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Sen. Cornyn: The GOP as the Minority Party

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

John Cornyn is a Republican senator from Texas. He joins us now on the line from Texas.

Senator, President Bush is quoted today saying, he is open to any suggestion on Iraq. You sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Do you have one?

Senator JOHN CORNYN (Republican, Texas): Well, I think the problem, Alex, has been that during the course of the campaign, clearly the Democrats' message of change has resonated. People definitely have anxiety about the course of our progress in Iraq.

But what's been missing is any alternative suggestion and I think that, so far, they've been successful and of course, in awakening the American people's concerns about Iraq, but without any plan. I think now is time for Ms. Pelosi and the Democratic leadership to come up with an alternative plan.

CHADWICK: Well, indeed, we haven't heard a focused clear voice from the Democrats on Iraq. Or we've heard several voices from the Democrats. No one message on Iraq. Indeed, now they are going to have to govern with you. And I just wonder what your expectations for that are.

Sen. CORNYN: Well, I certainly hope that we can accept what they are saying at face value, that they are interested in working together on a bipartisan basis. I've always felt like our national security was certainly more important than any election and any political party. And I hope that we can now, that our actions will demonstrate that.

One of the good things, I think, about Donald Rumsfeld's decision to step down and the president's appointment - or nomination, I should say, of Robert Gates is that Mr. Gates has served on the Iraq Study Committee along with Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton, the bipartisan group, that's been looking for pragmatic solutions to where we are in Iraq. So I hope that the nomination hearing will produce a lot of good information and ideas along the lines that we've been discussing.

CHADWICK: Do you expect to hold that hearing soon, Senator? That would be a hearing before your committee.

Sen. CORNYN: That's certainly my hope. That's a call for the chairman, John Warner, now, Carl Levin, the ranking member, at least through the end of this Congress. And I think America would be well served knowing that we have a secretary of defense confirmed and working daily on prosecuting the global war on terror rather than delaying the nomination hearing.

CHADWICK: Senator, in terms of the outcome of the election, do Republicans need to rethink their message to voters or is this simply - Iraq?

Sen. CORNYN: I think it was a combination of things - concerns about the complacency that the Republican majority had demonstrated some of the individual acts of corruption, which were very troubling, indeed and then, of course, I think notwithstanding the good economy, the fact that people were concerned about what the future was in Iraq and in prosecuting the global war on terror. I think it was a combination of those things.

CHADWICK: Senator John Cornyn from Texas.

Senator, thank you.

Sen. CORNYN: Thank you very much, Alex. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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