2008.11.07: November 7, 2008: Headlines: Figures: COS - Fiji: Politics: Congress: MSNBC: MSNBC Interview With GOP Rep. Shays on His Defeat and Future

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MSNBC Interview With GOP Rep. Shays on His Defeat and Future

MSNBC Interview With GOP Rep. Shays on His Defeat and Future

SHAYS: ... is this the last time Iím -- is this the last time Iím going to be on this program?

MITCHELL: No way. As far as Iím concerned, open invitation. In fact, I was going to ask you whether you had any interest in joining the administration. One thing that comes to mind is the Peace Corps...

SHAYS: Yes.

MITCHELL: ... directing the Peace Corps. I know you were a Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji, and youíve long been interested in foreign policy. There are a lot of other places in foreign policy.

SHAYS: This is going to be...

MITCHELL: Would you be open to an invitation?

SHAYS: Well, this is going to be a very exciting administration. I think obviously Iíd be interested in doing something that the president was interested in, and I think heís very interested in the Peace Corps. So that would be one opportunity I would certainly want to look at. You know, I would be proud to help this president move our country forward.

MITCHELL: Have they reached out to you? Have there been any soundings?

SHAYS: Oh, No, no, no, no. Itís been three days, and at least -- has it been about three days, four days? They have so many important positions to fill, and I think theyíre going to focus on that. But I have a lot of friends who have asked me would like to work in this administration, and I said, you know, I would.


MSNBC Interview With GOP Rep. Shays on His Defeat and Future

MSNBC Interview With GOP Rep. Shays on His Defeat and Future

CQ Transcriptswire

Nov. 7, 2008

SPEAKERS:

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, R-CONN.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR

MITCHELL: Three days after the election, and five U.S. House races still undecided. District races in Ohio, Maryland, California, Washington state and Virginia have yet to be called. So far the Republicans have lost at least a net of 19 House seats to the Democrats. Connecticut Representative Christopher Shays is one of those Republicans who will not be returning for the 111th Congress and joins us today.

You were the last remaining Republican in New England, in the Northeast, in fact. You represented Connecticut 4th district, I donít have to tell you this, for 22 years, and lost to Jim Himes. Welcome. Itís good to see you, Congressman. And all of us who know you...

(CROSSTALK)

SHAYS: ... is this the last time Iím -- is this the last time Iím going to be on this program?

MITCHELL: No way. As far as Iím concerned, open invitation. In fact, I was going to ask you whether you had any interest in joining the administration.

One thing that comes to mind is the Peace Corps...

SHAYS: Yes.

MITCHELL: ... directing the Peace Corps. I know you were a Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji, and youíve long been interested in foreign policy. There are a lot of other places in foreign policy.

SHAYS: This is going to be...

MITCHELL: Would you be open to an invitation?

SHAYS: Well, this is going to be a very exciting administration. I think obviously Iíd be interested in doing something that the president was interested in, and I think heís very interested in the Peace Corps. So that would be one opportunity I would certainly want to look at.

You know, I would be proud to help this president move our country forward.

MITCHELL: Have they reached out to you? Have there been any soundings?

SHAYS: Oh, No, no, no, no. Itís been three days, and at least -- has it been about three days, four days? They have so many important positions to fill, and I think theyíre going to focus on that. But I have a lot of friends who have asked me would like to work in this administration, and I said, you know, I would.

MITCHELL: Let me ask you, Congressman, what do you think was the main reason? Was it, you know, George Bush? What was the main anchor pulling you back, pulling you down?

SHAYS: Well, first off, I felt we were going to win the race. I felt we had a great two years. I thought my campaign was run really well. In the end, we couldnít get African-American voters to split their ticket. I think...

MITCHELL: Bridgeport and Stamford?

SHAYS: Well, in those towns -- Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk. I lost Bridgeport 26,000 to 6,000 (ph). Thatís a stunning loss.

MITCHELL: Oh, my God. That really is.

SHAYS: And the bottom line was, they were pretty determined to vote for Barack and anyone on his ticket. And so thatís where we werenít able to move the dial.

MITCHELL: What does it tell you about the future of the Republican Party that Rahm Emanuel is chosen and within minutes -- we were on the air live yesterday -- we had John Boehner putting out a statement and the Republican National Committee, you know, basically attacking him, trashing him, the same time Lindsey Graham praising him. What is the future of the Republican Party, how does it get rebuilt?

SHAYS: Well, first off, brick by brick, and understanding why we lost. We have to reach out to all races and we have to reach out in all regions. And you have no Republican congressmen out of 21 congressional seats in New England. You only have three in New York out of 29. So in New England and New York, you only have 6 percent representation. And thatís just not going to get you into the majority.

MITCHELL: And we saw what happened to John Sununu, who had a, you know, lot of support, a lot of good marks in the Senate. But he couldnít go against what was going on in New England as well...

(CROSSTALK)

SHAYS: But Sue Collins had -- Sue Collins had a terrific victory.

MITCHELL: Right.

SHAYS: She got more votes than Barack Obama and she ran against a confident opponent.

So, I mean, I think our partyís going to do fine. Ultimately itís going to figure it out. And itís not that they werenít conservative enough. Maybe in some areas being fiscally conservative, Iíd agree, but being socially conservative to the religious right, no, youíre not going to be in the majority that way. Youíve got to reach out to African-Americans, youíve got to reach out to Latinos, and youíve got to be an inclusive party, and we arenít right now. But we will be, or we will be extinct.

MITCHELL: Well, John McCain had a reputation going into the campaign for reaching out and for, you know, being a reformer on immigration. He took a lot of hits from the partyís base for that.

Did he play too hard to the base, and was Sarah Palin the wrong choice?

SHAYS: Well, I mean, I donít know. In the end he was doing fine until the economy started to just go under. And, frankly, you know, my district got hit by the breakdown in the financial markets more than any other district in the country. So I can tell you, thatís a big factor.

I think we would be making a mistake to draw quick conclusions. When you run against an articulate African-American, itís hard to be able to reach out to African-American votes and say, ďVote for us.Ē So we should have done it sooner, and we better do it in the future.

MITCHELL: Now there are reports today also that Mitch McConnell , in fact Ken Strickland (ph) of NBC has confirmed that Mitch McConnell is reaching out trying to woo Joe Lieberman over to the Republican Caucus. Any insights on that, your Connecticut colleague?

SHAYS: Well, the only insight I can tell you is that he was rejected by the Democratic Party, he only had five people in the Democratic Caucus support him when he ran as an independent, and he still sided with the Democrats and made, you know, Mr. Reid the majority leader. They should not forget that.

And if they want to ask him to step down, then my sense is he should join up with the Republican Party and run on our ticket next time around.

MITCHELL: And you have any interest in the Senate?

SHAYS: No.

MITCHELL: OK. I know this must be a really hard time for you. Are you there packing? What is...

SHAYS: Oh, you know...

MITCHELL: ... whatís going on in your office?

SHAYS: ... to give you the reality, and we knew this because weíve seen it happen to other members, and you say, you know, there by the grace of God goes I. I mean, youíre given basically two weeks to -- two and a half weeks to clear out, your staff disperses.

And, you know, I really loved my district, I love my constituents, they were wonderful to. Iím going to miss the job immensely, but Iím going to miss my staff more than I can tell you. I mean, thatís when I can get teary eyed.

Great staff. They work so hard. And I want to make sure everyone of them has a job. Anybody listening, if you want the best workers in the world, hire my staff.

MITCHELL: Well, itís a hard time to be going through this with whatís happening, at 6.5 percent unemployment today. But they are a terrific staff, we know that. Our best to you and your wife, and open invitation to be here any time, 1:00 MSNBC. SHAYS: Well, let me just tell you something. Elections are sacred, and election was decided for my opponent. And I honor him and I congratulate him.

MITCHELL: All right. Well, weíll be seeing you in a lame duck session, too.

SHAYS: Yes.

MITCHELL: You got a little bit more business to do before we let you go.

SHAYS: Thatís true. Thatís true.

MITCHELL: Thank you. Congressman Chris Shays, a class act.

END

Source: CQ Transcriptions, Nov. 7, 2008

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