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Lets bring in Senator Bob Menendez. Hes the chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), DSCC CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Is there concern at this point you might have something slipping away? The trust of the people that came over and voted for change? Is that happening too slow? How would you speak to that tonight, sir?
MENENDEZ: First of all, Ed, after two great cycles and the fact that midterm election history, going back to the Civil War, is against us, I still think were going to have a good year next year, because--number one, is theyve got--Republicans have a series of retirements of incumbents, six of them. We have five great candidates in six of those states, five of them. We have some great candidates up and running. All of our incumbents are up and running, mostly in pretty good position.
Finally, most importantly, the fact of the matter is Republicans have made a fundamental mistake. They have ceded to us the two most important issues before the country, the economy and health care. They stood by while health care premiums rose double digit for the last several years, out of control, and they also enabled George W. Bush to give us the worst economy since the Great Depression.
In fact, when we juxtapose what we have done and will do by the time November of next year comes along, against the Republicans, we will be in a good position to not only maintain this majority, but try to see if we can enhance it.
SCHULTZ: Why do you think some independents--and the liberal base, I think, is a little frustrated. I hear it a lot on the radio. Im not making this stuff up. Is that of any concern at all? Is this all going to work itself out?
MENENDEZ: Well, Ed, I think, you know, and if your readers--if your viewers, I should say, go to the DSCC.org, where we have a lot more information about next years races and what were doing, the reality is that, look, weve had already a tremendous record. We passed a major stimulus package to get this country moving in the right direction, an omnibus bill that changes our energy paradigm, so we stop sending money abroad, greatest expansion of childrens health care, consumer credit card legislation, landmark legislation, FDA control of tobacco, equal pay for equal work.
Those are all in to law. Now were going to do health care. The reality is when we do that, in addition to everything else weve done, and remind the electorate--because next year Democrats wont be the only ones on the ballot. Republicans will be too. We will make a very clear comparison at the end of the day that they stood in the way of progress and change. We actually worked to create that progress and change and move the country in the right direction, despite what we inherited. And I believe that will bring us success.
SCHULTZ: Senator, you listed off a number of things the Democrats have done. Why isnt that registering? Its got to be about the jobs. Jobs are that big. If you dont turn this thing around on jobs in the next six months, what does that mean?
MENENDEZ: Look, first of all, we did so much so soon that is law. Those arent just one bill passed the House or the other. Everything I mentioned is law. Theyre significant achievements.
But clearly the economy is job one. Clearly getting health care done is the most immediate thing that we will get done. And we will get it done. And it will be successful. And we will bend the cost curve. And we will be able to give people who have no health insurance. And we will give for those who have health insurance a better set of circumstances than they have right now, while we pay for it and also help reduce the deficit as a result of it.
SCHULTZ: Youre very confident.
MENENDEZ: Then we keep moving the economy in the right direction and I think we see growth already in the economy.
SCHULTZ: Youre very confident tonight. That means you think the 60 votes are going to be there? There are a lot of liberals in this country that want to see Joe Lieberman stripped of his chairmanship. Would you go along with that?
MENENDEZ: You know, Ed, we are a 60-majority party because we are a big-tent party, unlike the Republicans, who say theyre a big tent, but actually dont have room for anyone who isnt to the extreme right.
SCHULTZ: You have to get 60 votes, senator.
MENENDEZ: We will. Let us--We can have this discussion if we dont get 60 votes. Give us the opportunity. Youre going to see 60 votes. Youre going to see a health care bill that, at the end of the day, when were finished, and is on the presidents desk, that you and I and every Americans will be proud of.
SCHULTZ: Despite all the trouble that Joe Lieberman is causing so far, youre still not ready to throw him under the bus? There are about 12 other Democrats that are. But youre not there yet?
MENENDEZ: We wouldnt have gotten a whole host of things done at various times this year without Joe Liebermans vote. Im looking to move the country forward, just like you are. That takes 60 votes in the Senate, because Republicans are betting on the president failing. Theyre betting on us failing. Whats horrid about that is that means the country fails. Go to DSCC.org, and youre going to be able to see how were going to do this.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
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