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FOX "On The Record" - Transcript


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MS. VAN SUSTEREN: South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham joins us live.

Senator, how did you first hear about this?

SEN. GRAHAM: On the news. It's not a good day, but we can overcome this. Rush Limbaugh is right, you know, people switch parties because they're going to lose. A lot of Democrats became Republicans in the '90s. You had Senator Shelby become a Republican in Alabama because Alabama was changing. So it's pretty clear that Senator Specter understood he couldn't win a Republican primary. But here's the challenge for the Republican Party.

Can the person running now win in Pennsylvania? I can't win in Pennsylvania, I win in South Carolina. Rush Limbaugh can't win in Pennsylvania. If you're worried about giving the country over to the Democratic Party and not being a vibrant, relevant Republican Party, we need to find somebody that can win in Pennsylvania.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: But the problem is is that it's really the fact that the Democrats are going to have 60 votes.

SEN. GRAHAM: That's scary.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: As soon as Senator Franken -- I assume Senator Franken is going to win --

SEN. GRAHAM: If he comes, they've got 60 votes.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: So it actually is a big deal.

SEN. GRAHAM: It's a huge deal.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: You've got a Democrat in the White House, you've got a Democratic House and you've got a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate.

SEN. GRAHAM: Watch your wallet. The judiciary is going to be padded with the most liberal people in the country.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: So where is the Republican Party? What happened?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, we had 55 senators. And in 2005, what happened tous? Our party has lost touch with the American people in some ways, this idea that we're not conservative enough. Eighteen-to- 34-year olds voted 19 points for President Obama versus Senator McCain. It's not because Senator McCain wasn't conservative enough. Young people are attracted to President Obama's message. We lost Hispanic votes.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Is it that you're not moderate enough?

SEN. GRAHAM: No, it's that we got -- see, the country is center- of-right. That's the good news. Twenty-one percent of the people in a poll today identified themselves as Republican, 35 percent said they were Democrats, the rest are independents. And when you look at the independent, they're center-of-right. Bob Casey, the Democrat senator from Pennsylvania, is pro life. So it's not about abortion. We've got to find a way to be relevant in blue states. We lost North Carolina.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: And how do you do that?

SEN. GRAHAM: I think what you do is you talk about controlling spending. You talk about choice in health care. You talk about a strong national defense. You talk about things that matter to people trying to raise kids. You talk about not owning General Motors. You talk about the Obama agenda, putting your grandkids into debt they can never get out. You talk about standing up to Iran, and you talk about standing up to North Korea.

We've got a good agenda, we just need to get candidates that can relate to people in different regions of the country. I hope Pat Toomey can do that, but I think Tom Ridge could. The former governor of Pennsylvania is a social, moderate, fiscal conservative, former Homeland Security secretary. I don't know if he'd run or not.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Have you talked to him?

SEN. GRAHAM: I'm going to try to. But people like that really would be relevant on day one in Pennsylvania. But we lost North Carolina, we had a runoff in Georgia, so the South is not solid anymore. But the country hasn't gone left. Our party somehow has lost touch with the independent, center-of-right voter, and we've got to get back.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: We have 30 seconds left. Have you talked to Senator Specter today?

SEN. GRAHAM: He spoke to the conference.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Did you speak to him privately, the two of you?

SEN. GRAHAM: I said, good luck.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: You said, good luck?

SEN. GRAHAM: You know, I think he may get a primary challenge, but my hope is that our party can come back because we've got a good agenda for young people, we can reconnect our party to all regions of the party if we nominate people who are relevant in their states. I can win in South Carolina, I can't win in Pennsylvania. But there are people in Pennsylvania that I can do business with, and I'm trying to find them.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And you're going to call Tom Ridge, when, tomorrow?

SEN. GRAHAM: I'm going to call Tom Ridge tomorrow. If you're listening, Tom, Lindsey is calling.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: (Laughs.) Anyway, Senator Graham is calling you. Senator, thank you, sir.

SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you, Greta.

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