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Fox News "Fox News Sunday" - Transcript


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MR. WALLACE: And we're back now to talk about the future of the Republican Party with two rising GOP stars.

From Richmond, Virginia, Congressman Eric Cantor, who is in position to become the number two Republican in the House. And here in-studio, Mike Pence, who's set to move up to the number three spot.

And Congressmen, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

REP. PENCE: Thanks, Chris.

REP. CANTOR: (Good morning. ?)

MR. WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, you just heard John Podesta, the head of the Obama transition team, talking. He said that he believes that Election Day was a victory for the progressive philosophy.

Is he right?

REP. CANTOR: You know, I -- obviously, Chris, I disagree with that. I think if you look at some of the indicators in the polling post the election, this was not some kind of realignment of the electorate, not some kind of shift of the American people toward some style of European, social, big-government type of philosophy.

I think instead what has -- we have seen happen is a tremendous distrust on the part of the people in their government. We were associated with this government for the past eight years.

And you can look at some of the things that people are upset about, whether it was the latest in the financial crisis, whether it was the handling of the response to Hurricane Katrina, or whether it was the continued ratcheting up of federal spending in Washington. All of these things, I think, led to the fact that we did not perform well in this election.

We'll have to re-group. We'll have to come back to this notion that it really is not about the left versus right; it's not about conservative versus liberal. It's about right versus wrong.

And we're going to have to take into consideration the fact that this country has grown more diverse, and -- but there is still yet a common element among the American people, and that is they want to see a government that works for them.

And we still believe very strongly that it is our common-sense conservative principles of a limited government, of lower taxes, of reining in federal spending that will provide the type of solutions to the challenges that face American people in their everyday lives.

And I do believe that this will be what our roadmap will contain, going forward.

MR. WALLACE: But let me bring this -- bring up something that you just said with Congressman Pence.

Congressman Cantor at the beginning said this wasn't a victory for big government and European social solutions. Now, obviously, the Obama campaign -- or the Obama camp, now -- wouldn't call it that.

But those were certainly the issues in this campaign -- questions of taxes, the idea -- the charge of socialism was brought up. The American people didn't seem to buy it.

REP. PENCE: Yeah, Chris. I do want to agree with Eric. I don't think this was a victory for a progressive or liberal victory. I think this was a victory for Barack Obama.

And I want to begin this morning by offering my sincere congratulations to the president-elect and to his team on running an exceptional campaign.

MR. WALLACE: But he -- forgive me, Congressman, he stood for some things in that campaign.

REP. PENCE: Well, he stood for some things, and I read Rich Lowry's column this morning where he pointed out that exit polls showed that only 22 percent of Americans embrace what is describe as a liberal world view. That's the same as it's been the last four and eight years.

I agree with Eric. I don't think this was a liberal realignment. I think this was an enormously effective campaign run by the president-elect and his team. But also, I'm not immune to the fact that this was an extremely moving and historical moment in the life of this nation.

You know, I grew up in a time when my heroes were John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And I have to tell you, to see an African American president-elect walk out on that stage and say to the world, my story would only be possible here in America, was deeply inspiring to me.

MR. WALLACE: Well --

REP. PENCE: And so I really do believe this was not a realignment. This was an extraordinarily compelling figure. And the fact that John McCain still came away with, I think, 46 percent of the vote shows the resilience and durability of common-sense conservative ideals.

MR. WALLACE: Well, for all the good feeling, Congressman Pence, you have been quoted as saying that you feel your job over the next two years is to, quote, "expose, dismantle, and defeat the liberal Democratic agenda."

REP. PENCE: Right.

MR. WALLACE: So much for cooperation.

REP. PENCE: Well, let me say, look, I'm a conservative, but I'm not in a bad mood about it, Chris. The purpose of the opposition is to oppose, to oppose every time that we do.

And look, we're -- I prayed for our president-elect this morning. I think Americans all want to see their president successful. We're going to get through an inauguration, and it's going to be a historical moment.

But as Eric and I both know, having dealt with the Democrats on Capitol Hill and knowing the policies of the president-elect, we're going to have some pretty vigorous disagreements, and they're going to be along traditional fault lines. And we're going to cheerfully provide that loyal opposition.

MR. WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, let's look at some of the exit polls from Tuesday night. Back in 2004 the same percentage of voters, 37 percent, identified themselves as Republicans and Democrats. Tuesday, Democrats had a seven-point advantage.

And look at these voting blocs. Mr. Obama did 14 points better among Hispanics than John Kerry did; plus-eight among people making more than $100,000 a year; plus-12 among young voters.

Congressman Cantor, when you look at those numbers, when you look at the fact that you are losing the West Coast, you're in the process of losing the Rocky Mountain West, and you know don't have a single House Republican member from New England, isn't the GOP in some trouble?

REP. CANTOR: Well, listen. There's no question the numbers are startling. And if you do look at the turnout numbers and the responses of those interviewed, we have to demonstrate, number one, that we understand what people are going through. Our vision going forward has to be one of reform.

But look, there's no question Barack Obama is an extraordinary communicator. The success of his campaign was largely based on a message that he was able to connect with a broad swath of the American people.

There's no question that the Republican Party has got to stop doing things the way they've always done them. We were doing things that we've been doing for the last 10 years. The incredible innovation and use of technology that the Obama campaign and the Democrats employed is stunning.

We're going to have to change. The Republican Party will have to begin to adapt those innovations and that technology to make sure that we can reach out to the increasing diverse population of this country.

But at the end of the day, it is about a message of change. And what we're going to be faced with when come back to Congress in January is a president who probably will be facing extraordinary challenges at a historic level.

If you look at, obviously, the roiling global financial situation; if you look at the fact that much of this country distrusts its government; if you look at the fact that we're still fighting in two wars, I think that the Republicans in Congress will stand ready to work with this new president.

But if he then says, I'm going to pivot away from my campaign promise to raise taxes and find a solution where we can help families and small businesses create jobs and find some type of security again, then we'll support him.

If, in turn, that he veers left and says no, the way to do this is to crank up the government spending machine and to raise taxes on families and small businesses, we're going to oppose him.

And so there is going to be, I think, a willingness to try and get things done. But at the end of the day, I think you will see a Republican Party in Congress serving as a check and a balance against Mr. Obama's power and Speaker Pelosi's power.

MR. WALLACE: But -- forgive me, Congressman Pence, an awful lot of what Congressman Cantor just said was what John McCain was saying, and the public rejected it.

REP. PENCE: Right.

MR. WALLACE: I mean, those were the issues on which this campaign was fought. I don't think this was just all about the charm of Barack Obama. I think there were some issues involved here as well.

How do you come up with a new message that will resonate in the parts of the country -- and I'm talking about New England, the far West, the Rocky Mountain West, where people are beginning to tune you out?

I had Karl Rove on on Election Night, and he said it's not enough to just go back and say well, we're the party of Ronald Reagan. He says you've got to come up with new, conservative solutions to the problems that people face today.

REP. PENCE: Right, but you build those conservative solutions, Chris, on the same time-honored principles of limited government, a belief in free markets, a belief in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.

You look at those social issues, Chris. You know, there were three state referendums on marriage. All three of them carried, I think, in Florida, California, and Arizona.

The vitality of the conservative movement around the country is very real. I don't think we should draw any broad conclusions, as Eric said, about a big realignment. You know --

(Cross talk.)

MR. WALLACE: So what do you do, as I say, to speak to people to say we can solve your problems better than the Democrats?

REP. PENCE: Well, I think that -- I think, number one, I like your question because I think being in the minority in the House and Senate for two years, what we've learned is we've got to speak to the American people.

What I -- what we've learned is that a minority of conservatives in the House, plus the American people, equals a majority. And last August, when House Republicans held the House floor for five weeks and demanded that Speaker Nancy Pelosi abandon her historic opposition to more domestic drilling, the American people mobilized, contacted their members of the House of Representatives, and the policy changed.

That's exactly the kind of approach you're going to see. It's going to be a cheerful opposition. We're going to carry those timeless principles of limited government, a strong defense, traditional values, to the American people.

And we're going to invite the American people, when the opposition is appropriate, we're going to invite the American people to join us in stopping any slide to the left by the Obama administration or Pelosi Democrats.

MR. WALLACE: And finally, Congressman Cantor -- and we have less than a minute left -- how long do you see Republicans in the wilderness? Is this something that takes years, or do you think you could actually take back the House or the Senate in 2010?

REP. CANTOR: Well, I think it's pretty unbelievable that we sit here today, given this (state ?), and four years ago the discussion was all about the Democrats unable to find their footing.

So I do think in this age of the 24/7 news cycle and the Internet world, we're going to have the ability to reach out to many supporters and many people across this nation, and allow them to see very quickly the differences in terms of vision of where we want to take this country.

And I think our challenge going forward is to make sure that we are able to connect with the younger people in this country in explaining our vision, in talking about the conservative principles that will be adapted to the everyday challenges that people face.

And I think that's our challenge, as you suggest, Chris, in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. We will not be taking back a majority unless we are able to put in place a plan that does just that.

MR. WALLACE: All right. Congressman Cantor, Congressman Pence, we want to thank you both for talking with us. We'll be watching you both in action over the next two years, and we'll have you back often.

REP.PENCE: Thank you, Chris.

REP. CANTOR: Thanks, Chris.

MR. WALLACE: Thank you.

Up next, our Sunday Regulars read the first tea leaves from President-Elect Obama and try to figure out what his administration will do.

Back in a moment.

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