Alabama Republicans And Roy Moore "People are fed up with the ruling class in Washington," says conservative commentator Ed Martin. He offers NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro his thoughts on the state of the GOP.
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Alabama Republicans And Roy Moore

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Alabama Republicans And Roy Moore

Alabama Republicans And Roy Moore

Alabama Republicans And Roy Moore

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"People are fed up with the ruling class in Washington," says conservative commentator Ed Martin. He offers NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro his thoughts on the state of the GOP.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Alabama Republican Party is standing by Senate candidate Roy Moore despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers. And that's putting them at odds with party leaders in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Ed Martin is a commentator and the president of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, a conservative interest group. And he joins me now. Welcome to the program.

ED MARTIN: Thank you, Lulu. Good to be with you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So your position on Roy Moore, sir?

MARTIN: Well, I - you know, I worked for Phyllis Schlafly, the late Phyllis Schlafly, and, Lulu, she used to talk a lot about lessons learned. And one lesson that she learned twice - and I did, too - was to be a candidate. She ran for Congress twice, lost both times. I ran for office twice, once for Congress, once for attorney general in Missouri, and lost. And she used to joke and say when you lose, you learn a lot. But what you know in politics, if you really know politics, is with 40 days left in an election, when things come out in a way that are sort of systemic - and they have a tendency to be, what I've said on the air and other places, a good, old-fashioned political hit. And so while I share the phrase - I think it's an important phrase. I have no reason to doubt the women that have come forward and said something because I don't know them. I don't know them. I don't have any factual...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So it doesn't matter what they say, then? It's not that you don't believe them, but you...

MARTIN: It does matter what they say. But it matters what they say - I also have no reason to disbelieve Roy Moore, who I do know a little bit. And what I do know most is in politics, when you watch a campaign 40 days out, very heated - very unpopular man, Roy Moore, with the powers that be, it kind of rolled out like a political hit. And my point is, as the president has said, let the people of Alabama decide. And, you know, if it's good enough for Senator Menendez to be allowed to have a trial in court and then have an ethics committee hearing...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But that was over allegations of corruption, which is not the same as the sexual assault...

MARTIN: No, I think it's...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Of a 14-year-old girl. It's different.

MARTIN: Well, I...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to ask you...

MARTIN: But wait a second. Wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...But sir...

MARTIN: Wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I...

MARTIN: Well, wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Want...

MARTIN: Wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...To...

MARTIN: Wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Ask...

MARTIN: Wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...You, why run with a...

MARTIN: Wait a second. Wait...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Tainted candidate, though? I mean, why - you know, why run with him? What...

MARTIN: Wait a second. Wait a second.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...What does he bring to the race?

MARTIN: To be clear, Menendez - the factual allegations on Menendez include bribery and all kinds of sexual misconduct, you know - maybe it consensual. But again, the allegation about something happening 40 days before - my point is I don't have any reason to doubt the woman, but I don't have any reason to doubt Roy Moore. And here's the thing - the people should decide. And then the double standard is incredible - that Al Franken confesses to sexual assault, and he's told, we'll look at that in an ethics committee hearing...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Senator Al Franken acknowledged a problem, acknowledged that he did it. He apologized and is calling for an ethics investigation.

MARTIN: Right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You can agree or disagree on whether that is enough. But I'd like to return to the GOP.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have framed Roy Moore as a sort of populist and this - and he represents this insurgency. You told The New York Times people are fed up with the ruling class in Washington and their attitude...

MARTIN: Yep.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...We know better than you do. And then you said, they think we're barbarians, and we're here at the gate. How are you going to...

MARTIN: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Convince people, GOP voters, interest groups in Washington, persuadable Democrats that you're not barbarians, that, actually, you are representing the real will of the people?

MARTIN: Well, I mean, you're seeing - you see the changing - good thing about politicians is they change when they see the change needed. And so what you see is the Republican Party, as recent as two years ago, when I was just finishing a term on the RNC - there was no one there, no one except maybe three or four of us that believed the party should be against amnesty for illegals, against trade deals. And now the party is almost a hundred percent, so they turn their - they change their positions, modify their positions when they have to. If you notice the Republican Party in the race, the primary race, 17 candidates - all 17 embraced those positions. You even notice that the Democrats changed a little bit on that. So the fact is that politics is hard and tough and rough and tumble. I will say one thing. I'm not from Alabama, so I don't have a great stake in what Alabamans know for what they want. But I am a sort of - I'm from Missouri, and I know that every state will come up - you know, Chuck Schumer is representing New York and pretty well, I mean, in terms of his energy. And so I think we have to see. And that's the beauty of it. But by the way -

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let me...

MARTIN: ...The key thing I will tell you - and this is very important because I think might agree on this - I object wholeheartedly to things like the tax bill that's being shoved down the American people's throats. And I disagree with the president when he says it's a good bill. I disagree. I think the president's being misled by Paul Ryan. It's a terrible thing to do...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We have...

MARTIN: ...And it's a disaster.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We have a few more seconds.

MARTIN: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly - you mention President Trump being misled. I'm curious - where does President Trump fit into these two wings of the party? Is he the leader of this new wing of barbarians - using your words here - that you were seeking to put in control? We've got 20 seconds.

MARTIN: Yeah. I think he's - yes, I think he is the leader of our party. I think he's become the Republican Party and on key positions, especially. And we'll see the future. It's going to be - he's not the end of the conversation. But he's a big part of the leadership.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. That's Ed Martin, president of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. Thank you very much for joining us.

MARTIN: Thank you, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF FALSO LEBLON SONG, "CAETANO VELOSO")

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