Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson completed Badger week today, talking with me about President Obama’s presser today and Hillary’s memoir.
Audio of interview:
Transcript of interview:
HH: Pleased to welcome on Badger week when we’ve had Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus and Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s great Senator, Ron Johnson. Senator Johnson, welcome, good to have you on the program.
RJ: Hello, Hugh, how are you doing?
HH: I’m terrific. I’ve got a lot to cover with you, but I want to start, I haven’t talked to you since Hillary’s memoir came out, Hard Choices. And on Page 412, she writes about her hearing in front of your committee, “Some of the members of Congress asked thoughtful questions aimed at applying the hard lessons we had learned and improving future operations. Others remained fixated on chasing after conspiracy theories that had nothing to do with how we could prevent future tragedies. And some only showed up because of the cameras. They had skipped closed hearings when there wasn’t a chance of being on TV.” Skip a few paragraphs, and she goes, “I was asked about this repeatedly during my Congressional testimony. I personally was not focused on talking points. I was focused on keeping people safe, I responded. At one point during some particularly tendentious questioning, the exchange grew heated. Afterwards, some of my words were taken out of context for political purposes.” She didn’t mention you, Senator Johnson, but do you think you were being tendentious?
RJ: Absolutely not. I was just asking three simple questions. Madame Secretary, why didn’t you just get on the phone and call the survivors. You would have actually found out what happened. You would have found out that there was no protest, that the attack occurred, I think it started at 9:40, and you wouldn’t have had to mislead the American people for two weeks. So no, you know, apparently she just didn’t want to answer that kind of uncomfortable question. But it certainly wasn’t tendentious.
HH: Have you read this memoir, yet, Senator?
RJ: No, I’ve actually got better things to do.
HH: Do you think she’s qualified to be president?
RJ: No, absolutely not. I mean, the dereliction of duty as secretary of State that results in the lives of four Americans, the loss of lives of four Americans, I think disqualifies her right there. You know, there was only one person that was really responsible for the security of that Benghazi consulate. That was Secretary Clinton. The State Department refused after repeated requests to beef up security there. You know, Hugh, just a small contingent of armed Marine guards, which would have been provided by the military at no charge to the State Department, those four Americans would still be alive today. That is, I think, rests on the shoulders of Hillary Clinton. It was her dereliction of duty that caused those deaths.
HH: Now Senator Johnson, she’s trying to preempt this line of questioning. Should the media be deterred from questioning her closely about Benghazi?
RJ: What’s that?
HH: She is attempting to preempt questions and saying she will not answer questions about Benghazi. Should that deter the media?
RJ: Oh, absolutely not. Of course, the Clintons will always do what they’ve always done in the past and try and cover things thoroughly, so that when the question comes up during the campaign, they can just say oh, that’s old new, you know, we’ve already answered that question. And so they’ll never, they’ll always try and get away with never answering the question.
HH: Now I want to switch topics on you before I go to the President’s presser. Mitt Romney was on the show this week. He kind of cracked the door open to running again. Paul Ryan left the door open, Bobby Jindal. I’ve just got to ask you, Ron Johnson, are you thinking about running for president?
RJ: Am I thinking about running for president? Hugh, I think I have ruined my life enough. Listen, you know, quite honestly, I would love to see Mitt Romney run for president again. What convinces me to endorse him so strongly is in our first meeting, he said Ron, I really expect just to be a one-term president, because we’ve got to fix these problems. It may not be particularly popular. And then when he chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, that confirmed that he was serious. You don’t pick Paul Ryan unless you’re serious about fixing these problems. So listen, if Mitt would be willing to step up to the plate again, offer his services to the country, I would be, I would wholeheartedly support him.
HH: Oh, interesting. That’s interesting. That’s newsworthy. Now let’s talk about the guy who is the president. This was a pitiful press conference today, Senator. I want to play for you the one bit that’s getting the most attention, cut number one:
BO: As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in, or that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate. But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy, yet.
HH: Senator Johnson, we don’t have a strategy, yet. What did you make of that?
RJ: That’s really comforting, isn’t it? When you realize that he is the commander-in-chief, the leader of the free world. He’s the one that has to develop the strategy. Hugh, I’m glad he finally got off the golf course, but now he’s got to get on the phone. He’s got to assemble the coalition of the willing just like George W. Bush did. And we’ve got to actually recognize the reality that the threat, you know, the threat that ISIS represents to America, to our homeland. And we’ve got to have a president that’s actually not detached, but engaged in this process. And he’s got to develop a strategy. America, the world is waiting on him.
HH: Senator, which committees are you on?
RJ: Well, I’m on the Budget Committee, I’m on Homeland Security, Government Affairs. If the Republicans gain the majority in the Senate, I’ll actually be chairman of that committee. And we will hold hearing to determine exactly what the threat level is in terms of home-grown terrorists, in terms of threat from magnetic pulse generation, those types of things.
HH: That’s what I thought. Yeah, you’re on Homeland Security. Today, it was revealed that these two jihadis who were killed in Syria grew up in Minnesota. They were high school buddies together. Is anyone trying to reverse engineer what’s going on among these home grown Islamist extremists?
RJ: Certainly not to the extent we should be. We’ve held hearings in Homeland Security about the threat of home grown terrorists. And you hold a hearing, and then you pretty well, it just gets ignored. There’s all kinds of threats and dangers that are being ignored by this administration. This is a point when America is hungering for leadership, and just requires leadership. And again, we all watched just sadly, quite honestly, a president utterly detached, on the golf course, you know, doing, his body language shots trying to make his putt fall in when what he really needs to be doing is actively engage in protecting this country.
HH: Now I also haven’t talked to you since your famous collision with Jay Rockefeller. Has he apologized to you yet, Ron Johnson?
RJ: He actually did. You know, we spoke, and you know, I appreciate the fact that he raised the subject, but you know, Hugh, whether it’s Harry Reid calling Americans liars because they’re writing to their members of Congress about the damage and the harm that is being done by Obamacare, or Jay Rockefeller basically accusing any American that doesn’t like Obamacare as potentially being a close racist, it’s really outrageous, it’s an outrageous attitude on the part of the left that Republicans, conservatives, can’t have legitimate policy disagreements with their policies that have caused so much harm to real Americans.
HH: Okay, last couple of questions. Common Core, Bobby Jindal sued the Department of Education yesterday. What does Ron Johnson think about Common Core?
RJ: Well, the good thing about Common Core is it’s not a federal mandate, yet. And I would agree with people that do not want this implemented at their local school district. So you can stop it. Get out, get involved locally, get involved in your states, and you can stop Common Core. But it requires individual citizens to do so.
HH: And then the last question, I was in Minnesota last week, spent an hour and a half on the air with Mike McFadden. He reminds me a lot of you, Senator, as same background, same kind of fighting spirit. You think he’s got a chance against your colleague, Al Franken?
RJ: I hope so. I’m going up to Minnesota to do an event for him. We need more citizen legislators in Washington. I can’t tell you how crucial that is, Hugh. We need people that actually have lived a real life, understand and respect the private sector, and bring that type of background, that kind of experience, that kind of attitude to Washington, D.C., you know, just try to prevent the harm the federal government does to the private sector.
HH: Gosh, Ron Johnson as chair of Homeland Security is one reason for every American to go dig deep for Tom Cotton and Dan Sullivan and Mike McFadden and everybody else on that, Thom Tillis in North Carolina. Thank you, Senator, that would be terrific if you were the chair of Homeland Security. I would feel better instantly. America, figure it out. We’ve got to get serious here.
End of interview.