Interviews

Rep. Garrett: I'll be working for President Trump in 2020

Congressman says Freedom Caucus members aren't going to break on their principles

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, not all caucus members are happy with the way the president has ranted at them and fingered them for not going along and supporting the latest health care measure.

They're trying to rework that now. The strongest words, though, come from the president on this, that the Freedom Caucus is going to hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, and fast.

To Virginia Republican Congressman, member of that Freedom Caucus, Tom Garrett.

Congressman, good to have you.

What did you think of not only the president's attacks singling out the caucus, but Amash, and some of the other colleagues' response?

REP. TOM GARRETT, R-VIRGINIA: Our response was that perhaps he's suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

You know, what I said to the president, in essence, in the Oval Office last Wednesday was, you shouldn't treat your friends like your enemies and your enemies like your friends.

And so when he tweeted last night that he might have to work against some of us in 2018, I would like to take this opportunity to send a message to the president, that I'll be working for him in 2020. And maybe when he starts to determine who the people he can rely on are, we will see him circle back around to us, because we're the conservatives, we're the leaders, we're the ones that have shown a willingness heretofore to this the swamp, unless maybe the president and I have just a fundamental misunderstanding on the definition of the word swamp.

CAVUTO: Now, when you met with the president and all, was he upset at you?

GARRETT: Look, here's what I admire about the president. He has a mission.

He's decided he's going to accomplishment -- accomplish it, and he's doing the best he can to do that. Certainly, he is a human being and he's subject to sways and passion. And he's used to being able to do things as an executive.

That's not what our founders bequeathed us. But we're going to stay where we are as it relates to principle, because that is what we promised the American people we would do. When we said repeal, we meant the closest thing to a full repeal we could get with the rules of the Senate.

I genuinely am honored to follow Jack Welch on your show. He's right. We need to start playing hardball over on that side of the building. I believe the rules of the Senate are almost an existential threat to the republic.

But put the pressure, Mr. President, on those people who have opposed you, not those who have supported you. We want to succeed with you. And you are the conduit to that success.

CAVUTO: But you opposed him on the health care thing. So the way he figures, you're no different than a Democrat.

GARRETT: Well, listen, at the end of the day, we all take counsel from individuals.

And I might suggest that perhaps he should consider whose counsel he takes. And there's a history here. There were a group of people who were, by and large, loyal. The Trump campaign headquarters in my district were my offices. He pulled out of our state, but we kept on working for him.

I'm going to keep on working with him, because I think we together are working for the American people.

CAVUTO: But you're also more secure. In your district, sir, I mean, you're very, very popular. And I think a lot of your colleagues, most of your colleagues are in a similar sort of enviable position, so that you can continue to vote the way you have, even though your critics saying you got 80 percent of what you wanted in this health care rework and you still rejected it.

So, they come back and say, what is to make you more supportive this go- round?

GARRETT: Well, we -- look, our job is not to get this thing done. It's to get it done right.

And I'll tell you, Neil, we're in an R-plus five, if you look at the Cook Index. That means that we're not that secure. I'm not here to get reelected. I'm here to what I said I was going to do. And I take Donald Trump at his word.

CAVUTO: What does -- I'm sorry. What does R-plus five mean? I don't know...

GARRETT: That means that, in a generic ballot, that I should win by about five points. It's not a gerrymandered district that is a super Republican district.

But what I think is, if you look people in the eyes and you say this is what I'm going to do, and you do it, that you will get reelected because people will appreciate that breath of spring.

I think that's what Donald Trump was to the American voter in 2016. We're his people. I'm inviting him to come home.

CAVUTO: So, do you think that there's any problem right now with relations with the president and revisiting health care, that it was a mistake to go back to the same well, that you guys should have moved on, whatever thoughts you have about bridging the gap in the health care measure, but go on right on to tax cuts, because why risk it?

GARRETT: No, why risk it is the attitude of a failed nation.

Failure is the enemy of success. And the fear of failure drives tepid steps. We need to be unafraid to fail. We need return to that well until we get it right.

CAVUTO: Yes, but if you have a victory on tax cuts, and a victory on doing the tax cuts, then you can go back to this, right?

GARRETT: Sure. No, hey, to that extent, I agree with it.

I mean, Jack Welch is brilliant. He's the best thing that happened to GE. I have hated to see what happened the last 17 years.

Yes, take the win. But we have to circle back. We can't say, OK, moving on, we're not going to do health care.

CAVUTO: Congressman, thank you. Really good seeing you. I appreciate it.

GARRETT: Neil, great seeing you.

And, last time, I told Charles he was my favorite, I was kidding.

CAVUTO: Really? OK. I will make note of that.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Making your final appearance here, Congressman.

END

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