OTR Interviews

The GOP: Why it's the party of opportunity and all complexions

Former Miss America-turned-congressional candidate Erika Harold on why she's a Republican, Sen. Tim Scott's defense of the party as one of opportunity for all


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: In his first Sunday news show since being sworn into office, Senator Tim Scott coming to the defense of the GOP. "Meet the Press" host, David Gregory, asking Senator Scott about accusations that the GOP is racist and not diverse, Accusations that have even come from Republicans, like former Secretary of State Colin Powell.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: There is also a dark, a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.


VAN SUSTEREN: David Gregory asking Senator Scott if he believes that's the case.


SEN. TIM SCOTT, R-S.C.: I will tell you what, the GOP really has become the great opportunity party. So often people look at the Republican Party and say, they are a monolithic party, that we don't have multiple voices with different perspectives on the issues. The fact of the matter is what you saw after the State of the Union is that there are many people in our party that are able to voice their concerns. The reason why the party continues to grow is because we like disparity. We like the diversity of ideas.


VAN SUSTEREN: Republican congressional candidate and former Miss America, Erika Harold, joins us. Nice to see you, Erika.


VAN SUSTEREN: Erika, so what do you make of what Senator Tim Scott said, what David Gregory asked him, and his response?

HAROLD: I thought that his response was right on. I think that the party is inclusive. But I think the real divide within the party right now is between the political establishment and grass roots conservatives. And for the party to regain its vitality it has to embrace the energy that the grass roots brings.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does it do that?

HAROLD: It does it by encouraging people -- anyone who embraces the constitutionally conservative principles upon which the party is predicated, embrace those voices and also embrace the ability for people to challenge incumbents if necessary. I think if the party lays out and gives people the opportunity to present their case and let the people decide, that gives the party the energy that it needs.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why are you a Republican?

HAROLD: I'm a Republican first and foremost because I believe in the importance of constitutional principles. And, from that, it comes from limited government, lower taxes, less regulation. And then the protection for individual liberties. And those are the kind of principles that I think empower me and other young people who are looking for their place politically.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have always been a Republican? I know that -- you know, I remember when you were Miss America and I know you went to it Harvard Law School and I know you have been a very accomplished young woman, but you have always been a Republican?

HAROLD: Well, surprisingly, I became a conservative when I was in college at the University of Illinois. I know most people do not become conservatives when they are in college. But, for me, I was studying political science and history. When I started to read the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, our country's foundational documents for myself, I really fell in love with the way in which our country is framed, the constitutional principles. That's when I realized that I was a conservative.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Secretary Colin Powell said that the GOP looks down at minorities and that there is a dark vein of intolerance within the GOP. Have you found that or do you understand why he said that or do you disagree with him?

HAROLD: I think that you'll find intolerant people in all spectrums and all walks of life. I don't think that any one person should be able to speak for the party. I think if you look in both parties, you will find people who express extreme views. I don't think either party would say that those opinions are reflective of the party broadly.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think so many African-Americans are more likely to be Democrat than Republican?

HAROLD: I think that right now the party has not done a very good job of actually going out into minority communities and presenting those principles. I think the principles themselves are inclusive, but the party is not doing a great enough job doing that outreach. During the course of my candidacy, I'm making a concerted effort to taking these constitutional principles to communities all across the country, whether it's women, minorities, young people, because I think these principles really are the principles that can unite us all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you get heat at all for being a Republican?

HAROLD: I really don't get heat for it. I expected to because people told me to anticipate that. I first and foremost try to talk about why I'm a conservative, why the Constitution resonates with me, and why I think focusing on these principles and focusing on the things people care about - - jobs, health care, things like that. I think those are the kind of things that unite people. When you make that your emphasis, then it's something that is inclusive and gives people an opportunity to gravitate towards your campaign.

VAN SUSTEREN: Erika, always nice to see you. It's been a number of years. Always nice to see you.

HAROLD: Thank you so much for having me, Greta.