Q&A with Sen. John Cornyn

The GOP Senate campaign chief answered questions at an April 29 Monitor Breakfast in Washington about upcoming 2010 Senate races.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor/File
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas said it will not be helpful to candidates running in 2010 midterm elections to be endorsed by Republican Party leaders. Cornyn gave an early endorsement to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who, in late April, broke with the GOP and announced that he would run as an independent.

GOP Senate campaign chief Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was the guest at the April 29 Monitor breakfast in Washington. Senator Cornyn served on the Texas Supreme Court, then as state attorney general. He won his Senate seat in 2002, and was elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008.

On the outlook for Republicans in the 2010 Senate races:

“We are going to pick up as many seats as we possibly can.... In every seat being vacated by a retiring Republican we are currently ahead. And in 8 out of 10 Democratically held seats, our candidates lead the probable Democratic nominee.... When I took this job ... we had the wind at our face, a strong head wind, and now I feel like we have the wind at our back.”

On Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s exit from the GOP to run for the Senate as an independent:

“His future electoral prospects are irreparably damaged by his deciding now to run as an independent.”

On Governor Crist’s sagging political fortunes despite an early endorsement from Cornyn:

“In this political environment, it is not necessarily helpful for candidates running in the states to have the national party chairman endorse them.... More than any time I have seen in the recent past, instead of a Contract for America, voters want a contract from America. They want to be listened to, not lectured to, and not to have their choices made for them.”

On Sarah Palin’s role in the 2010 Senate campaigns:

“I would be delighted to have her help, particularly when it comes to fundraising.... She has very strong support among grass-roots conservatives and Republicans and excites a lot of enthusiasm.”

On Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s effort to win reelection:

“Senator Reid is going to be going up on TV defending his health-care vote and the health-care bill. Harry has already spent $2 million on TV advertising but does not appear to have moved the needle at all. And it really represents a novel strategy in my experience: Instead of listening to [his] constituents and actually representing their views, Harry instead has jammed through a bill that 60 percent of the voters in Nevada hate. And now he is going to spend a lot of money on TV to explain to them why they are wrong and he is right.”

On Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine saying Democrats would run as the ‘results party’ in 2010:

“I am actually fine with that campaign cry because, when I look at the results delivered by the Democratic majority and by this administration, I see out-of-control spending, sky-high unemployment, tax increases, half-a-trillion-dollar cuts in Medicare, cuts to missile defense.... I think there will be a referendum on those results and a clear choice between a government in which one party has complete control and ignores the will of the people and, on the other hand, the kinds of checks and balances that ... Americans instinctively prefer.”

On how the health-care reform legislation is playing in the 2010 elections:

“After this partisan health-care bill [was] jammed through using the budget reconciliation process, the American people are still trying to figure out why, as the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] actuary reported, that health-care spending in this country and their costs will go up rather than down, as originally promised.”

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