Townhall will have audio of this call up in just a bit, so I'll post it once we've got it done. It's a quick, enjoyable conversation-- particularly the first question.
Y'all know I'm for a Pence/Shadegg ticket. We can't afford to mess around with not changing leadership. It's not change just for the sake of change; it's change that's needed because the last leadership took us in the wrong direction. And, Pence and Shadegg are gutsy and principled. They've proved it often by butting up against leadership on many occasions when leadership was pushing decidedly non-conservative programs.
That being said, here's Roy Blunt's pitch. He's running for minority whip against Shadegg. I'm interested in y'all's comments on this. I grabbed quotes where I could to give you a taste. Audio and transcript in a bit.
"I don't think our ideas lost on Tuesday; we did."
"We strayed too far from our values and it's time for Republicans to start acting like Republicans."
"We can't let anyone believe that we're for what we for because it's on some kind of list of things we should be for."
"I think we oughtta see what happened Tuesday as a time to learn lessons, be better."
Points to past Republican defeats that served to strengthen conservatism: "The conservative movement became dramatically stronger because of that."
"Last Tuesday was really a significant call to arms for communicating the direction we want this country to go."
Conservative Dems have to choose between Pelosi and their districts. We need to make them, so that two years from now, they're either voting with us and winning back home or voting with Pelosi and paying for it with their seats.
Rob Bluey: You voted for Medicare, NCLB, farm bill, and voted against Rep. Flake's anti-earmark amendments? How could any conservatve support you on that record?
"Well, a lot of conservatives ended up being for those measures."
He takes issue with his own vote on NCLB, arguing that the problem-solving should be done closer to home.
"Overall scoring on votes, day-in and day-out, I'm one of the more conservative Members. I think you ghavce to look at the overall record."
"There are some good things there that really do reform Medicare for the first time."
Would you oppose reauthorization of NCLB?
I'd have to look at exactly what the President wants, but I'd like to see a lot more local control.
John Henke: I don't think anyone thinks you've been ineffective at day-to-day functions, but the larger problem is the appearance of Old Guard staying in control. People want a change of direction. How do you provide it?
"The one leadership function that's never been questioned in the last four years is the job the whip did."
"I do think there's a difference in the majority whip's and the minority whip's role, but I'm not sure the skill set is all that different."
Chet Edwards and Co. (conservative Democrats who have one persona in Washington and another at home) need to be faced with troublesome decisions.
"That's how we beat the Chet Edwardses."
"I"ve been a university president...I've had the opportunity to be a manageer, to try to make things work. You want somebody at the table who brings an understanding of the good things we've done in the past and the mistakes we've made."
Ragnar: People are always saying the right thing. What would give us some reassurance that there will be a change? We're talking about putting the top two guys back in place. What does that say?
"I think you have to really evaluate what's the best team you put in place that creates problems for the Democrats and opportunities for us."
Quin Hillyer: Bob Novak notes a defense of earmarking in your speech at Heritagelast week. Of course it's also been brought up that you didn't support Flake on those issues. Why do you think earmarks are something that should be defended?
"I saw the one sentence from the speech that's in the column and I urge you to look at the next sentence in the speech.
"Reform oughtta be our mantra. I've been very open on whatever earmark reform that's out there."
"I think we oughtta have ultimate transparency...I think we oughtta have minimized earmarking."
ME: He offers up what seems to me a fairly implausible hypothetical and a pretty thin reason for supporting earmarks. He suggests that, if a Member needs border fence built in his district and just can't get it funded, we would want to be able to earmark those funds.
"I don't think we'd want to deny ourselves the ability to do that, out of hand."
ME: I'm sure there are other ways to deal with that problem without enabling billions in mispending.
On the budget:
"I've always voted for whatever was the most conservative budget alternative out there...I've always been there with the most fiscally conservative in the bunch."
"I want to make sure that what the federal government does, it does well."
N.Z. Bear: Lots of talk lately about Bob Gates and the Baker Commission, talk of engaging with Syria and Iran to solve problems in Iraq? What do you think about these ideas and what can you do in the minority to work on them?
"I'd like to see the Baker Commission report before I start speculating."
"I do believe that we need to be constantly reevaluating our strategies...on these Islamic totalitarians...Ideas about how we do that."
"I'm not sure you can have successful engagement with Syria or Iran in that situation...That would not be my initial belief as the way to solve this problem."
"Iraqis have to eventually take responsibility for their own security."
Howard Mortman: What are some defining votes on security in the next two years, you think?
"What do we do about finding out what the terrorists are planning?...We haven't seen any alternatives from the Democrats."
"We need more of those kind of votes on security issues, on tax issues, so everyone in Chet Edwards' home district knows how he feels.
"We need to make sure that, by the time that debate's over, that everyone in his district knows how he (Heath Shuler) feels about the death tax after 2010."
Kim Priestap: There's talk of Conyers dismantling some national security measures?
"They (security measures) oughtta be under constant review."
"We need to be sure that we're putting the maximum pressure on Democrats (refers to the conservative Dems again)...to make sure they vote that way."
Ragnar: Other than NCLB, is there anything else the Rep. leadership should have done differently than they did?
He wants to see more of what they did on immigration, taking on the White House when they felt it was right.
"I think what we did with that was prove the effecftiveness that the House has in helping drive the agenda."
"The House has, to a great extent, driven the agenda in the right direction."
"The question is, how can we refine that strategy even more?"