Matt Lauer: Scarborough 'New Face' of the Republican Party

June 9th, 2009 12:55 PM

NBC’s "Today" picked their leader to revive the Republican party: MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. The former congressman (and former conservative) who admitted to bashing Republicans more than Democrats, appeared on the June 9 edition of "Today" to promote his new book "The Last Best Hope."

Host Matt Lauer inquired as to who should speak on behalf of Republican principles and quickly added "leave your name out of it for a second." Lauer then branded Christopher Buckley, who endorsed Obama, "a modern conservative" and then proceeded to quite "Obamican" promoting Scarborough as the "new face" of the Republican party.

The transcript follows.

MATT LAUER: Joe Scarborough is the host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and the author of a brand new book. It's called "The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise." Hey Joe. Good morning, good to see you.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Good morning. Good to see you.

LAUER: At this stage of the game after two drubbings at the hands of the Democrats do you want the discussion for the Republican party to be about Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich right now?

SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely not, or Michael Steele, or anybody else.


LAUER: Give me some names. Who should it be about right now?

SCARBOROUGH: No, no, it needs to be about our ideas. Because the problem is the conservative party, the Republican party, stopped being conservative eight years ago. Republicans didn't get drubbed in '06 and '08 because they were too conservative. They got drubbed because they were too radical. They spent too much money, they engaged in military adventurism and their rhetoric was too hard.

LAUER: It's got to be about ideas but you've got to have someone to communicate the ideas. So who's going to be the person to communicate them?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, but that's kind of like--

LAUER: And leave your name out of it for a second.

SCARBOROUGH: Actually, it's kind of like saying, "hey, we've got to make a movie. Let's get a movie and get somebody pretty in front of the camera." No. You write the script first. This script has already been written. It's -- and Barack Obama's giving us the contrast. He's giving us the conflict, because he is -- he is a big government liberal, and we need more small government conservatives who actually believe what they say. But, you can't double the size of the national debt like Republicans did, and go out and make that case in a winning way.

LAUER: Talking out two sides of your mouth. You say the Republican party has got to reform or die. I know that's meant to sound dramatic. In some ways was the last election, the death of the old Republican party? And might not that be a good thing in terms of recreating the party?

SCARBOROUGH: I don't know if it was the death of the old Republican party. Maybe the next election will be the death of the old Republican party. Are Republicans going to wake up? Are they going to realize that not only do they need Dick Cheneys in the party, but they need Colin Powells in the party? They need to expand--I mean we should want everybody in the party that we can get and not have a harsh ideological test. That's what I talk about in the book. We all run around talking about Reagan, Reagan, we've got to be more like Reagan. Well, we've got Reagan's ideology down, smaller government, less taxes, but we forget Reagan's temperament. We have to have a better temperament. We can't be shrill. We can find the middle of America. Ronald Reagan, everybody's quoting Ronald Reagan. Palin was quoting Ronald Reagan --

LAUER: But how do you say to the American people, we've got to look to the future and you keep constantly going back to Ronald Reagan?

SCARBOROUGH: Again, Ronald Reagan's specific solutions that worked in 1980 won't necessarily work now. But that's just like saying you can't go back and get inspiration from Thomas Jefferson or James Madison. And again, the focus is on Reagan's temperament. Reagan didn't hate. It was conservatism with a smile. And there were a lot of conservatives out there right now that can find the middle of America temperamentally. That's what we need more than ever.

LAUER: A couple of things real quickly, Christopher Buckley, who's the son of William F. Buckley, modern conservative, says that you, Joe Scarborough, you are the face, the new face of the Republican party. Do you want to be?

SCARBOROUGH: Boy, that's frightening. You know, I'd rather just go with the playbook to tell you the truth.

LAUER: And you said that Obama's policy are the biggest challenge to America's capitalist system ever. If Barack Obama, though, manages-- if the economy happens to turn around in the short term, unemployment goes down, housing prices stabilize, people are borrowing and lending money, how are you going to convince the American people that in the short-term, in the short-term, Barack Obama didn't get it right?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, that's great news. And let's hope the economy turns around. I'll be cheering for the president if that happens. My concern is the long run, the deficits. This president is going to have more deficits and debt piled on to an already huge debt that George Bush left us, than all 43 presidents combined. We have a long-term problem, it's a crushing problem. Even the president admits his own deficits are just not sustainable.

LAUER: Book is called "The Last Best Hope." Joe Scarborough, it's good to have you in person.