We cover both breaking stories today on The BradCast before settling in for a related, and at times, very lively, conversation with conservative icon Richard Viguerie about what the hell Republicans and 'conservatives' in the so-called Freedom Caucus are thinking at this point, as the GOP Civil War rages over control of the U.S. House and much more.
"I consider myself a conservative, not a Republican," Viguerie clarifies right off the bat. "I do operate in the Republican Party, but do consider myself a conservative, which is the case with many of my national conservative friends. They think of themselves as conservatives, not Republicans."
The 82-year old Viguerie is a legend amongst conservatives. He is regarded by many as the 'funding father' of the movement, thanks to his roll in the creation of direct mail political fund raising. He continues to play a very influential role among Republicans via his books --- such as Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It and Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause --- and the ConservativeHQ.com website, self-described as "the online news source for conservatives and Tea Partiers committed to bringing limited-government constitutional conservatives to power."
Right now, it seems, neither he nor the others at his Conservative HQ site are willing to agree to Ryan's newly issued demands to become the next Speaker. So, what are they and fellow Republicans thinking at this point?
Viguerie says he and those in the so-called Freedom Caucus are "looking for a fighter. The grassroots is white hot with anger at the silence and the ineptness of our supposed leaders out there. And that's what driving this problem with the House Speaker selection right now."
I did my best to press Viguerie on all matter of related issues, including whether he and his conservative compatriots support the U.S. Government defaulting on our loan payments for the first time in history, as may well be the case in the next several weeks if the "debt ceiling" is not raised and a budget is not passed to keep the government open and operating --- which, I tell him, seems very un-conservative to me!
His responses make clear that he is more than willing to take such gambles and has no intention of rolling over for those "Big Government Republicans" that he considers to have sold out the movement. He believes "we are heading towards a cliff," thanks to overspending and tells me that he is is willing to force spending cuts as "part of a deal" to raise the debt limit, even if that results in default or shutdown. "We need to have a conversation with the American people about our priorities."
On the hunt for a Presidential candidate, Viguerie insists: "Voters do not like establishment Republicans. They really do reject them across the board. When I talk to Republicans and they say 'we've got to beat Hillary', I say that's fine, I understand that, but if you nominate an establishment Republican --- a Chris Christie, a Jeb Bush type, a John Kasich --- you're going to lose. The people don't want an establishment Republican."
That's just a taste, of course, of what I'll call our very spirited conversation on all of the above and much more. Listen to the show below and let me know what you think in comments! Enjoy!...
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