April 18th, 2010
05:29 PM ET
12 years ago

McConnell explains Wall Street meeting with Cornyn

Washington (CNN) – A day after President Obama sought to use a closed-door meeting between Wall Street leaders and two top Senate Republicans as political ammunition in the battle over financial regulatory reform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to explain the meeting.

In a rare move, Obama used his weekly internet and radio address to single out McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, who leads the GOP's effort to elect Republicans to the Senate in November.

Related: Obama touts financial reform

The changes sought by Democrats "have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington," Obama said in his address. "This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the leader of the Senate Republicans and the chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.

"Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed."

Asked about the meeting on CNN's State of the Union Sunday , McConnell rejected any suggestion that the meeting was used to craft ways to block financial regularly reform. Ultimately, McConnell said Cornyn was there because he will be voting on the reform legislation.

"Did the meeting take place?," CNN Chief Political Correspondent and State of the Union anchor Candy Crowley asked McConnell. "What was the conversation?"

"Well, we certainly didn't talk about blocking the bill," the Kentucky Republican replied. "I don't know anybody who's in favor of blocking this bill."

McConnell added, "I thought [the president] wanted us to have a bipartisan bill. That's what I would like to have. We are in the process of gathering information from people all across the country, from Wall Street to Main Street to try to get advice about doing this right."

McConnell also said that he met recently with bankers in his home state who oppose the current version of the financial reform bill.

Pressed by Crowley about how Cornyn's involvement, at least created the appearance that Republicans were playing politics with the issue of reform, McConnell denied Obama's accusation.

"Well, look, we were talking about financial regulation, as everybody in the country is talking about it," the top Senate Republican said. "Most of the people in New York supported the president, the vast majority of them are on his side. They supported him during the election, they still support him. Is he saying we shouldn't sit down with his supporters and talk about a bill that he thinks we ought to pass and that I think we ought to pass? This is absurd, he..."

"Why was Sen. Cornyn there?," Crowley queried.

"Candy, [Obama] is the one who is trying to politicize this issue. We are the ones who are trying to get it right," he replied.

Crowley pressed McConnell again about Cornyn's attendance at the meeting. "But what did the Wall Street people tell you?"

"Well, they have concerns about the bill," the Senate minority leader explained, adding that he thought the Senate ought to "go back to the drawing board" and fix the legislation.

"Let me try one more time," Crowley volleyed. "Why was Sen. Cornyn in that meeting of all of the other senators you could have taken with you?"

"Sen. Cornyn is a United States senator from Texas," McConnell explained. "He is going to be voting on this issue like all the rest of us are. Simply because we are all involved in politics, as is the president, it doesn't mean that we can't discuss issues with people that we meet around the country who are deeply involved and concerned about what we are doing."

Later on State of the Union, Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, called on McConnell and Senate Republicans to propose alternatives to the component of the bill they have been voicing objections to in the past week. All 41 Senate Republicans have said they oppose the legislation as it currently stands but the White House signaled late last week that it is open to changes to the bill.

Related: Congress divided over financial reform bill

Filed under: Extra • John Cornyn • Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • Wall Street
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. ed fl

    the GOP LEADERS are from the south and bible belt.Less educated and racist tendencies are derived from the ability not to understand right from wrong,but the factt that the word NO [two letters ] is easiest to spell than the than the word YES [which has three letters] Abstain is not something the GOP knows about Hense the NO"S prevail.

    April 18, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Joe in FL

    I call on the good people of Kentucky to remove the scourge of Senator McConnell from the backs of the American public. He is nothing but a fully funded tool of corporate america that wants no regulation of their rape of the public. If he's up for election this cycle, I'll donate to his opponent.

    April 18, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. Nancy

    McConnell, YOU LIE!!!

    April 18, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. adrift in canada

    So much for townhall meetings. We all know which meetings are really the most important. Perhaps the two GOP senators should have invited the media to their chitchat with the Wall Street executives. Now that would have been enlightening. Seems like Obama is going to play hardball on this issue. As a neighbour of the USA, I'd say go for it, Mr. President. The recent near disaster on Wall Street hurt the entire world. We're all depending on President Obama to make sure it never happens again. And, if I may humbly suggest, the USA could look to Canada for some reasonable ways to regulate banks. No banks in Canada have collapsed in living memory. And I know we're all socialist scum north of the border, but give our regulatory system at least a passing glance.

    April 18, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |

    SENATOR Mc NO Mc NO Mc NO Why would anyone vote Republican? Someone give me a reason please.

    April 18, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Dan

    I'll ask that question again...and again, because it is such a good one:

    What have the Republicans done for America lately? Or in the past couple decades? And in particular for the working middle class of America?

    Like in the song, War, the answer is: "Absolutely nothing!"

    April 18, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  7. Nancy

    The fact that there are people who vote republican (including those who call themselves independent) is just beyond me. Anyone who has analyzed the political process and who has an IQ of at least 100 couldn't possibly vote republican (I WOULD HOPE).

    April 18, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. Kelly

    Candy! Excellent job! Thank you for not letting up. When your question wasn't answered, you asked again. That's what we want to see.

    April 18, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. Jenn, Philadelphia

    I guess the only difference is that President Obama has his special interest friends come to him (22 visits to oval office from SEIU head, alone, between January inauguration and October, while crafting health care bill).

    April 18, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  10. John

    I haven't seen that much tap dancing since Fred Astaire was alive.

    April 18, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. oregonian101

    Its all politics, but, if the GOP continue blocking tactics they will get hurt in November. If the two parties can work together they both will benefit, but, the GOP will benefit more. They'll pull the moderate GOPers back from Independent land.

    Both parties negotiate behind closed doors. Heck all businesses do also. That is why just opening the state lines for health insurers won't work. They'll just get together and fix prices more then they are now.

    In this day and age of rapid news and using sound bytes as fact, people get all worked up of the little stuff and blow it our of proportion.

    April 18, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  12. Terry - Indiana

    Wow! John McCain pulled a similar move when he put pressure on Federal Banking Regulators in San Francisco, all for his friend and heavy campaign contributor, Charles Keating of Lincoln Savings and Loan. Once more, when Wall Street or Big Banks need protection from those pesky Democrats who want to protect the average citizen from Big Banks and Wall Street, the Republicans step in, take the campaign money and protect their buddies on Wall Street and inside the Big Banks. I would enjoy hearing the Tea Party Faithful respond to this one. Then again, it will be the Republicans who will lower Tea Party faithful taxes, and screw the average folks on Main Street. Don't you just love America?

    April 18, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  13. Clint, Wa.


    President Obama announced this morning that he is stepping down (quitting) leaving the WH. The GOP replied with NO, NO, NO, that this couldn’t be done. We will oppose anything that this President does. ☺

    April 18, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Gary Garrison

    McConnell and company are full of what the little birdies eat, and that ain't hay!

    What a disgrace they are as elected representatives of the people for they obviously do not give a hoot or a holler about their constituencies. It is all about power and what I can get out of it all!

    April 18, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. rj

    Why aren't the tea partiers not protesting Republicans on this issue now?

    April 18, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Kalina1

    Republicans are very wrong on staying on the way of the financial reform bill, everybody knows it. Mitch McConnell had never being truthful with the public. First he demonized the health care bill and he succeeded. There are more scared people then smart.
    Now he is trying to pull the same thing with the financial reform and its like stopping engineers from building a river Dem. People are not that stupid now. Thank God. You don't wont another financial Katrina.

    April 18, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. CR

    Caught red-handed. The Republican Party is exposed protecting their patrons in the banking industry at the expense of the American consumer. All they have to cover and spin their corporatist shilling is the Big Lie.

    April 18, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. Dcook140

    Jeez, its a good thing Obama has not meet with Andy Stearn of the SEIU or any of the various players in the healthcare field. Also very important that Henry Waxman, Ed Markey or Babs Boxer never met with the Sierra Club or the NRDC folks to help write the cap and tax bill. Has Candy asked any of these guys what went on behind closed doors? I know, only the Republicans do this, certainly not any of the Chicago players. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    April 18, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Gil

    Are you sure McConnell's meeting with the Wall Streeters wasn't in a shower and they were saying, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!" If Americans ever thought that the Party of No represents their values then they must all be rich, bankers or corporate businessmen.
    Sure let's leave the current banking system in place so the next time they fail they can take our life savings with them!

    April 18, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. indy

    Are these like the closed door healthcare reform meetings behind closed doors? I'm just curious why one group with a vested interest is allowed to meet with politicians, but another isn't. Seems like a double-standard.

    April 18, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. patsy

    Same old Republicans. Never a new idea from their side, but trample on any coming from the current administration. All they want is for things to stay as they are so they can rake in more campaign money from their banker friends and lobbyists. If Obama was for a chicken in every pot, they'd want to change it to cabbage.

    April 18, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. FloridaRes

    A bill that has been worked on in committee for months and McConnell wants it to be scrapped and start all over! Does this sound like the GOP talking about Health Care? Oh yes it does. So the Dems in the committee do what is right – they don't trust the GOP enough to even talk about it in committee. The Dems vote it out of committee to the floor where it can be discussed, amendments proposed and then get and up-down vote in Senate. You watch the GOP on the Senate floor, they won't stop saying start over, bailout, etc. Anything to delay this and please their money-grubbing little hearts!

    April 18, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. Publius Novus

    Mitch McConnell has been lying for so long and with such consistency that I think he actually believes what he is saying.

    April 18, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. windrider

    Since McConnell refused to explain why Sen. Cornyn was at the meeting, refused to explain the meeting at all, one can reasonably assume that Wall Street gave them their marching orders, and McConnell marched right back to the floor of the Senate where he announced that the Republicans would block the bill.

    Scrap the bill and start over? Well here's a word you'll recognize, McConnell. NO! And not just no, but hell no! This is nothing but an attempt to stall passage until after November, when the GOP hopes to add a few more obstructionists to the Senate.

    What a surprise!

    April 18, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  25. Barry

    It is obvious why Coryn was there – to craft a strategy to block real reform and to take care of the Wall Street fat cats.

    I cannot believe anyone in the US could support Republicans who, for years, have shafted the average people while funneling money to their rich friends.

    Notice that Mc Connell did not answer the question?

    April 18, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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