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August 31st, 2012
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'Presidential race comes down to capitalism vs. collectivism' – Fmr. GOP Sen. Candidate O'Donnell tells Soledad O'Brien in feisty exchange

Is the big question of the 2012 presidential race who can best lead the country, or does it come down to which candidate's economic philosophy will win over voters?

On "Starting Point" this morning, Christine O'Donnell, fmr. Republican Senate Candidate from Delaware, discusses this point in a heated debate over the role of government, and also reflects on Mitt Romney's speech before the convention.

"Governor Romney wasn't negative against Obama," O'Donnell says. "He talked about Obama's mistakes, but he didn't attack President Obama. And I thought that that was a very gentlemanly, very diplomatic way to demonstrate the two contrasts between our two candidates. It's capitalism versus collectivism. And collectivism has failed."

Soledad challenges O'Donnell on her point about collectivism, and asks if O'Donnell thinks the Democrats represent communism.

"No. The two different tracks that America is on, restoring a truly authentic, benevolent free market where the entrepreneur can flourish, and the hard work is what creates the jobs that [Romney] promised. As opposed to the collective whole where half your paycheck goes to the government, and they give you everything, and that kind of punitive tax code that snuffs out the individual entrepreneur spirit that has made the American dream," O'Donnell says.

She adds, "I do want to clarify. I didn't say the Democrats are communists. I did not use that phrase. I don't want people to misunderstand what I'm saying. But if you look at the policies that are coming out of this administration, not all Democrats but this administration, we are definitely headed into the direction of more government control. President Obama, himself, has said that he wants to nationalize more of the private sector. And that's not what America is all about. That is not the American dream. The American dream isn't to have a car and to have a house. The American dream is that if you work hard, and you save, and you prepare for the future, and you put the next generation ahead of yourself, you can earn a car and earn a house."

Soledad and O'Donnell then entered into a feisty discussion over whether government investment in infrastructure and in the private sector amounts to communism. O'Donnell continues to explain her point.

"I'm saying these words, redistribute the wealth, economic equality, are buzz words that our president, our own president, has used. And the problem that there is history, there's quantifiable data, to prove that these buzz words, this economic philosophy that he's touting, does not work," O'Donnell says.

Read the entire exchange in the transcript below.

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Christine O'Donnell is a former Republican Senate candidate from Delaware. She’s also the producer of the Troublemaker Fest that took place here at the exact same time in Tampa. Nice to have you with us.

CHRISTINE O’DONNELL, FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you.

O’BRIEN: - highlights and lowlights of the speech last night.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL: No.

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL: For me, the highlights were watching the family afterwards, watching the kids chase the balloons. There was such an innocence and an excitement. And at one point, Mrs. Romney was trying to corral the grandkids, and it was such an honest moment. And it was just beautiful to sit there and watch and absorb it. And I think, at least for me, and hopefully, the voters got the same feeling that grownups are in charge now. You know, the grownups are here, and it was just a wonderful moment.

O’BRIEN: Do you think that there was anything missing in that speech? What did not -

O’DONNELL: No.

O’BRIEN: - deliver?

O’DONNELL: No. I think that he was - what was missing was actually a good thing. He wasn't - or Governor Romney wasn't negative against Obama. He talked about Obama's mistakes, but he didn't attack President Obama.

And I thought that that was a very gentlemanly, very diplomatic way to demonstrate the two contrasts between our two candidates. It's capitalism versus collectivism. And collectivism has failed.

O’BRIEN: So, you're saying that the Republicans represent capitalism, and the Democrats represent collectivism or communism?

O’DONNELL: No. The two different tracks that America is on, restoring a truly authentic, benevolent free market where the entrepreneur can flourish, and the hard work is what creates the jobs that he promised as opposed to the collective whole where half your paycheck goes to the government, and they give you everything, and that kind of punitive tax code that snuffs out the individual entrepreneur spirit that has made the American dream.

O’BRIEN: So, Congressman Chaffetz, she’s describing the Democrats as communists. You're saying collectivism. That's communism. And you're saying - do you believe that's true?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I wouldn't word it like that. I think we have two different visions. I wouldn't phrase it exactly like that. But I do believe there are two divergent approaches. Do we want to believe in bigger government, more government? Barack Obama has supported a budget that never balances.

There are 143,000 additional federal workers on the federal payroll since President Obama took office. I just think, fundamentally, he believes that government is more of the solution, where I think a candidate Romney believes that we're going to have to have - there's a proper role for government, but it's a limited role of government.

O’DONNELL: And I do want to clarify. I didn't say the Democrats are communists. I did not use that phrase. I don't want people to misunderstand what I'm saying. But if you look at the policies that are coming out of this administration, not all Democrats, but this administration, we are definitely headed into the direction of more government control.

President Obama, himself, has said that he wants to nationalize more of the private sector. And that's not what America is all about. That is not the American dream. The American dream isn't to have a car and to have a house.

The American dream is that if you work hard, and you save, and you prepare for the future, and you put the next generation ahead of yourself, you can earn a car and earn a house.

O’BRIEN: I think Democrats would say that's their message as well.

O’DONNELL: Absolutely. That's why I said -

O’BRIEN: It sounds like you're calling the administration then that collectivism is another word for communism, right?

O’DONNELL: Coming from President Obama's own mouth are some of these statements. When he says redistribute the wealth. This is what is turning off so many independent voters and so many common sense Democrats. When they’re taking a closer look at what the two candidates have to offer.

And you don't need stats or professional economists to tell you that gas prices have doubled under this administration. Grocery prices have risen.

O’BRIEN: And at the same time, the administration has put a lot of money into the private sector, right? So, if you're heading toward communism, you would not be doing that. You would be taking over. I mean, my mother is Cuban, right? So, I can talk a lot about communism to you. I know a lot about it.

O’DONNELL: Right, right.

O’BRIEN: So, I would say, if you're putting money into the private sector, which has been done -

O’DONNELL: You're putting government dollars into the private sector, and that’s -

(CROSSTALK)

O’BRIEN: - so it can flourish.

O’DONNELL: It's nationalizing these private businesses.

O’BRIEN: But that that is not nationalizing. If you - I spent this week while everybody was here. I was walking along, you know, levees, right, that have been built with federal money, to protect oil companies, to protect companies in the Gulf Coast.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL: There's a role for the federal government. Just as congressman -

O’BRIEN: But that's not nationalizing.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL: That's infrastructure. We were supposed to build infrastructure. We’re supposed to take care of state-to-state transportation.

(CROSSTALK)

O’BRIEN: - is a path to communism giving people healthcare ?

O’DONNELL: I didn't say that. When we talk about healthcare, we’re missing a point. The problem with healthcare is we need to address the cost. We need -

O’BRIEN: - which people would say the ACA is doing. So, when you talk about nationalizing something, and you're really taking sort of the words that they use in Cuba, frankly, communism. I mean, really.

O’DONNELL: I'm talking about - you're saying that the words they use in cuba are coming from President Obama.

O’BRIEN: Oh, certainly not. You're saying that.

O’DONNELL: I'm saying these words, redistribute the wealth, economic equality, are buzz words that our president, our own president, has used. And the problem that there is history, there's quantifiable data, to prove that these buzz words, this economic philosophy that he's touting, does not work. They sound noble and they sound appealing.

O’BRIEN: - economic philosophy meaning what? Are you saying - you sound like you're saying you think the president is a communist.

O’DONNELL: That's not what I'm saying.

O’BRIEN: Economic philosophy, right? What do you mean by that?

O’DONNELL: When he says tax the wealthy, it's only fair, you have to look at -

O’BRIEN: - get rid of tax cuts for the wealthy. When you look under other people's proposals, and Mitt Romney and other - when we looked during the primary, there are plenty of people who would - at the tax center, for example, who would say the middle class, actually, is hurt more by what Governor Romney proposes.

O’DONNELL: That's not true -

O’BRIEN: They do, absolutely.

O’DONNELL: These principles of lower taxes, lower regulation, and cutting government spending. When those three are coupled together, they work, whether it's a Democrat -

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL: These principles work whether it's a Democrat such as Kennedy and Clinton who’s implementing them, and they don't work when it's a - even when it's a Republican, such as Nixon and Bush, who are violating them. So, there are basic economic principles on which the American economy was established and built.

Both parties have strayed from these, and it's going to take a radical ideological reawakening to get back and fix the American economy.

O’BRIEN: Is Mitt Romney the radical ideological reawakening?

O’DONNELL: I am not saying that Governor Romney is that. Again, you're putting words in my mouth.

O’BRIEN: I'm just asking questions.

O’DONNELL: That's what it's going to take. It’s going to take drastic cuts.

RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER": If Mitt Romney won - if he wins, would you -

O’DONNELL: I can't hear you. I'm sorry.

LIZZA: If Mitt Romney wins, would you serve in his administration if asked, and if so, what kind of job would you be interested in?

O’DONNELL: I don't think that's even an appropriate question. Right now, we got to make sure that it's when Governor Romney wins.

LIZZA: So, when he wins, would you serve in his administration if he asks?

O’DONNELL: Are you in a position to offer jobs?

(LAUGHTER)

LIZZA: I'm asking you as a Republican who endorsed him -

O’DONNELL: Well, who knows? I mean, that's asking what I'm going to do with my life in the next year, and it depends on what happens in this country. And I'm going to go where I'm best need. And it might be to continue to play a pundit role. It might be in Washington. Who knows?

LIZZA: Would you serve in the Romney administration if he asks?

O’DONNELL: I don't know. I don't know. I want to go where I'm called to go. And who knows?

O’BRIEN: Christine O'Donnell, nice to have you with us.

O’DONNELL: Thank you, Soledad.


Filed under: 2012 Race • Politics
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Tom

    Now did Ms O'Brien have a cheat sheet from a liberal blog on the desk in front of her again? It's almost as bad (but not quite) as Pierce Morgan's "questions" to DNC speakers tonight. At the RNC, he did "grill" Mayor Gulianni at the grill. Tonight, it was a true love fest. Not a single solitary argumentative or even slightly negative question to a single Democrat tonight. What gives, CNN? Are you all that in the tank that you think you can't ask hard questions. Let Wolf, John King and Anderson at them. At least they aren't afraid to ask tough questions, regardless of party. I have no idea what policitcal persuasion any of them are, because as true journalists, they don't let it taint their reporting. The same can not be said of Ms. O'Brien or Mr. Morgan. Too bad, because it taints CNN as well.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse | Reply

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