[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/30/intv.mccarthy.art.jpg caption= "Rep. Kevin McCarthy says the Republican Party needs to grow and welcome new people."]
President Obama has continually promised to reach across the aisle to pass legislation. But the first 100 days of his presidency were spent mostly at odds with Republicans. The president delivered a bipartisan appeal at a news conference last night marking his first 100 days in office.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a deputy minority whip in the House, says the Republican Party needs to grow and welcome new people. He also blames President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not living up to their bipartisan promises. Rep. McCarthy joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.
Kiran Chetry: The president said again last night that his bipartisan efforts have been genuine. Do you think he has lived up to the bipartisan pledge over the past 100 days?
Kevin McCarthy: Unfortunately, no... We invited this president early on when he first got elected to our conference to have a bipartisan talk and work on the stimulus bill. Where Republicans actually put together a working group, gave him a list of ideas, even scored and measured it based upon his economic drivers, which has created twice as many jobs with half the money and not one idea was taken.
Chetry: Is it more the fault of the president or more the fault of the congressional leadership in the House?
McCarthy: I fault more the congressional leadership in the House because as the president was speaking to our conference, the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was introducing the stimulus bill to deny the ability for bipartisanship to even work within the House. And I think that's detrimental in the long run.
Chetry: Nancy Pelosi gave some advice to the GOP in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter's party switch.
“Yes there is a - shall we say a radical right-wing element with whom they identify. But by and large, I say to Republicans in America, take back your party.”
Chetry: What do you make of getting advice from the House speaker, the Democrat, of what you guys should do?
McCarthy: Look, I look to a lot of people to get advice, but that's not one of the first people I look to. I think this party has a lot of play places to grow. That's one reason why we're unveiling today the National Council for a New America. We’re going on a tour across America, getting out of Washington, listening to Americans to be able to solve this economic recovery, to define a 21st century patient-centered health care, to prepare our children for the 21st century as well. That's the way you're going to see this party grow, and listening, and build. Finding solutions to our problems. I think that brings this Republican Party back more than anything.
Chetry: There seems to be an internal debate. Lindsey Graham said, “We are not losing blue states and shrinking as a party because we're not conservative enough… If we pursue a party that has no place for someone who agrees with me 70% of the time, that is based on an ideological purity test rather than a coalition test, then we are going to keep losing.” Do you agree with him? And if so, how do you change that?
McCarthy: I agree that this party needs to grow. This party needs to be open and welcome new people in to it. We can maintain our philosophy and be able to grow and add people to it as much as Ronald Reagan was able to do. And what you see, remember, six years ago, this is exactly where the Democratic Party was. This president ran for Congress and lost in a primary by 30% where his own party wouldn't even elect him to Congress and now he's president of the United States. We've got an opportunity here. People may think the cup is empty. I think it's half full. This is a time that new leaders rise up, new ideas form, solutions are able to grow. I think this is a time when you’re going to look back and say this is where the party shifted and this is where the party was able to grow. The new Council for a New America is one of the first starts we listen to the American people to find solutions.