This is a partial transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," November 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Democrats picked up six seats in the Senate and nearly 30 seats in the House by exploiting consternation about the war in Iraq and the scandals that tarnished close to 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives.
Former House Majority Dick Armey wrote on our page this week that Tuesday's election marks the end of the Republican Revolution of 1994.
But for some conservatives on Capitol Hill, the defeat is being seen as an opportunity to return to the principles that brought them to power 12 years ago.
Joining us now is Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg, who announced this week that he will run for minority whip in the new Congress.
REP. JOHN SHADEGG, R-ARIZ.: Glad to be with you Paul.
GIGOT: One of the curiosities of this election is that a lot of conservatives came out to vote this time about the same, a little less, than in 2004. Except they didn't vote for Republicans in the same numbers this time. How do you get those voters back?
SHADEGG: I think we have to get them back by returning to the basics.
I ran as you know — you just mentioned — for majority leader, in the last cycle, in January. I made a case then that we had promised two things in the contract with America. We had promised to shrink the size and scope of the federal government. And we had promised to end the way Washington works, meaning to stop the corruption or the exercise of power by powerful members to benefit themselves.
I felt in January that we had let down America on both of those promises and disappointed conservatives. I think we did that. And now, I think, we have to get back to that basic agenda. We have to re-establish that we are the party of ethical government and that we set the highest possible standard and hold all of our members to it. I think we have to establish that we are, in fact, the party of small government, of limited government, of lower taxes and less regulation.
The Democrats have made the claim that they are that party and they have hit us for spending. I think, within a matter of weeks, you're going to see the Democrats back in the big spending game. We have to make that case to the American people and we have to show them that our agenda, the American agenda that the Republicans have advanced, matches the hopes and aspirations of the American people.
Whereas, the democrats weren't elected on an agenda. They didn't even really articulate an agenda. They just articulated the agenda we were wrong.
GIGOT: But, Congressman, as you say, you ran in January for majority leader. But you lost. Are you hearing from your colleagues now that they're more receptive to that message? Because you ran on that same message in January. Are they going to listen now that they've been defeated?
SHADEGG: Well, we'll find out next Friday. That's when we hold our elections. And, I think, that's when we've got to send a signal to the American people that we get it. We have to change. We have to get back to those basics.
I am encouraged by what I am hearing from members. I think they understand it. I think they recognize that there was a lot of drift.
To some degree, I think we were playing, not to lose. We weren't playing to win. And we weren't pushing the agenda that we were sent here to push. And we weren't driving forward as we should be.
We became comfortable in power. And I think our members understand that. I hear it from the ones I'm talking to. And I'm encouraged. And, of course, that is what we have to do.
GIGOT: Do you think they understand that this process of earmarking, which are special spending projects in home districts, has really been corrupting? Do they understand that that was a real big problem now and has led to some of these scandals? Are they ready to clean that up?
SHADGG: They absolutely understand it. Even the people who have been resisting earmark reform, and people who have been earmarking in the past, understand that that doesn't work.
I have been pushing for earmark reform from way back, working with Jeff Flake to accomplish that. My opponent has been a user, a utilizer of earmarks and now he suddenly says we have to have earmark reform. We have to change that process.
So, yes, I think we are making believers out of people. And I think you can't not be a believer on the issue of earmark reform because, if you look at the scandals — and scandals were a big part of the loss by Republicans on Election Day — most of those scandals are tied in someway or another to earmark abuse.
GIGOT: Let me ask you about another thing I hear from some of your colleagues, which is that the Republicans on Capital Hill move too far in pushing social issues, some of them symbolic, like Terry Schiavo, abortion. And they moved away from the bread-and-butter economic issues, health care issues, the tax and spending issues that voters really wanted them to act on. Do you think the caucus, the Hill Republicans, moved too far in the direction of social issues?
SHADEGG: Well, I think it's a close question. I am an economic conservative first. That's where my heart is. I believe in limited government. And that's the agenda that I personally push.
But I believe the social agenda is a big part of what holds the Republican Party together. And I think a lot of the things we did on the social agenda were appropriate.
I think there may be some examples of where we went too far. The Terry Schiavo case is a great example of where my heart went out to her and her family. And I believe that injustice was occurring. But for the United States Congress to step down and get involved in that individual case, I think, sent a message to the American people that we're not focused on the right issues.
So I think it's important for us to be dealing with major concerns of the American people. And I think the Congress should be doing that. I can sight examples that are other than social conservative examples of legislation we worked on, which is not, I don't think, at the heart of what the American people expect us to be working on.
GIGOT: All right, Congressman Shadegg. Thanks so much for being with us. We'll be looking at those elections.
SHADEGG: You bet. Thanks, Paul.
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