MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Jim Clyburn
Date: Dec. 6, 2012
Location: Unknown

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REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you so much.

SCHULTZ: Is the Congress better or worse off with a guy like Jim DeMint?

CLYBURN: Well, I wouldn`t put it that way, Ed. I think that Jim is a very principled guy. I never agreed with a single one of his principles, but he`s a very principled guy. He is doing what he thinks he needs to do in order to further his cause. He has had some real serious problems with his relationships in the Senate.

I think all of us who practice politics know that if you`re going to be successful in any legislative body, you have to develop relationships with people and people have to feel comfortable knowing that you are going to be a certain place at a certain time.

I don`t think that anybody in the Senate ever felt comfortable where Jim DeMint was on any of the issues, and he had a lot of strained relationships within his own party over there.

So I think he`ll be much more comfortable outside of the body and over at the Heritage Foundation where he can pontificate, and as we say down here, he can preach to the choir.

SCHULTZ: Well, he`ll do a pretty good job of that. He has in the past. Eugene Robinson, this is very unusual that someone would give up a Senate seat to do something like this. I don`t know if we have ever seen this before. It`s highly unusual.

What is -- what statement is DeMint making by doing this? That the conservative party has lost its bearing and he`s got to bring them home?

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I think that`s exactly the statement he`s making. I think, look, in the wake of the election, many Republicans are dawning -- it`s dawning on them that a lot of Republican
policies are just flat-out unpopular. That people don`t like them.

And so as Republicans -- Marco Rubio`s talking about immigration and he`s one of DeMint acolytes. I mean, other senators are going to start moving, I think, on some of these issues. And so, rather than kind of be swamped by -- I don`t know if you can call it a wave -- but whatever the movement is in the Senate, I think DeMint is going to a perch that he sees right now more powerful, more influential, where he can have more impact on the debate.

And I would just add, you know, that I don`t think either Congressman Clyburn or I is going to be named the interim senator by Governor Haley. I think we`re both out of the running. I don`t mean to break that news.

SCHULTZ: Well, I think Governor Haley is probably going to take it. She`s going to probably going to see this as a great opportunity. But whoever takes it has to go through an election in 2014. They will not serve out the next four years of Jim DeMint`s term. No question about that.

You, again, Eugene, does he replace Grover Norquist or does he become, so to speak, for lack of a better term, hit man number two for the conservative? If you don`t do it my way, we`re going to get after you. He`s been known from the primaries.

ROBINSON: Well, you know, he`s kind of been that, right? He`s going to continue doing that. One of the big questions I have is what this means for the Heritage Foundation which has been kind of what passes for a mainstream think tank. Is it still a think tank if Jim DeMint is running it since we know what he thinks? We know what Heritage is going to come out with.

I wonder if this doesn`t in some way -- in the medium term, at least - - sort of marginalize Heritage, perhaps, from the mainstream conservative debate. We`ll have to see.

SCHULTZ: No doubt. Well, he will certainly make sure that the opinions and the research that comes out of the Heritage Foundation is a hell of a lot more to the right than it ever has been.

Congressman, do Democrats benefit from Republicans being fractured? Or is it going to be harder to get things done?

CLYBURN: Well, it`s a mixed blessing. You know, when you see this kind of activity going on among your opponents, you do see that as an opportunity to kind of drive wedges or keep your folks together. But you could also say you don`t know exactly who to deal with or when to deal with them when they`re scattered like this.

That`s why I am very hopeful that John Boehner can, in fact, continue to bring his caucus together. He`s doing a pretty good job for the last couple of days with his caucus. I hope he continues because I believe in the two-party system. I do believe that we ought to have good, productive debate.

But in the final analysis, you have to know who you`re debating with and you don`t want to debate with somebody who is spending more time debating within his or her own party. So that`s a real big problem. But let me say this about Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation. I really do question whether or not Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation make for a good fit, because I actually agree with what Eugene just said. This has been a think tank where people develop policies and lay them out for people to run on.

But when you start trying to sponsor people in primaries, like Jim DeMint has done, I would hope that`s not what`s going it happen to the Heritage Foundation.

SCHULTZ: OK. Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Eugene Robinson of "Washington Post" -- great to have both of you with us tonight.
Thanks so much.

Coming up, Mitch McConnell made history in the Senate today. He called for a vote on his debt limit bill. Democrats called his bluff and then believe it or not, McConnell filibustered his own bill. Congressman Chris Van Hollen joins me on all of the latest fiasco surrounding the fiscal cliff. Stay with us.

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