CNN's King Finds Tea Partiers Have GOP in 'Hostage Crisis,' Don't Grasp Civics 101

As CNN's John King made appearances on the news network on Thursday to discuss the race to replace House Speaker John Boehner, the CNN correspondent suggested that conservative Tea Party members lack understanding of Civics 101 in trying to press their agenda in the House. In a later appearance, after the announcement that Rep. Kevin McCarthy was dropping out of the race, King used the words "hostage crisis" to describe the situation.

It was during an appearance on CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, substitute hosted by Ana Cabrera, at about 10:05 a.m. that King mocked Tea Party conservatives on their knowledge of Civics 101. The CNN correspondent first recounted that members of the conservative Freedom Caucus in the House decided to support Florida Rep. Daniel Webster for Speaker over McCarthy and noted their connection to the Tea Party movement:

The group, the Freedom Caucus, as you mentioned and Dana just discussed, 40 or so conservatives backing Daniel Webster right now. Most of them came in in the Tea Party wave of 2010, some of them in the second Republican wave in the midterm election of 2014, and they simply think their party which has won those elections -- they have a House majority, now they have a Senate majority -- they have this frustration that they're not winning.

After noting several issues that conservatives have not been making progress on, he portrayed Tea Party conservative House members as needing to have things explained to them:

So they're frustrated. Now, what John Boehner has tried to tell them, and what Kevin McCarthy is going to have to try to tell them now is, "No matter what, yes, we have a House majority, but there's only 54 Republican Senators. You need 60 votes to get much done. And, by the way, there's a Democratic President, Barack Obama, who can veto anything we send him."

The CNN host brought up Civics 101 as he added:

But these mostly conservative members, despite Civics 101 -- if you remember taking Civics class, Ana -- they still think that their leadership should be getting more. Or if it can't get more, then it should be more confrontational. And so those conservatives will be with Daniel Webster today.

King made a second appearance at 12:40 p.m. on Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, and, after host Banfield asked why Rep. McCarthy had earlier talked up his chances of being elected Speaker only to withdraw a few hours later, as she wondered, "What happened in just two or three hours?" King introduced the term "hostage crisis" as he began his response:

Nothing, really, Ashleigh, in the sense that when he was saying all is fine, he was bluffing. And he was hoping that when he went into that room or into that private meeting, that the conservatives who are at the moment -- let's be clear about what we have here -- we have a hostage crisis within the Republican Party. A small group of conservatives -- not a majority even in the House -- are saying to their leadership, "No, we've had enough. We won't give you our votes because we don't like the way things are going around here."

A bit later, King added:

Some of these conservatives -- most of them, Ashleigh, come out of the 2010 Tea Party movement, and, to their credit, this is what they ran on. They said they were going to come to Washington, that people were fed up, they were going to stop the President, they were going to repeal Obamacare, they were going to stop raising the debt limit. They think and they believe they are doing what they promised to do.

The problem is, they don't have the votes. They don't have the votes, and now their frustration is boiling over against their own establishment. Boehner is leaving because he doesn't want to put up with it anymore. McCarthy just dropped out because he didn't have the votes and apparently didn't want to do whatever it might take to get there.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello and Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield on CNN from Thursday, October 8:

#From CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:

10:05 a.m.
JOHN KING: Things are interesting, Ana, and this debate among House conservatives over who should lead them is really a debate about who they should be and what posture they should take. The group, the Freedom Caucus, as you mentioned and Dana just discussed, 40 or so conservatives backing Daniel Webster right now. Most of them came in in the Tea Party wave of 2010, some of them in the second Republican wave in the midterm election of 2014, and they simply think their party which has won those elections -- they have a House majority, now they have a Senate majority -- they have this frustration that they're not winning. Why haven't we repealed Obamacare? Why do we keep voting to increase the government's debt ceiling so the government could borrow more money? Why haven't we won more conservative victories, whether it's defunding Planned Parenthood or on spending issues?

So they're frustrated. Now, what John Boehner has tried to tell them, and what Kevin McCarthy is going to have to try to tell them now is, "No matter what, yes, we have a House majority, but there's only 54 Republican Senators. You need 60 votes to get much done. And, by the way, there's a Democratic President, Barack Obama, who can veto anything we send him."

But these mostly conservative members, despite Civics 101 -- if you remember taking Civics class, Ana -- they still think that their leadership should be getting more. Or if it can't get more, then it should be more confrontational. And so those conservatives will be with Daniel Webster today.

#From Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield:

12:39 a.m.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: You heard Kevin McCarthy just hours ago saying, "All is fine, I'm going to win," my words. And then, two hours later, apparently, according to Charlie Dent, he can't unify the Congress at this time, he feels, and that's why he stepped out. What happened in just two or three hours?

JOHN KING: Nothing, really, Ashleigh, in the sense that when he was saying all is fine, he was bluffing. And he was hoping that when he went into that room or into that private meeting, that the conservatives who are at the moment -- let's be clear about what we have here -- we have a hostage crisis within the Republican Party. A small group of conservatives -- not a majority even in the House -- are saying to their leadership, "No, we've had enough. We won't give you our votes because we don't like the way things are going around here."

Congressman Frank you just heard in that very telling interview with Dana Bash, says the problem is in the Senate. Well, the problem for House conservatives, yes, it's in the Senate; it's also at the White House. You have a Democratic President who will not give them what they want, but they are so upset and so angry, Ashleigh, they are now willing to topple their own leadership and to throw the country into a bit of legislative chaos here until they try to get their way.

Will they get it in the end? They may get a person they like more, but the math is the math. The Senate math won't change until the next election. There will be a Democrat in the White House until at least the next election. So what you have here is a very public display of a remarkable and a very important -- some people may think this is just a class election among House Republicans. This is a very important day in the Republican civil war that we've been watching play out for almost a decade now. It's playing out in the presidential race as well. And you have chaos. This is not just to be the leader of House Republicans. The Speaker of the House is the highest elected Republican in the land, third in line to the presidency.

And the Republicans, Ashleigh, yes, we have a Democratic President, but the Republicans are the dominant party in the country right now with a House majority, a Senate majority, 31 governorships, and, guess what, they can't get their act together because you have a big and meaningful debate about substance. What should we do on the budget? What should we do on immigration? Should we shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood? Should we take it that far? There's a lot of substance here, but there's also a lot of style here.

Some of these conservatives -- most of them, Ashleigh, come out of the 2010 Tea Party movement, and, to their credit, this is what they ran on. They said they were going to come to Washington, that people were fed up, they were going to stop the President, they were going to repeal Obamacare, they were going to stop raising the debt limit. They think and they believe they are doing what they promised to do. The problem is, they don't have the votes. They don't have the votes, and now their frustration is boiling over against their own establishment. Boehner is leaving because he doesn't want to put up with it anymore. McCarthy just dropped out because he didn't have the votes and apparently didn't want to do whatever it might take to get there. Now, the question is: Who? And it's a big job.

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