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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. ZACH WAMP ®, TENNESSEE: Well, normally, House members don"t comment on what the Senate ends up like. So, I think that"s--

MATTHEWS: He did.

WAMP: Yes, I know he did, but I don"t really think it speaks for other House members. And certainly, Sarah Palin picked like 70 percent winners and I, obviously, don"t think that"s the case anymore than you could say Jim DeMint did and I don"t think that"s the case. Obviously, it was a big cycle.

MATTHEWS: Do you think she would be a great president?

WAMP: Well, she is like Newt Gingrich. She"s got an unbelievable base. She"s electric. But I don"t think either one will ever be president.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about this woman, Kristi Noem. Let"s take a look at her ad. This is a woman who there"s a lot of talk, in fact, she wants it. She"s from South Dakota, out west. She would like to be--even though she"s just got elected to become a member of your party"s leadership, I want to know if you think somebody of the Tea Party crowd should essentially be a member of the leadership, so Tea Party people be represented in the leadership of your party, to bring in so many members of the House.

Let"s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTI NOEM ®, SOUTH DAKOTA: Here on the ranch in South Dakota, we don"t take a lot of polls or hold many caucuses. We do what needs to be done. That"s what I"ll do in Washington. Unlike my opponent, I"ll vote to lower the national debt, vote against wasteful spending, repeal government-mandated health care and work every day to create jobs. Oh, and one more thing, my first vote won"t be to make Nancy Pelosi speaker.

I"m Kristi Noem, and I approve this message.

Sorry, Nancy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So, what do you think of Kristi Noem? The new look of the Republican Party?

WAMP: Well, this is an eclectic class and I came in an eclectic class in 1994. But we need to remember ,Chris, that 13 members of my class lost two years later. And just based on the sheer size, you can look for the same kind of thing, but I think that some of these members may actually lose to Republicans because of redistricting, because the communities really got involved in taking out incumbents this year.

But these guys are going to have to get together. It"s going to be an interesting thing. The Tea Party will pull our party to the right like the progressive pulled the Democratic Party to the left, but the country is still right of center. So, really, the country has a way of bringing everyone back to where they are.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Is the country--let me ask you about Michael Steele, speaking of the country. He"s had a pretty good winning streak starting with New Jersey and Virginia and in, of course, to this past week. He"s got a heck--if you give him credit as party chair for just the most amazing streak starting when he took over, a lot of pressure. He"s almost like Joe Biden. He gets hit a lot for comments he makes not for success, one way or the other.

Do you think he should get re-elected as chairman of your party?

WAMP: He"s been exciting. He"s been electric. That"s going to be up to the Republican National Committee themselves. There"s a certain amount of fatigue, though, that goes with that job. That is a hard job.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WAMP: I think people ought to do it once and then maybe step aside.

MATTHEWS: OK. You"re a smart guy. Thank you, Congressman Zach Wamp.

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