Tuesday, 25 August 2020

WATCH: Former GOP Senator Flake Endorses Biden. MacCallum Grills Him.

On Monday, speaking of the 30 former GOP legislators who have endorsed Joe Biden, Fox News host Martha MacCallum interviewed one of them: former GOP Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, inducing him to consistently deflect as she pressed him on how a lifelong Republican could support someone sworn to a progressive agenda.
MacCallum started, “You once wrote an op-ed, by the way, that was urging lawmakers to abandon the president and ‘save your soul,’ which we all remember well, and I think we spoke to you about that back then. But my question for you tonight is that with regard to Joe Biden, he has said that ‘If I’m elected, I will be the most progressive president in history.’ How do you, as a lifetime Republican, support someone who has that goal?”
“Well, I think if you look at Joe Biden’s record, he’s not been that,” said Flake.
“But that’s what he says,” MacCallum replied.
“Right,” said Flake, smirking. “And this is a primary, too, that he’s just been through. He also said during his primary that he would work with Republicans, that he would work across the aisle; that’s not a popular thing to say in a Democratic primary, but he did. So I think if you look at his record, and what he’s been all about for so many years, he’s a creature of the Senate. He knows how to compromise. He knows how to work across the aisle, and I’m confident he’ll do that in the future.”
“Interesting,” the host responded. “The Wall Street Journal showed polls today that showed that more people want someone who was willing to buck the establishment than someone who wanted to sort of make peace and find common ground. Does that surprise you and do you think that someone who is more willing to be a bull in a China shop, as the president has been, is what’s resonating with Americans ultimately, or do you think they want someone who is more copasetic and calming like a Joe Biden?”
“Well, I think in the primary season it’s easy to say that you want somebody who’s gonna buck the establishment, but as you get closer to the election and realize that if you want policy, legislation, laws that actually endure, they need to be bipartisan,” Flake replied. “There needs to be some buy-in from both parties, so I think you’ll see both parties tacking a bit to the center, and then, like I said, Joe Biden has been through this for a long time.”
MacCallum pressed: “I’m just trying to figure out in terms of actual policy what it is that you really like in Joe Biden as a lifelong Republican. You pushed for the First Step Act; we’re gonna hear from Alice Johnson; President Trump actually was able to sign that into law. We had eight years of the Obama-Biden administration and they did not take action on that act. So why support Joe Biden over President Trump when that was clearly very important to you?”
“Well, if that were the only thing — certainly President Trump pushed that; I applaud him for it; I voted for that when I was in the Senate,” said the former senator. “I’m glad to support the First Step Act. Joe Biden has been supportive of criminal justice reform for as long or longer than President Trump.”
“But he was in for eight years with President Obama and it never happened is my point,” MacCallum emphasized.
Flake, stammering: “You bet— but things happened during that time, also, that haven’t happened during the Trump administration. We passed a bipartisan immigration bill that appropriated forty billion dollars for border security; that was when President Obama and Joe Biden were in the White House. We did that in the Senate. So there are different policies, and I’ve been supportive of many of the things that the president has pushed, tax reform, regulatory reform —”
“But you just don’t like his character,” MacCallum retorted.
“It is not just that; the Republicans have traditionally been for free trade; the president is very much a protectionist,” he said. “Republicans have stood for strong American leadership across the globe—”
MacCallum interjected: “Well, he pushed for a better trade deal with China which I think got a lot of broad appeal in terms of finally pushing back which has really never happened over all of the decades—”
“But before doing that, he canceled the Trans Pacific Partnership,” Flake answered. “The Trans Pacific Partnership, if anything, would have helped keep China in check by allowing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia to go somewhere else for their trade.”
MacCallum closed by asking Flake if he’s “in favor of school choice,” to which he replied, “You bet.”
“Joe Biden’s not in favor of that,” MacCallum noted. “He would not want any—”
“There’ll be a lot of things, no doubt that I will disagree with President Biden on,” Flake interjected.
“So I’m just trying to figure out why you are—” MacCallum said, but Flake continued by insisting that Biden “will stand up and have reverence for our institutions of government” and will “preserve the public space where we Republicans and Democrats can go back to disagreeing about policy and not just this rank tribalism that we see today.”

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