All-Star Panelist Clint Brewer: Bad Messaging Allows the GOP to ‘Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory’

Live from Music Row Thursday 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 recovering journalist Clint Brewer in the studio to discuss the Republicans’ failed messaging in midterms and whether or not Donald Trump should announce his run for 2024 presidency.

Leahy: In the studio, our very good friend and all-star panelist, Clint Brewer. Clint, I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to.

Brewer: Shall I leave now? (Chuckles)

Leahy: No, I’m going to retire a phrase.  I hate to do it, but I think you got to be honest about things. I’m going to retire the phrase “legal but not legitimate” in referring to the Biden administration. Would you like to know why?

Brewer: It’s a big step for you, Mike.

Leahy: It’s a big step, but you look at it, and I think it was a phrase that applied to the first two years of his administration because we’ve been through this like a million times.

If the system had worked, all of these 2020 election irregularities would have been caught prior to the joint session of Congress, and we would have had a different electoral college outcome. The system did not work in the way that I would have thought it would.

But nonetheless, the voters had an opportunity on Tuesday to repudiate the Biden administration. Now, the way I think a repudiation would have worked is if there had been a red wave, that would have been a repudiation.

But right now, with, in essence, a still-tied Senate, possibly, maybe if three things go right, Republicans take the Senate with a plus-10 and maybe seats in the House. Republicans take back the House, but just barely. It’s not a repudiation.

Brewer: It’s not.

Leahy: It’s not.

Brewer: (Sighs) Here’s the crux of the question. Is it that the Biden White House and the Democrats are so right that America agreed with them or is it that Republicans’ message was so poor and they were so not dialed into what Americans care about at this moment, that we on the right didn’t give them any reason to vote for our candidates?

Leahy: Didn’t give them enough reason I would say, across the board.

Brewer: And what are they talking about? Midterm election topics for a minority party, for Republicans, you could not have served up this election any better on a silver platter than it was.

The economy, crime, and education in the doldrums since the pandemic, the border, and Afghanistan. Just look at the menu of options that you had. It was an embarrassment of riches from a topic standpoint for a minority party.

And yet the GOP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. And I don’t care if we get control of both Houses. The margin is still a defeat. You look at it and you say, okay, so if you have this target-rich environment with all of these topics that Americans care deeply about, they care about their pocketbook, they care about their kids, and they care about their safety.

What in the world were these candidates talking about instead of those things? And I’ll tell you what they were talking about. They were relitigating the last presidential election.

Leahy: Some of them were.

Brewer: Many of them.

Leahy: Andy Ogles wasn’t. He wasn’t.

Brewer: Andy Ogles is smarter than most.

Leahy: Well, he is. And by the way, he performed pretty well. He won by 12 points in a district that’s R plus-10 or 11.

Brewer: And he was on message, wasn’t he? He was on message here in the 5th Congressional District. Congressman-elect Ogles – we’ll stop calling him Mayor Ogles.

Leahy: Congressman-elect Ogles.

Brewer: Here’s the template for somebody who was on message, dialed in, understood what the electorate cared about and talked about it, campaigned on it, and won.

Leahy: By the way, Andy Ogles, that’s a net pickup, that seat. And, of course, we have to thank Cameron Sexton, Speaker of the House, and Lieutenant General McNally – lieutenant Governor McNally – for putting this together.

Brewer: And that’s the other thing. Redistricting. We had redistricting all across the country. Yeah. And Republicans had an opportunity and they still didn’t do that well.

Leahy: Except for in Tennessee. Tennessee probably did the very best job of legally redistricting. And that’s all. It’s a win for Speaker Sexton and Lieutenant Governor McNally. Any was a very good candidate.

Brewer: So there’s the template of what victory looks like for Republicans.

Leahy: What you want to add to that is right now there’s only a net pickup of eight seats as we speak today, Andy Ogles represents 12.5 percent of the Republican takeover of the House. He should be arriving there with a lot of swagger, frankly.

Brewer: Sure. No, I completely agree. Resounding victory. And that’s what we’re looking for, right? That’s what people on the right want to see. It’s what conservatives want to see. I don’t see any point in continuing to talk about 2020 because Americans are not buying what they’re selling.

Leahy: Whatever happened in 2020, I think it was not a legitimate election, but it was legal. It doesn’t matter. Let me go back to this whole thing. I am retiring the phrase “legal, but not legitimate” because if you’re Joe Biden, I mean, he went out in a bellicose victory statement.

But you know what? The facts are the facts. He was not repudiated. I will say one other thing, though just in terms of practicality, even though it’s a narrow margin. It is a victory for the GOP in this sense: there’s going to be gridlock, which is the best we can hope for between now and 2024.

Brewer: Right. I get it. I agree with that point. But here’s the thing. Either you win or you don’t. It’s politics. You’re there to win elections.

Leahy: Yes. That’s all you’re there to do. Win the election and then implement your agenda.

Brewer: Exactly. And as a party, if you don’t win the election and you don’t win by enough in a legislative body, you don’t get to implement your agenda. If this old narrative is no longer relevant to the American people and they don’t care – and they clearly don’t – then from a tactical, operational standpoint, either you want to win or you don’t.

If you want to keep talking about the old stuff, go off and talk about it somewhere. But don’t talk about it on the campaign trail. It’s not working.

Leahy: So Donald Trump, he was going to make an announcement on Tuesday. If the former president were here in the studio and we had a chance to talk to him, what would your advice be to him about 2024?

Brewer: Preemptively endorse Governor DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin, or anybody.

Leahy: Yes. But don’t get in yourself.

Brewer: No. It’s done. Like it’s done. This election, it’s done.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.










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