rand. And if our guy prevails, we would like the same support, because we’re one in the same...



CAVUTO: That might be the case, Michael. But I was covering this live last night on Fox Business Network, which, Michael, if you don’t get, you should demand. Anyway...

STEELE: Oh, I do.

CAVUTO: ...when I was -- when I was covering it, I got the impression, talking to a lot of Republicans, oh, we love you Tea Party guys, we love you Tea Party guys.

When I asked the Tea Party guys their sentiment toward Republicans, they were saying, well, you know, they’re not all that.

So, I’m wondering whether there’s a little bad blood there.

STEELE: No, there isn’t.

And I can’t speak to...


CAVUTO: Michael, Michael, Michael, Michael, Michael, Michael, there is. You know it.

STEELE: No. Neil, Neil, no. I’m telling you, as the national chairman of the party, there’s no bad blood between the Republican National Committee and the Tea Parties, as much as folks...

CAVUTO: Michael, I have covered these rallies. I have been in Sacramento. I have been in Atlanta. I even took off my tie.


STEELE: Neil, you asked me a question, and I’m not giving you the answer that you want to hear. And I’m telling you...


CAVUTO: I’m telling you, Michael, they told me, these same guys I’m talking to: Republicans are not our guys. The establishment ain’t guys. We don’t like anyone associated with power guys. That’s what they were saying.


STEELE: Neil, stop for a second. You’re not letting me answer the question...

CAVUTO: Answer that.

STEELE: ...that you asked me.

STEELE: Now, you have put -- you have put a different question on the table.

If the question is, is there an opportunity for Tea Partiers and the Republican Party to work together, absolutely, there is. And we have seen that cooperation in races and will continue to see that in races going into the fall.

If your question is, are the Republican Party -- is the Republican Party trying to co-opt the Tea Party or the Tea Party is running away from the Republican Party, we’re not in the business of doing that. We recognize that, in many instances, these are independents, they’re disaffected Republicans, they’re conservatives, they’re Blue Dogs, they’re Reagan Democrats. It’s a cross-section of the population.

CAVUTO: Michael, they took out -- they took out a party favorite, Senator Bennett in Utah. They overpowered the party to dump him.

Were you for or against that?

STEELE: They didn’t over -- Neil, they did not overpower the party.

There was a legitimate primary process in which the incumbent candidate, like the challenging candidate, had to state their case. The voters in that district, who aren’t all Tea Partiers, by the way, voted -- in that state voted their conscience and voted the way they wanted to. That’s fine.

CAVUTO: Michael, the Tea Partiers didn’t like Senator Bennett. Fairly or not, they didn’t like him. The established Republican Party did.




CAVUTO: I’m just saying, for you to say that there is no -- there is no angst between the two, there clearly is.

STEELE: Neil, don’t mix -- please, stop...



STEELE: Please do not mix the Republican Party establishment -- I don’t even know who that is, by the way -- with...

CAVUTO: You, you, you, you, you, you, you.

STEELE: ...activists. Neil...


STEELE: Neil, have you been reading my press lately? I don’t think -- the last thing you can say about me is that I’m part of the establishment here, I mean, because...


CAVUTO: Well, that’s true, because they -- everybody hates you. But I...

STEELE: Well, exactly.

CAVUTO: I’m kidding.

But I’m just saying there must be something to this, Michael, when -- when Tea Partiers are saying, don’t you glom on to us. We’re not about you.

STEELE: We’re not glomming. I mean, why are you taking...


CAVUTO: Last night, you were glomming -- not you specifically -- a lot of glomming to them, and they resented the glomming.

STEELE: I can’t -- look, Neil, all I can speak to is what I have done as chairman of the RNC.

I mean, this is a great political discussion and exercise, but the reality of it is, we have got it pull together to stop this hegemony that the Democrats are trying to affix to the economy through their -- through their legislation.


STEELE: You have already talked about the fact today that they can’t get the votes, the 60 votes to move forward on this financial reform. That to me is a good thing, because what’s in that package is scary.

CAVUTO: All right.

STEELE: We have seen what they have done on health care.

The bottom line is, whether it is in primaries or in general elections...

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

STEELE: ...we’re about the business of electing good Republicans to beat back this agenda by the Obama administration, Nancy, and Harry Reid.

CAVUTO: All right.

Michael Steele, always fun.

STEELE: All right, friend.

CAVUTO: Thank you, buddy. All right.

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