Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined the Guy Benson Show to exclusively react to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s decision to not support President Biden’s build-back better spending bill. McConnell also weighed in on former President Trump’s criticism of him and how he thinks the 2022 midterm elections are shaping up.
Leader McConnell reacts to Manchin’s decision to not support build back better bill saying,
“Ironically, my wrap up press conference at the end of the session last Thursday, I said the single biggest favor Joe Manchin could do for the country is to kill this bill. That’s what the country needs to see this bill killed. It is absolutely inappropriate an unnecessary at a time when we’re fighting inflation and we’ve already showered entirely too much money on the government which helped create the – on the country, which helped create the inflation with that American rescue package earlier this year, which of course none of my members voted for. So it was an exciting thing to hear. Great shot in the arm for the country. I think it’s exactly what the country needed at this particular time.”
McConnell reacts to the White House’s attacks on Manchin for not supporting build back better,
“I tell you in the time I’ve been Republican Leader I never get angry about losing a vote because, you know, the most important vote is always the next vote. So I was shocked at the vitriol and basically seemed to me that they were calling Senator Manchin a liar. I think that was not smart. This is a 50-50 Senate. It’s going to be 50-50 for another year. And believe me, that’s not – that’s not the way I would have handled it disappointing both (ph) like this.”
McConnell gives his take on the idea of Manchin switching parties and becoming a member of the GOP,
“I don’t know if Joe will ever become a Republican but I can tell you this for sure, the moderates are gone. There are two left in the Senate — two moderates out of 50. There were more moderate Democrats when Barack Obama was president then there are today. And so it’s a completely uncomfortable fit for Joe. I think he’s probably, for example, the only pro-life Democrat of the 50 (ph). He doesn’t fit well over there but that’s a decision, ultimately, he has to make. We’d certainly welcome him to join us if he was so inclined.”
Full Transcript Below:
GUY BENSON, THE GUY BENSON SHOW HOST: Joining us now is the Senate Republican Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, GOP member of Kentucky. And Senator, it’s great to have you back. Merry Christmas.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER: Same to you, Guy. Glad to be with you.
BENSON: You know, I would imagine that your Christmas perhaps got a little bit merrier yesterday right around, oh, I don’t know, 9, 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time when your Democratic colleague, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, appeared on Fox News Sunday with Bret Baier and announced that he’s a no on Build Back Better. For anyone who missed it, cut one. Here’s what it sounded like.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: So when you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I’ve always said this, Bret. If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can get there.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST: You’re done. This is – this is a no.
MANCHIN: This is a no.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: Senator McConnell, did you have any inkling that he was going to do that yesterday before he did it?
MCCONNELL: Not an inkling but a hope. Ironically, my wrap up press conference at the end of the session last Thursday, I said the single biggest favor Joe Manchin could do for the country is to kill this bill. That’s what the country needs to see this bill killed. It is absolutely inappropriate an unnecessary at a time when we’re fighting inflation and we’ve already showered entirely too much money on the government which helped create the – on the country, which helped create the inflation with that American rescue package earlier this year, which of course none of my members voted for. So it was an exciting thing to hear. Great shot in the arm for the country. I think it’s exactly what the country needed at this particular time.
BENSON: Are you surprised at all by the White House reaction attacking Manchin pretty personally on his integrity, saying that he sort of went back on his word and perhaps this was a betrayal? In your experience is that a successful persuasion tactic with someone like Manchin?
MCCONNELL: I tell you in the time I’ve been Republican Leader I never get angry about losing a vote because, you know, the most important vote is always the next vote. So I was shocked at the vitriol and basically seemed to me that they were calling Senator Manchin a liar. I think that was not smart. This is a 50-50 Senate. It’s going to be 50-50 for another year. And believe me, that’s not – that’s not the way I would have handled it disappointing both (ph) like this.
BENSON: Well on that exact note, there was a question posed to Senator Manchin earlier on a radio show about his place within the Democratic Party. His answer I thought was very intriguing. Here’s the exchange. Cut 27.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there still a place for you in the Democratic Party?
MANCHIN: Well think that I (ph) would like to hope that there’s still Democrats that feel like I do. I feel I’m socially – I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. Now if there’s no Democrats like that, then they have to push me wherever they want me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: Then they’ll have to push me wherever they want me, sort of firing back at the White House and the progressives talking about maybe getting tug in a certain direction. I saw a story just the other day, Senator McConnell, about you and Manchin getting chummier in recent days and Democrats sort of fretting about that. Is that true? Have you grown closer with Senator Manchin? And do you think there’s a case to be made to him, particularly given what you just called the vitriol from The White House that maybe, given the way his constituents voted in 2016 and 2020, maybe the more natural home for Senator Joe Manchin is in the Republican Conference?
MCCONNELL: Well, it won’t surprise you to know, Guy, made (ph) that argument for quite some time to (inaudible). We come from the same part of the country, you know, a lot of similarities between West Virginia and Virginia, including our constituencies, which are pretty red these days. I don’t know if Joe will ever become a Republican but I can tell you this for sure, the moderates are gone. There are two left in the Senate — two moderates out of 50. There were more moderate Democrats when Barack Obama was president then there are today. And so it’s a completely uncomfortable fit for Joe. I think he’s probably, for example, the only pro-life Democrat of the 50 (ph). He doesn’t fit well over there but that’s a decision, ultimately, he has to make. We’d certainly welcome him to join us if he was so inclined.
BENSON: Do you think — because you said you had that conversation, and that’s true. I’m sure you’ve done your best persuasion effort, maybe not by calling him a liar, for example. But does that conversation change after this vote and the reaction to it, in your view?
MCCONNELL: Well, Manchin, look like they don’t really want him. I mean, I can’t imagine any other explanation for the — for that statement yesterday, which was, as I said earlier, summing it up, they basically called Joe Manchin a liar.
BENSON: Senator McConnell, I do want to ask you on a separate subject about a statement, this is not necessarily new. The former president, Donald Trump, puts out statements — written statements all the time blasting you. He was in public and reiterated that point just the other day. He also was interviewed by Maria Bartiromo yesterday on Fox News Channel. Here’s a very quick snippet of what he said, cut 18.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, Mitch McConnell’s a disaster. The Republicans have to get a new leader.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: He’s calling for you to be replaced as Republican Senate Leader. Lindsey Graham with South Carolina, he was on Fox News Sunday not yesterday but the previous week and Chris Wallace interviewed him and at one point he said this about the nature of leadership within Republican politics these days, cut 19.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC): Donald Trump is the most consequential Republican in the entire Republican Party, maybe in the history of the party since Ronald Reagan. And if you’re going to lead this party in the House and the Senate, you have to have a working relationship with Donald Trump or it will not work.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: Senator, do you agree with Lindsey Graham about someone in your position needing to have a good working relationship with the former president? And given the fact that the former president is saying that you need to be replaced as leader, what’s your reaction to that within the context of the point Senator Graham was making?
MCCONNELL: Well, of course, the Senate Republicans decide who their leader is. And if you wrap up the year, we’ve had a marvelous year. Joe Biden started off over 50 percent, he’s now in the low 40s. He just lost his top legislative priority. We’ve had a terrific year. The American people have seen what true liberalism looks like. Actually, I think more accurately, what socialism looks like and we’re headed toward a very significant midterm election next year. We should, in all likelihood, flip both the House and the Senate to the Republican Party.
BENSON: Are you feeling more confident because when I’ve asked you in recent months about the GOP winning the Senate back, the majority back in 2022 you’ve been a little bit more cautious and cagey than that, saying well, you know, it’ll be a knife fight in a phone booth. It’s going to be very, very close. You sounded more optimistic there. Are you political instincts telling you that the ground has shifted enough, that you’re feeling maybe not certain but more confident that you will be the Majority Leader come 2023?
MCCONNELL: Well, I mean, it’s pretty obvious the environment for the Democrats is toxic. Look at what happened in Virginia. I think what was even more significant was what happened in New Jersey. A Republican running for governor up there barely had enough money to run a campaign and almost won. A truck driver paid $150 and took out the State Senate President. What’s going on in New Jersey? There’s a referendum of the popularity of the Biden administration in a state that Biden carried by 16 points. So they’re in very, very tough shape politically. I don’t see how that gets much better. No one thinks inflation is not going to still be a huge issue. We are having difficulty getting people back to work. Yes, look. The Senate is still going to be close, but I think the atmosphere in which all of our races are going to be run is even dramatically better than the last time you and I spoke, Guy.
BENSON: So on that note looking to the next year or so leading up to November, your counterpart on the other side, Chuck Schumer, is saying that they plan to hold votes on Build Back Better, which could be a very divisive thing culminating in failure if they decide to go that direction. Meanwhile, the other conversation is they want to move forward what they call electoral reform, but they don’t have anywhere near the votes unless we’re talking about maybe the Electoral Count Act or some interaction of that. The huge federal takeover that they’re talking about does not have nearly enough support to get a majority let alone to break a filibuster but they’re going back to the filibuster well again and pressuring Manchin and Sinema and others to reverse on that issue and to try to ram something through. What is your take on the comments that you’ve heard from the leadership on the other side of the aisle both saying they want to go forward anyway with Build Back Better while also trying to move forward with their version of electoral reform?
MCCONNELL: Well it’s pretty clear if they have a vote on the current version of Build Back Better it’ll be defeated. I expect they’ll continue to try to modify it and try to find some place to get Manchin on board. With regard to the Senate filibuster, the core of the Senate, the essence of the Senate is the super majority threshold. Senator Sinema of Arizona has been quite unequivocal. She is not going to modify the filibuster rule. So it takes all 50 of them and I’m confident that Senator Sinema believes in the institution, doesn’t believe it’s broken and doesn’t need fixing by breaking the structure. Some of these Democrats are totally radical. They want to break the Senate. They want to have two new states in D.C. and Puerto Rico. They want to pack the Supreme Court. These people are radical and they’re dangerous and they need to be stopped. And I’m extremely comfortable with where we are in the Senate on its core that is the 60-vote threshold principally because Senator Sinema has said she’s not interested in doing that period.
BENSON: And Manchin as well. So you’ve got at least those two and, reportedly, others behind the scenes don’t want to go there either but the stakes you just laid out there about the radicalism increasing within that party, I think, will be very much part of the refrain from the Republicans heading into next November with a very big midterm cycle, very consequential, looming next year. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, my guest here on “The Guy Benson Show”. Senator, I know you’ve got to run, we probably won’t speak with you here on the show before the calendar flips to 2022 so very merry Christmas to you and your family and a happy New Year and a big new year ahead. We look forward to having you back here on the show.
MCCONNELL: Thanks, Guy. Happy New Year.
BENSON: Mitch McConnell on “The Guy Benson Show”. We’ll be right back.