Gov. Rendell: GOP Hurting Dems' Economic Efforts

Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., accused the Republic Party of sabotaging President Barack Obama's efforts to revive the economy for purely political reasons.
CBS
As midterm elections loom and the Democrats face possible defeats while unemployment remains high, Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., accused the Republic Party of sabotaging President Barack Obama's efforts to revive the economy for purely political reasons.

"The extension of unemployment benefits - the Republican Party almost to a person voted against it, cruelly voted against it," Rendell said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation. "On the bill to save teachers' and policemen's and firemen's jobs, except for Sen. [Olympia] Snowe and Sen. [Susan] Collins, the Republican Party voted against it. Who's trying to bring the economy back, and who's trying to stop it, I think, for purely political reasons?"

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie refuted those claims, saying conservatives cannot afford to let Obama and the Democrats saddle America with debilitating national debt.

"We need to put a check on President Obama and the Democratic Congress, not hand them a blank check," Gillespie said. "Those are the issues that will matter" in this year's elections.

"President Obama and this White House have created more debt in 20 months than President Bush in eight years. [There's also the issue of] unemployment of 9.5 percent - with 1.4 million Americans already out of the work force not even calculated into that - when they said it wouldn't go above 8 percent because of a trillion-dollar stimulus."

Current Democratic National Committee chairman and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine shot back.

"I chuckle to hear Ed Gillespie, part of the Bush administration, criticize Democrats about the deficit. A recent analysis by the New York Times showed that of the current deficit, 55% of it was caused by Bush administration policy, 33% caused by the economic climate, and only 10% caused by decisions that President Obama has made since he's been in office," Kaine said. "The good news is that the president has said 'I'm going to do what the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton, did - I'm going to get control of the deficit.' So he's cut domestic spending and frozen discretionary spending, they're making strategic cuts to defense. He's got a deficit commission working that the Republicans tried to block. The only party that's ever done anything about the deficits is the Democratic party in recent years. If you want to fight deficits, don't put the Republicans back in. They'll blow it sky-high."

Gillespie insisted that the deficit and the economy will be the main issues in this year's elections, but Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer noted that the Republicans have fielded some "unusual candidates" and "people who have taken very extreme views on things.

"The senate race up there in Connecticut, where you have Linda McMahon, who is formerly, or maybe she is still, part of the World Wrestling Federation [now called the World Wrestling Entertainment], formerly an executive to that, she winds up as the Republican candidate up there."

Schieffer then showed footage of McMahon kicking an opponent during a WWE wrestling match.

Gillespie defended McMahon's candidacy.

"You can also show the footage of President Obama when he was running for president appearing on WWE, calling out the voters there and saying, 'Can you smell what Barack is cooking?'" Gillespie said. "So clearly, not so long ago, President Obama and the Democrats thought the WWE was a great place to go to talk to voters. Linda McMahon, like a lot of Republican candidates around the country, is not an establishment politician, not someone who's a career Washington figure, not someone who is a conventional candidate. And this is a good year, by the way, for that."

Schieffer also noted "Democrats have their share of candidates that some of the other Democrats might think are rather embarrassing to have on the ticket this year. Charlie Rangel being one name that comes to mind."

Kaine said it is McMahon and the Republicans' positions are certainly extreme.

"It's not just Linda McMahon, but Rand Paul, who said that the Civil Rights Act shouldn't have been passed. It's Republicans all over the country who are attacking social security, calling it a Ponzi scheme, saying it needs to be privatized. The Republicans are putting up a whole series of extreme candidates that are way outside the mainstream of what Americans want."

Schieffer asked Gillespie one more time whether McMahon is a good candidate.

"I think she has a great shot to win in the Connecticut Senate race, because the voters are making a decision based on which of the two candidates will go to Washington to try to change what's going on in terms of record deficits," Gillespie said.