Published December 13, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 13, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, "YOUR WORLD" HOST: Now to the man many Republicans say, if he had gotten that nomination, all of this would be a moot point.
Of course, at the time, Luther Strange did not. Alabama's present senator with us right now.
Senator, very good to have you.
SEN. LUTHER STRANGE, R-ALABAMA: Thank you, Neil, very much. Glad to be on with you today.
CAVUTO: How do you feel, all this? Must be mixed emotions.
STRANGE: It is bittersweet.
I have loved my time in the Senate. I think we have accomplished an awful lot, even with the disappointment of repeal and replace of ObamaCare. So, it's disappointing. But I have been honored to serve and looking forward to the next chapter.
CAVUTO: It's no accident that a lot of folks have said and polls seem to indicate that, had you gotten that nomination, all of this drama around this battle wouldn't have been necessary, that you probably would have won. We will never know for sure.
CAVUTO: But are you bitter?
STRANGE: No, I'm not bitter at all. I'm not one to look back.
And I have got a little motto in our family. There's no whining in politics. I accepted the appointment, expecting it to be for two years to give time for me to become a good senator. The governor came in and changed the date of the primary, moved it up a year, which threw us all into this situation.
And so turnout was involved, a lot of factors, the failure to repeal and replace, as I said. I'm proud of my service, though. I think we have accomplished an awful lot.
And I'm going to do everything I can to help Doug Jones get into the Senate. And, hopefully, he will work with Republicans and Richard Shelby and get things done, too.
CAVUTO: Do you think he's going to be like a Joe Manchin-type Democrat, one who, maybe because of the times and the state and the environment in which we live and in which the state he represents, he has to be?
STRANGE: You know, Neil, I have known Doug Jones for 30 years. He's a former prosecutor. I'm a former attorney general.
I talked to him. And my advice to him was, do what I have done. Get to be close to Richard Shelby, our senior senator.
STRANGE: No one in the history of our state has ever done more for Alabama or the Republican Party, frankly, than Shelby.
If he does like I have -- and I think we have the best working partnership and friendship of any senator, two senators in the country. And it's paid dividends for our Alabama. And if Doug Jones is smart, he will work with Shelby to try and advance our state.
I have done that and that would be my recommendation to Doug.
CAVUTO: Any recommendation for Roy Moore? He's still fighting this.
STRANGE: I'm -- I'm not going to give Mr. Moore any advice. I made my case against him. The voters chose otherwise in the primary, and that brings us to today. But he's on his own.
CAVUTO: What did you think of all of these accusations that came up after this battle for the primary? What do you think?
STRANGE: Well, as a former prosecutor, they were very troubling to me, very troubling.
It's unfortunate that that information wasn't available to the primary voters. That's one of the things that you can't control.
STRANGE: That's history. But I think it made a difference in the election yesterday.
CAVUTO: Now, the president supported you in that primary. Many others did as well.
CAVUTO: Steve Bannon did not. He thought that a better, fresher, different, more rowdy alternative would be someone who is not you, someone who is not associated with the establishment, and he went for Roy Moore. How do you feel about him?
STRANGE: Well, I think he had a bad day yesterday.
I was proud to have the president's support, the vice president's support, Richard Shelby's support. And for someone who has only been in Washington for like two months at the time, I sure got to be part of the establishment in record time.
So, hopefully, we have had enough of that talk. We're going to be focused on getting conservatives who actually have records of accomplishment. And that's what I was running on. I have actually gotten things done. We have a lot of rhetorical conservatives like to talk a lot, talk a big game, but are they really getting something done?
That's what we need in Washington, Neil.
CAVUTO: Do you think Steve Bannon is that type of conservative?
STRANGE: I don't -- I have never seen him accomplish anything. He has accomplished one thing that I don't think anybody is America thought was possible. And that's getting a Democrat elected in the state of Alabama.
CAVUTO: Now, there are a lot of people are going to say, all right, hopefully, Steve Bannon, this will be a lesson not to try to find primary challengers to established incumbents. Do you think he honors that?
STRANGE: You know, I haven't given Steve Bannon a bit of thought.
But I have talked to my colleagues in the Senate, my Republican colleagues, and I have said to them, I was kind of the coal mine in the canary, the proverbial canary there.
STRANGE: When we didn't get what -- done what we said we would do -- and I was only there a few months -- I said I will be a test. And that's exactly what happened.
When we didn't repeal and replace ObamaCare, the voters were rightfully mad, no one matter than I was. But I was the one guy hanging out there to take it out on. And we see where we ended up.
CAVUTO: You know, Senator, a lot of people don't know a lot about Doug Jones. We know his civil rights record. We know he's a good and decent man, as are you.
A lot of guesswork a to what and how he would vote, if it ever became necessary, and this tax cut thing were pushed back, on the tax cuts. Would he be an automatic no vote? What do you think?
STRANGE: Well, the Republicans have -- the Democrats have voted together in lockstep since the year I have been here.
CAVUTO: Yes. Yes.
STRANGE: So, I'm not expecting anything different.
But it goes back to what I said before. If Doug Jones is smart, he will develop a close working relationship with Richard Shelby and watch what he does, because it's going to be good for Alabama, it's going to be a conservative position. It's ultimately going to be good for America.
And, frankly, that would be good for Doug politically if he wants to have any kind of career in Alabama.
CAVUTO: What about you? This is a term that is -- it's finishing, actually, originally Jeff Sessions' term.
CAVUTO: So, in 2020, when the president is running for reelection, assuming he wants to, this seat opens up again. Are you interested in it?
STRANGE: Are you trying get me divorced, Neil?
STRANGE: I'm not sure what is...
STRANGE: I'm honored to have served as attorney general for two terms, as a senator. I'm proud of my record.
And I think that will be up to -- I make plans, God decides in the end. And -- but I want to stay involved and make a difference for my state. It's a beautiful place with wonderful people. And we have a bright future ahead of us.
CAVUTO: All right, and I admire how you wouldn't take my tacky bait there.
CAVUTO: Finally, on the tax cut, Senator, it's looking like in the proposal that was released today out a conference, the top rate goes down a little bit, the corporate rate goes up a little bit to 21 percent.
They're confident they can get this through, signed, sealed and delivered by Christmas by the president. You think it's doable?
STRANGE: I do.
I have made a lot of predictions on here, Neil. I'm not sure that they have all come true, but this one I feel confident in. And my hope is that the best Christmas present I could give to the people of my state would be able to vote for that bill before I leave the Senate.
And that's the commitment I have gotten from the leadership. I think we are going to get there, and I'm 100 percent behind doing it.
CAVUTO: Any possibility that some of these senators that are balking at certain provisions that are included -- I know Susan Collins was nervous about lowering that top rate, said it wouldn't be a good idea. I don't know if that makes her a no vote.
Separately, Rand Paul is concerned about this latest spending measure to get us beyond this two-week hump, that it could add to the debt, so he doesn't look predisposed to like it. Senator Corker is -- of course, he was a no vote on tax cut, doesn't see anything that would change that right now.
Are you worried?
STRANGE: Well, I'm -- I'm cautiously optimistic. Let me put it that way.
When you have a narrow margin and such a narrow window here, any one or two senators can blow up the whole thing. But I just think there's too much on the line for our economy overall globally and domestically and our Republican brand, our promises.
CAVUTO: All right.
STRANGE: We have got to get it done.
CAVUTO: Senator Luther Strange, thank you very, very much. We appreciate it.
STRANGE: Great to be with you. Thanks again.
CAVUTO: All right, merry Christmas.
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