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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript


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REP. JASON CHAFFETZ ®, UTAH: Hey. Thanks for having me.
Appreciate it.

HAYES: First, I want to ask you a question about--across the aisle, were you surprised so many Democrats voted against the bill, 102 versus 32 last time?

CHAFFETZ: Yes, and I think that"s part of it. We have a few more Republicans and, yes, a whole lot more Democrats.

HAYES: Why did you go against the majority of your caucus and vote against funding the war?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I got to vote for what I think is right. And I think there are a couple fundamental flaws to this. One is: how we pay for it. It"s not paid for and I think you make a very good point about the inconsistency.

I applauded then-candidate Barack Obama who said we weren"t properly paying and accounting for the war in Iraq. He was right and I agreed with him. But now, we seem to have shifted away from that and said, oh, this $33 billion, we don"t have to pay for it. So, yes, it"s a problem.

HAYES: I wonder. Do you--you know, there are 11 other Republicans who joined you and that"s more than in the past. Do you feel like that position is gaining traction among your colleagues in the Republican Caucus? What do--what do you hearing from them and how do they respond to you when you make the argument to them?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I make the argument that, look, this is a good conservative position and I think a lot of them are very hesitant to be perceived as being anything but tough on the war on terror. And I"ve tried to argue, look, we have been very successful over the last nine years, and it"s hardly a cut and run strategy to say, hey, it"s time to bring our troops home from
Afghanistan. It"s the longest war in the history of the United States for goodness" sake.

So, you know, we"re making that argument and people like George Will and other notable conservatives are also taking this viewpoint. So, I hope it gains traction. You can still be the tough guy but want to bring your troops home. I think they are still consistent and that"s the right way to go.

HAYES: I want to talk about that. This fear of being sort of weak on defense or cutting funding from the troops, which is usually how it is sort of put in sound bites. You know, Democrats are a lot more scared of that generally than Republicans, and I wonder when we"re 60 days from now and there are ads being run by your Republican--by members of the Republican Party against Democrats who voted against the war, are you going to come out and say, "You know what, that"s really not fair"?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I"ll say it on national television. I don"t think that"s fair. I think it"s a good conservative position to say that this war and the way that"s being fought is just not the right thing to do. You ought to be go big, go with everything you have, and go play to win or you bring your troops home.

And so, you know, there are two metrics that I think are key to this. You either agree with them or you don"t agree with them. Number one is: do you agree with the national intelligence estimate and CIA Director Leon Panetta that says there are less than 100 al Qaeda in the entire country?

And the second thing is: they say that the Taliban are not a clear and present danger to the current Afghan government, nor to the United States of America. If you disagree with that let"s see your evidence. If you agree with it, it"s probably time to bring your troops home.

HAYES: Finally, I want to ask you about conversations you"ve had with people in your district in Utah. I mean, I read a news account about talking with some of the people, family members of those who are serving --


HAYES: -- and hearing, I think, some--maybe perhaps surprisingly that they were with you on this issue.

CHAFFETZ: You know, since I was fortunate enough to come into office here, we"ve had four--two marines and two soldiers who have lost their lives. I called their parents and I told them how I was going to vote. And three of the four I was able to get on the phone and they all agreed with me. They totally agreed that, you know, it just--it was time to bring--to bring the troops home.

The other thing is, I said to the people of Utah--I"m just a freshman here--I said to the people of Utah: you know what? Based on what we knew about Iraq, I probably would have voted to go to war. But knowing what we don"t know now, we should have never gone.

And so, now, let"s be smart about this and pat our troops on the back and say, you did a great job, but now, it"s time to come home from Afghanistan.

HAYES: Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, also Jason in the House on Twitter, if I"m not mistaken.


HAYES: We really appreciate your time tonight. Thanks a lot.

CHAFFETZ: Hey, thank you. Appreciate it.


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