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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. TOM PERRIELLO (D), VIRGINIA: Good evening. Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Congressman, you are in the district that leans Republican. I think Republicans really outnumbered Dems in terms of the voter registration rolls. What are the issues you"re finding have resonance in your district right now? What are you hearing from voters?

PERRIELLO: Well, it"s all about jobs and the economy. We have good, proud, hard working people--many of whom have been out of work for a long time. And, you know, the unemployment benefit is a good example where even very solid Republicans in my district often come up to me and say, you urgently have to pass this extension.

But they also find it frustrating because they know at the end of the day what people really want is a job and the more that the Republicans in the Senate extend out through all of these hurdles, how long it takes us to do the basics, that"s time we"re not spending on the job creation parts, getting Americans building things, making things, growing things again.

So, it"s not just being out of touch in terms of these unemployment benefits. It"s also being out of touch with how urgent it is to get job-creating going again and being more solutions-oriented.

HAYES: So, let"s talk about unemployment, that conversation you had with the Republican voter in your district in which they"re expressing support for extending it. I wonder how much there is recognition among voters that the party to which they lend their support generally is against these sorts of things. Is that registering or is that a surprise when you bring that up?

PERRIELLO: Well, I think people are really concerned and they"re pretty much mad at the status quo and at Washington. And I think what we"ve seen is as long as the Republicans can make it about us, that heat comes down on us.

But the second they open their mouths and say what they really stand for, people say, whoa, we"re not with that. And particularly when you combine that with--as you said--some of their positions on Wall Street and other issues, you see who"s standing up for working and middle class folks. And I think it"s not everyone in the Democratic Party, but at least a core group that really understand working and middle class folks have been struggling, not just for the last couple years but really for 10 years. This forgotten decade for the middle class where prices have been going through the roof and salaries and wages have been dropping.

And that"s going to continue until we recommit ourselves to making things in America again, building our competitive advantage. And I think we have a strategy for doing that and we"ve seen that start to get through the House here in the last couple weeks.

HAYES: I want to talk about the Citizens United ruling and the Disclose Act. You voted for the Disclose Act in the House, am I correct?

PERRIELLO: Yes.

HAYES: Yes. So, is the Citizens United ruling the kind of thing and the Disclose Act, is it the kind of thing that you can make into a campaign issue or is it so many sort of steps removed from these sort of immediate kitchen table issues that it"s not really going to register one way or the other as you come down the stretch in November?

PERRIELLO: Well, I think, you know, it"s part of explaining that Washington is too often driven by the people that can write seven figure checks. With campaign finance, it wasn"t perfect before, but at least those checks were capped out at $2,400. We"re talking about being able to blindly spend money.

Where I come from, if you have something you believe in you put your name on it, you stand by it. And all Disclose is saying is, hey, you got to say who you are at the end of the ad.

And I think you ask, why are Republicans willing to do something that"s so unpopular here with voting against the Disclose Act? Well, that"s because all of those ads from the big corporate groups are being run for them and the working class and middle class are paying the price for it.

So, you have to understand, you know, what we"re up against here, and I think the Disclose Act is an important step. And I think, when you put that together with the unemployment extension, standing in the way of these five jobs bills that we"ve already gotten through the House and the Disclose Act, you see who"s standing with the powerful and who"s standing with everyday American folks. And we"ve got to go out and make that case.

HAYES: Is that--is that your argument? We"re 100 days out from
November. Is that your sort of message coming down the stretch? Is that -
when you talk to colleagues of yours who are also Democratic members of the House who were in districts and being competitive, is that - is that the message that you"re hearing?

PERRIELLO: Well, I think people are looking for a plan right now. People want a plan for how America is going to out compete China, how we"re going to keep and protect middle class jobs and make it a little easier by reducing the cost of health care and other things like that, going after the credit card companies and others that are nickel-and-diming the middle class.

So, working both on the jobs side and on those cost sides--and I think that"s what we"ve been hard at work doing. The other side has been spending a lot of money to tell people otherwise. But I think we"ve got to take that message.

Now, how much do we look back and say, well, obviously it was the Republicans that got us into this mess? You know, I think looking backwards is only so helpful. The problem is, the Republicans haven"t changed their ideas. They"re still putting forward the same things that got us into the ditch. The tune hasn"t changed. And for that reason, it is relevant to look at that.

But I find people are more excited to hear, what"s your plan for getting us out of this? And I think, you know, we have got to have that proactive agenda that"s protecting the middle class from that nickel-and-diming and focusing on jobs.

HAYES: Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello of Virginia--thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

PERRIELLO: Thank you.

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