OTR Interviews

ObamaCare and drug companies: Let's make a deal?

House Republicans releasing emails and documents on dealings between the White House and the drug industry before the national health care law's passage

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 31, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A sign of Hollywood on the campaign trail, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod stealing a classic movie line. First the original from "A Few Good Men."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: I'll answer the question. You want answers?

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I think I'm entitled to answers.

NICHOLSON: You want answers!

CRUISE: I want the truth!

NICHOLSON: You can't handle the truth!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: And today in Boston, Axelrod taking Jack Nicholson's line. Did he pull it off, or did it fall flat? Here's what Axelrod told Governor Mitt Romney supporters who were heckling him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: You can't handle the truth, my friends. That's the problem. You can handle the truth, you quiet down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York joins us. So how'd he do? Is he going to Hollywood or should he stick to politics? He did pretty well in politics the last time around!

BYRON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I give the edge to Jack Nicholson. What can I say?

VAN SUSTEREN: You do?

YORK: This was -- this was actually a really serious scene. I know it was rowdy and it was noisy and it attracted a lot of attention. The Romney campaign was trying to send a message with this. They told me this afternoon, you know, We -- meaning Mitt Romney -- has been heckled over and over again. When Mitt Romney did an event at the "bridge to nowhere" in New Hampshire, there were hecklers. He did another event in New Hampshire with Senator Ayotte. There was hecklers there. There was a big demonstration in Michigan when he laid out his economic plan.

They say, We get heckled all the time. This is an indication, this is a signal that they're going to get it back twice as much.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, are these freelance hecklers or are these organized campaign-sanctioned hecklers?

YORK: Organized campaign-sanctioned hecklers. This was in Boston, OK? So the Romney campaign headquarters is in Boston. There were campaign employees among this group doing the yelling.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, will this be happening when President Obama campaigns? I guess it's harder to get near the president than --

(CROSSTALK)

YORK: Yes, it is the surrogate, David Axelrod, and not the president himself, although it is true that Romney has been heckled himself at some of these events. But doesn't mean that it will happen to President Obama himself.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of interesting that his -- that Governor Romney's campaign is -- his campaign today at Solyndra was secret. People didn't even know it was going to happen. Was that in an effort to avert the sort of popular heckling business --

YORK: This was --

VAN SUSTEREN: -- strategy by everybody?

YORK: This was no accident. This Axelrod event was not supposed to be known until a few hours before it happened, but it leaked out last night, and that's what allowed the Romney people to organize this counter- demonstration.

Romney didn't let that happen in California. As a matter of fact, the reporters who travel with Romney, who cover with Romney, didn't find out they were going to Solyndra until they were on a bus on the way.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the other topic, e-mails today released describing the deal making on the health care law between the White House and big -- and the pharmaceutical industry.

YORK: Well, you remember President Obama during the campaign promised that the negotiations for the health care bill would be in public. They'd be on C-SPAN and you wouldn't have --

(CROSSTALK)

YORK: -- these private backroom deals, secret deals, that sort of stuff. This just blows that completely out of the water. This shows that in the preparation or -- of "Obama care," you had the pharmaceutical industry negotiating with the White House.

The one thing they wanted to stop more than anything was the reimportation of drugs at lower cost, you know, from out of the country. They were offering things. They ended up offering money to -- for an advertising campaign in favor of "Obama care," to support groups that were created to promote "Obama care." There was a lot of back and forth dealing going on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, when the White House got sort of caught with its pants down about these e-mails, this is White House Eric -- spokesperson Eric Schultz said a naked political taxpayer-funded crusade to hurt the president's reelection campaign, rather than, Oops, I'm sorry we weren't transparent, as we said we were going to be. I mean, that cast the blame that this is -- the fact that now the American people know about this is somehow a political maneuver.

YORK: If you are a Republican, this is the advantage in controlling one house of Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee investigators were able to get this stuff, make it public in a way that it probably would not have been if Democrats had continued to hold Congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, it would disturb me so little if they hadn't promised transparency. I mean -- I mean, everybody's up to his eyeballs in this city trying to cut special deals and special earmarks, but don't tell the American people that it's going to be transparent if you're doing this -- you know, this behind-the-scenes secret e-mail stuff that is just not transparent!

YORK: Right. And you cannot expect legislation of the scope of "Obama care" which affects literally one sixth of the economy not to have some of this sort of stuff going on.

I mean, who is more interested in a bill that would force Americans to buy their product and subsidize those Americans --

VAN SUSTEREN: Than the pharmaceutical industry!

YORK: -- who couldn't afford it to buy it than the pharmaceutical industry? They deserve to have a voice in the process. It's just the secrecy that's going to irritate people.

VAN SUSTEREN: This secret stuff. Anyway, Byron, thank you.

YORK: Thank you.