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June 27th, 2012
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Sen. Johnson (R-Wis.): Immigration comes down to better securing borders, says hopes SCOTUS overturns health care so we can 'start over'

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court is going to rule on President Obama's health care law. The House is planning on holding a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. And there is also ongoing debate on the President's executive order to allow some young immigrants to stay in the U.S. without the threat of deportation.

All these issues are simmering around the country as a new poll shows the presidential race is as tight as ever. In a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 50% of people living in those 11 battle ground states prefer President Obama, while 42% back Mitt Romney.

How will voters view these issues?

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a Romney campaign surrogate, weighs in on the anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, saying that he hopes the high court throws the law out.

"The cleanest decision would be to totally...rule the entire law unconstitutional," Sen. Johnson says. "Then we can start over with an open debate and a step-by-step approach. Republicans are not going to be putting forward a 2,700 page bill, another 12,000 pages of rules and regulations. We're going to take a look at the individual issues. And debate openly."

Johnson also responds to Soledad's challenge as to why Mitt Romney hasn't taken a firm position on immigration. He says it's all about border control.

"First of all, Soledad, this is a very difficult issue," Sen. Johnson says. "What Arizona is trying to do is it's basically trying to address a problem that President Obama and the federal government has basically abdicated their responsibility on. These are very serious issues. They are difficult issues."

He adds, "President Obama said during his campaign that this was such an important issue that he was going to handle the immigration problem in his first year. He has done nothing on it. He certainly has done nothing to secure our borders, which is the first step. And that's a real problem. Because we're not going to solve our immigration issue until we secure our borders."

See his clip with his comments on immigration below. Transcript after the jump.

OBRIEN: It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us this morning. Appreciate your time. Not only that poll is new. There's also a poll that takes a look at - it breaks down sort of the voters, and if you look at African- Americans, no surprise, President Obama is leading significantly, 92 percent to 1 percent for Mitt Romney.

If you look at women, President Obama is leading 52 percent to 39 percent for Mitt Romney. Voters who are relatively young, 18 to 29, 52 percent to 35 percent for Mitt Romney. Independents, a little bit more of a squeaker there, 40 percent to 36 percent. Really technically neck and neck because there's a sampling error of plus or minus 6 percent. When you look at these polls in total, tell me what the strategy is to try to get, you know, a little more play on the map there.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I think any American that's concerned about having a job or any American that's concerned about the mountain of debt that we heaped on the backs of our children and grandchildren, and really mortgaging the future, I think those people look at Governor Romney and say, here's somebody who will be a leader and actually start addressing the problem. You know, actually propose solutions to save Social Security and Medicare.

And I think that's what basically the message and the campaign that Governor Romney I think will be running.

O'BRIEN: Do you think that the about immigration, even though we have been having a lot of conversations this week, certainly - do you think they are irrelevant (AUDIO BREAK) Carlos Gutierrez, who is a spokesperson for the campaign yesterday, and we kind of went at it. I couldn't get a straight answer from him.

I'm going to play a little chunk and I'm going to ask you a question on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Does Mitt Romney support SB-1070, yes or no?

CARLOS GUTIERREZ, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Soledad, it's a little bit more complicated. Let me just say this.

O'BRIEN: It's not. It's not.

GUTIERREZ: No. What the governor has said, and he made a statement yesterday, he supports the rights of border states to do what they have to do according to the law to protect their borders.

O'BRIEN: And does that - and does that include stopping and detaining anyone and checking the immigration status of that person if they have reasonable suspicion if the person is in the country illegally? I'm not just sparring with you, sir. As you know, this is the critical, central, most controversial portion of this bill. And Governor Romney has not said if he supports it or not.

GUTIERREZ: But this is not about Governor Romney.

O'BRIEN: It is if he wants to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Why is it so hard to articulate his position on immigration?

JOHNSON: First of all, Soledad, this is a very difficult issue. And what Arizona is trying to do is it's basically trying to address a problem that President Obama and the federal government has basically abdicated their responsibility on. These are very serious issues. They are difficult issues.

And President Obama said during his campaign that this was such an important issue that he was going to handle the immigration problem in his first year. He has done nothing on it. He certainly has done nothing to secure our borders, which is the first step. And that's a real problem. Because we're not going to solve our immigration issue until we secure our borders.

And this is much more than just immigration issue. It's a national security issue as well, as people can come into this country, people that threaten this country, because we've refused to secure our borders.

HOOVER: You know, Soledad, I wonder if Senator Johnson and the Romney campaign actually look at the numbers, seeing how close they are, and knowing we are not even to July yet, Mitt Romney hasn't garnered the Republican nomination yet. The majority of Americans who are going to be voting in November haven't gotten to know Mitt Romney yet, and whether they take a little bit of hope from the numbers that - thinking that maybe when they get to know Mitt Romney then they'll have a more informed opinion that maybe the disparity, since it is so close, is just because they don't know the candidate yet.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You asked what is the strategy? I'd offer to you, "The Wall Street Journal" wrote yesterday that Senator Johnson's existence is in fact a strategy. That the Republicans can go into what have been reliably Democratic states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota and hope to make up ground.

Now, I don't know if that's true or not. But Senator Johnson's office, that he exists and holds it, might be evidence of that.

FUGELSANG: I'd like to ask Senator Johnson. Good morning, sir. John Fugelsang here.

When you consider that the president has sent National Guard troops to the border, has a record number of deportations, and last April we found out that America has had a net zero increase of illegal immigrants, whereas the governor hasn't yet taken a stance on this controversial topic, how does the governor claim he is taking leadership more than the president on this issue?

JOHNSON: First of all, we have seen reports that border agents aren't able or have been discouraged from actually reporting the true extent of the problem on the borders in terms of not actually enforcing the borders.

FUGELSANG: Net zero increase in illegal immigration as of April.

JOHNSON: That's because our economy is in such dire straits that there aren't the jobs here to attract the illegal immigrants.

FUGELSANG: So Bush gets credit.

JOHNSON: These are serious issues, but it has to start first with border enforcement. And this administration really has been terrible in terms of actually trying to secure our borders. And that's where it first starts.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the Supreme Court expected to rule on health care. We are expecting that at 10:00 tomorrow morning.

Give me the hypotheticals on this. Let's say in fact that it's shot down. What happens next?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, that's obviously what I'm hoping. The cleanest decision -

O'BRIEN: We know.

JOHNSON: The cleanest decision would be to totally, you know, rule the entire law unconstitutional, and then we can start over with an open debate and a step-by-step approach. Republicans are not going to be putting forward a 2,700 page bill, another 12,000 pages of rules and regulations. We're going to take a look at the individual issues. And debate openly.

And let's face it. The greatest impediment to access to health care is the cost. And this president promised if we enacted his health care law, the average cost for a family plan would decrease by $2,500 per year. It's actually up by over $2,000 per year. That's making it more difficult for families to access care.

And so, you need to reintroduce the free market disciplines into health care, and you start with some common sense tort reforms so that we can get rid of the huge costs of malpractice and defense of medicine.

O'BRIEN: There are lots of people I think who think that the individual mandate is not such a great idea. But there are people who are very beholden to the idea of covering people with pre-existing conditions, with the cost of keeping the premiums for elderly people.

How much of a political hit will you take if it looks like Republicans are responsible, that's a big if, for killing this bill? I think that people who want their pre-existing conditions covered, that could be some kind of leverage in an election year, don't you think?

JOHNSON: The way you handle pre-existing conditions is how you do it in Wisconsin with the high risk pool. In Wisconsin, in the state of Wisconsin, 95 percent of the population either has coverage or has access to coverage, whether they decide to alas access it or not.

Wisconsin did not need a federal solution. We didn't need 2,700 pages. And I think this is far better left to the states on the individual basis to figure out what is the best way of handling people with pre-existing conditions.

You can't just force insurance companies to take all comers or you will bankrupt those insurance companies. And, by the way, individuals would never buy health care. I mean, why would you, if you can wait until you're basically on the way to the hospital?

So that's a system that doesn't work. And Democrats that passed the health care law even admitted that covering everybody with pre- existing conditions with no penalties does not work without the individual mandate, which I believe is unconstitutional, and I hope that's the way the Supreme Court rules.

O'BRIEN: We will see how the Supreme Court is going to rule and maybe we'll get a chance to talk about it tomorrow again, sir. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican from the state of Wisconsin. Nice to have you with us. Appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Have a good day.


Filed under: 2012 Race • Health care • Immigration • Politics
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