Interviews

Rep. Polis talks Democratic base's protests against Trump

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 2, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter. That is nothing compared to the chill in Washington that could be here forever, Democrats boycotting today's hearing for the president's pick to head the EPA, vowing to block his Supreme Court nominee before it was even announced.  

Then there's that riot that was breaking out over at U.C. Berkeley over a speech by a conservative editor.  He never got to -- spoke.  Protesters had plenty of opportunity to smash windows and set fires.  

Now some Democrats are threatening to protest the president's speech to Congress later this month, reportedly refusing to take a picture with him or so much as shake his hand.  

What is going on here and will this chill ever end?  

Colorado Democratic Congressman Jared Polis joins, plans to join that protest.  

Congressman, what is happening here?  I mean, can't we all be friends?  

REP. JARED POLIS, D-COLORADO:  Well, I haven't heard the refusals to take a picture.  

What many of us are doing, myself included, is, we each get to bring one guest to the State of the Union to sit in the gallery.  And I'm going to bring a dreamer from my district, somebody who has the deferred action, is able to be here legally.  Others are bringing Muslim Americans, disabled Americans.  

And so we're trying to highlight for the president who his policies impact.  
And we hope...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But you are going?  My point, sir, is, you're going?  You're not like some of your colleagues, who are skipping out?

POLIS:  Yes, absolutely.  No, I'm going and I'm bringing a friend who is undocumented.  

CAVUTO:  OK.  

Without getting into the whole undocumented thing, though, I do want to step back and wonder how it got this bad.  It seems so out of control now, with some of your colleagues skipping out on hearings or refusing to even consider the president's Supreme Court choice.  Maybe that's a holdover from the way Republicans handled President Obama's Supreme Court pick to replace Antonin Scalia.  

But the tit for tat is now something we try to control with our own kids, right?  

POLIS:  Well, yes, the wounds are still raw, as you said, by Obama's Supreme Court nomination refusing to be considered.  They refused to hold a vote.  

So what you have is, of course, the Democratic base telling our senators, don't you dare roll over.  You saw what they did.  You better be as strong as those Republicans in standing up to this president.  

So, there's a lot of intense pressure from the Democratic base to delay the vote.

CAVUTO:  Do you get that yourself, Congressman?  And how you deal with that, or...

POLIS:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  Are you going to entertain giving this Supreme Court choice a fair hearing?

POLIS:  Well, so, you know, being in the House, not in the Senate, I don't have a say.

CAVUTO:  I understand.

POLIS:  But we got it over attending the inauguration.  I absolutely heard from many of my progressive constituents, don't you dare go.  It only validates Trump.  

And we responded, whether we like it or not -- and my constituents know I didn't vote for him -- he's the president.  So I'm going to go and represent the peaceful transition of power.  

And some people weren't happy with that.  Others were.  But, absolutely, I got hundreds of calls from constituents telling me not to go to the inauguration.  

CAVUTO:  Yes, but you went.  

And I guess my issue here now is, it's so out of control that the parties can't work with each other.  And I understand how this goes.  There's anger over how one side treated the other when it was in power.  And now the other guys are in power.  That, I understand.  

But if we keep doing this, nothing will ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get done.  

POLIS:  Well, what I hope happens is, there's good-faith efforts on both sides.  And that usually means a meeting on the middle on policy, whether it's infrastructure or tax reform.  It means Republicans working with Democrats.

CAVUTO:  But we're not seeing that, right?

(CROSSTALK)

POLIS:  We haven't seen it yet, Neil.  But we can always be hopeful that Republicans will be willing to negotiate with Democrats to come up with bipartisan packages to move on country forward.

CAVUTO:  But it's just as bad on your side, right, Congressman?  I give you credit.  You're still going to go to these events.  You went to the inauguration.  You didn't vote for the guy.  And that's the way it goes.  

But it's rare -- it shouldn't be rare that your behavior is deemed rare.  

POLIS:  Well, there were Republicans that denied Obama was qualified for the presidency, saying he wasn't born here, up until he left office.  

And that wasn't the majority of Republicans.  So, I don't think this is. Again, the majority of Democratic officeholders realize we need to work to improve the lives of our constituents.

CAVUTO:  I don't remember 70 of them not going to his inauguration.  You know what I'm saying?

POLIS:  Well, I remember one shouting "You lie" in the middle of a speech. So, two wrongs don't make a right.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  See what I'm saying?  And you're --and maybe with good reason, you're going back on an incident that torqued you off.  And you can't get over it, you can't forget it.  

They're going back and remembering how the president was trying to push his Supreme Court choice on them.  And they used a Biden rule, they said, that then Senator Biden wanted for a president in his final year not to have a Supreme Court justice.  And so on and on and on we go.  

And I think we can go back to the Old Testament and the see this stuff. What I'm wondering is, how are we going to move the ball forward here if both sides apparently loathe each other?  

POLIS:  Well, as you know, Neil, it's not so much personal.  

Democratic, Republican members of Congress get along fine.  But what you have is, this institutional Hatfield and McCoy sentiment coming from our constituents, where the base of both sides doesn't want people to get along.  But the majority of Americans, I feel the majority, they are in the middle.  They actually do want both sides to get together.

CAVUTO:  But do you feel that pressure in your own district?  

And I have asked Republicans the same thing, even reaching out to the other side is deemed a weakness and there will be hell to pay at the polls if they illustrate or demonstrate any of it.  

POLIS:  I got, as I said, hundreds of calls telling me to boycott the inauguration.  I think I can count on one hand the number of calls I got saying, go to the inauguration.  

And I think it would be the converse for many of my friends on the Republican side.  So, the pressure from the base is clear not to cooperate. So, what needs to happen is, the majority of the Americans in the middle, they need to start calling in and saying, we want you guys to work together, because that is what will change the result.

CAVUTO:  Well, then when you hear -- and I -- when you hear some on the Senate side here, Democrats who even wouldn't sit in on the hearings for hoping that that it would delay these Cabinet appointments, and further some sight unseen rejecting his President Trump's Supreme Court choice, just as payback or whatever, how do you respond to that?  

If you're Republicans and you're saying we want to work with the other side, and now they're not even going to the meetings, it's weird, right?

POLIS:  You know, it's what people need to hear from their constituents.

Senators, representatives, too often, we hear from our base don't talk to the other side, don't with work with them.  And even though I feel -- I think you do too, Neil -- that most Americans don't feel that way, they want the parties working together, those folks don't call in.  Those folks don't have marches, right?

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But I think still they're the silent majority, to your point.  

I think they -- they just look at this.  They can't believe what's going on and just saying, we're not going to punish you if you're a human being and you try to get stuff done.  

The way I liken it, Congressman, is, the country has this big old inbox, right, piled with stuff that is now like as high as the Empire State Building.  And I'm all for just moving into that inbox and getting stuff done and out, right?

POLIS:  Well, Neil, the Russians have already hacked that inbox.  

CAVUTO:  And here we go with the Russians.  All right.  

All right, sir, thank you very, very much.  Hope springs eternal, though. Have fun at the whatever.  

It's not a State of the Union maybe.  Did you know that?  It's an address before Congress, but not a State of the Union with President Trump on the 28th of this month?  I think the 28th.  

END

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