MSNBC "Morning Joe" - Transcript
MSNBC "Morning Joe" Interview With Governor Mark Sanford
Subject: Reviving The Republican Party
Interviewers: Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Mike Murphy, Peggy Noonan
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MR. SCARBOROUGH: With us now, let's bring in Republican governor from South Carolina and chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Governor Mark Sanford.
Governor, mike Murphy has declared the Republican Party dead.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes. It's over. It's over.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: It's finished -- it's done.
MR. MURPHY: Wait a minute!
MR. MURPHY: Not dead. I just said bad water ahead. Change course a little, win big long term.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Do you think Republicans should become more libertarian, Mark, on the issue of gay marriage?
GOV. SANFORD: Well, that's an interesting place to start. You're always provocative, throwing it out there to start the conversation. (Laughs.)
No, I don't know that'd be a good place to start. That sure isn't where I'd start. But you're welcome to.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: So, Mark, it's good to see you.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Okay. Thank you, Mark.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: We've been talking about the future of the Republican Party.
And Mike Murphy, one of the things he says is that the Republican Party should become more libertarian on the issue of gay marriage.
Though you're a good friend of mine, I'm going to repeat my question.
Do you think that the Republican Party should become more libertarian on the issue of gay marriage?
GOV. SANFORD: No, I don't.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: You don't. Okay.
There you go, Murphy. So you take your Time column and just go somewhere else. Give it to someone --
MR. MURPHY: I will declare right now for all (America ?) that Mark Stanford (sic) is the bravest fiscal conservative in America.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: I love it.
MR. MURPHY: I want to take him off the hot seat a little bit because that's a tough question for anybody in Republican politics to answer.
But on all the spending stuff, I have not seen a braver politician in America than Governor --
MR. SCARBOROUGH: I absolutely love Mark, and he was the bravest guy in Washington, that I knew, on fiscal spending.
But Mark, do Republicans have any credit, going into 2010 on fiscal issues? Can we criticize President Obama's spending habits when Washington's been so dreadful over the past eight years under Republican leadership?
GOV. SANFORD: Clearly not, and there's going to be a rebuilding process.
And my only point with regard to the gay marriage or any of the other hot-button issues you could pick out there is that at the end of the day, it is not core to most people's lives and most people's life experience.
And I think that if you want to talk about rebuilding the Republican Party, the place to start is with the issues that are most core to people's lives.
And so this accumulation of debt that you were just talking about in the last segment is absolutely core to a person's life for its implications for the kids and for the grandkids and, frankly, for the rate of inflation that they may have to suffer.
So I think that you need to start with the places wherein there's the biggest real-world impact in their lives.
And I think that the big tent that unifies both social and economic conservatives and libertarians on the conservative side is, in fact, tied to economic issues and the degree to which Washington is -- not just getting into their wallet; they're frankly taking the whole thing away.
And as to --
MR. SCARBOROUGH: You know, Mark --
GOV. SANFORD: Go ahead.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: I'm sorry, Mark. I was just going to ask you, you talked about kids.
I was interviewed by somebody in South Carolina that said how could Mark Sanford want to use stimulus money to pay down the debt instead of for education. Doesn't he care about our children?
Seems to me that's why you'd want to pay down debt.
GOV. SANFORD: Well, I think that that's a nice -- yeah, that's a nice tag line.
We've both been in the world of politics for a long number of years. When you don't want to debate the issue, you in essence go to some crazy attack as if you hate kids or you hate old people, or you hate whoever.
The bottom line is that the kids in South Carolina will be the ones paying off the debt that's now accumulating in Washington and, to a degree, the debt that's accumulating here in South Carolina.
And I think that there is an issue of parity. When you talk about borrowing as much money as is being currently borrowed and you're talking about leaving the tab for the cost of current government operations with the next generation, then you'd better be looking at paying down debt so that those kids, in fact, get some return on the investment that they're going to have to make in government -- (inaudible).
There is the ultimate in taxation without representation going on right now. And so if you want to be fair to kids, I think you've got to look at paying down debt.
MS. NOONAN: Hey, Governor Sanford.
I'm wondering, as a respected, popular Republican governor out there in America, how are you feeling about the Republican leadership that you see in Washington, the Republican leadership that is opposing Mr. Obama's plans, that is trying to lead the party from the Capitol?
What are your thoughts?
GOV. SANFORD: I would say that they're in a difficult spot.
When Joe and I were in Congress, one of the interesting adages that I remember was the minority is there to collect a pension and provide a quorum, but that's about it.
And it's not that bad, but it's not that far from being there -- on the House side, in particular, because it's very difficult to do anything beyond stop, block, or impede.
It's very difficult to advance policy that'll make a (real-world ?) difference in people's lives.
So I would say that they've got a tough job cut out for them, and I think where you'll see a lot of leadership as to what comes next in the Republican Party from state legislative bodies and governors across the country.
One of the reasons I've gotten so enthused about the Republican Governors Association is if you go back to the early '90s, before Joe and I came to Congress, if you look at what Engler and Thompson did with welfare reform, the real incubation in terms of what was going to come next, that would impact people in a real way in their lives was actually going on at the state level.
So I'd say, one, they've got a tough job cut out for them. Two, I think what you'll see is a lot of the forward progression with regard to policy, at least conservative policy, coming out of the states.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: All right. Governor Sanford, thanks very much for being on the show this morning.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: We all love you, Mark.
GOV. SANFORD: All the way around. See you, Joe --