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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Kevin McCarthy Drops Bid for House Speakership. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired October 8, 2015 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHARLIE DENT, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: I don't believe he had 218 votes.
[12:30:05] Now, the question would've been had Kevin been the nominee of the conference, gone to the floor and then not been secured 218 votes, that obviously would have been very humiliating. And -- so I suspect maybe that entered his thinking that he was not confident that he would get the 218 votes on the floor, even though he would clearly have won the election in the conference today.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, let me just so -- just going to ask you a question so that I'm giving our viewers contact at the same time because we're live. You know, as you well no, part of what the so-called freedom caucus, those who supported Daniel Webster and did not want Kevin McCarthy to be the nominee today, part of what they were saying they wanted from McCarthy to get their votes is a real restructuring of the way business is done here, to give the conservatives more of a seat at the table, to give them more responsibility, plum committee assignments.
Do you think that at the end of the day McCarthy just decided he couldn't deliver that? It's not something that he could actually do to get those votes, to get the 218 or the majority of the house to become speaker?
DENT: The next speaker should not appease those who make unreasonable demands. There are a number of members of our conference who simply cannot get the yes on anything for them. The perfect will always be the enemy, they're good.
And in my view, sometime to marginalize those members, you know, who don't want to be part of the governing majority. You know, I've said for some time that, you know, in order to pass anything out of the house we need to assemble a bipartisan coalition whether it's on the continuing resolution, the debt ceiling, the omnibus and budget agreements, we will have to assemble a bipartisan coalition. That's the reality of this place. And I don't think that any of our leaders should make accommodations to those who are going to make unreasonable demands.
BASH: But you realize how this is going to be perceived by those members of your caucus who you're talking about, that they just got two scouts, not just...
DENT: ... what? BASH: They just got two scouts, not just John Boehner who they believe that they forced out. But his right hand man that his sort of heir parent now is saying he can't get the votes.
So how can the next speaker become speaker without, in your words, appeasing those who were demanding that?
DENT: We might have to assemble a bipartisan coalition on the floor to elect the next speaker then, I mean that's what if he come down too.
BASH: Do you think that Democrats will vote for a Republican for speaker?
DENT: I don't know what's going to happen. Anything is possible right now. But it's pretty clear to me that a number of us are not going to simply appease or exceed to those who will make unreasonable demands.
And so I suspect that in order to govern around here we need to have a bipartisan coalition on all major bills. I mean if we can't get 218 Republican votes for a speaker, then we'll have to try other options. I don't know what those options are, but I certainly don't want to put somebody in the speaker's job, who is going to appease those who are making unreasonable demands.
BASH: Do you think -- I know this just happened and everybody is shocked, but is there somebody who you think could step up and find a way to get those 218 votes? Is there someone who comes to mind? Jason Chaffetz or Daniel Webster, for example, the two who were also on the ballot?
DENT: No, I believe probably somebody like Paul Ryan will probably be the right...
BASH: But you said he doesn't want it.
DENT: That's correct. So, we're going to have to explore lot of options right now. I think everything is very fluid, its influx. And that's what we're going to be discussing between now and whenever that speaker election is who is going to step up and try to grab the brass ring.
BASH: Thank you, congressman. Appreciate it.
Ashleigh, this is, you know, people look at Washington and say it's chaotic. I don't think that there's a better example than what just happened behind close doors right next to me.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Now, the look on everyone's face around you, I'm watching you, I'm watching the congressman you're interviewing, I'm watching people around you, and the shared disbelief. In fact, I think we've got a press conference that might be just ad hoc and getting together right now.
Let me ask our control room if we've got a signal up live on the press conference. Honestly folks, we are so surprised by this. I can't even tell you who is holding the press conference. I don't even think Dana has heard of it. So Dana, I'll tell you what, if Dana if you can grab anybody else, I'm going to leave your signal up and if you see anyone else, let us know. In the meantime John King is our...
BASH: If you hang on one second. Congressman? Congressman Franks? Could you walk over here for a second.
I'm live on CNN. I just wanted to ask you what -- I mean you are a member of the so-called Freedom caucus. I would imagine that you're pretty happy with the results?
TRENT FRANKS, (R) ARIZONA: Let me just tell you that no one has a higher respect for and affection for Kevin McCarthy than I do.
I think he just did something that was selfless. I don't know whether or not it will ultimately turn out to be the best for the country or not. But I am convinced with all of my heart that's exactly how he intended it and I am really moved by the statesmanship that he displayed.
BASH: So what next? Because I was just interviewing Charlie Dent who said that Republicans can't appease members like you who just want, from his perspective, want chaos, want -- don't want to actually get things done and want to keep fighting against the institution. What do you say to that?
[12:35:12] FRANKS: I say that sounds just about something like Charlie Dent would say.
BASH: Well, it just shows a difference though within the caucus, I mean this is a really fundamental these differences lead to where we are now.
FRANKS: On the Republican Party platform and the major issues of the Republican Party, Charlie Dent is significantly removed from those foundational principles in his voting record. And so I find it a little bit difficult to embrace that line of thinking.
BASH: OK, so just but bigger picture here, because as our viewers how get an understanding of what just happened and really what it means for the future of the congress, what do you think it is? I mean, do you genuinely think someone like you're the nominee you were supporting, Daniel Webster, the congressman from Florida, can get 218 votes?
FRANKS: In the room -- the elephant in this room and it's something that the media has been almost criminally negligent on, is the fact we have such division in the house is because of the abuse of the senate filibuster by senate Democrats. But we in the house have had great pressure from our base especially the Republican conference because they don't see anything good happening in the country. They understand it under the leadership of one Barack Obama that the country and the world is disintegrating.
And they're afraid, and there should be. And so consequently they're warning Republicans to do something. If you look at the record, the house has passed bills on a regular basis that are summarily ignored up on in the senate consequently, then when the speaker or the majority leader, whoever it is in the house has to try to do something to avert a total shutdown because you guys always say that it's the Republicans shutting down the government when we fund the bills fully and they don't get voted on the senate, then what happens is there's a division that occurs here on the house and consequently it puts pressure and things like this.
BASH: OK, so let that -- let's just say that might be. You're not going to be able to change the way the Democrats act. So how would this going to...
FRANKS: I would just disagree with that. We can't just change the way the democrats act they essentially, you know, we've had votes on the floor lately on protecting born alive children that they voted against. So I'm not sure that we're going to be able to appeal to their principal or humanity anymore. But, here is what we can do. In the senate we can either prevail upon a rule change there or at least moderation of that rule or we can raise the abuse of the filibuster to such a profile that it no longer becomes tenable for the democrats to abuse it as they have.
BASH: And to people out there who are looking at this and saying that this is just conservatives like you who are just throwing this place into chaos, what's your response?
FRANKS: Well, I would say that if you look at my voting record, if you look at what we're trying to do, I don't think that there's a huge difference between my voting record and most others other than the Charlie Dent or of those that are over here on the left. And I think it's just a matter of timing.
BASH: Thank you. Thank you congressman, appreciate it.
Ashleigh, back to you.
BANFIELD: All right Dana. and we're going to keep up shot up, if you can get another congressman as they are rolling by, if you can just sort of reach out and grab them, we'll break into our programming for you Dana. So your shot is up.
In the meantime I'd like to bring up John King's picture as well, our chief national correspondent.
I'm sure you're somewhat bewildered by this as well. What I don't understand and since you spent so much time in Washington, perhaps you can help me understand this John and that is this. You hear Kevin McCarthy just hours ago saying all is fine. "I'm going to win", my words, and then two hours later apparently according to Charlie Dent, he can't unify the congress at this time, he feels and that's why he stepped out. What happened in just two or three hours?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nothing really, Ashleigh in the since that what he was saying all is fine, he was bluffing. And he was hoping when he went into that room or into that private meeting that the conservatives who are at the moment -- let's be clear about what we have here. We have a hostage crisis within the Republican Party a. A small group of conservatives not a majority even in the house are saying to their leadership, "No, we've had enough, we won't give you our votes because we don't like the way things are going around here."
Congressman Franks, you just heard, in that very telling interview with Dana Bash, says the problem is in the senate. Well the problem for house conservatives, yes, it's in the senate. It's also at the White House. You have a democratic president who will not give them what they want but they are so upset and so angry, Ashleigh, they are now willing to topple their own leadership and to throw the country into a bit of legislative chaos here until they try to get their way. Will they get it in the end? They may get a person they like more but the math is the math. The senate math won't change until the next election. There will be a Democrat in the White House until at least the next election.
So what you have here is a very public display of a remarkable and very important.
[12:40:00] Some people may think this is just a class election among House Republicans. This is a very important day in the Republican Civil War that we have been watching play out for almost a decade now. It's playing out on the presidential race as well and you have chaos.
This is not just to be leader of House Republican. The Speaker of the House is the highest elected Republican on the land. Third in line to the presidency and the Republicans, Ashleigh yes we have a Democratic President but the Republicans are the dominant party in the country right now with the house majority, a senate majority, 31 governorships and guess what. They can't get their act together because you have a big and meaningful debate about substance, what should we do on the budget, what should we do on immigration, should we shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood, should we take it that far, there's a lot of substance here. But there's also a lot of style here.
Some of these conservatives, most of them, Ashleigh, come out of the 2010 Tea Party movement and to their credit, this is what they run off. They said they we're going come to Washington. The people are fed up. They were going to stop the President. They were going to repeal Obamacare. They were going stop raising the debt limit.
They think and they believe they are doing what they promised to do. The problem is they don't have the votes. They don't have the votes and now their frustration is boiling over again their own establishment. Boehner is leaving because he doesn't want to put up with it anymore. McCarthy just dropped out because he didn't have the votes and apparently didn't want to do whatever it might take to get there. Now the question is who and it's a big job.
BANFIELD: Yeah and who knows? If Jason Jason Chaffetz or Daniel Webster. John yeah, go ahead
KING: It could temporarily maybe but you heard, I think one of the congressmen recommended Paul Ryan; he would be a consensus choice. BANFIELD: Yeah.
He says he doesn't want it. A former vice presidential nominee, he will face pressure, another name I'm hearing Ashleigh in the moments after this is Tom Cole, who is a Republican from Oklahoma. He may be a consensus candidate. They try to get as well.
BANFIELD: Well, you know, that's how candidates have come forth in the past, from complete breakdown within the party. So John King, thank you for that John King saying what I wrote down because I heard you twice say this is a hostage crisis in the Republican Party and the Republican Civil War. Manu Raju was standing by as well having just grabbed. I think Congressman Mick Mulvaney, go ahead Manu.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes I'm here with them Mr. Mulvaney, his one of the leaders of the House Freedom Caucus. And Mr. Mulvaney, tell me about what just happened inside. Do you think this is a victory for your caucus?
REP. MICK MULVANEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Sure. Very briefly Mr. McCarthy has withdrawn his name for consideration for Speaker of the House. I don't consider it to be a victory for the Freedom Caucus because we don't know why he did it. It could have to do with a lack of support after his comments about the Benghazi committee could be anything. So it's not right to claim the victory, that's now how we look at it.
I would describe it the same way I did Mr. Boehner departure, which is perhaps it was necessary. I think Kevin thought it was necessary to sort of bring us together and that may be the case.
RAJU: So the Freedom Caucus of course copy how Daniel Webster, but Daniel Webster does not have 218 votes to be elected speaker. Now that Mr. McCarthy has stepped out, who can be that consensus pick?
MULVANEY: Well, I think there's a couple different possibilities. I don't have any names in mind. You can find someone who has centrist to try and unite the party. You could find somebody perhaps it was institutionalist, who wouldn't really be involved in the politics but just the running of the House. You might also look to somebody be a caretaker for the next 14 months.
So I've been putting names to those yet, we get in together just a few minutes as Freedom Caucus to go over some possibilities, but right now nobody jumps out at us.
RAJU: What do you say to folks on the outside who see the Speaker of the House suddenly resign. The guy who probably would have replaced step aside, and no real clear plan to deal with some of the key fiscal issues that are heading this fall, the raising of the debt thing, that government spending fight (ph) budget issues that are at stake?
What's the message to voters given all these issues that are happening right now and no real leadership in the Republican Party?
MULVANEY: A couple different things, we do need to get this taken care of sooner rather the later we can not to let to drag up. The same time we can walk and chew gum. Committee were still meeting this week, we're still doing work so even though this circus is going on, we're still actually doing our regular jobs but we do need to go and get wrapped up. I think what you've seen here in the last couple of week is evidence of the deep divisions of the party that need to be healed.
RAJU: All right, thank you Mr. Mulvaney, back to you guys.
BANFIELD: All right, thank you so much our Senior Political Reporter Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill, Dana Bash standing by as well.
Dana, I know you have guess with you but at the same time if we could please get the answer as to how after you can have multiple ballots to determine 125 votes, this all happened within just a few minutes. It's just sort of remarkable to me.
BASH: That's right. We didn't even get to that point. The ballots never happened. There wasn't a chance for Kevin McCarthy to see how many votes he had in the caucus because what he announced internally is that he wanted to move on. So, the idea was that he probably couldn't get 218 but instead of me telling you, why don't I go to Congressman Tim Huelskamp who is member of the Freedom Caucus, one of those who did not think Kevin McCarthy sort of been the next speaker, were you shocked and what do you think this means?
[12:45:03] REP. TIM HUELSKAMP, (R) KANSAS: We're very shock and Kevin McCarthy said "I am not the one", you know, he understood he was not the one to pull 218 votes together but, you know, House Tea Party read Caucus and the House Freedom Caucus and our members we're going to sit down immediately after his meeting talk about where do we go from because Kevin certainly didn't have 218 votes on the floor, but we were looking -- how do we work together. We're looking for a speaker that works with conservatives rather than against us.
And we presume that Kevin was going to reach out to us and say what do we need to do, what changes do we need to make, but we were stunned, I think as strong as supporter were stunned. And actually the acoustics were so bad in the room a lot of the people looking at him and said what he was saying. But yeah, he said we withdrawn from the race.
BASH: And you just mentioned that was ask you about which is if today went as everybody thought it would that he would have gotten the Republican nomination, the idea was, what was he going to -- what were you're going to be able to extract from him in order to win your vote so he could get the 218. And is it accurate that you were willing to think about voting for him if he made some confession to you?
HUELSKAMP: Well, there were a lot of discussions and about what we didn't hear from Kevin is what he be do differently, now.
BASH: And what did you want him to do differently?
HUELSKAMP: We want to make certain we include more people in the process, more members across this country taking advantage of their constituents and their expertise on those kinds of things. What we've seen in Washington particularly in last three to four years is a consolidation may office the speaker. And it has worked that's why the vast overwhelming majority of Republicans don't like Republican leadership up here.
We lost two speakers in about two weeks up here essentially. And I think the establishment is disarray. And we're going seat down here. But what I do believe is whoever is the next speaker whether is Daniel Webster or Jason Chaffetz, everyone is going to use the principles that we're articulate by Dan Webster which is a more inclusive process it's not control by insiders but its control by the people we represent.
BASH: Do you say that there's a consolidation of power within the speakers office? Historically there's a lot less power in the speaker office than there has been whether it was a Democrat and who have gavel or Republican who have to gavel.
So, you know, if you look at it they don't really have, you know, a lot of horses to trade anymore. So how is it that there's a lot of power there. It seems to be that over the past few years, people like you have shown that you had power?
HUELSKAMP: Well, just week a continue resolution was passed that overwhelming majority of the Republicans didn't wanted, the American people didn't want it. The only who wanted it was Barack Obama. I would say he is pretty well been dictating what's happening over here because a failure in process, and when you concentrate power in Washington D.C. This is what our founders fear and let special money interest make those decisions, there wasn't a week we went buy. I don't think that a decision that was made to run a bill on the floor wasn't dedicated by somebody over on K Street.
And that's wrong, we need to change that, we may not to continue that conservative. And so, but yeah, there was a huge consolidation power. But what is interesting about John Boehner is he probably would change that. He's going to involve members. I was actually visiting with a pretty liberal member of the conference. He said, you know, the last time we actually had a good debate was on HR-01 in April of 2011.
We had four years with him power has consolidated. If you want a bill you don't normally you get a bill, you had to talk to John Boehner staff. It's time to change that and open that process up and those are the principles. And we have to work through and McCarthy wasn't able to deliver on that to get to 218.
BASH: Congressman, thank you for your time. I appreciate it. And while have you Ashleigh, I'm going to come in -- thank you. This is Congressman David Brat and I wanted to talk to you for obvious reasons and just so our viewers know. This is the congressman who beat Eric Cantor. So sort of started the toppling of the House Republican leadership back, how long ago was it now two years ago.
REP. DAVID BRAT, (R) VIRGINIA: Yeah, yeah.
BASH: Two years ago. So, you know, as somebody who knows what it's like to sort of take on and successfully beat a member a leadership. What was it like in that room to hear Kevin McCarthy who's very close to Eric Cantor was saying he's not going run for speaker.
BRAT: Yes, it was shock to everybody in the room. But I think that what I hope the media catches is the whole conference right after John Boehner step down, everybody in the conference is moving at more speed on a lot of reforms and process ideas, moving to regular order. And so there's a lot of recording on the horse race between right Freedom Caucus and all these other groups out there.
I'm not interest in that. The American people want to see, hey we're taking on the debt, we're finding their jobs. We're doing something about Russia and Syria. Those are -- that's the big external objective reality. So the American people what that.
But in order to solve that you have to have right process. And Tim was just alluding to -- last week we had a bad process a hundred Democrats came and had a save the budget of the United States right C.R. 153 Republicans voted against it. This week we have export lift the export oil ban going through.
I think the same thing is going to happen. Another issue came yesterday in conference the export, import bank.
[12:50:00] How we're going to handle that and for the press it's a good homework exercise. Did we go through regular order on that issue?
BASH: Let me just asked you, who you think.
BASH: Is there anybody at this point who could get to 218 the majority of the House to become the speaker because somebody has to be speaker.
BRAT: Yeah. I have 10 principles I have put on my Facebook in that kind of thing. But anyone that ensures a fair process for all sides, that's what we're all looking for, right. Our own group said let's get rid of having to take down rules, et cetera. That would put us at a disadvantage. So on principle our group voted against our own interest. So we've shown principle. We're waiting for leadership candidates to put in writing, right. Move that issue you have a democratic process within our own conference. That's what everybody is waiting to see and it has to be in writing ahead of time for that to be credible.
BASH: OK, thank you Congressman. Appreciate it.
BRAT: Thank you, oh sure.
BASH: Ashleigh, back to you.
BANFIELD: All right. Dana Bash, thank you for that. I've got this Breaking News as well from Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, the former Vice Presidential candidate putting out a statement because he likely heard his name coming up in the wake of Kevin McCarthy stepping down from the candidacy from the leadership and said "Kevin McCarthy is the best person to lead the house and so I'm disappointed in this decision. Now it is important that we as a conference take time to deliberate and seek new candidate for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I've received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as chairman of the ways and means committee."
Again that statement from Congressman Paul Ryan. I want to go out to our Chief National Correspondent John King on this. I guess no surprise to some but then again, who else?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's a great question. And Paul Ryan being very quick to issue that statement Ashleigh because as you noted, he is viewed favorably by all involved. The moderates even if they disagree with him policy like him and respect him. Conservatives even if they disagree with him sometimes on tactics, he's not as confrontational, to some of the Tea Party guys would like to be respected.
So he would be your number one consensus candidate. He's making very clear right there I don't want the job. I want to keep my job as chairman of the tax writing committee, I want to keep my job. He is the policy want. He loves that job. Also let's be honest Ashleigh, he doesn't want -- who would want the job right now? A lot of these leading members that are potential consensus candidates are going to ask themselves, do I want the job? It's a big job. As I said you're top Republican in the land, you're third in line to the presidency but you have a party right now that in the middle of a civil war.
And so this is going to be fascinating to watch play out. Now we look for consensus. Now we look to see who those, you know, replacement candidates are. This is going to take a while Ashleigh and it's going to be messy.
BANFIELD: It's going to take a while. It's going to be messy. And it's not something lost on the current Speaker of the House. John rules the rules and Speaker of the House cannot give up the gavel until a new person is elected. And to that end, it's going to be John Boehner maybe longer than he expected. He also just announced that this election has been postponed, the perhaps the least surprising of the activity just in the last 30 minutes.
John King, thank you for that. And a reminder to all of our viewers as well that Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson is coming up live in just a view minutes on Wolf Blitzer that's going to start right after this break with a lot of reaction not only to his story but this big breaking story as well.
I'm Ashleigh Banfield. So thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.
[12:57:31] WOLF BLITZER: Hello. I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in New York. 6:00 p.m. in London. 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News. BLITZER: We're going to get to my interview with the Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, in just a moment. But first, the Breaking News out of Washington right now. California Congressman Kevin McCarthy has just dropped out of the race to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Boehner is resigning at the end of this month. McCarthy was long seen as the front-runner for the job, a decision on who Republicans should nominate as speaker has now been postponed.
Let's go to Capitol Hill. Our chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is joining us. A huge surprise, Dana. What's the latest?
BASH: This is still sort of sinking in and people are trying to make sense of this and what happened and, more importantly, what happens next. I have with me Congressman Steve King of Iowa who was not a supporter of Kevin McCarthy but rather of Daniel Webster, the Congressman from Florida who you and other members...
BLITZER: Dana, hold on for a moment. Dana hold on because. We're just told the majority leader Kevin McCarthy now about to speak. I want to hear what he says.
KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: Come on up. All right. I think I shocked some of you, huh? Listen, we've been going through this campaign talking to a lot of members, but the one thing I've always said to earn this majority, was servants. We should put this conference first. And I think there's something to be said for us to unite. We probably need a fresh face. I'll stay on as majority leader, but the one thing I found to talking to everybody, if we're going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that, so nothing more than that. I feel good about the decision, I feel great to have my family here, my colleagues. I think we're only going to be stronger. We fought hard to win the majority and turn this country around. This will be our best step -- foot step (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said at 8:00 a.m. that you were going to run for the speakership. Why change? What happened in those four hours?
MCCARTHY: You know, we had our conference, and there were calls in to the district. I don't want to make voting for speaker a tough one. I don't want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes.
[13:00:01] I think the best thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor. If we're going to be strong we have to be 100 percent united. And I think, you know, what, lets put the conference first because that best (INAUDIBLE.)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE.)