Interview with Rep. Mike Castle

Interview with Rep. Mike Castle

By John King, USA - October 14, 2010

KING: Mike Castle has had a month to adjust to his new role as a spectator rather than the favorite in Delaware's U.S. Senate race. In that time he's had time to form some very definitive opinions about the future of the Republican Party and the tea party activists who derailed his Senate bid and propelled Christine O'Donnell to victory in the Republican primary. Congressman Castle is here to go one-on- one. Sir, let me start with that. You briefly considered running as a write-in candidate. You decided not to do that. We have polling here and others have polling that show you might have won that race as a write-in candidate. Any regrets?

REP. MIKE CASTLE (R), DELAWARE: No real regrets. You're always going to wonder about that. Perhaps I could have won it. My party spoke to the selection of a candidate. It wasn't me. And I felt it would be unfair to try to move forward in that circumstance. So, I just declined to go ahead and do it.

KING: You had a conversation with Christine O'Donnell. Are you prepared to say you will vote for her?

CASTLE: No, I'm not going to endorse anybody in that particular race. Not because of the competence of any of the candidates but because the primary I went through was very nasty in a variety of ways. Both politically and personally. And I've just declined to get involved in that.

KING: Mike Castle in Delaware, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Bennett, three Republicans beaten in primaries. Some a bit more conservative, but all three, Castle, Murkowski and Bennett, people who were not afraid to occasionally sit down at the table with a Democrat and try to work something out. Why has that been a problem for grassroots Republicans?

CASTLE: You know, I don't know the answer to that. Senator Bennett and Senator Murkowski have been rated by the people I speak to in Washington as two of the most able senators, Republican or Democrat, in the Senate. Most people assumed that I'd be able to win this particular seat. So, it's very -- it's very disappointing. But political parties have a character of their own. The Republican Party right now is very adamant about the positions that President Obama and the Democrats have taken. If you voted for any of those positions or even sat down and met with the Democrats, you were going to be targeted by the tea party and like groups. That's essentially what has happened. And then they will take those votes and they will, perhaps, overrepresent them and ignore the good things that you may have done and that led to the defeat of all of us.

We'll see how Senator Murkowski does as a write-in candidate. I think she's doing pretty well in Alaska. But it's been a difficult time. More significantly, I've had virtually 100 or more members of the House of Representatives speak to me about this. Not just Republicans. Republicans and Democrats are very concerned about what the future of the country is, what the future of politics is, are people going to be willing to run for office, are they going to be willing to sit down and work with the other party. There's a lot of back and forth on this right now.

KING: Are you prepared in a lame duck session to vote to extend the Bush tax cuts in total? Are you prepared to vote on comprehensive immigration reform or should those wait until after those who win this election come to Washington?

CASTLE: I don't think immigration reform will come up in a lame duck session. I think it's too complicated. I do believe that the Bush tax cuts could. They may come up in a form different than anything that's been talked about quite yet. And that is they could be extensions for one year, two years to three years as opposed to a complete elimination of some of the tax reductions, as has been discussed, too. And my sense is that that might actually be a good solution.

KING: What is happening to the moderate wing of the Republican Party?

CASTLE: Well, I am very concerned about that. Obviously, once you leave Maine, you're not going to have much of anything in the Senate in the way of moderate Republicans, and you're going to have the same problem with a paucity of Republicans in the middle Atlantic and New England states. I do think, however, there will be some more Republicans elected in Pennsylvania and New York this year, which -- who will probably be more conservative, but will add to the Republican influence in the Congress. But if anyone thinks that the next session of the Congress is not going to be more conservative than it is today, they're wrong.

Enough elections are going to be won by conservative candidates, not only in the northeast and middle Atlantic states, but throughout the country to make a difference. I don't know today if Republicans will control the House and/or the Senate, but they're going to get a lot closer. That's going to mean the president is going to be scratching his head in determining what is our future going to be, because the past two years have not served him well from an electoral point of view, so you could have a very different perspective from the White House, the Democrats may be thinking very differently than they have before, and the conservative Republicans are going to be able to make gains at that time.

I would hope that the moderates who are left, and there will be some, will be able to be players in between, to make a difference, between the two parties to make sure that decent legislation gets passed. But to suggest that moderates have not had a setback in this election cycle would be wrong. KING: What would Mike Castle say to those Republicans, I'm name Jim DeMint for one, I don't mean to single him out, who say they would rather lose and have pure conservatives than Republicans they view as more liberal or pragmatic?

CASTLE: I think Jim DeMint is very wrong about that viewpoint. And I think the groups with which he associates are also very wrong about that viewpoint. In addition to that, we're now raising the serious question of whether or not we can elect very conservative candidates, extremists perhaps in some cases. For example, in Nevada, in Delaware, and perhaps in other states. That's part of the test of the general election. I think it's a little hard to write this script until we see how the general election comes out.

KING: Congressman Mike Castle, the Congressman from Delaware, also the former governor of Delaware. Appreciate your time. We'll keep in touch.

CASTLE: Thank you.


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