CBS's Rodriguez to Rand Paul: What About Dems Who Say You're 'Way Too Controversial'?

Maggie Rodriguez and Rand Paul, CBS In an interviewing with senate primary winner Rand Paul on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked the Kentucky Republican about Democratic spin: "What do you say to Democrats who actually are happy about your victory in this primary?...ready to pounce on you in the general election, saying that your views are way too controversial and they could take this Republican seat?"

Paul dismissed the idea and noted the unpopularity of Washington Democrats in the state: "I say, bring it on, and please, please bring President Obama to Kentucky. We'd love for him to campaign down here." Rodriguez acknowledged that fact by pointing out: "It didn't work too well for Arlen Specter to have President Obama on his side." Paul added: "the Democrats will really have to run away from President Obama if they have any chance down here."

Earlier in the interview, Rodriguez wondered if Paul could garner enough Republican support: "a lot of people say that you have your work cut out for you in the general election because how will you unite a GOP party...53% of voters who voted for your opponent in this primary don't like you, 43% said they wouldn't vote for you." After Paul discussed efforts to unify, Rodriguez followed up: "Do you think that your victory gives the tea party legitimacy? Will we see this become a legitimate political party?"

Prior to Rodriguez's interview with Paul, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on electoral results in various states on Tuesday, emphasizing one in particular: "The special congressional race here in Johnstown to replace the late John Murtha. This was seen as a critical bellwether....Democrat Mark Critz, a former John Murtha aide, was triumphant....Beating Republican Tim Burns in a blue collar district that actually went for John McCain in 2008."

Glor noted how both Democrats and Republicans "may have learned something" from the special election result, as a sound bite was featured from the Politics Editor for The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder: "Republicans are going to have to rethink their strategy, perhaps, of trying to nationalize the election, making it a referendum against Obama and the Democrats. Because, in this district, it didn't work." In reality, Critz ran against national Democratic figures like Nancy Pelosi and against ObamaCare.

No expert was brought on to discuss the lack of influence the Obama White House had on the Pennsylvania senate primary.  

Here is a full transcript of Rodriguez's May 19th interview with Paul:       
7:04AM EST
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us this morning from Bowling Green, Kentucky, is the winner of the Republican primary, supported by the tea party, Rand Paul. Senator-elect, good morning – I mean, excuse me, not yet.

RAND PAUL: Good to be with you.

RODRIGUEZ: I guess you're optimistic that that will be-

PAUL: I'd like to skip the November – yeah, I'd like to skip the November election, also.

RODRIGUEZ: Oops, oops. Are you optimistic that that will be the outcome?

PAUL: Well, things look good in Kentucky. You know, if you look at all the polls, John McCain won Kentucky overwhelmingly, in a not so good year for Republicans. And President Obama's less popular in our state than he's ever been. And he never was very popular in Kentucky. So I think we have a very good chance in the fall.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tea Party Politics; Paul Wins, Capitalizes on Frustration]

RODRIGUEZ: But a lot of people say that you have your work cut out for you in the general election because how will you unite a GOP party that, according to at least one poll, has an unfavorable view of you, 53% of voters who voted for your opponent in this primary don't like you, 43% said they wouldn't vote for you in the general election.

PAUL: Well, the interesting thing is we got nearly 60% of the vote, so I think that's a pretty good mandate from the Republican Party. And the other thing is, is that we're going to unify. I'm going to meet with Senator McConnell on Saturday. We've been talking, actually, for weeks now, about unifying. I've been talking with the Republican Party structure, and I think we will be unified going in to the fall. And I think the message we have is one that not only do Republicans like, a lot of independents like what I have to say. The tea party message is popular well outside the Republican Party.

RODRIGUEZ: But the tea party and the Republican Party, as you're stating, are not the same thing. Do you think that your victory gives the tea party legitimacy? Will we see this become a legitimate political party?

PAUL: No, I don't see the tea party really becoming a political party. But I see it having an influence on both parties. But I also see that the tea party really has ramifications outside the party, and that I think independents are attracted to it, as well.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you say to Democrats who actually are happy about your victory in this primary? Because they are ready to pounce on you in the general election, saying that your views are way too controversial and they could take this Republican seat?

PAUL: I say, bring it on, and please, please bring President Obama to Kentucky. We'd love for him to campaign down here.

RODRIGUEZ: Didn't work too well for Arlen Specter, did it?

PAUL: Run that by me one more time?

RODRIGUEZ: It didn't work too well for Arlen Specter to have President Obama on his side. What do you think that says?

PAUL: Yeah, I think you're right. I think you're right. And actually, in our Democrat primary a few years ago, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by 30 points, and he's a lot less popular than he was. And so really, I think his message – the Democrats will really have to run away from President Obama if they have any chance down here. And he's the leader of their party. It's just going to be very difficult for them in Kentucky.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Senator-elect wanna-be Rand Paul. I'm sorry for the slip. Although I'm sure you didn't mind it too much. Thank you, sir.

PAUL: Not at all. Thank you.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC