MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Keith Ellison
Date: Jan. 21, 2013
Location: Unknown

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Joining me tonight is Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is
part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Always great to be here, Ed.

SCHULTZ: We are made for this moment. What does that mean?

ELLISON: It means that we`re up to the task at hand. And what is the
task at hand? To meet the challenge of income inequality.
I mean, the president specifically mentioned Social Security, Medicare
and Medicaid, and then tied them both, all three, to income inequality and
the need to face this challenge that, you know, some of us are doing
really, really well, and some of us -- most of us are struggling to get by.

SCHULTZ: I`m saying it was a very progressive speech.

ELLISON: Yes.

SCHULTZ: Your thoughts. You believe it was? Did you expect that?

ELLISON: As the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, it is my
considered opinion that this was a progressive speech. It was a speech
that any progressive could say that`s what I`m talking about.
I found myself spontaneously cheering in the middle of the speech. It
was the kind of speech that made me feel really good, because he combined
our common humanity, combined our need for economic fairness, combined the
idea of -- you know, better days are coming if we will step up to them and
meet them.

SCHULTZ: The Republicans are complaining, saying that he didn`t reach
out enough. What`s your reaction to that?

ELLISON: Who are they talking about? I mean, you know, this was an
incredibly inclusive speech. I mean, you know, you had -- you had him
talking to gay America, you had him talking to new Americans, you had him
talking to Americans of a diverse economic backgrounds.
Even if you are a fortunate enough to be a rich person and no problem
with that, you could feel good about this speech because it meant that this
is the land of opportunity, and that how can you climb up that ladder and
then pull it up after you. I don`t know what they meant. I mean, if they
think that he is going to somehow start catering to the Koch brothers
agenda, they`re just wrong.

SCHULTZ: Are we going to see a different Republican agenda? I mean,
it was four years of we`re against everything.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHULTZ: I mean, are we going to see that again, or do you see any
movement at all from the conservatives that they`re willing to work with
this president. now that he has won two elections, and clearly the last
one?

ELLISON: You know, I hope so. You know, we talk off camera --

SCHULTZ: You don`t sound confident.

ELLISON: Well, here is the thing there are a lot of good folks in the
Republican caucus. I want to say that. And I mean that. But once they
start voting, will they vote their conscience or will they vote what the
Tea Party extremists demand. And that is the question. That`s a question
they have to answer.
Now some of their leaders said we`re going to give -- we`re going to
take him out. Our key agenda is to take out Obama and make him a one-term
president. They failed. I hope enough Republicans are out there to do
what`s right now.

SCHULTZ: Congressman, four years ago tonight, there were a group of
Republicans that met at a restaurant.

ELLISON: Yes, there was.

SCHULTZ: That set the course of obstruction. And they said we`re
going to say no to everything. What kind of dinner are they going to have
tonight?

ELLISON: Is Crow on the menu?

SCHULTZ: I said that earlier today in our broadcast. They should
probably be serving that today.
But the point is, look what they have to show for it. They didn`t do
anything in the Senate, OK. They wanted to defeat President Obama. It
didn`t happen. You picked up seats in the House.

ELLISON: Sure did.

SCHULTZ: The momentum, the polls are with the Democrats on every
major issue. Would they dare obstruct the way they did in 112th?

ELLISON: Oh, yes. But I think it`s important to know if you just
left the Republicans and the Democrats in a room, we could probably come
out with some solutions. They articulate their values. We would fight for
ours, too. But you`ve got these puppet masters out there like Grover
Norquist, like the Koch brothers.
And the question is will the Republicans cut those strings and do what
is right for the American people. Will they say we`re in here to help --
to promote the common welfare?

SCHULTZ: We`re going to talk more about this later on in this
broadcast. But I want your take on this. What can be done on immigration
reform? Tell me where the Republicans are going to move on this issue.

ELLISON: Well, I tell you. They -- I think we`re going to move
forward, because I know people like Luis Gutierrez and others are
absolutely committed. He tells me that they`re working as they can in a
cooperative way.
But, you know, he is hopeful. And if he is hopeful, I`m hopeful.

SCHULTZ: Historical importance of today`s speech in your opinion.

ELLISON: It is a speech for the ages. I really believe that. It was
inspiring. It was informative. It set a bold vision.
And in my view, it is going to set a template for the next four years.

SCHULTZ: What about the progressive caucus? Are you going to hold
the president`s feet to the fire?

ELLISON: Absolutely.

SCHULTZ: He is not up for reelection now. What are your
expectations?

ELLISON: The Progressive Caucus`s role is not to be a cheerleader,
nor to be an opponent of the president. It is to uphold progressive values
no matter what the weather may be. And if he is doing good, we`re going to
back him. If he is deviating, we`re going to call him, just like we said
hey, man, knock off that chained CPI talk.
But now, today, we`re heaping about what he is saying about supporting
the big three.

SCHULTZ: OK.

ELLISON: So, it`s not our job to cheerlead, be it is our job to hold
him to the values. And today he lived up to our expectations.

SCHULTZ: All right. Congressman Keith Ellison, great to have you
with us tonight.

ELLISON: Any time.

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