Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil W. McCabe to the newsmakers line to discuss where things stand for the Republican Party after the failed impeachment trial and the mechanics of Mitch McConnell’s dirty politics.
Leahy: We are joined now on our second newsmaker line by Neil McCabe Washington correspondent for the Star News Network and The Tennessee Star. Well Neil, a tip of the hat to you because you called it right. You predicted that Donald Trump would be acquitted. I think you predicted 55/45 turned out to be 57/43. Pretty good job.
McCabe: Well, it was kind of in the cards because of the Rand Paul test vote, but I do want to say something Mike before we go into the politics. I just want to send a quick message to all the Catholics listening. I know it’s early don’t blow it. No meat today, it’s Ash Wednesday. Don’t blow it.
Leahy: Okay. Ash Wednesday. Lent has begun.
McCabe: Exactly. More good news. But anyway going back to impeachment the I think that what is still interesting to me is what we saw with Liz Cheney and you know the trouble she was getting into back home that’s being replicated in other states. We’re seeing it obviously in Louisiana. We’re seeing in South Carolina with Tom Rice. I think there’s even a county committee in Utah.
Leahy: In Utah, it’s not the state gov GOP committee that’s going to send her Romney but perhaps a county. And in Louisiana of course, he voted to convict in the Senate in Louisiana. I can’t figure this guy out Senator Bill Cassidy the Republican from Louisiana who also voted to convict. He was censured by the Louisiana GOP committee. What’s going on in that guy’s mind?
McCabe: Well, what happens is that senators and congressmen don’t pick their own staff a lot of the time. They get to D.C. somebody in leadership sits them down and says, hey we’re going to help you. And what happens is in the Senate McConnell’s has office plants. They’re oppressed people, legislative director people, and they are chief of staff people in these offices and they report back to McConnell’s staff.
So basically McConnell’s staff runs the staffs of these Republican senators and those that are aligned with leadership. It’s what happened with frankly with Pat Toomey back in 2013 when he signed on the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill. He hired a chief of staff at the advice of leadership who used to work for Judge Greg and this guy said hey Pat, I think it would be a good idea to restrict gun rights. I think it’s a huge winner for you.
And I think what happened with Cassidy is he listened to leadership. I’m sure the staffers in his office were cheering him on telling him about how great he is and they get to Washington and they marry with the natives. They just figure nobody’s watching. And all of a sudden somebody’s watching. And Liz Cheney’s career is over. Cassidy just got re-elected but it’s not looking good for him.
Leahy: He’s going to play out the five years there. What do you make of this World Wrestling Federation throw down that Donald Trump just took on Mitch McConnell yesterday in a blistering message to 75 million supporters of his.
McCabe: It was a long time coming. You and I both followed very closely McConnell spending twenty million dollars to save Luther Strange who could not be saved. This was an Alabama in 2018. Yeah, right when he when he was running. He was appointed by McConnell and he was a McConnell guy. And the primary there judge Ray Moore. And then Mitch McConnell said well I don’t like you and there are all these rumors of your odd behavior when you were a young man, we’re going to get rid of you. I’m not backing you and they got Senator Doug Jones from Alabama for a two-year stint right there
McCabe: Lisa Murkowski lost her primary in 2010 to Joe Miller. McConnell raised the money so she could run as a write-in. So why you would move heaven and earth to save her seat? McConnell does this all the time because the goal of leadership is this is also true in the House side, but the goal of leadership is to have moderates in safe seats. And the only time a conservative can ever sneak through is because it’s a race that nobody thinks can be won or you get a guy like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio all opposed by McConnell who basically just takes these guys on and wins.
McCabe: That’s why those three guys are not afraid of McConnell because McConnell tried to beat them in the primary. And we saw what happened with McDaniel in Mississippi.
McCabe: And you know, McConnell’s team called McDaniel a racist, and then in the runoff went out and registered African-Americans who had already previously voted in the Democratic primary and registered them as Republicans to take down McDaniel. This is what McConnell does all the time.
Leahy: Neil, we’re going to try and get in on our second newsmaker line because the freezing rain here Com Carmichael is not in studio today. But he is on the other news maker line. I know he’s dying to talk to you Crom has a question for Neil.
Carmichael: Well, I think Neil is right on. McConnell does represent the Washington establishment segment of the Republican Party which is now a very small part of the Republican Party. But just because it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t have some effect. Neil, I’m curious what you think the makeup will be. I read a story. So I’ll start with a data plan. I read a story where Republicans have identified 47 House seats that they think are winnable now all those 40 of the Republicans who challenged in those 47 how many of them do you think will be Trumpian’s and how many do you think will be McConnellites?
McCabe: Well, if it’s being done by the NRCC and the Republican Party, none of them.
Carmichael: None of them will do what?
McCabe: None of them will be trumpian today. They’re not recruiting Trumpians. The Republican Party loves more than anything that they call self-funders. These are guys who can finance their own campaign and maybe have enough money to give to somebody else. And guys who can raise their own money or their own money, those guys are not running as ideologues. They’re running as a vanity project.
So you get a guy who owns six dealerships in some districts and he decides to run for Congress. Well, you know unless that those guys aren’t motivated by ideology. The Democrats try to win on ideology. So we’ll see there’s going to be a wave Crom and everyone knows it. And that’s going to be the fight. And what they want is the Republican leadership and the staffers and the consultants who are not going to rock the boat and they want those guys to be in those safe Democratic and safe Republican seats.
So you get a guy like Sun and or you got a guy like Cornyn in Texas. They’re not going to lose their seats, but they’re never going to vote with conservatives. As a conservative you want your conservatives in the safe seats so that they can they can take the extreme positions. They can push the envelope. They could take the tough votes instead. That’s absolutely the opposite of what McConnell wants. And McConnell’s going to find out like a lot of people.
Leahy: Long gone.
McCabe: I believe that Corker is no longer in the Senate. A lot of people that took on Trump look at what happened. They returned to private life is what happened.
Carmichael: Talking about the head of the Republican Party isn’t the lady that’s head of the Republican Party wasn’t she kind of handpicked by Trump to begin with and she she got re-elected?
McCabe: Yeah, Rhona McDaniels is a housewife who worked the phones for the 2012 Romney campaign and somebody convinced Trump that she should be the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. He’s going to pay for that. They were awol in 2020. They certainly weren’t paying attention to any of the new rules about voting. And so yeah, I mean she’s got to go. And Trump’s gotta wake up now.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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