UPDATED, 12:40 p.m. EST:
National Republican Senatorial Committee Press Secretary Brook Hougesen responds to PJ Media via email regarding the quote highlighted below. Writes Hougesen:
“We really don’t know what Congressman Gohmert is referring to. The conservative grassroots movement and the tea party brings energy, enthusiasm, and a commitment to defend liberty that is essential in building a Republican Senate majority.”
In describing the mission of his newly created PAC, GOHConservative, during a 20-minute phone interview, Rep. Louie Gohmert offered significant criticism regarding the tactics and behavior of GOP party leadership and current House Speaker John Boehner.
Gohmert gives his PAC a twofold purpose. Primarily, he wishes to defend Tea Party/conservative candidates and elected officials from attacks by party leadership; he speaks of integrity as being his motive. He claims party leadership does not allow those with conservative districts to give their constituents a voice by following through on campaign promises of conservative governing.
Gohmert also offers details of the party’s “pressure” strategy: leadership does not use intimidation, but instead presents a slick appeal to a “team player” camaraderie within the party. Time later reveals that these “team player” sacrifices only ever flood in one direction.
Perhaps most newsworthy, Gohmert offers a troubling anecdote about the party privately instructing GOP donors to close their wallets to certain Tea Party/conservative candidates.
Secondarily, and of note to observers who fault Tea Party tactics, Gohmert wants to support moderate Republicans who govern moderate or liberal districts, as this “keeps the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi.”
Gohmert also takes a quick jab at Karl Rove, head of “GOP establishment” PAC American Crossroads.
Steinberg: In your Daily Caller interview, you mentioned that Boehner’s comments on the GOP causing a government shutdown caused a “depression” within the caucus. That sounds like a possible tipping point for the creation of this PAC — was this already in the works?
Gohmert: It was already in the works. We had set it up, but hadn’t put any real energy behind it yet. But that, yes, that clearly was a sign that we have got to move forward.
But there have been a lot of things along the way. Leadership would favor some folks with money from our party treasury and not others. You were told “you’ve got to be a team player, you’re not enough of a team player.” We understand if a GOP congressman represents a very moderate district, we love the fact that they help us keep the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi, we appreciate that. But our leadership doesn’t appreciate that some of us have conservative districts, but are told we can’t represent our district with a certain vote — we need to vote with moderates or even to the left of moderate, because that’s what we negotiated.
And we have people that are not good at negotiating.
So it’s been a difficult time, being in the majority and not utilizing the powers that the Founders gave us. Yes, we only have one half of the legislative branch, but the Constitution doesn’t allow anyone to get a dime from the federal government unless the House agrees. So … if we have people in the DOJ who are perhaps not furnishing information, or if someone’s found in contempt of Congress, hypothetically speaking, because they haven’t provided the documents that have been lawfully requested, then you cut off the funds to that person.
You don’t cut off law enforcement funding. You don’t cut off funds from people who are doing what they are supposed to. But you do cut off the funding from people that are in contempt of Congress and think they are running some kind of monarchy.
We don’t use any power that we have. We fold. We cave.
It does require specific messaging — as we know, the so-called mainstream media is never going to help us — but you message it, you employ people that know how to get the truth out.
But yes, you touched on it, David. When our speaker buys into the lie that Republicans shut down the government? The fact is we kept passing compromise after compromise, even going beyond what some of us were at all comfortable with, trying to avoid a shutdown, and Harry Reid gets a pass from the media and doesn’t pass anything, doesn’t want our bills voted on, and won’t even appoint conferees. And your leader goes on TV and says: “Yeah, we shut it down, we knew it would be a disaster, but we went along because the majority of the party thought it was the thing to do”? Are you kidding me? Why have you bought into the lies that Harry Reid was telling?
Steinberg: Were Boehner’s comments unacceptable to the whole party? Do you feel the more liberal members of the caucus agreed, felt that they did cause the shutdown?
Gohmert: I haven’t talked to anybody that believed that Republicans shut down the government, because that’s just not true. So anytime any GOP leader says something that’s just not true, it creates a problem.
Anyway, I didn’t have an original thought with this PAC to aid conservative members. It was a page out of Jim DeMint’s playbook, when he created the Senate Conservative Fund to help conservatives who leadership was not going to help.
And in fact, I’ve had people tell me that Republican donors to Senate members have had people call them, tell them “don’t help this Republican or that Republican because the party doesnt like what they stand for.” Are you kidding me?
And then they bash the Tea Party people, and say they’re the problem?
Gohmert: Anyway, people in a district have a right to be represented by a person who actually represents what those people believe in. Not just somebody that a moderate leader feels he would be more comfortable with in Congress. So we want to help anybody who will stand on the founding principles, stand for what the Constitution requires.
Steinberg: I noticed you have seven specific issues laid out on GOHConservative’s About page. I know you mention on the site that the list isn’t comprehensive, but you’ve got the seven bullet points there. Now the Daily Caller article mentions your primary focus is going to be supporting the fiscal conservatives, getting support to those types of candidates.
That would raise the question of … if you get a candidate who’s not a 100% ACU-rated conservative, is that still someone who should be looking to GOHConservative for support?
Gohmert: Somebody can be a 100% ACU conservative, and not actually stand up for the defense of the country against those who wish to take us out, so —
Steinberg: I don’t even think they have you up there at 100%.
Gohmert: (Laughs) But yes —
Steinberg: Let’s say, say Scott Walker — his financial, fiscal success is unparalleled, he certainly is not going to fly with conservatives on other issues. Is a Scott Walker someone who would garner support from the PAC?
Gohmert: Yes, I mean if a Scott Walker-type candidate would run for federal office, and it’s clear that this is a stand-up person who is going to stand for our principles, and not be sucked into just wanting to score a chairmanship of a certain committee, but will stand by the principles they ran on — yes, we will help.
Steinberg: You responded to some of the attacks on the Ted Cruzes of the party being problematic for the party’s chances. You responded that this is about the constituents — we’ve got to hold up our end of the bargain. These conservatives were voted in on these platforms, this is what they’re here for, to more honestly live out their mandate.
Gohmert: That’s what it is. Keeping the promises we made when we got elected. How hard is that?
We can’t be like the other party that makes promises only to get elected, then doesn’t care what happens after that. We have got to be about the truth. Some in the party say, gee, the truth, or what we promised, is maybe the right thing to do, but not politically the right thing. And I continue to maintain that the right thing will always ultimately be the politically right thing.
Maybe not initially, but in the long run, the right thing to do, honesty, truth, doing what we promised when we got elected — those things will win out in the end. They will be the politically right thing in the end.
It is frustrating. We took a pledge in 2010. I didn’t write it, but I read it, and I could support it, and I pledged to support all that was in there. And after we get elected, it seems to go right out the window. If we’re going to make a pledge, we ought to keep it.
Steinberg: I see a negative and a positive there. One is that party members are deliberately hiding their conservatism for strategic purposes. That seems to be the theme that you’re getting across here. In some cases, you are being told —
Gohmert: Well, they’re not intentionally hiding their conservatism for strategic purposes. The dynamic is more of .. they are here, they are conservative, their constituents are conservative. But the leadership preys upon their patriotism, preys upon the “team spirit” thing.
Instead of threatening, it’s more like … “Hey, we thought you were a team player. We didn’t know you were a big showboat that only cares about yourself. We had you pegged as a team player, so maybe help the team.”
And for people that are caring, sensitive people, that strikes a nerve. They think, you know, I am a team player, I am not out for myself, I want to do what’s best for the country. [Leadership responds with] well, what’s best for the country is you help our team. This may not be everything you want right now, but it lets us move on down the road.
I get so tired of hearing about “move on down the road.”
You kick the can on down the road, live to fight another day. Are you kidding me? How long are we gonna keep kicking the can down the road, living to fight another day? The answer is we keep that up, we’ll live to fight another day when we aren’t a free country.
Steinberg: [Mark] Levin pulled up an article from the ’70s, using the exact same terminology against Reagan that was used against Cruz last week. That’s 40 years of kicking the can down the road, at the least.
Gohmert: Right, I heard Rush Limbaugh had pulled an article George Will wrote about Reagan in ’79, saying that he was a “kamikaze,” and then he pulled out a recent article saying Cruz is a “kamikaze.” We’ve got a pattern here.
Steinberg: Right, the Kim Strassel piece at the WSJ.
Gohmert: After the fact, it’s “I supported Reagan, I loved Reagan.” Karl Rove says that. Well, actually Reagan wasn’t popular among establishment folks back then.
And those that supported George H. W. Bush for president, they got on board once he was the VP candidate, but they really didn’t trust that crazy actor. They’d always call him the “B-movie actor,” try to denigrate him. He was a smart guy.
And there are a lot of smart guys here in Congress now that get denigrated. They get marginalized, people say “they’re conservatives, so obviously they’re not very bright.” People hear a southern accent and immediately deduct 50 IQ points. Some of that goes on, too. Anyway, regardless of how smart anyone is, if they make promises when they ran, and get elected, they should do all they can to keep those promises. That’s what we want to see happen.
Steinberg: Why does the leadership still consider moderation — hiding your conservatism, I suppose — why do they still consider that a winning strategy?
Gohmert: They talk in terms of trying to win the independent votes. What some of our leaders don’t understand is that Tea Party people are from all races, creeds, national origins, ages, but they pay taxes. They don’t want a wasteful, bloated government. And what’s wrong with that? They consider themselves conservative, but independent. Perhaps they number more than anyone else independent. They consider themselves conservative more than they consider themselves of a party label.
What our leaders don’t get, as evidenced by 2012 — they alienated independent conservatives, they stayed home by the millions and allowed Obama to get elected to a second term.
Steinberg: If you win the Senate, do you see leadership turning conservative once they have the gavel back? Or is this pattern going to continue, this is just how they think, this is the way they appeal to independents?
Gohmert: If you look at the GOP members of the Senate and the House, you see that it is a hugely conservative group of people. And yet we have people in charge that go with the moderates as the party leaders. We say, “Wow, we’re basically a very conservative group, but we put moderates in charge that keep us from enacting the conservative principles that will save America, what we promised we would do when we got elected.”
I just think it is important to do all I can to help those who make promises and want to keep their promises.
Steinberg: So is this PAC not just about defending conservatives, but also about pulling some of those with a less conservative record up until now out of the closet?
Gohmert: Well, I want to help anyone that will stand for their principles. I’m Christian, I’m forgiving of anyone, it’s what you do today and tomorrow that’s important. That’s what we want to do, we want to help anyone that may have been going along with leadership, and may say, hey, I’ve been a team player for two, three years and it hasn’t gotten me to the point where I can keep the promises I made when I got elected. I’ve had a number of people tell me, “Wow, Louie, I was told to be a team player and I would have all my promises kept, and now I see we still haven’t gotten around to them.” We promised Americans we would cut $100 billion the very first year in the House majority. We sure didn’t get close to that.
Steinberg: Last question — I’m in New England, in Connecticut, and it’s Kelly Ayotte, the only member of the House or Senate who is a Republican, let alone a conservative. Do you see any talent coming out of this area, anyone worth supporting as of now?
Gohmert: I don’t know, I haven’t looked closely enough at that, but we have to recognize a state or district for what it is. If it’s a moderate district, then there are people that I would be glad to have elected as Republicans so that Pelosi does not get the gavel back and take the country on down this road that ends with going off the cliff, a tragic end. I would welcome moderates from moderate districts to represent those districts for the party.
But for states and districts that are conservative, they ought to be allowed to represent their districts. I want to help them do that.
Steinberg: Thank you for your time, Louie.
Gohmert: No, thank you! Thanks for the interest. And that’s “GOHConservative.com.”