Ronald Kessler: Tea Party Now 'Conscience' of Congressional Republicans

Monday, 03 Jan 2011 07:12 PM

By Jim Meyers and Ashley Martella

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Newsmax’s chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler says it’s not “in Obama’s DNA” to move more to the center following big Republican gains in the midterm elections.

He also asserts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “has blinders on” regarding the wishes of most Americans, calls the tea party movement the “conscience” of congressional Republicans, and doubts that Sarah Palin can win the White House in 2012.

Kessler is a New York Times best-selling author whose latest book is “In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.” His next book, about the FBI, is due out in August.

In an interview with Newsmax.TV, Kessler was asked what Republicans’ priorities will be in the next session of Congress now that they have won the House.

Story continues below.


“Number one, they’re going to try to pass a bill to repeal the healthcare law,” Kessler responds.

“Of course Obama will veto it and the Senate probably would not pass it, so it’s largely a symbolic gesture. But in addition they’re going to be going after the healthcare bill by trying to take away the appropriations, change regulations. That is priority number one.

“Secondly, they’re going to be coming up with ways to reduce spending. They’ll be coming up with proposals in fact every week, and other measures to try to create more jobs, including getting rid of regulations, creating more certainty. That would be the beginning of the new Congress.”

Kessler believes the GOP vanguard will be apprehensive of the new freshman class on Congress, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.

“They certainly are looking over their shoulders at those more conservative new members, as well as tea party members,” he says.

“The tea party movement is really serving as a conscience of Republicans in Congress now.”

He also believes Harry Reid will find it more difficult to advance his leftist agenda, “but I don’t think that’s going to stop him. He clearly, like Nancy Pelosi, has blinders on.

“He has no regard for the wishes of the American people overall, and as a result I think they’re going to be dinosaurs.”

Asked if he thinks Obama will take a cue from Bill Clinton, who moved his presidency more to the center following big GOP gains in 1994, Kessler tells Newsmax: “I don’t. I don’t think it’s in Obama’s DNA to become more centrist whatsoever.

“I think he’s so out of touch with the American people, as we saw with him expressing support for [football star] Michael Vick, who killed innocent animals. That is the real Obama, and you’re going to see that continue for the rest of his term.”

Assessing the president’s performance on national security, Kessler says:

“On one hand Obama is doing a very good job in killing terrorists with predators. On the other hand his equivocating about Gitmo, his letting war detainees out — and 25 percent of them return to terrorism — his policy of prosecuting former CIA people who were just doing interrogations that were approved by the Justice Department, all this undercuts morale and creates the perception that Obama is not really serious about pursuing the war on terror.”

Following the acquittal of Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Ghailani on most charges in a civilian court, the Obama administration will likely give up on trying terror suspects in civilian courts and instead will either detain them indefinitely at Gitmo, or eventually try them in military courts, Kessler maintains, adding: “I don’t think Obama will ever close Gitmo because there’s simply no way to do it.”

Asked about potential Republican presidential candidates in 2012, Kessler says: “Mitt Romney almost always shows up at number one in the polls, but he doesn’t seem to connect very well with the American people, at least so far.

“But he is certainly one possibility. I think he would stand the best chance of getting the most independents, even Democrats, to vote for him.

“He’s been so successful in his career, I would not count him out. I think he’s probably got a few tricks up his sleeve.”

As for Mike Huckabee, he raised taxes as governor of Arkansas and “that would be a strike against him among conservatives. I just don’t know if he would get enough support nationwide to make it.”

And Kessler said about Sarah Palin: “She’s great to listen to, but I think when you actually talk to people in the conservative movement, there’s hardly one leader who thinks she should be president.

“You see that in the polls. You see the unfavorable rating that she has, which is pretty startling. So I hope she continues to be a champion of the conservative cause. But being president, I don’t see it.”


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