The "Inside Politics" Interview: Sen. Ron Wyden
April 8, 1998
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERNARD SHAW, HOST: And joining us now on INSIDE POLITICS, Senator Ron Wyden (D), Oregon. He's on the Commerce Committee and he helped Senator John McCain draft that tobacco legislation. Why is tobacco doing this?
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Well, the tobacco industry is engaged in Negotiating Tactics 101. They're testing the United States Senate to see if we'll cave, and then enact a tobacco industry wish list into law, but it's not going to work. This industry that has repeatedly lied to the American people, lied when they said they didn't target youngsters; they don't have the credibility any longer to get their wish list written into law.
SHAW: Senator, why have Republicans continually put more distance between themselves and the tobacco industry?
WYDEN: Because it doesn't pass the smell test any longer to accept the tobacco lobby's arguments. They told us, for example, in hearings a few years ago that cigarettes were like hostess Twinkies, said that nicotine wasn't addictive and that they never, ever marketed to kids. So the reason Republicans and Democrats are trying to pass legislation to protect kids is they no longer swallow the tobacco lobby's rhetoric.
SHAW: Who has the votes, the lobby?
WYDEN: We won that vote in the Senate Commerce Committee 19-1.
WYDEN: It was overwhelming and that's why we're going to get a strong bill to the president.
SHAW: Looking ahead, do you expect the industry to retaliate against you and other people at the polls this fall?
WYDEN: Well, they've already tried to challenge some of us. They sued me personally as a member of the House. But I think you stand up for the health of our youngsters, when you take on a lobby like this that repeatedly has misrepresented the facts, the public sees you're doing the job you were elected to.
SHAW: You say Negotiations 101. What do you mean?
WYDEN: They're just testing us, Bernie, to see if the Congress caves. And in the past, when it claims to warning labels, when it came to advertising restrictions, when it came to tougher enforcement of prohibitions of sales to minors, the Congress always caved. In the past, the Congress did knuckle under to these kinds of negotiating tactic. Those days are over.
SHAW: Senator Ron Wyden (D), Oregon. Thanks for coming in.
WYDEN: Thank you.
SHAW: You're welcome.