CBS's Smith to Ann Coulter: What If Tea Partiers Bring Government 'To A Screeching Halt'?

On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith continued to fret over government gridlock in the wake Republican electoral gains, asking Ann Coulter: "...big Republican wave just rolls in there. There'll be a routine vote, for instance, to increase the debt ceiling and the tea party guys are going to say, 'over my dead body.' And the government comes to a screeching halt. Then what happens?"

Coulter responded by predicting how the liberal media would spin such a scenario: "Well, the media will blame the Republicans. But, it's no longer 1995. That was the last time there was a government shutdown. And America, when there's a government shutdown, they're all responsible. The President is as responsible as Congress. But now we have the internet, so I think the Americans are going to know it this time."

On Monday's broadcast, Smith issued a similar warning to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: "...1994 was an important year for Republicans....Some people would say that didn't end so well for the Republicans, especially with the stalemated government. Have you any concerns that that might happen again?"

Earlier in the interview with Coulter, Smith whined about being criticized for his campaign coverage: "...the question I keep asking, that I get in trouble with, with conservatives is, can a coalition be formed, then, with the people who have, you know, sort of stirred up all of this energy, and the old guard Republicans who want to see all these seats change, but they still want to stay in charge?" He wondered: "Now, is that not a legitimate question?" Coulter replied: "Oh, I think it's very legitimate." Smith declared: "Thank you very much. Send that to all over the blogosphere out there that castigates me for asking that question."

However, Smith does not usually ask that question in such a neutral way. On October 12, while interviewing former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Smith asked of the tea party: "Can anger govern?" On September 17, Smith proclaimed that the tea party may take the GOP to the "edge of the abyss."


Here is a full transcript of Smith's November 2 interview with Coulter:

8:30AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Some are saying today's midterm elections may turn out to be Christmas for conservatives. So who better to discuss them than the always provocative best-selling author Ann Coulter, who will be along for a chat in just a moment.

8:33AM SEGMENT:

SMITH: Our next guest calls today's elections less predictable than any other she can think of. And that could be an understatement. Joining us now, best-selling author and conservative commentator Ann Coulter. Good morning.

ANN COULTER: Good morning.

SMITH: Less predictable?

COULTER: I've never seen so many close races.

SMITH: Okay. Alright.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision Day; Conservative Author on Critical Races]

COULTER: I mean, we – I think we have a feeling that-

SMITH: Yeah, in aggregate.

COULTER: -people are angry-

SMITH: In aggregate, there's-

COULTER: -about health care and the stimulus bill, and Republicans will pick up seats in the House. Because of the Senate seats that just happen to be up this year, only a third is up every three years and it's all heavily blue states.

SMITH: Right.

COULTER: I don't think we ever had a chance to take the Senate.

SMITH: Okay.

COULTER: But it doesn't really matter. The Senate, a minority party has a lot of power. In the House, a minority party has no power whatsoever. If we take – we Republicans, I'm a Republican – if we take just the House of Representatives, that's enough to stop a lot of the crazy things.

SMITH: Right. If there were one issue in the last two years that would stand out above all others that is sort of the fulcrum on which all of this change is turning, what would it be?

COULTER: Health care, health care, health care. Absolutely health care.

SMITH: Right.

COULTER: And that's part of the reason for the volatility in the polls right now. And some of the polls are all over the map. They have one candidate winning by one to three points and then the next day the poll has the other candidate winning by one to three points. People were hopping mad about health care back in March and April. You had this huge tea party movement. You had a lot of established, both Republicans and Democrats, losing their primaries.

SMITH: Because you saw it in those town meetings, that's when you first really started to see it, start to bubble up.

COULTER: Yes.

SMITH: That's when this tea started to steam, so to speak.

COULTER: But a lot of those people are people who have not been paying much attention to politics, who would never be found voting in a midterm election before. And this is what pollsters can't figure out. How many of them are still angry right now? Have they forgotten about health care? Because the changes haven't really kicked in. Some premium statements coming. But, you know, Americans just weren't asking for national health care. Didn't want it. They wanted Obama to focus on the economy. And there was so much anger then. Now we're waiting to see, and we're going to find out tonight how much people are still paying attention, and still angry about it.

SMITH: Right. Now, so – and the question I keep asking, that I get in trouble with, with conservatives is, can a coalition be formed, then, with the people who have, you know, sort of stirred up all of this energy, and the old guard Republicans who want to see all these seats change, but they still want to stay in charge?

COULTER: Yes.

SMITH: Now, is that not a legitimate question?

COULTER: Oh, I think it's very legitimate.

SMITH: Thank you very much.

COULTER: Okay, you're done.

SMITH: Send that to all over the blogosphere out there that castigates me for asking that question.

COULTER: No I think there's going to be a lot of butting of heads. And I'm with the tea partiers on this one. The establishment Republicans, I think you were right, an awful of them – I mean a lot of Republicans are fantastic and really do care about principle – but a lot of them just want their jobs. And, I mean, you saw it in a lot of the primaries, the butting of heads.

SMITH: Right.

COULTER: But this is a movement that can't be stopped. And I think they are going to keep paying attention this time. And will hold both the old guard establishment Republicans, and the tea party Republicans, responsible. I mean that's why it's going to be so great. There are about nine Republican primaries where the establishment Republican lost and the tea party candidate won, which has been a totally fun election season. Because Americans always say, 'oh, we want a citizen politician. We're tired of these career politicians.'

SMITH: Sure, right.

COULTER: Well, I've got to tell you, citizen politicians make a lot of mistakes.

SMITH: We've seen some of that.

COULTER: So get used to that, Americans, if you don't want a career politician it's not going to be quite as smooth and boring and pablum, but if we've – if Republicans, if the tea party candidates win just half of those, that's going to be four or five all-new Republicans in the Senate. Not all-new. There are some good ones there now, but yeah, this is a – this is a big shift.

SMITH: So here's your question, last but not least. It gets to be February, all is said and done, big Republican wave-

COULTER: Right.

SMITH: -just rolls in there. There'll be a routine vote, for instance, to increase the debt ceiling and the tea party guys are going to say, 'over my dead body.'

COULTER: Right.

SMITH: And the government comes to a screeching halt. Then what happens?

COULTER: Well, the media will blame the Republicans. But, it's no longer 1995. That was the last time there was a government shutdown. And America, when there's a government shutdown, they're all responsible. The President is as responsible as Congress. But now we have the internet, so I think the Americans are going to know it this time.

SMITH: Alright, we'll find out. Ann Coulter, thank you very much.
                
COULTER: Thank you, Merry Christmas.

[LAUGHTER]

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