MSNBC to GOP: Let Conservatives Get ‘Crushed’ By Obama

Melissa Francis and Contessa Brewer, MSNBC At the top of Tuesday’s 2:00PM EST hour on MSNBC, co-anchors Contessa Brewer and Melissa Francis spoke with Reuters correspondent Jon Decker about a speech by Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele on the future of the GOP, with Brewer citing Democratic reaction: "Here's the Democratic National Committee's response to Steele: ‘The test of the sincerity of the Chairman's words will be if he and other GOP leaders stand up to the fringe elements of their party and whether they tell the polarizing faces of the past, including Cheney, Gingrich, and Limbaugh, to stand aside. Unfortunately, they have shown no willingness to do so.’"

In response to the DNC talking points, Decker argued that Steele would have to turn to moderate Republicans: "Michael Steele will have to recruit candidates that may not be the typical type of Republican that we've seen in the past few election cycles, the hard right social conservative Republicans. He's going to have to perhaps look to some moderate Republicans, some of the people who have left the party, who have been defeated over the past few election cycles, if he wants to try to be a majority party once again."

At that point, Francis wondered if the GOP should allow the more conservative members of the party to be "crushed" by Obama: "...but in some sense, doesn't it make sense to put a lot of the old faces out there right now? Because almost anybody is going to get crushed in the undertow of President Obama's popularity. So why not make the sacrificial lamb, you know, some of the people that, you know, are part of the old Republican Party, and just let them get crushed for now. Can you see that strategy at all?"

Here is the full transcript of the exchange:

2:04PM SEGMENT:

CONTESSA BREWER: The head of the Republican Party says the country needs the Republican Party now more than ever, though fewer Americans now want to identify themselves as Republican.

MELISSA FRANCIS: RNC Chair Michael Steele insists President Obama is hurting the country, not helping it, and because of that, the GOP has a responsibility to oppose the administration.

MICHAEL STEELE: You've heard the suggestion that if we oppose the President's policies, we are in some crazy way rooting against America's success. But we also know nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, we would be abandoning our responsibility if we were to be silent while they spend our country into the abyss.

FRANCIS: Jon Decker is Washington correspondent for Reuters and he joins us live from the White House. Jon, does it seem like they're getting any traction with this argument, the Republicans?

JON DECKER: Well, we'll have to wait and see, but clearly what Michael Steele is trying to do is to regain the reins of the party. Right now the voice, the face of the Republican Party is Dick Cheney. It's Rush Limbaugh. It is not Michael Steele, and what the party is perceived as right now is a party of no. It's a party of no ideas, it's a party of saying just simply no to some of the ideas that are being put forth by President Obama. So what Michael Steele is trying to do right now is trying to regain the reins of the party, trying to show what the party stands for and hopefully trying to put together a majority that can do well in the midterm elections in just two years.

BREWER: We're showing the video right now of Rush Limbaugh when he was at CPAC this year. Here's the Democratic National Committee's response to Steele: 'The test of the sincerity of the Chairman's words will be if he and other GOP leaders stand up to the fringe elements of their party and whether they tell the polarizing faces of the past, including Cheney, Gingrich, and Limbaugh, to stand aside. Unfortunately, they have shown no willingness to do so.' But do you hear something different coming out of Michael Steele today? Did you hear him turning a corner in terms of his leadership?

DECKER: Well, I think that the words that he said indicated that perhaps there is trying to turn the page to some extent. He talked about putting away the playbook that Republicans have used over the past few decades and trying something new, and what that means is that Michael Steele will have to recruit candidates that may not be the typical type of Republican that we've seen in the past few election cycles, the hard right social conservative Republicans. He's going to have to perhaps look to some moderate Republicans, some of the people who have left the party, who have been defeated over the past few election cycles, if he wants to try to be a majority party once again.

FRANCIS: Hey Jon, but in some sense, doesn't it make sense to put a lot of the old faces out there right now? Because almost anybody is going to get crushed in the undertow of President Obama's popularity. So why not make the sacrificial lamb, you know, some of the people that, you know, are part of the old Republican Party, and just let them get crushed for now. Can you see that strategy at all?

DECKER: Well, what you hear from some Republicans right now is that there's something to be said for that, there's something for having people like Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, out there speaking for Republicans and speaking for Republican ideas and ideals. But in the same vein, you also want to have some people to be the future of the party, some people who will represent the party in just two years, four years from now, even beyond that, and so far we haven't seen those types of faces and voices emerge from the Republican Party since Barack Obama took office.

BREWER: Alright, Jon Decker from Reuters, thanks so much for joining us.

DECKER: Thanks a lot.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC