Following Richard Mourdock’s commanding victory in the Indiana Republican primary, CNN’s John King felt it appropriate to criticize Mourdock for of all things his campaign pledge of legislating as a conservative. King began the interview with a loaded question, asking the GOP candidate, "are you so rigid in your ideology that you will refuse compromise and therefore keep the country from solving its problems?" The presumption, of course, that the country's problems can only be solved through compromise away from conservative solutions. King like many in the media have been mourning the loss of Dick Lugar who many viewed as a moderate, and now consider his Republican successor as an extreme Tea Party-backed candidate.
Mourdock held his own throughout the interview and consistently maintained that he will not compromise on his principles, explaining that when the term compromise is usually invoked these days, "it’s about having Republicans join Democrats to get something done. One of the things we’ve spoken of a great deal over the last 15 minutes is my desire to help build the Republican Party into the majority so that the word bipartisanship means maybe some Democrats will come our way instead." [Video follows page break; MP3 audio here.]
King also brought up the notion that Mourdock believes President Obama is a socialist judging from comments he made during his primary victory speech where he referenced many Democrats cheering the election of a socialist as France's new president. Mourdock flatly denied such claims by pointing out:
I'm not saying that, but I'm certainly saying, and I think it's easy to demonstrate, that there is a sense that we seem to be moving in this direction of the Western European type socialist governments. And that's certainly what Hoosiers are opposed to.
For months the media have whined about the loss of so-called congressional moderates such as Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe. The end of Lugar's long career just provided another excuse to push the meme that the Republican Party has no room for centrists or is too ideological for its own good.
See relevant transcript below.
John King, USA
May 9, 2012
6:15 p.m. EDT
JOHN KING: Republican Senator Richard Lugar was elected to the Senate the same year Jimmy Carter won the White House, back in 1976. But with his loss last night in Indiana's Republican primary to State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, Lugar time in the Senate now has an expiration date. His concession speech was polite, but in a statement released by his campaign shortly after, well, it was anything but. Calling out his now former rival and the Republican nominee, Mr. Mourdock, he said of this, quote: "What he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. He will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve." Richard Mourdock joins us now from Indianapolis. Mr. Mourdock, is Senator Lugar right? Are you so rigid in your ideology that you will refuse compromise and therefore keep the country from solving its problems?
RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he's certainly right on one point, that I will not compromise on my principles. You know, there's a lot of discussion these days about bipartisanship. And, unfortunately, when the term is usually invoked these days, it's about having Republicans join Democrats to get something done. One of the things we've spoken of a great deal over the last 15 minutes is my desire to help build the Republican Party into the majority so that the word bipartisanship means maybe some Democrats will come our way instead.
KING: But in the meantime, we have divided government. Perhaps that will change. If you win this election and you come here in January, maybe we'll have a Republican president and a Republican House and Republican Senate. Then it's a different conversation. But if you were here today -- and I know you believe the deficit is a big crisis facing the country, correct?
MOURDOCK: I absolutely do.
KING: So if there was a deal on the table proposed that, let's say, it had $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases, and you believed it -- the math said it was a credible deal to reduce the deficit, could you vote for that if it was the only way -- the only way to get enough Democrats to support it and get a President to sign it?
MOURDOCK: Well, I have said many times, we need to make sure that we're not continuing to raise the debt without getting serious reductions. And if a bill is crafted in such a way that we can get the real deficit narrowing that we need and we're not going to be significantly adding to the debt, that's something that would have to be considered. But the big issue here is whether or not we're going to have people who stand on their principles. You know, I often say the modern definition of bipartisanship, as well, is Democrats spent -- saying let's spend $10 billion we don't have, Republicans saying, oh, no, let's only spend $5 billion we don't have, and instead they compromise and spend $7.5 billion we don't have. That's really what we've been talking about in this race. And it is about the fact that we have a government that is out of control, spending too much and it's got to be reeled back in.
KING: But -- but again, to your definition of bipartisanship, is it only when Democrats come your way or if Democrats are willing to come your way on one part of a puzzle, are you willing to give up something, not your principles, but give up maybe a piece to get -- to get to the agreement?
MOURDOCK: Sure, if it's not about the principle. I understand there's an important point of negotiating to get things done. But on those principles, and, really, the real issue here is today, we have this unusual time in our history where the Republican Party, the leaders of that party and the leaders of the Democratic Party are so polarized, they have two totally different goals. One is to reduce government one is to make government bigger. When those are the principles, it makes those negotiations meaningless because, again, one side wants exactly the opposite of the other. It's going to be a very difficult environment for several years to come, I think.
KING: When you won the election last night and you were speaking to your supporters, you spoke not only of the race in Indiana, not only of the conditions facing the country, but you took a global view. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOURDOCK: France elected a socialist. There are those, I'm sure, in the administration and in the left side of the Democratic Party that were cheering that. But we're not going to stand for that in Indiana because it's...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MOURDOCK: ... Barack Obama are not going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I just want to follow up on that point there, that everything -- France did just elect a socialist President. But and you're connecting that to what the Democrats might want. You're not -- are you saying the President is a socialist?
MOURDOCK: I'm not saying that, but I'm certainly saying, and I think it's easy to demonstrate, that there is a sense that we seem to be moving in this direction of the Western European type socialist governments. And that's certainly what Hoosiers are opposed to. You know, we believe in free markets, not in massive stimulus programs and bailouts. That's really the difference between the Republican Party right now and the Democratic Party. It's why I think the Republican Party offers the best hope to truly get our economy going again, because for all of their populism, for all of their modernism, for all of what they seem to be offering in Europe, how well are they doing right now? Their recovery is at a much slower rate than ours, unfortunately.