[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/18/art.cornyn.cnn.jpg caption="The man responsible for getting Republicans elected to the Senate said Monday that he was confident his party would pick up seats in November in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Florida."]Washington (CNN) – The man responsible for getting Republicans elected to the Senate said Monday that he was confident his party would pick up seats in November in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
And Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also weighed in on a potential liability for Republican incumbents – the passage of the Wall Street bailout package in late 2008 when the economy was teetering on the brink of collapse.
Appearing on CNN's John King, USA, Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, discussed a number of races including the GOP Senate primary in Kentucky. Ahead of Tuesday's voting, Rand Paul, a Tea Party-backed candidate, is leading Trey Grayson, the candidate backed by the Senate's leading Republican.
Cornyn told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the Kentucky race is indicative of the national mood.
"Well, obviously Kentucky reflects what's happening around the country, and that is there's an awful lot of people engaged in the political process that are relatively new to the process," Cornyn told King. "A lot of these folks are the folks who showed up at town hall meetings, they showed up at Tea Parties and they're voting."
The Republican senator added that the popular outpouring of new political interest was not confined to the GOP.
"But the most important thing is, John, is that they're actually very active primaries on both sides - on the Republican side and the Democratic side. It's not unique to ours. But we will nominate the strongest candidate and we'll get behind that candidate."
Weighing in on the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, Cornyn took the opportunity to take a shot his former GOP colleague, Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched parties last year and is now in a tight primary race.
"Arlen said he was switching parties because he couldn't win in the Republican primary [and] for no other reason," the Texas Republican said. "I think he's having a hard time finding a way to appeal to Democrats because, frankly, he doesn't seem to have any particular orientation for one party or another, just his political survival."
But Cornyn also acknowledged that Specter has overcome many obstacles in the past.
"Arlen is a survivor. He's survived everything that's been thrown at him from a health standpoint, from a political standpoint."
In this year's Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Florida Senate races, Cornyn predicted that the GOP will emerge victorious.
And the Texas Republican also made the case for how GOP lawmakers can explain their support for the Wall Street bailout program that has turned out to be unpopular with voters.
"TARP was represented to us as an absolute necessity or else the economy would melt down and we'd experience a repeat of perhaps the depression of the '30s. I'm responsible and proud of the vote I cast at the time because I thought it was a public necessity. The problem is, we've been betrayed by those who said TARP would be used for a narrow purpose. It's now been expanded beyond all recognition to bailout car companies and now being used as a revolving slush fund.
"I voted to end TARP even though I voted for it initially because I think it's been abused and I think the American people are experiencing bailout fatigue and now we're being asked to share in part of the bailout of Greece through the International Monetary Fund through our contribution there. So I don't blame people who are upset with the way that the bailouts have grown and been abused. But I think at the time it was the right decision to make.
Cornyn added, "People understand that sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions of necessity. At the time it was the right decision to make."
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