A Shift in the Political Landscape

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 3, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You are looking live at America's election headquarters here in New York City. A big night, election night 2009, with some big races already called. Fox News projecting winners in Virginia and New in Jersey for the Republicans.

Joining us now Governor Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Governor, thanks for being with us the

HALEY BARBOUR, MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: Thank you, Bret. Big night for Republicans.

BAIER: Yes, tell us how big.

BARBOUR: I remember in 1993 when I was chairman of the Republican National Committee and we won the governorship of New Jersey with Christie Todd Whitman and Virginia with George Allen, and it turned out to be the springboard to the victories in 2010 (ph)

It's too early to predict that, but I know this -- these elections will help candidate recruiting for particularly the House of Representatives. Bret, 16 years ago after these elections, more than half of the 77 freshman Republicans elected in 1994 made the decision to run for Congress after the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races. They saw if I'm ever going to run, this is going to be a good year.

So while it's too early to say what 2010 is going to end up like, there is no question that these elections propelled Republicans into 2010 the

BAIER: Governor, there will be Democrats obviously who say in the New Jersey race that the issues of property taxes and the issues of corruption were high on the exit polls and that the candidate was in trouble from the beginning, Governor Corzine.

How do you respond to that, that this was a local situation and not a national explanation for the Republicans?

BARBOUR: Look, any time the incumbent governor is up for reelection, the election is to some degree a referendum on that incumbent's record, and there is no question Governor Corzine's record was not considered good by the people of New Jersey. But he was also weighted down by the president's and the Democrats' policies.

Now, I want to be clear. I think it's an overstatement to say this was a referendum on president Obama.

But very clearly the Obama policies, the Democrats' policies in Congress of outrageous spending, more debt, a health care bill that would drive up the cost of insurance and cost jobs, energy bill that would drive up the cost of energy and cost jobs, all that hurt every Democratic candidate on the ticket.

So sure, an incumbent's reelection is somewhat a referendum on his record, but in this case Corzine had the added weight of the unpopularity and the administration's policies in Washington.

BAIER: Governor, how much do you think tonight changes the political landscape going forward, and does it send a message to conservative Democrats on the Capitol Hill who are having to deal with tough votes on cap and trade and also health care reform in coming weeks?

BARBOUR: I can't imagine Democrats in Congress are not pushed back and take a deep breath and are cautious about voting for a health care bill that clearly hurt Creigh Deeds in Virginia, voting for a an energy bill that clearly hurt Deeds in Virginia.

Virginia is so close to Washington, the Washington news media dominates much of Virginia, and these policies were unpopular. Bob McDonnell is a great candidate, the Republican elected governor of Virginia, but remember, he and Creigh Deeds ran against each other four years ago for attorney general and it was almost a literal tie.

McDonnell won by 323 votes out of 2.1 million. Tonight Bob McDonnell won 60-40, an overwhelming landslide.

And one of Creigh Deeds' and the Democrats' problems was the unpopularity of Obama's policies not only in Virginia but all over the country, and the fact that McDonnell was talking about the issues that people in Virginia were worried about, that they saw as the challenges -- job creation, higher pay, lower taxes.

There's no question if I'm a Democrat member I look at this and say OK, Democrats got hurt by these policies, do I want to take that risk?

BAIER: Governor Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors' Association. Governor, thanks for being with us tonight.

BARBOUR: Thank you, Bret.

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