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MSNBC Interview - Transcript


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MS. HALL: While some Republicans may still be shaking their heads over Tuesday's big losses, others are already trying to chart a new course for their party.

Tennessee GOP Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn wrote this week, quote, "As a party, we have added to America's frustrations with the gulf between our message and our methods. It is not good enough to evoke Ronald Reagan without bothering to explain how and why the ideas he articulated 30 years ago are the best framework to solve today's problems."

Congresswoman Blackburn joins me now to talk about it.

Such eloquent words, but how do you implement that?

REP. BLACKBURN: One of the things that people want us to do is to actually pursue those ideals, the party of Lincoln, where we focused on self-reliance, on freedom, on national unity and Reagan, who focused on lowering taxes and lessening regulations.

MS. HALL: But what happened, congresswoman?

REP. BLACKBURN: Freedom and free enterprise. And so it means pursuing those ideals and in that pursuit, we will rebuild that trust.

MS. HALL: So what happened along the way in your opinion?

REP. BLACKBURN: I think that along the way our leadership and many of us -- we all have a little bit of blame to share in this, Tamron, and people took their eye off the ball and they started focusing on perks and power and privilege instead of focusing on people and problem solving and getting things done.

The American people repeatedly have said, we like having a two party system. We like a robust debate. But we don't like the bickering. What we want you to do is lay out your position, take actions, solve problems and let's get our arms around some of these issues that need to be addressed.

MS. HALL: Let me ask you, prior to Tuesday and the results there, were you saying this privately to be people within your party? Were you warning them of a possible problem?

REP. BLACKBURN: I think that all of us as we have been around the country and I did some work with Senator McCain's campaign in different states around the country and repeatedly from people -- they would come to us and say, you know, we're really frustrated with you guys. We feel like that you are focused too much on what is happening inside the Beltway in Washington, DC and too much on that game that takes place there and not enough on us and not enough on solving the problems with the economy.

People want to see their taxes reduced. They want to see the size of government reduced and they want the bureaucracy to actually shrink and they're looking at us and saying, why does this not happen?

MS. HALL: Yeah.

REP. BLACKBURN: Why are you not holding hearings? And why are you not taking action? And why are you not cutting the size of this government?

MS. HALL: But again, if this is what people were saying to you on the campaign trail, would you say that the party did not listen? When folks are coming up to you and telling you this is their observation and those changes, at least, were not being made, what happened there? Why was there a disconnect when you say yourself you were hearing it from people when you were out campaigning for Senator McCain?

REP. BLACKBURN: We were hearing it from people, that's right, and I will tell you this. I do think that we have, as Republicans, tried to make some of those reductions over the past two years and over the past two years, you have seen those in charge in Washington continue to grow the size of government. That has frustrated the American people, but what we need to do now is to refocus and to say, all right, these are the problems that are in front of us. How are we going to deal with some of the economic issues, whether it's the financial markets issues --

MS. HALL: Right.

REP. BLACKBURN: The jobs growth issue, the small business issues and begin to drill down in these in a very thoughtful way so that we are solving these problems and not pushing them, not kicking the can down the road, if you will.

MS. HALL: Let me ask you -- I want to look down the road --

REP. BLACKBURN: And leaving it to be solved six months or a year later.

MS. HALL: Because we're almost out of time.


MS. HALL: I want to look down the road real quick and I want a gut check from you here. As a woman, as a leader in your party, do you believe four years from now, Sarah Palin will be the face of your party, the head of your party, the future of your party?

REP. BLACKBURN: I think that Sarah Palin certainly has the opportunity to be the face of our party. I think that there are many other very talented women in the House and the Senate that you are going to see also step up and take some leadership roles and they're going to be welcomed because they are articulate. They come from all corners of the country and they are going to do a great job in helping to lay out the agenda of how we move forward.

MS. HALL: Okay.

REP. BLACKBURN: With lowering taxes, freeing up small business, having a strong national defense and doing it in a way that is respectful to the taxpayer.

MS. HALL: All right, congresswoman. Thank you so much for your time. I certainly appreciate it.

REP. BLACKBURN: Thank you, Tamron.

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