September 15th, 2010
02:41 PM ET
4 years ago

Hill Hallways: Cornyn defends record

Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday defended his record as the chairman of the NRSC.
Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday defended his record as the chairman of the NRSC.

Editors note: Watch for more real time dispatches from the hallways on Capitol Hill as CNN's correspondents and producers cover the machinations of Congress. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news- now even more so.

2:15 p.m. - Christine O'Donnell told CNN's Jessica Yellin in a mocking tone that the National GOP does not have a "winning track record" in GOP primaries this season.

The NRSC, under the leadership of John Cornyn, has in fact backed losing GOP candidates this primary season in Kentucky, Alaska, Colorado, and more.

I just interviewed Cornyn, who responded to that by saying, "My record will be determined after November 2nd and how many pickups we'll have. I'm not making any predictions here today. We have about a dozen seats in play. I think November 2nd, that's when my report card will get graded."

Still, Cornyn is joining other GOP leaders in bending over backwards to signal there is unity now that O'Donnell is the GOP nominee from Delaware.

A day after telling me he thinks he has "doubts" about O'Donnell's electability and that it is a "serious issue," now he says this:

"I mean it's a blue state. But my motto, after Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, is if it can happen in deep blue Massachusetts, it can happen anywhere. And I think that what Ms. O'Donnell demonstrated is the intensity of the rage and anger that people are feeling against Washington. Obviously she motivated a lot of people to come out and vote for her in that primary, surprising a lot of people. But I think she's tapped into something that is going to mean big changes in Washington come November 2nd."

But since he is part of Washington and the GOP establishment, I asked him this:

"Is there a message among Republican voters at people like you?"

Cornyn responded by saying, "I don't think voters are happy with anyone in Washington right now. I think that's the message. And frankly, some Republican voters have been discouraged, that Republicans, when we were in power, were spending too freely and we had lost sight of our fiscal conservative principles."

And what about money? A Republican source suggested to CNN that the NRSC would not give money to O'Donnell's candidacy, and now Cornyn has pledged $42,000 – a small, but symbolic amount.

Cornyn made it clear he would not be giving more unless polls soon show O'Donnell will defy conventional wisdom and become competitive against Democratic Chris Coons.

"My responsibility is basically simple addition. Anything we can do to spend a dollar to help a candidate get elected to the senate we're going to do. At some point there are going to be limited resources. We're going to run out of those resources. So what we'll do over next 48 days or so is look at where we can put those dollars where it will have the biggest impact. If that's Delaware, then we'll be there in Delaware. If it's somewhere else, then we'll be spending it elsewhere," said Cornyn.

My colleague, Ted Barrett, also ran into Cornyn, who said that internal polling showed Castle leading. "I think it's fair to say it was a little bit of a surprise," Cornyn conceded.

And why was the NRSC statement Tuesday night so terse, and from Executive Director Rob Jesmer instead of the senator?

"I wouldn't read too much into it. What I would read into this is I did talk to Christine O'Donnell, visited with [Sen.] Jim DeMint. We're all on the same page and united going into November," he insisted.


Filed under: 2010 • Hill Hallways • John Cornyn
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Agree with Cornyn.......the election results will say who the people really want.

    September 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. T'SAH from Virginia

    "I mean it's a blue state. But my motto, after Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, is if it can happen in deep blue Massachusetts, it can happen anywhere..."

    ROTFLMAO – And look how Scott Brown is voting?? Also, wasn't it PALIN that RAGGED on Scott Brown recently????

    DEMOCRATS – STATE the CASE – UNITE the BASE and we will WIN this RACE in November 2010!!!

    The ingredients are there and if the Democrats follow the same recipe and stay focus while sticking to the SAME message – we're unstoppable!!!

    The Republicans 'created a monster' and now they are LOST!! They are 'scattered' everywhere with no direction!!

    This is really getting GOOD and I am beginning to get FIRED UP and READY to GO!!! This is T'SAH and you know who I am!!!

    September 15, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Cornyn's gonna be fine. He'll be joining the Dems in a rousing chorus of "I Told You So" come November. Maybe next time the GOP decides to rile up its angry, fearful extremist base with massive misinformation campaigns and demagoguery and by creating an astroturf Frankenstein, it'll think twice. Oh who am I kidding...that's all they've got left.

    September 15, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Sally

    Let the Tea Party 'winners' get more and more cocky. It will just bring out more Democrats and independents who want our country restored to sanity. We'll see how many of these Palin picks actually win in November.
    The party of hell, no, will be sent packing.

    September 15, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. Texas Voter

    Cornyn is a jerk, but this O'Donnell woman is a nut case. Why anybody would elect a person as irresponsible as her takes the cake. I think we are seeing the end of the Republican Party, taken down by the nut jobs that they are responsible for creating. Ever since Palin came into the limelight, the caliber of Republicans has started to stink like a port a potty.

    September 15, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Snow

    John Cornyn and other entrenched Republicans better understand and soon, that we the people are retaking the Republican party to it's conservative roots. People like Paul Ryan understand and he is onboard the train that is coming to DC with a load of new arrivals. This train will also return alot of liberals and RINO's to their home states.

    September 15, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. NVa Native

    After the GOP has spent the last fifty plus years terrorizing it's base, their "base" has turned into psychotic frenzied monster that is now terrorizing the GOP!!

    Natural consequences are a wonderful thing.

    September 15, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Whatever

    O'Donnell sounds like she has won the general election. She can talk smack when she does until then she needs to keep her extremely big head (ego) in check!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. larry

    I hope Jimmy Crack Corny gets an "F" on his report card.

    September 15, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. Eric

    Note, kids, "GOP" does not equal conservative.

    Case in point:
    Big spending "compassionate" conservative RINO George Du[m]bya Bush.

    If we wanted big spending bureaucrats, we'd just vote for the Dem.
    We have no need for two democrat parties.

    Vote for the real deal.
    Vote for conservatives.
    Anything short of that, you may as well just vote for the Dem, because the end result is the same.

    September 15, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Joe Gaines

    No I not, Yes I am. No I not, Yes I am, No I not, Yes I am No I Not, Yes I am, No I Not, Yes I am....Get the Picture

    September 15, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Poor Nadeam Elshami. It sounds like he's all upset but the problem is just that he doesn't have a clue about economics. A few classes in a local community college would explain how an efficient economy works, how jobs are created and how countries compete on a global basis. These fundamentals of economics are consistent with the things on the Republican platform.

    We can look around us and read the paper to see how well the Democratic economic platform works. It doesn't."
    -

    Typical GOP/conservative blather: pretending to know how the economy works while offering not a single specific to prove it...nor a single specific as to how to fix it. Newsflash for you Limbot parrots: the disaster we're living through right now is a result of spending 3 decades applying randian trickle-down deregulatory reaganomics. That FACT is unavoidable. Other FACTS that are unavoidable are (a) the only wealth redistribution that has occurred over those 3 decades was the already wealthy growing their share of the nation's total annual income and its wealth/assets/ownership while the middle-class shrank and the gap between socio-economic classes grew EXPONENTIALLY; (b) middle class salaries stayed virtually the same that entire time period and failed to keep pace with inflation; (c) taxes are now lower than they have been in 5-6 decades and it started with Reagan cutting them MASSIVELY...by upwards of 23%, then running up a huge deficit and creating a real estate bubble that ended in a recession (sound familiar?); (d) the Bush tax cuts are the single largest contributing factor to the national debt and deficit, followed a close second by the borrowing done by Bush to start two wars; (e) approximately 25%-30% of the stimulus money hasn't even been spent yet, so you can't cite the entire amount as the cause of anything; (f) Social Security is solvent until approximately 2040 and would be perpetually solvent (indeed, so much so that we could likley lower the tax rate associated with it) if we removed the cap on income taxable towards SS; (g) white people will not be the majority in a couple decades..NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO (so get it out of your heads that deporting all illegals tomorrow will prevent or slow it); and (h) allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would return us to the tax rates during Clinton's administration and the economy under Clinton was the best it has been since, oh, 1970 or so.

    September 15, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    Palin says she hates the personal destruction of others. Guess she's the only one allowed to lie, blatantly, and spread false rumors about things she has never had one ounce of experience in - whether it be reading or writing or anything else.

    She's a liar and she leads others that make up destructive stories - fed to the ignorant by FOX tv. AND CNN runs all of them and does their free advertising.

    September 15, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. Common sense

    Regan Republicans are a dying breed. The patients are running the asylum for the GOP.

    September 15, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Jilli

    Good luck Mr. Cornyn, good luck controlling your frankenstein monster . Here's hoping they reap further havok on the gop. Loons and crackpots aren't any more acceptable than crooks and liar like yourself. You made your bed...

    September 15, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. Tony Z

    Thank you-Tea Party Express. Looking forward to November 2nd.

    September 15, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. vic, Nashville TN

    Many republicans are sad after the primaries Smart republicans are saying we don’t need dividers in capital hill

    September 15, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Candidates with more Facebook fans win big on Tuesday"

    As interesting and important as watching dog turds turn white.

    September 15, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |