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FOX News Channel Interview - Transcript


Location: St. Paul, MN

FOX News Channel Interview

MR. HEMMER: A brand new Gallup poll showing that Barack Obama has hit the 50 percent mark for the first time in this campaign, maintaining an 8-point lead over John McCain, 50 percent to 42 (percent). McCain surrogate, House Chief Deputy Whip Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor our guest here in St. Paul.

Good evening to you. Nice to see you.

REP. CANTOR: Good to be with you.

MR. HEMMER: What do you make of those numbers with an 8-point spread right now?

REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, look, Bill, I think that, obviously, the Democrats sort of felt a little bump from their convention. We haven't even begun our convention. Tonight, we'll begin in earnest. And you know, I'm expecting that we'll see these polls gyrate, go up and down from now until Election Day.

MR. HEMMER: We can talk more about the message in a moment here. But what I also found in that poll is that of the undecideds, that number has gone down considerably. It's gone down to 8 percent, and most of them are breaking toward Barack Obama. Is that a concern?

REP. CANTOR: Well, I mean, certainly it is those in the middle that are going to determine this election. And I think what's important to remember, though, is the nation has not been able to see our Republican ticket on nationwide television the way it saw the Obama-Biden ticket last week. So that's why I think you see the energy that you do here in St. Paul by Republicans just getting ready to rock.

MR. HEMMER: Do you think it plays into your advantage that you start your convention four days after the Democrats wrap it in Denver?

REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, I think that, you know, you can't control some of these things that have happened this week.

MR. HEMMER: But with regard to the bounce, that traditionally goes to the party that has the first convention.

REP. CANTOR: Well, no question, the compression of the convention calendar this year, I think, does play to our advantage. And I am expecting that we will also get a tremendous bounce at the end of this week given all the excitement surrounding John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin.

MR. HEMMER: She is the highlight this week. She may speak tomorrow night. It may go off until Thursday. That still has not been settled. But you mentioned at the beginning that getting your message out will be your best shot of overcoming an 8-point deficit. What's the best message John McCain can send out of St. Paul?

REP. CANTOR: The best message is we come out of here as a Republican Party united to make sure that we have accountability in government, to make sure that the taxpayers get a return for their investment and that government starts working for the people again.

MR. HEMMER: You're fighting images, too, in all this, Eric. You're fighting a crowd of 75,000 last week at Invesco Field, Mile High in Denver versus a one-day delay here in St. Paul. What does that do to the message that you're trying to send out?

REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, listen, Bill, I agree it was a pretty sight. It was a great speech. We all know Barack Obama can speak, and he's a great politician. But at the end of the day, the American people are looking for leadership. John McCain is someone they're comfortable with to be the commander in chief of this country. I think the country will embrace Sarah Palin as a real agent for change, as somebody who they can identify with. All the suburban folks, all the rural folks, all the big-city folks across this country will know that this individual has not only had it all but she's done it all herself.

MR. HEMMER: Well, they promise an exciting program that begins tonight. We'll be here to watch it. Eric Cantor, thank you for your time.

REP. CANTOR: Bill, thank you.

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