CNBC News Transcripts
SHOW: Capital Report (7:00 PM ET) - CNBC
HEADLINE: Kansas Senator Sam Brownback discusses some of the issues regarding the presidential campaign
ANCHORS: ALAN MURRAY
ALAN MURRAY, co-host:
And joining me now for a Republican look at the presidential race: Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Senator, thanks very much for being with us.
Senator SAM BROWNBACK (Republican, Kansas): Happy to join you.
MURRAY: You serve with both Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards in the Senate. Do you think, as Governor Rendell just said, that they're prepared to lead the nation?
Sen. BROWNBACK: They're quality individuals. Both of them are sharp and bright men. I just think, philosophically, they are out of the mainstream of the American public. They are both rated as, really, very liberal in their voting records, and that's on the issues. Those are the issues that the public cares about. They vote against things like the Defense of Marriage Act, which the public is strongly for. So I think that's the way you have to look at it.
MURRAY: Well, let's help our viewers understanding those ratings, though. Those were ratings that were done in the year that they were both competing for the Democratic nomination. Given your experience with them over their time in the Senate, do you think they are the first and the fourth most liberal members of the US Senate?
Sen. BROWNBACK: I don't know if that's where they are, but I think they're clearly in the top 10 to 15 most liberal members of the Senate. But I wouldn't even talk about those categories. I think you ought to go down the individual issues, like where people are on tax cuts, where they are on the Defense of Marriage Act, where they are on various issues, and look at those individually as to really assess it.
MURRAY: OK. OK. Let's take some of those individuals. Gay marriage is the one that is being debated in the Senate right now. Some people are asking the question: Why in the world is the Senate doing this since the votes aren't there to pass a constitutional amendment? It takes a long time anyway. What is the point of having this debate right now?
Sen. BROWNBACK: Because it's critical to the society. And if you saw how this issue was handled at various states across the country, it came up, it was voted on, it was frequently voted down that first time. And then the legislators went out to the public, and the public says, 'Well, wait a minute. I disagree. I think marriage is the union between a man and woman.' And then the legislatures came back, and they passed it. I think this is one of those where you have you to get it out there for the public.
MURRAY: Well, then why...
Sen. BROWNBACK: And the timing of this...
MURRAY: But then why not let this...
Sen. BROWNBACK: ...is actually being driven by the courts. It's the courts that are pushing it, not the legislative bodies.
MURRAY: But you say, 'Get it out there to the people.' Why not let the states decide how they want to handle it instead of trying to deal with it here in Washington, overriding the states?
Sen. BROWNBACK: That would be great if the state constitutional amendments would stand. But I have not found a legal scholar yet that believes that the DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, or the state constitutions will stand a US Constitution challenge in front of the Supreme Court...
Sen. BROWNBACK: ...after this Texas case that was decided. So you're left with the only way you can address this is an amendment to the United States Constitution.
MURRAY: Senator, another issue that you have been very closely involved in is stem cell research. We now hear that Ron Reagan, the son of the late president, is going to speak at the Democratic Convention on behalf of easing the rules on stem cell research. What do you think about that?
Sen. BROWNBACK: Well, first, I am all for adult stem cell research and umbilical cord blood research. And I think we really need to push those areas because we're getting real results and real cures. Tomorrow I'll host a hearing where a gentleman has been cured of Parkinson's disease through adult stem cell research. And I'm very supportive of that.
MURRAY: But the issue is easing the rules on embryonic stem cell research, which you oppose; Ron Reagan will speak in favor of at the Democratic Convention.
Sen. BROWNBACK: And I think there's a basic question that has to be asked here before you move forward on embryonic stem cell research on further, which we currently do embryonic stem cell research. But before you open up more and you decide to destroy more embryos, I think you have to ask the basic question: Is the youngest form of human life a person or a piece of property? It's one of the two. And we need to have that discussion, decision and debate before you destroy more of these human lives.
MURRAY: Senator, some people say that by focusing on these issues, like gay marriage or even stem cell research, that Republicans are trying to change attention away from the war in Iraq. What is this election going to be about? Is it about the war against terror, the war overseas? Is it about these values, these cultural issues, that are so important to so many of your constituents?
Sen. BROWNBACK: I think you'll have a clear bloc of individuals talking about security, in general: economic security, growing economy. I think they'll be talking about security on terrorism. But I do think underlying most of this will be people's assessment of the values of the candidates: 'Do they hold similar values that I hold?' And I think that's where you're going to see a lot of the underlying debate. While a lot of the public debate will be about the war on terrorism, what can we do to keep the economy growing and creating jobs, I do think those values issues will underlie a lot of people's individual decisions.
MURRAY: OK. Senator Brownback of Kansas, thanks very much for being with us.
Sen. BROWNBACK: Thank you.