Andrea Mitchell: GOP ‘Looks Like An Episode of House of Cards’ Following Cantor’s Loss

Following the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the Republican primary, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell rushed to claim that the GOP is in disarray following the election.

Speaking with Sean Spicer, Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer, on her Andrea Mitchell Reports program on Wednesday, June 11, Mitchell proclaimed “There's frenzy on Capitol Hill among the House Republicans. This looks like an episode of House of Cards up there.” [See video below.]  

The MSNBC host began the interview with Spicer by wondering “What about John Boehner, what about the Republican leadership? Are they now all in jeopardy from the rank and file?” before hyping the supposed riff within the party.  Spicer informed Mitchell: “I think with respect to what happened last night, it was one district. And I think the bigger takeaway on this, and I understand the media frenzy, but let's kind of step back for a moment.”

Despite the RNC Communications Director’s attempts to calm Mitchell’s hyperbole down, she insisted that “It's not just the media, Sean, there's frenzy on Capitol Hill among the House Republicans. This looks like an episode of House of Cards up there.” 

For his part, Spicer shot back and blamed the media for creating a narrative that the GOP is in crisis mode: 

Because media is running around putting microphones in their face. Let me sort of  walk it back for a second. The seventh congressional district of Virginia is, and will be, a Republican district. That's a fact. We are keeping that seat. There's no question about it. 

As the back-and-forth continued, Mitchell attempted to walk back her criticism of the GOP:

I wasn't saying that the party is in trouble, I'm just saying the party is moving to the right and that the established figures such as Eric Cantor didn't take care of his own district. He was at Starbucks yesterday on election day and taking too much money... Sean, earlier in the program I pointed out that Lindsay Graham and Boehner are all doing well in their primaries, so we've made all of those points. I'm just saying, something happened last night. And people are taking notice.

Rather than accept the MSNBC host’s supposed clarification, Spicer concluded:

I guess my point was to sort of give some big picture context to this. But with respect to you saying that what happened last night was the party's moving to the right, it's one district. One district. Two weeks ago the narrative was, the Tea Party's dead and the establishment has taken over. Week to week the media changes the narrative. The reality is that we're doing very good as a party. That you can pick out points no matter where you want. 

See relevant transcript below. 


MSNBC

Andrea Mitchell Reports

June 11, 2014

12:38 p.m. Eastern 

ANDREA MITCHELL: And Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer joins me now with more on what's next for the party after Eric Cantor's stunning loss. Welcome, Sean. I want to play for you a bit of my conversation earlier with Tim Huelskamp, who had this to say about the Republican leadership. 

TIM HUELSKAMP: This is about a concern amongst conservatives across the country that the Republican establishment isn't listening, isn't following through on the conservative commitments. Eric Cantor just happened to be the one who lost his job because of that. At the end of the day, the House leadership is run by the Speaker and his staff and that’s where we need to be directing it. I think we need some change. I voted a year and a half ago, said we needed a new leadership team. And I think that's where we should be looking at today. 

MITCHELL: So what about John Boehner, what about the Republican leadership? Are they now all in jeopardy from the rank and file? 

SEAN SPICER: Well, I think John Boehner's done a great job as Speaker, and I think if he seeks reelection he’ll do a great job. He'll get reelected easily. I think that's a little -- I'll let the members of the House talk about how they'll handle that. I think with respect to what happened last night, it was one district. And I think the bigger takeaway on this, and I understand the media frenzy, but let's kind of step back for a moment.

MITCHELL: Well, it's not just the media, Sean, there's frenzy on Capitol Hill among the House Republicans. This looks like an episode of House of Cards up there. 

SPICER: Because media is running around putting microphones in their face. Let me sort of  walk it back for a second. The seventh congressional district of Virginia is, and will be, a Republican district. That's a fact. We are keeping that seat. There's no question about it. 

MITCHELL: No one's arguing that. 

SPICER: Right. And I think David Brat ran a great campaign, congratulations to him. We look forward to him joining the next Congress. But at the end of the day, here's the reality of what's going on, to sort of step back, big picture for one minute. The House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans, and we are going to pick up seats. We are going to grow the majority there.

The Senate is controlled by the Democrats right now. We need six seats to take over the majority there. And by all estimates, we're really close to doing that. And in fact, we could do much better. We continue to expand the map in the states like Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, New Hampshire, et cetera, et cetera. I think that at large from what everyone talks about, what does this mean for the party, the party is growing and winning.

So at the end of the day, everybody needs to take a deep breath, step back and realize our party is actually doing very well. We're picking up seats in the House, in the Senate. We're doing great with governors, we’re picking up additional legislatures--

MITCHELL: But Sean, I wasn't saying that the party is in trouble, I'm just saying the party is moving to the right and that the established figures such as Eric Cantor didn't take care of his own district. He was at Starbucks yesterday on election day and taking too much money--

SPICER: My point -- I'm sorry. I guess my point was to sort of give some big picture context to this. But with respect to you saying that what happened last night was the party's moving to the right, it's one district. One district. Two weeks ago the narrative was, the Tea Party's dead and the establishment has taken over. Week to week the media changes the narrative.

The reality is that we're doing very good as a party. That you can pick out points no matter where you want. John Boehner won his primary with 69%. Mitch McConnell won his with 60%. Senator Lindsay Graham won his with 59%. John Cornyn won his a few weeks ago with well over 55%, or whatever it was. You can pick out examples and create a narrative if you want, but all in all, big picture wise, the party is on the rise. We're doing great, we’re picking up seats. And that can't be denied. 

MITCHELL: Sean, earlier in the program I pointed out that Lindsay Graham and Boehner are all doing well in their primaries, so we've made all of those points. I'm just saying, something happened last night. And people are taking notice. Thank you very much for joining us.

SPICER: I agree with you. I agree with you. One district, yes. I think David Brat ran a great campaign. He talks about the fact that he's a proud Republican. He campaigned on Republican principles. I think your previous guest Tom Davis made a good point that being in the leadership sometimes is a balancing act, of trying to help grow the party and help elect other members, while at the same time trying to get back.

And I think sometimes that's a difficult balancing act. And so there's a great case to be made that David Brat, which his campaign was largely a campaign on getting back to the base and saying, hey, we need a congressman that's entirely focused on the seventh, I think that's something worse exploring. But I think reading way too much into this, is a little bit too far. 

MITCHELL: Sean Spicer, thank you very much, from the Republican National Committee. 

SPICER: Thanks, Andrea. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.