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 The Tennessee Star’s National Political Editor Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to comment upon Morgan Ortagus’s upcoming fundraiser contributors, current Republican strategies, and a possible Mitt Romney presidential run for 2024.
Leahy: Of course, we are now in the highlight of our broadcast week. We are joined on the newsmaker line by the very best Washington correspondent in the country for The Star News Network. The National Political Editor for The Tennessee Star, Neil W. McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Michael, Patrick, Leahy. Good morning to you.
Leahy: (Laughter) The Irish are at it again. Hey, we’ve got a Scotch Irishman here – Crom Carmichael.
McCabe: Very nice.
Leahy: And Crom has a question for you.
Carmichael: Neil, have we reached the point in this election cycle where Democrats in the House and the Senate will tell the leadership, don’t bring a bill up that forces me to vote in a way that will hurt me in the next election? Because if you do, I’ll have to vote, I’ll have to vote against it. Have we reached that point yet?
McCabe: You’ll notice that there aren’t a lot of bills being put up lately, right? There are going to be bills where the Democrats say if we don’t pass it now, we may never get our chance. And so there’s going to be some smash-and-grab bills, but you’re not going to see the kind of bills where the Democrats think they have the advantage on the Republicans, because they have no way to turn.
What is interesting, though, is that Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is sort of the political wing of Senate Republicans, just came out with a point-by-point plan sort of modeled on the Contract with America, where he says if the Republicans are elected and given the majority of the Senate, this is what we will do.
And that goes against the strategy right now of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, and frankly, Kevin McCarthy, who leads the Republicans of the House. Both McConnell and McCarthy are trying to just run out the clock and not do or say anything because they just figured the cycle is moving against the Democrats. And if we say or do anything, we might screw it up. So let’s just keep quiet and then when we take over, we’ll just do whatever we want.
Leahy: I think that’s an excellent analysis.
Carmichael: That may be a great analysis but it’s a terrible strategy.
Leahy: By the Republicans and Mitch McConnell.
McCabe: It’s a horrible strategy!
Carmichael: It’s absolutely terrible because the voters need to know what Republicans stand for and what they hate. And they need to know what Republicans don’t want. But I want to get back a couple of questions then, Neil.
Carmichael: When you said there may be some bills that are smash-and-grab, that sounds like they would be highly partisan and they would pass with only Democrat votes. So I get back to my question. If Democrats are going to pass something that matters, but they’re going to do it with a complete party line vote, it would seem to me that that would be the type of bill that, by definition, would hurt them in the very next election.
McCabe: Right. And so what they’re going to do is they’re going to break up Build Back Better, and they’re going to go with all the stuff that Manchin said he likes. And they’ll have those bills.
So instead of spending $5 trillion, they’ll spend $3 trillion and they’ll just break it up into a bunch of smaller bills. And remember, a lot of these bills are going to give tons of money to members of their coalition, which will then get laundered back as contributions to Democrats.
And so people are saying that the Republicans are winning 70 seats. I don’t know if they’ll win 70 seats. That seems a little high to me. They might win 40 seats. They might win 30 seats, which is enough. But they’re not going to win 70 seats by just playing run-out-the-clock. They’ve been in the prevent defense from day one.
Leahy: Yes, exactly. We have a story here. Our lead story at The Tennessee Star by Aaron Gulbransen. I’d like to get your reaction to it. Of course, the 5th Congressional District here in Tennessee is very hotly contested now. It’s a lean Republican district.
Morgan Ortagus, who’s lived here and registered to vote for all of three months, endorsed by Donald Trump, she’s holding a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., a week from Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.
The headline of the story, “Ortagus Holds Out-of-State Fundraiser in D. C., Host Committee Includes Never Trumpers and Fired State Department Staffer.” Have you seen that story? What’s your reaction to that?
McCabe: My first reaction is “why are we having a party on Ash Wednesday?”
Leahy: Said the very Catholic Neil W. McCabe.
McCabe: And like, I’m not the best Catholic, but I give it a shot every day. And certainly, part of giving it a shot every day is at least remembering to hit the brakes a little on Ash Wednesday. Other faith traditions recognize Ash Wednesday, and they treat it as a solemn sort of quiet day.
Leahy: But she’s raising money. Her host committee includes the former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, the pro-abortion Never Trumper, Honorable Kerry Healy, who was Mitt Romney’s lieutenant governor in Massachusetts. I think you may have been up there at that time. What’s your take on her as a host of this event for Morgan Ortagus?
McCabe: I’m not going to say that Kerry Healy would strangle a fetus with her own hands.
Leahy: You’re not going to say that.
McCabe: No, that would be out of bounds. (Leahy chuckles) But she went out of her way to express how much she wanted to protect and expand abortion. And when she was running for governor on her own right in 2006 against Deval Patrick, she basically made the point of saying that, hey, Mitt Romney is now anti-abortion, but I’m not.
And it was really unnerving the degree to which she made the point that “Mitt Romney flipped on abortion and I didn’t. And I can be trusted to protect abortion.” What’s her pitch? And, of course, she was running against Deval Patrick.
And Deval Patrick had been a lawyer who grew up in Chicago, and his political consultants were David Axelrod and David Pluck, and they were basically field testing how to beat a Republican in Massachusetts in 2006 so they could take those lab results and create Barack Obama.
Now the other host of this event, one of them is a fellow by the name of Gabriel Noronha who used to work for Kelly Ayotte, another Senator who was a Never Trumper said she wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2016.
This guy somehow got a gig at the State Department. I guess he worked with Morgan Ortagus when she was there. Here’s what he said on January 6. He tweeted this out.
He said, “President Trump fomented an insurrectionist mob that attacked the Capitol today. Trump is entirely unfit to remain in office and needs to go.” He got fired the next day, but he is a co-host of this event. What do you make of that?
McCabe: I think there’s a signal here. There are a lot of people on that list who supported and are part of Mitt Romney’s circle. And this guy here, he’s a guy who was fired from the White House. How hard is it to stick around for 14 days?
He had two weeks left. But he had to make the point. He had to basically get his moment in the sun. So many of these Republicans get one news cycle and then the Left throws them away. I haven’t heard of him since. But at the time when Trump needed people to support him, Gabriel did not.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael has a question for you.
Carmichael: Neil, I have two quick questions. One is candidate recruitment for the Republicans. Can you give us an update? Would you on a scale of one to 10, say candidate recruitment, one being low, 10 being great, where would you put candidate recruitment?
Are there any particular stars or newcomers that you would highlight? And then my second question is to follow up on what you said earlier. Do you think Mitt Romney might run for president in 2024? The other question is more important than the Mitt Romney question.
McCabe: Let me just say this. The problem with the Republican leadership right now is, and I’m talking about the Leftist staffers and consultants and those people, is all of the recruitment is coming from the conservative grassroots, which means there’s no recruitment.
It’s basically conservatives are stepping up and saying, I’m going to run for Congress. And the recruitment effort by the Republican Party is to find establishment types in that district to try to block the conservatives.
So all of the effort is being made to find establishment guys to block conservatives. And you’re also seeing it in the Senate races, as for example, in Arizona. They’re begging Doug Ducey to prevent a conservative from becoming a senator?
Leahy: Yes. There’s a guy who’s not exactly a Trump supporter. Is Mitt Romney going to challenge a likely Trump effort to win the nomination again in 2024?
McCabe: I knew for certain in 2016 Mitt Romney would not run because of his wife’s MS and the debilitating effect it had on her. Medical technology and medicine now has been so successful in treating Ms. Romney that he was able to run for Senate and I believe he thinks he can run for president.
Leahy: I think you’re right!
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