tv Newsmakers with Representative Steve Stivers CSPAN June 11, 2017 10:01am-10:36am EDT
>> here on c-span, newsmakers is next with republican commerce been steve stivers of ohio. in testimony from former fbi director james tommy, to appear before the -- james comey, to talk about the russian investigation and his private conversations with president trump. that is followed by reaction from the president's personal attorney, marquez alerts, and the president himself this book about the hearings at a joint news conference with the romanian president. ms. swain: our guest on c-span's "newsmakers" this week is steve stivers, republican from ohio. representing that states 15th district. he is heading the national republican campaign committee, which is to keep republicans in control of the house. as we get started, i want to tell you about our guest. both his graduate an mba, and had financial services and the ohio legislator. he is also a brigadier general
in the ohio army national guard, which he has been in since 1985, and he served in active duty in 2004 and 2005 as a battalion commander in iraq and earned the bronze star for his service. thank you for being our guest. mr. stivers: it is great to be on. ms. swain: let me introduce our two reporters asking questions. scott is the campaign editor for politico and hosts politico's "nerdcast." wong is from the hill. both are making a return visit to "newsmakers." mr. wong: thank you for being here, mr. stivers. former director comey, who is wg testifying on capitol hill as we speak, has said that donald trump told him in the oval office that the russian investigations have been a cloud over his administration. cloud was the word that he used. do you believe that the russian investigation, these multipronged investigations,
the fbi ones and the ones going on on capitol hill are , distracting from the gop agenda? and how do you see these russian investigations impacting house races around the country? mr. stivers: i was glad to see former director mueller named as a special investigator to look into this. i have supported the house and senate investigations to do their job. i will support them through the process of collecting information, analyzing that information, and bringing a conclusion forward to the house and senate. i support the same thing with a special investigator to go through the entire process, follow the facts where they lead, and let the process work. i do not believe that they are -- we moved forward on health care, we are in the process of moving forward on tax reform. our infrastructure bill is in discussions, and we are working on it. we have passed more bills -- the story that is not written very
often is that we have passed or bills in any congress since the eisenhower -- truman, even further back, since the truman administration. and the president has signed more bills than any time since the truman administration. so i do not think it is getting , in the way of things. it may not be reported. sadly, it is fun to talk about director comey and all of these other things, but what is not getting coverage is what we are getting done. and we are continuing to get things done, but i support the investigations, and i think they need to work through to their conclusion and we will see where it goes from there. mr. wong: you guys passed the health care bill in your chamber, the house. it is now over at the senate. they would like to see health care tackled before the recess. do you think that is possible? mr. stivers: i think artificial timelines are a problem. we found that out in the house. i don't think we should set artificial timelines.
i think we should work on issues until we get a consensus, or in this case, a majority because we need 50 votes plus the vice president to break a tie. or 51 votes. in the senate for the health care bill because it is a reconciliation vehicle. i hope that they will work to get the bill passed. i don't like artificial timelines, but i will not micromanage the senate. let them do their job. we are focused on tax reform, we are focused on moving things forward and will continue to do that. i am saddened for the people of my state. this week it was announced by anthem, one of the last big companies in the exchange in ohio they are pulling out of the market base in ohio. in four of my counties and 30 counties across the state there will be zero choices at
healthcare.gov in the marketplace. anthem was a company that supported the american health care act because they believed it would bring stability to the individual market, and it has not been enacted yet, so they announced they are pulling out of ohio. they have pulled out of other states, too. we need to bring certainty back and affordability to these products. that is one of the things the american health care act does. i have never said it is perfect. i think the senate can and should approve it. i care about people with pre-existing conditions. my daughter has a pre-existing condition. i want to make sure we continue to look out for people who happen to be sick, but we need to figure out how to make insurance affordable for people who are healthy. mr. bland: most of the elections you are focused on are happening about a year and a half from now in november 2018. we have a big one on the horizon -- two big ones, but one particularly. we have the special election in
the georgia six district with karen handel and jon ossoff. what are your expectations about the race going in? what do you expect for january 20 question mark mr. stivers: it will be a tight race all the way to the end. karen handel is a great candidate. if you look at what happened in april, you have 13 republican candidates that combined to get a majority of the vote. there were three democrats, but really, the democrats consolidated around jon ossoff. he got 48.3% and another couple of democrats got very small percentages. i feel very comfortable and confident that we are working as a team with the rnc, who is doing a great job on the ground game and voter registration. i feel comfortable that a lot of our natural allies have come in to help on this. the congressional leadership fund, the chamber of commerce is in, other folks have been
in helping in this race, and while it is uncoordinated -- it is a bad word in politics -- it is an effort where everyone that needs to has joined the fight. i feel like we did what it takes to win in kansas. we did what it took to win in montana. we did what it took to make sure georgia went to a runoff. it was hard to keep georgia coming to a runoff because the democrats had already consolidated around one candidate, and republicans had 13 candidates. jon ossoff spent over $10 million in april himself with others joining in to help him. that is amazing spending in a congressional race. all of the races together, both sides it will be a $50 million race. it is a record number for a congressional seat and while , special elections are special, you can't build too much into what happens in this race. i feel pretty good.
i think we will win this race. has never been talked about in the house landscape. it is a special election, and that is part of what allowed jon ossoff to raise so much money, but democrats are also energized and pouring money into campaigns around the country. this is something you will be facing again and again in the next year. mr. stivers: republicans are energized, too. look at what happened in kansas, montana, the special election. we took it to a runoff. i feel good. our voters are energized enough to win. the democrats can claim their moral victories, but we are actually accumulating real victories. i feel very comfortable with that and i think on june 20, we will have another one. mr. bland: you are a student of history, and we have talked about this before. the party that controls the white house typically does not
have a great midterm for that president's first midterm. with president barack obama, he lost something like 63 seats in his midterm. are you seeing any signs now of -- that a democratic wave is forming? are you concerned about some of the energy you are seeing on the other side, and what are you doing to combat that? mr. stivers: i do not believe there is a democrat wave forming for two reason. in 2012 redistricting give up so many seats. there are less seats than there were. when i won, the republicans won 77 seats. we actually had almost 150 seats in play. today, i think there will be something like maybe 70 seats in play. democrats want to claim they can
get it to 100. some of the seats on their target list are laughable. bob gibbs in ohio, they are running a guy named harbaugh. i can guarantee you there will be no harbaugh's winning in columbus in november, whether it is the ohio state-michigan game, or the election in 2018. that will not happen. mr. wong: fair enough. do you think it is possible, though, that democrats could take back the house in 2018? mr. stivers: it is way too early to guess those things, but i do not see a wave coming. we have outraised the democrats every month. we have more resources. that allows us to expand the playing field on them, which forces them to go on defense and keep them from getting into that second wave they need to take the majority. we will have about 30 patriots before we are done, and they will need to win 24 of those races. these are battle tested,
hardened, smart candidates that know how to win, and have won 24 of them in districts that hillary clinton carried just months ago. it is not like these folks are new to competitive races. they know how to win in competitive races, and they will know how to win in 2018 in competitive races. to assume that they will be more that will lose then -- than win, they need 80% of our guys to lose. that is not going to happen. it is folks like martha mcsally, forks like carlos cabello will , hurd. those happen to be the most productive legislators in the entire congress. martha mcsally has passed six bills already through the house.
she will get a number of bills signed into law. she was the most productive legislator in congress last year. she got the most bills signed into law. and those bills make a difference. not only did she preserve a bill -10, which is important if you live in arizona, but she recognized women that served in world war ii and allow them to be buried in arlington national cemetery. she did things that mattered for her district. that is how she wins. they pay attention to their district, and work hard. we have good support networks to help them. they also understand how to run a campaign. they raised the money they need. they spent it in effective ways. i do not see a democratic wave coming. you know, usually there are canaries in the coal mine that show up before that indicate these -- scott brown before the 2010 wave was the canary in the coal mine that showed a wave
coming. if the democrats are going to win moral victories, there will be any canaries announcing the problem in the coal mine. they have got to win one of these special elections, which is why they have spent so much money in the georgia 6th, and while it has not been a race that was historically tough on the house side since the 1970's and 1980's, president trump only won that district by one point. it is not new to being competitive. it was competitive seven months ago. that is not brand-new news for us. we knew this race would be a tough race when dr. price was announced as hss secretary. we were lucky to find an incredible candidate in karen handel. we feel comfortable that she will win, but democrats need to win something if they want to explain there is a wave coming, because you can't go 0-5 and
coming.ere is a wave mr. wong: let's keep talking about a few different places. what is taking up most of your time as you are trying to strategize? you hear a lot about california, especially looking back at the 2016 results. there were a lot of republicans in california who represent districts that president trump lost. especially centered around southern california and orange county, san diego, los angeles. you talk about canaries in the coal mines, have darrell issa losing the first battleground race, and they are looking at other members of congress and thinking about challenging them pretty strongly for the first time. how are you dealing with that? how are incumbents dealing with it? mr. stivers: we have states
where there are clusters of races we will be paying attention. california is one of them. you talk about the orange county seats. we have some opportunities in santa barbara, sacramento, and in san diego. there are three seats we have a shot at. we have good lines on recruits in those places. i feel like there is a good chance that we will be very competitive in those areas. we are working hard to make sure in california there is actually -- we are partnering with the california republican party. one of the problems in 2016, the senate race was between two democrats. that was essentially the top of the ticket. the presidential race was not going to be competitive in california if there wasn't some fight for the senate race. there was not going to be as much to bring republicans out. so in the gubernatorial race, we
are working hard to make sure there is a republican than i said through the new jungle primary system in california. that will make a difference. but i know that we have smart, hard-working members who will do well in orange county. i feel very comfortable with mimi walters and ed royce and dana rohrabacher. while he had one of the closest races that we won in the country -- just over half a percentage point. he was the only race we had between zero and two points. everyone else won by more than two points. so we did not have a lot of close races. darrell issa was it, and he has certainly upped his game for this cycle. he will face the same person, and usually on a rematch it is harder for the challenger to win the second time if they did not win the first time, because people's images start to get baked in. mr. applegate, the challenger to
darrell issa will find that the concerns people had about him are the reasons he did not win in 2016 will also show through in 2018. i feel really comfortable in california. we have other states that we are focused in. in minnesota, for example. three of the best republicans republican seats not held by republican are up. we have a great candidate who raised $250,000 in the first quarter, from january to march. his dad was in congress. he is gemini and/or. -- jim agendorn. you can't deny that raising that kind of money in the first months makes him a good candidate, and he will continue on. they finally found a democrat to get into the race this week. a former state legislator, but i feel very good about our chances to pick up that.
every seat we pick up on offense raises the number the democrats need to win. when you talk about our big strategy, it is raise more money, expand the playing field on them. the nolan's seat is an example in minnesota. we will expand the playing field on them, force them to play defense, which means they cannot afford to play offense. if we can keep up the fundraising pace, which is all-time records in january, february, march and april, then we will be able to do that. i feel really good about how our simple plan is being executed and we are getting great candidates. we are expanding the playing field on them. i felt good about our opportunities. mr. bland: you mentioned you had record hauls for the first
several months of 2017, in large part because of speaker ryan. contributionss and transfers from his political apparatus to the rnc. why do you think donors -- what is driving donors to continue opening up their wallets to republicans and how do you ensure that that keeps up through the rest of this campaign season? mr. stivers: i think it is the republican agenda. we put up an agenda of american renewal that paul ryan port really hard on and it is driving people to support us. i see huge excitement among us, when they come out to vote, or when they send us a check, or decide to run for office. there is lots of kinds of enthusiasm. while democrats make a lot of hay about their enthusiasm, but enthusiasm, great too. turns out our enthusiasm has
been higher than theirs, and you cannot deny it because we have won the special elections and raised more money. mr. bland: in terms of some of these incumbents who are facing tough races for the first time, or have an in these situations before going in every two years , and knowing for the election cycle they will face a tough race, how do you feel they are dealing with the intense pressure of the crowded town halls in their districts? the phone calls to the offices? we have seen a few highly publicized incidents of candidates perhaps not reacting as you might hope. there was a congressman in new jersey who sent a letter to an employer complaining about employee protesting against him. obviously in montana and incident where commerce but elect -- congressman-elect gianforte was charged with assault against a journalist.
what advice are you giving to candidates to handle the intense interest in the agenda in politics right now? mr. stivers: there is an intense interest and a lot of emotion around what is going on in this country right now. that emotion is active on both sides. but it is our job as policy makers and elected representatives to keep our cool no matter what happens. my advice to all of our members is keep your head, keep your cool, work hard and represent your constituents. because if we do not keep our cool, we make mistakes. those will cost us at the ballot box and among the trust of our constituents. it is important to keep our cool. i was proud that greg gianforte made a direct apology to the reporter that he assaulted, and made a contribution to the
reporter's fund, or whatever the group that keeps freedom of journalism and support journalists out there. i thought that was a good gesture. i know he still has them legal consequences that have come as a result of what he did, which was wrong. but i feel like he is trying to do the right thing, and trying to apologize. he is apologizing and trying to make it as right as he can, and i hope he has learned his lesson. and i hope he has taught a lot of other people that we cannot lose our cool. people may lose their cool with us. many of our members have been subject to death threats, subject to violence. i had on twitter people threaten violence against me and my family. that is also inappropriate, and we need to bring back civility back to politics.
while i want to make sure my constituents to feel safe, i don't want to threaten them were reporters, i also think it is important that people not threaten their public servants. that is happening way too frequently. i have heard from too many members who have had threats of violence against them, their staff, their families. and so, i hope everybody will take a deep breath, and understand that while we may disagree about politics, that does not mean we should move to violence. ms. swain: let me follow up on the gianforte story. president trump continues his very vocal criticism on the mainstream media. i am wondering about tone-setting. how do you advise your candidates in the wake of what happened in montana to deal with the press specifically? mr. stivers: my advice to the candidates on dealing with the press is to treat people professionally, keep your cool,
and we do not have to answer any -- every question. if you don't have an answer to a question, you don't have to answer. folks can do what they want, and the freedom of the press is there. people can ask questions, people can say whatever they want. we may not always have answers, and that is ok, but there is no need to raise the tone or change the interaction in a negative way. i think almost all of our candidates have done a really good job. obviously, greg gianforte did something that was wrong and that has been well documented. i think he is trying to make right for it. i hope everybody will learn him and. ms. swain: we have two minutes left for closing questions. mr. wong: when will he be sworn into office? he is still dealing with legal issues. he has not been sworn in yet.
secondly, will the rnc continue to support him financially, meaning sending his campaign money for helping out in the ground in the general election? mr. stivers: i do not expect montana to be as competitive in 2018. we will see what could happen, there are a lot of things that could happen between now and 2018. but i do not expect montana to be a target district for us in 2018. it was a special election, which made it special, but it is not on our patriot list. i do not expect it to be on our patriot list. i think greg gianforte will get up here and be able to take care of his own district and do well. but that is not to say that anybody is abandoning him, it is just not a district that has been on our target list, nor do i expect it to be on the target list. frankly, if you look at the numbers he won the district by , about seven points, if you -- it was a pretty good win. the democratic bench is not
particularly strong, unless one of the other elected officials would decide to leave your office and run. we will see how montana plays out. there is a lot of time between now and then. i actually do not know the answer of when greg gianforte will be sworn in. out. i think it is within the next couple weeks, but since i don't know the answer, i will not pretend or make it up. i can get back with you on an exact date. it is not that the nrcc doesn't get involved in, when people are sworn in. it is the speaker. you need to certify the election results. i assume they are certified by now, i know there are official, but i don't know if they are certified. ms. swain: we are already over time. a very quick question. mr. bland: what is one district around the country that people should be looking at as a bellwether, an indication of
where the country is and what might happen in the election? mr. stivers: there is a democrat held seat that everyone to look at, is florida in the orlando area. the john mica seat. the florida 7th, i think. that is currently held by a democrat. we have got really good recruits in the pipeline. one of them, the one who seems to be holding the rest of the field up, has decided to wait because they have some things going on right now in their day job. but they are holding the field up. that is a good thing, that they can clear the field. we will know something from them shortly. that is a district i would pay close attention to that is held by a democrat.
i think of our seats, if you want to look at a bellwether, i would only be brian costello in suburban pennsylvania. pennsylvania ihe -- i think it is the pennsylvania 6th, but i could be wrong. he has been there for sometime now, and he is a great young member, a rising star, but he has a strong challenger. i would pay strong attention to that race. in order to take a majority back, they have to move beyond patriot races which is why i put , that on the list to watch. believen in florida, i the democrats are not taking back the majority. if they win in pennsylvania, against ryan costello, then they have a shot to take the majority. ms. swain: that is our time. 2018 will be an interesting year. please come back from time to time and tell us how things are going. mr. stivers: thank you.
ms. swain: after a conversation about politics in the was house of representatives with congressman steve stivers of ohio, the chairman of the national republican campaign committee, our reporters scott bland and scott wong, he said redistricting has made fewer and redistricting has made fewer and fewer races not competitive. what should people understand about the current state of really competitive seat in the house of representatives? mr. bland: i think the number of competitive districts have been shrinking for a long time, and it is partly because of polarization and self-sorting, and the way people have moved around the country. but it is also about how lines have been drawn around them, and particularly in 2010, 2011, 2012. the most recent round of redistricting republicans , controlled the process in the
most recent redrawing of districts. they got to draw districts that are just safe enough for more republicans than, say, the average vote across the state. in north carolina for example, it is a pretty evenly divided state. 10 or 13licans hold a advantage. you see that across the country. there are some places like illinois, but for the most part, republicans control more of the process. that has given them an advantage in terms of how the house landscape looks. ms. swain: the question was asked about the historical wave that follows a presidents first midterm election, which does not work in most incumbent presidents favor. from what we heard from the congressman about the democrats are saying about the upcoming race. mr. wong: the one line that stood out to me from mr. stivers
was that well we are energized , enough. i think he is saying that based on fundraising, they have had very strong fundraising months. they believe they have strong and tested candidates like darrell issa who did survive, he faced a difficult race in the past and did survive that race. only by about 1600 votes though. it will be interesting to see how some of these folks, who maybe did not or have not faced tough races in recent years, people like the appropriations chairman rodney for the highs and -- -- chairman from new jersey, who has coasted election after election. these will be people who are likely going to face a strong challenger for the first time in many, many cycles. and so that is where democrats think they have real pickup opportunities and a shot to take back the house. mr. bland: i think along those lines, it is interesting to hear
what chairman stivers is focused on right now. there is relatively little a person in his position can do to affect the political environment. he is focused on fundraising, making sure his committee and candidates are raising as much money as possible. trying to find candidates to run in some of those democratic held districts. he also talked about donald trump won the districts in 2016. basically not trying to worry too much about the overall feeling of the environment, because that is unstoppable. because that is unstoppable. there is not much of an individual member of congress can do about that. he sounds very focused on the blocking and tackling of the technical aspects of the job. ms. swain: and it is a year and a half away. a lifetime in politics. and the state of the trump administration will be of big factor that no one knows at this point out. one of the things that struck me was the conversation about death
death threats toward candidates, violence breaking out from time to time at town hall meetings. are the parties having difficult times recruiting candidates because of this? mr. wong: i do not think so. in some democratic districts people are lining up to run. there is a big recruitment push from the grassroots trying to find as many candidates as possible to encourage not only candidates, but female candidates to step up. we haven't seen that many female we haven't seen that many female candidates or female members of congress in the past. we are seeing in the donald we haven't seen that many female candidates or female members of congress in the past. we are seeing in the donald trump era a number of female candidates saying we want to run for office for the first time. in terms of the death threats and other threats to safety, unfortunately we have seen incidents. there was a death threat to
martha make sally in the tucson area of arizona. as you remember, that was the same seat that was held by gabby giffords who almost lost her life in a mass shooting incident in tucson several years ago. these are very serious issues, and all of them are being investigated by capitol police and other agencies. ms. swain: june has been a busy month for special elections. the next beta is june 20 -- big day is june 20. there is one particularly competitive one in georgia. thanks to both of your questions for the head of the house reelection committee. i appreciate your time. tonight, keep in day is in hyde park, new york at the franklin roosevelt presidential library and museum where we go inside for a rare look at fdr's personal office and collection of artifacts with the museum's re