The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan that aired Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, on "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: Michigan Congressman Peter Meijer is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump following the attack on the Capitol. Last Tuesday, he lost his primary race against a Trump-endorsed challenger. Congressman Meijer is with us this morning from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Good morning to Congressman. The person who won that primary is an election denier named John Gibbs, and he is backed by former President Trump. Why do you think Michigan Republicans favored him?
REP. PETER MEIJER: Well good morning, Margaret. And as you said, I lost my primary and that is on me. I take responsibility for that. But it's important to note that it wasn't just former President Trump, who was in this race, there was about a half million dollars that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in their first expenditures of the 2022 midterms dumped in to help boost him. So we had a scenario where not only did I have the former president aligned against me, but in a rare showing of bipartisan unity, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Campaign Committee, also united to try to knock me off the ballot. Now, this just highlights the cynicism and hypocrisy of our politics today. And frankly, it'll be unknowable what that ultimate impact was, but the fact that we have the establishment left and the extreme right locking arms in common cause paints a very telling picture of where our politics are in 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN" Right, what you're talking about there is an ad that the Democratic Congressional committee campaigns spent $325,000 on to boost Mr. Gibbs, which was almost as much as Gibbs spent on his entire campaign. That's what you're referring to, that's what our viewers are looking at right there. But do you think that ad really made a difference? I mean Democrats aren't voting in this primary, it's Republicans, why did Michigan Republicans fall for this ad?
REP. MEIJER: Well, you know, I think there is a clear question of agency here, of course, and at the end of the day, Republican voters are going to cast their votes as they see fit. I should note that this ad was not aimed at- was not playing on MSNBC, it was not playing in places where Democratic voters might see it, it was targeted in places to try to sway and convince Republican primary voters to try to give my primary challenger a boost up and over. And I should add that my defeat was by roughly 3%, out of over 100,000 votes cast, we lost by less than 4,000 votes, and I think that's important to remember, when you have very close elections like this. And obviously competing against very strong headwinds, having a Trump-endorsed challenger in a party where President Trump still holds over 75% approval. That a message of focusing on the substance of what I've been able to accomplish in office. I'm proud that our office is on track to set a record for the most number of bills signed into law by a freshman, that those type of accomplishments get lost in our current personality politics, get lost in a broader sense. And I think that is one of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country, and that is, frankly, frustrating Michigan families. We are dealing with a politics that does not reward substance that does not reward, you know, reality.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But does that mean--
REP. MEIJER: That focuses on rhetoric and personality above all else.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think Democrats are going to get what they paid for here? Right? I mean, they're betting that would be easier to defeat. Mr. Gibbs than you. Is your district going to go to a Democrat?
REP. MEIJER: It's important to note, this is a district that President Biden won in 2020 by roughly nine points, I was one of five Republicans running for reelection in seats where the- where President Biden won in the 2020 elections by eight or more points. And so while I think there was certainly a cynical calculus at play with the Democrats meddling, this is a risky strategy. It's a dangerous strategy. Where President Biden is in his approval is so in the gutter, that it is hard to see that strategy- it is easy to see that strategy backfiring in a spectacular way, which is all the more reason why we should not be embracing the zero-sum idea of politics. We should not be embracing this- this notion that if we can keep a problem alive, keep it festering, but be able to gain a marginal advantage in the process, that that somehow equates to a victory. I think it's a dark and cynical way of viewing our politics, that frankly, 48% of the electorate in the primary here rejected. They stood against that cynicism that they were focused on somebody who was working to deliver results.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your Republican colleague Liz Cheney is about to face a primary August the 16th in her state, former Vice President Dick Cheney, her father, released this video.
Former VP Dick Cheney (SOT): "In our nation's 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn't lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it. He knows it. And deep down I think most Republicans know it."
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Mr. Cheney right there because 57% of Republicans told CBS News, they're more likely to vote for a candidate who gets an endorsement from the former president. Is the former president, the leader of the Republican Party or the biggest threat to our nation's Republic?
REP. MEIJER: Well, I certainly think that President Trump wants to keep those numbers up. He wants that degree of influence, and I mentioned earlier the common cause between the extremes on the right, and the establishment left. Nancy Pelosi, I think she's waking up every day crossing her fingers that Donald Trump runs in 2024, that he announces well ahead of the midterms, because right now, the midterms are set to be a referendum on President Biden's leadership and Speaker Pelosi and many of my house Democratic colleagues do not want that. They want it to be a referendum on former President Trump and I think former President Trump wants that as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will be watching that primary. And Congressman, thank you for joining us today. We'll be right back.
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