Chuck Todd: GOP Doesn't Like Regulation Unless It's On Abortion Clinics

While interrogating Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, host Chuck Todd spat out a nasty attack line against the GOP regarding a new Texas law requiring abortion clinics to have hospital-level medical standards: "One of the things about the Republican Party is you don't like a lot of regulation on businesses, except if the business is a abortion clinic."

Todd continued his rant: "80% of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because of this new law. Too much regulation? Is that fair? Why regulate on the abortion issue now?...Why restrict a business now in the state of Texas?"

To answer Todd's question, the Texas law was passed in the wake of the conviction of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. In 2013, NBC largely ignored Gosnell's trial and when it finally covered the conviction, the details of his crimes were "too gruesome" to explain on air.

Priebus began to respond to Todd's accusation: "Well, I mean, you obviously have to talk to someone in Texas. But the fact of the matter is that we believe that any woman that's faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling, whatever it is that we can offer to be-"

Todd interrupted: "But 80% of those clinics are gone. So they have to drive 2 or 300 miles for that compassion?"

Priebus hit back:

No, look, listen Chuck. The issue for us is only one thing, and that's whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion. I mean, that's the one issue that I think separates this conversation that we're having. And so the fact of the matter is, what this election is going to come down to, and I think we know it, is whether or not people feel better off today than they did four or five years ago, whether these Democrat senators followed this president lockstep, in spite of the fact that things aren't going in the right direction, whether it be ObamaCare, jobs, the economy, Keystone Pipeline, all of the above. It's not working for him.

So, I mean, you can try to steer – you know, talking about abortion again. But the fact of the matter is, if you're in Skagway, Alaska, you're thinking about the fact of why my life isn't better off today than it was when this senator [Obama] was elected six years ago.

Here is a full transcript of the October 5 interview:

10:53 AM ET

CHUCK TODD: And welcome back. Republicans are hoping for a Beach Boys kind of November, catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world. But so far, that wave not really in sight. On Thursday, my next guest, Reince Priebus, played out what he called the GOP's principles for American renewal ahead of the midterms. But those principles are nothing like the clear message the party offered in 1994, when Newt Gingrich's Contract with America led to a Republican sweep. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REINCE PRIEBUS: Hey Chuck, good morning.

TODD: I want to talk about your principles here. They sound great. In fact, Karl Rove said it was very well poll-tested language. Preserve, value, and honor the Constitution. Grow the economy. Balanced budget amendment. Health care reform. Improve veterans’ access to health care. Strong military. Equal educational opportunity. Improve the job market. Value family life, religious liberty, hard work. Energy independence. Immigration including secure borders and uphold the law. Very agreeable language. I don't think anybody, including some Democrats, would disagree. But there's no policy here. No policy connected to this. Why?

PRIEBUS: Actually, it's not true. I mean, we call for a balanced budget amendment, that's policy. We call for school choice, that's policy. We call for the President adhering to the Constitution and not violating the law and not – abiding by what we call the Separation of Powers Act in the Constitution. I think if you go back and look at the Contract with America, you'll see it'll say welfare reform...

TODD: Oh, the Contract with America, I've got it here. And it was ten items of bill text.

PRIEBUS: ..so, I mean, the fact of the matter is, that this is something that our party...

TODD: We're not seeing the same thing this year.

PRIEBUS: That's not true. I mean, when you can put John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Tony Perkins, and the Tea Party Express on the same page, which you have, as a unified party. And as far as a wave is concerned, I don't know what polls you're looking at. But if you look at Arkansas, you look at Alaska, South Dakota, West Virginia, Louisiana, you go to Colorado, you're seeing Republicans in the lead. So look, with a month out, I'd much rather be where we're at than where the Democrats are at.

TODD: You don't win the Senate, failure?

PRIEBUS: I think we've got to win the Senate.

TODD: For this to be a good election?

PRIEBUS: Absolutely.

TODD: If you don't win the Senate, this is a bad election?

PRIEBUS: I think so. Yeah, I think that's fair. I think we've got to win the Senate. I think we will win the Senate. The question for us is, you know, are we going to win with six, seven, or eight seats? And I think that's what's up for grabs right now.

TODD: When it comes to – you know, one of the things in here that you didn't mention, was a lot of social issues. Why was that?

PRIEBUS: Well, we did talk about a strong family, we did talk about life, and we talked about family-

TODD: It seems like you're nervous about it.

PRIEBUS: Well-

TODD: Are social issues working against you guys?

PRIEBUS: Have you read – not at all. I mean, if you read the speech, we didn't hide away from social issues at all. But the fact of the matter is, is that people are out of work, the real unemployment rate's at 11.8%. And whether you're in Laredo, Texas, or Peoria, Illinois, the President's policies aren't working. And the President on Friday, as you rightfully noted earlier in the show, said that his policies are on the ballot. Well, if Barack Obama's on the ballot and his policies are on the ballot, it's going to be a pretty bad year for Democrats.

TODD: Unemployment's below 6%. How's that not the economy – how can the Democrats say, "Hey, things are getting better."

PRIEBUS: I think you guys spelled it out pretty well when you had Mr. [Dan] Pfeiffer on. From the real unemployment rate, for the how many people are out of work, the labor participation rate is at record lows. People today don't feel better off than they were five years ago. And obviously, whether it's the GSA, the IRS, Syria, ebola, the Secret Service, I mean, what's going well in regard to this administration and those senators that have followed this president lockstep?

TODD: There was a Supreme Court – a court upheld a new law in Texas. One of the things about the Republican Party is you don't like a lot of regulation on businesses, except if the business is a abortion clinic. 80% of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because of this new law. Too much regulation? Is that fair? Why regulate on the abortion issue now? Until maybe the law is – maybe wait until a Supreme Court – you win a fight in the Supreme Court where you outlaw abortion altogether. Why restrict a business now in the state of Texas?

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, you obviously have to talk to someone in Texas. But the fact of the matter is that we believe that any woman that's faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling, whatever it is that we can offer to be-

TODD: But 80% of those clinics are gone.

PRIEBUS: It's something that-

TODD: So they have to drive 2 or 300 miles for that compassion?

PRIEBUS: No, look, listen Chuck. The issue for us is only one thing, and that's whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion. I mean, that's the one issue that I think separates this conversation that we're having. And so the fact of the matter is, what this election is going to come down to, and I think we know it, is whether or not people feel better off today than they did four or five years ago, whether these Democrat senators followed this president lockstep, in spite of the fact that things aren't going in the right direction, whether it be ObamaCare, jobs, the economy, Keystone Pipeline, all of the above. It's not working for him.

So, I mean, you can try to steer – you know, talking about abortion again. But the fact of the matter is, if you're in Skagway, Alaska, you're thinking about the fact of why my life isn't better off today than it was when this senator was elected six years ago.

TODD: Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party, we'll be watching. Thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

TODD: Welcome to our new set.

PRIEBUS: Thank you.

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