Interviews

McConnell: 'Clinton Democrat' same as 'Obama Democrat'

Lawmaker on fight to keep Senate seat

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 28, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Republican senator Mitch McConnell telling me, and only me, that he has an idea.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: Senator McConnell, very good to have you.

I'm reading that -- maybe something subliminal with you in the backdrop of these Corvettes, no doubt a push for the young vote, the young male vote. How would you describe it?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., MINORITY LEADER: Well, the Corvette Museum is in Kentucky, and all the Corvettes are made here in Kentucky. So it's kind of one of the things we do here.

CAVUTO: That's right.

MCCONNELL: And we're -- we're really proud of it.

CAVUTO: Do you have a Corvette, sir?

MCCONNELL: No, I don't.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL: I can't afford it.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Well, you know, speaking of affording these, you just recently cut your campaign a $1.8 million check, thereabouts.

MCCONNELL: Yes.

CAVUTO: Many read into that that the campaign's short of dough, you're in trouble. What do you say?

MCCONNELL: No.

You know, I did the same thing six years ago. It's to counter all the outside ads from Harry Reid's super PAC and the Democratic senatorial committee, who all came in here and added funds in the last week. So it's simply a reaction to their doubling down on me. And I'm doubling down on them.

CAVUTO: OK.

I noticed both campaigns, yours and your opponent's, pulling out all the stops this weekend, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren expected to make campaign appearances on behalf of your opponent. You're going to have the country singer Lee Greenwood and I think Bobby Jindal, among others, campaigning.

Right now, you have picked up a little bit in the polls. Are you worried, though, that the Clintons are your biggest threat this weekend?

MCCONNELL: Yes, look, the Clintons came in big time in '08, six years ago.

Hillary was here, actually, the day before the election in a county up in Eastern Kentucky which I had never carried before, and I did carry it that day. So I always have good luck when the Clintons come here.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL: And so I welcome them back.

Look, our people are not foolish, Neil. They know there's not a dime's worth of difference between an Obama Democrat and a Clinton Democrat. The biggest issue in our state is the war on coal created by this administration. Both Clintons support the war on coal that's created a depression in Eastern Kentucky, with a lot of coal miners losing their jobs.

It only underscores that my opponent, no matter how much she may bob and weave and try to deceive, is going to be an Obama Democrat, and our state does not like the president's agenda. We defeated him overwhelmingly in 2012. And we're going to do that again a week from today.

CAVUTO: You mentioned Hillary Clinton, Senator. I would be remiss if I didn't mention her trying to dial back her "businesses don't hire people" remarks. What did you make of that?

MCCONNELL: It's astonishing. It's astonishing.

Look, one of the reasons this has been the most tepid recovery after a deep recession since World War II is this administration's view toward business in general, as if they were the enemy. Who do they think hires people? Who do they think makes the economy grow and expand? It's the private sector.

Hillary will be just like the president, and we will see that in the campaign in 2016. She won't differ with him on anything significant. The country's had enough of this spending and borrowing and taxing and regulation and tepid growth that's a result of these kind of left-wing policies.

So as far as I'm concerned, the Clintons can keep on coming on back to Kentucky. They have been a part of this whole mess that we have experienced here. And we're going to have a sound victory a week from now that begins to say to the American people we're going to take America in a different direction.

CAVUTO: Are you surprised, though, that you're in the race of your life? I mean, after all, your biggest selling point is not only your longevity, but the fact that you have a good shot at becoming the next majority leader of the Senate should it tip Republican. And it's been a tough -- it's been a tough road. Why has it?

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: Yes, that's exactly the way it is. If you're leader of one of the parties, you get an awful lot of unwanted attention. Every crazy liberal in the country wishes me ill. The president's been trying to beat me for years.

Look, I'm proud of my enemies. I wouldn't trade them with anybody. But anybody who ran against me this year was going to be well funded by the political left across the country, and my opponent is well funded by the political left across the country, the people in Hollywood, the people who hate coal. They have all sent her money.

And so if you can raise a lot of money, you can put on a competitive race. They came after me in 2008 with the same kind of approach. And we had a comfortable victory in 2008, and expect to have a comfortable victory in 2014.

CAVUTO: You know, this comes at a time when a lot of people wonder what you would do if Republicans gained power if you were elected and became the next majority leader. Among many of the things that I have heard you mention, Senator, you would do, defunding and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act was not mentioned in the top of that list. Why not?

MCCONNELL: Well, it's the top of my list, but remember who's in the White House for two more years. Obviously, he's not going to sign a full repeal.

But there are pieces of it that are extremely unpopular with the American public that the Senate ought to have a chance to vote on, repealing the medical device tax, trying to restore the 40-hour workweek, voting on whether or not we should continue the individual mandate, which people hate, detest and despise.

I think Obamacare is the single worst piece of legislation passed in the last 50 years.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I'm sorry, sir, but it sounds like what you're saying, that repealing the medical device tax might be the more doable of those options when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, a wholesale dismantling of it likely, unlikely.

MCCONNELL: Well, it would take 60 votes in the Senate. No one thinks we're going to have 60 Republicans.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

MCCONNELL: And it would take a president -- presidential signature. And no one thinks we're going to get that.

So the question is, what can you do about it? Well, I would like to put the Senate Democrats in the position of voting on the most unpopular parts of this law and see if we can put it on the president's desk and make him take real ownership of this highly destructive Obamacare, which has done so much damage to the country, the lost jobs, the higher premiums, the higher co-payments, the higher deductibles.

Yes, we will be voting on that sort of thing. But he is the president of the United States until January of 2017, and people need to understand that that constrains our ability to do for this law what we'd like to do, which is to get rid of it.

CAVUTO: Yes. You know, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this Ebola thing that we face in our country right now. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's getting a whole lot of criticism as to how he handled this quarantine and then not quarantine issue of a health care worker, for someone who's been dealing with Ebola back in West Africa.

What do you think about that and whether he reversed himself, didn't comport himself well, what?

MCCONNELL: Well, it's my understanding that Governor Cuomo in New York, a Democrat, has adopted the same policy. I think it makes sense. I also think that a travel ban makes a lot of sense.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I'm sorry, sir, but that the quarantine policy made sense?

MCCONNELL: Yes.

You have got both a Democratic and a governor -- and a Republican governor in the Northeast who says that they think it makes sense. I'm not inclined to second-guess that decision. Also, I would like to see a travel ban. I think it seems to me to make a lot of sense. I know there are debates about this.

CAVUTO: Right.

MCCONNELL: I hope the health professionals are right. But, in my opinion, a travel ban makes a lot of sense.

CAVUTO: The reason why I mention, it sir, is that some conservatives in your party, even those outside the political spectrum, Rush Limbaugh, for example, have criticized the New Jersey governor's handling of this, saying that maybe conservatives should quarantine him, that he's been all over the map on this and has caved once again to the CDC and the White House. What do you say?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think these governors are doing what they think is in the best interests of their constituents, and I don't think second-guessing that from Washington is something I want to engage in.

CAVUTO: OK.

Also within your party, there's a little bit of a food fight, sir, regarding Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who feels that he has not really gotten the funding or the attention from the National Governors Association, which is a veiled swipe at Christie. Is it justified? Is there some discord in the ranks?

MCCONNELL: I have no idea what's going on in the governor's race in Wisconsin. As you know, we have got a Senate race here in Kentucky, and I have been closely watching the Senate races around the country.

CAVUTO: OK. So...

MCCONNELL: I'm a big fan of Scott -- I'm a big fan of Scott Walker's. I think he's been a spectacular governor.

CAVUTO: Big fan of Chris Christie's too?

MCCONNELL: I think he's been a great governor for New Jersey. Look, to have a Republican governor of New Jersey is quite an unusual thing, and we're proud of him.

CAVUTO: All right.

Now, as you know, sir, within a nanosecond of the polls closing and the results coming in, everyone's going to be turning to 2016. Many are making note of the fact Bobby Jindal is working with you this weekend. And other prospective presidential candidates have as well. Do you have any favorites?

MCCONNELL: I don't.

Look, what I tell all the presidential candidates is the best day they will have will be the day before they announce. It's a really hard thing.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: It is. You're right.

MCCONNELL: It's a really hard thing running for president.

Yes. I mean, other than being shot at in combat with real bullets, there's nothing harder than running for president. I wish them all well and may the best man survive or woman.

CAVUTO: The way the race looks now and the way the Republican Party looks now, a lot of Tea Party and the like who chafed originally at their treatment at the hands of the leadership, not so much you, maybe it was more the case with John Boehner in the House, I get a sense, Senator, they're going to have a hard time coming back into the fold and feeling one big happy family afterwards. What are your thoughts on that?

MCCONNELL: That's not a problem. All the surveys indicate the parties is united around the country.

We have had some primaries. They're over. Somebody won and somebody lost. And I think we have got a totally unified party going into this fall's election, which certainly maximizes our chances of changing the Senate and beginning to take America in a new direction.

CAVUTO: The president after the midterms is expected to look into maybe delaying, if not outright canceling, millions of deportations of illegals. If he were to try that and you were the majority leader of the United States Senate, what would you do?

MCCONNELL: Look, I think it's a bad mistake for the president to try to assume powers for himself that many people feel he should not be assuming.

You know, we have seen that on full display with the EPA and the war on coal. That's not a result of any legislation that Congress passed. It's just something the president wants to do on his own and uses the people who work for him to achieve.

I think that's a big mistake. If the American people do change the Senate and give the Republicans control of the Congress, we certainly are through the spending process going to try to restrain the overactive bureaucracy that's been attacking virtually every business in America, and is the reason for this slow growth, and we intend to push back against executive orders that we think aren't warranted by trying to control the amount of money that is allocated.

CAVUTO: Understood. But that executive order would already be off and running and it might take months, if not years to undo, wouldn't it?

MCCONNELL: Well, he is the president of the United States. And he will be there until January 2017.

I voted for Mitt Romney. I wish we'd taken a different direction. We're going to do what we can in Congress to try to restrain activities that we think are a mistake. And I think certainly think a whole lot of unilateral executive branch-only actions in the immigration field is a mistake.

CAVUTO: Mitt Romney won your state by 23 points. Do you want to see him win again -- run again?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL: Look, I'm not -- I don't have any advice for any of the presidential candidates. I know you have to have the fire in your gut to want to do it.

And, as I said earlier, the worst -- best day you will have will be the day before you announce. So I wish them all well, and we will see who can survive all of that.

CAVUTO: Senator, very good talking to you. Very good seeing you.

MCCONNELL: Thank you, Neil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: Sounds like he's open to a Romney run. We will see.

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