Bob Inglis: A Republican Swamped By The GOP Wave The GOP wave swept dozens of Democrats out of Congress -- and just a couple of Republicans. The most prominent was South Carolina's Bob Inglis, who tells host Guy Raz why he thinks the conservative movement has been hijacked and jokes about what it feels like to be "chairman of the local losers club."

Bob Inglis: A Republican Swamped By The GOP Wave

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GUY RAZ, host:

Now, a study in contrast to Grayson is easily South Carolina Republican Bob Inglis. He was defeated by another Republican in the primary who accused Inglis of not being sufficiently conservative. And that ended his second stint in Congress. Inglis also served in the 1990s. He's just one of two House Republicans who've gone on the record to say they believe in the science of climate change.

Representative BOB INGLIS (Republican, South Carolina): It's a small fraternity. We call it a Teddy Roosevelt fraternity. The idea is that I don't know what happened, someone - something funny happened on the way to the play -is the, you know, the party of Teddy Roosevelt is the party of conservation. We should be defining that as conservatism.

But, you know, people like my dad who's 87 in Bluffton, South Carolina, he's a conservative, you know. He was into hypermiling before hypermiling was cool. He used to tell, now if you're driving past (unintelligible) let off the gas, we're going to coast out a driveway, don't wear out the break linings, don't burn out the gas. That's conservatism.

Somewhere along the way, conservative became, no, I'm going to drive my suburban to wherever I want to and I got a God-given right to oil. And when it runs out or we need to fight the Chinese for it, I'll send somebody else's kids to die in the Middle East.

RAZ: Has conservative also come to mean that one must call the president a socialist? Something that you refuse to do.

Rep. INGLIS: Yeah. Really, tragically, that's been the cases that - where we've wasted a lot of time with, you know, saying things that just aren't true about President Obama. And this is what I learned in, you know, in looking back on the time that I was, you know, a prosecutor of Bill Clinton. It's just a waste of time for the country and not healthy for my soul either to pursue that line.

And so, on this time around in Congress, presented with the opportunity to talk about the president as a socialist and waterloo and, you know, him not having a birth certificate and whatever...

RAZ: Being a crypto-Muslim.

Rep. INGLIS: Oh, yeah, being a Muslim. Yeah, you know, none of it's true. That we're out there saying things that are just not true about the president, where we're just tearing down institutions and other people's reputations to the point where, what are we going to do after that?

We're just going to - so what has to happen is we have to step back from this and we have to say, listen, leadership and the consensus plus a crisis equals change. We got crisis, let's find some consensus.

RAZ: But, I mean, it's precisely those methods of attacks that have proved successful. I mean, your party - I mean, you of course lost - but your party scored a historic victory in this election. So, what makes you think your approach is right?

Rep. INGLIS: Well, I really don't have much evidence at this point, do I?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rep. INGLIS: I mean, if you look at it, I'm chairman of local losers club. And there are not many of us in the fraternity. There's only two of us in the House that weren't re-elected that wanted to be re-elected, me and Parker Griffith. And Parker switched parties, so it is a small fraternity. And so, it makes you feel a little bit like a moron, you know, to have lost when everybody else is winning.

RAZ: Here you are, you're talking about civility and let's agree to disagree, but maybe work on finding some kind of compromise. That's the approach that President Obama has taken as well, hasn't necessarily worked for him either.

Rep. INGLIS: You know, it's...

RAZ: I mean, it seems like the loudest voices are the most strident voices.

Rep. INGLIS: Right now, what we have is people that are understandably upset and concerned about their mortgage and about paying for their kid's tuition and about their job, all the things that I'm currently concerned about, by the way. So with that frustration has come a great deal of anger. And so, we've got to work through that.

It'd be better if we were pulling together rather than tearing apart. It'd be better if we were seeking solutions rather than scapegoats. Because a scapegoat will work for a while. I mean, if you're - you know, if you want to blame it on the socialist, Muslim, non-American citizen in the White House, you know, you can get by - I don't know who's proposing death panels - you can get by with that for a while. But ultimately, people are going to say, what was your solution again?

RAZ: You - I mean, if you look at your voting record here, which I have in front of me, it's a conservative...

Rep. INGLIS: It's doggone conservative.

RAZ: It's a conservative record.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rep. INGLIS: It's a 93 lifetime with the American Conservative Union.

RAZ: Which is a pretty good rating for a Republican. But I wonder where your political home is. I mean, if you're not appealing to the voters, if what you represent isn't what the voters want now, clearly, you're not a Democrat. Where do you fit in? Where do you feel comfortable?

Rep. INGLIS: Well, I think that eventually, Republicans will come back to conservatism. I think that we have ventured into populism somewhat akin to the French Revolution, where we just lop off some heads and have blood running in the streets and wear out the guillotine.

But eventually, the French Revolution burned out. And I think that's where we're going to get to. And hopefully, we get back as quickly as possible to American struggle for independence. Because, you know, right now, I know that sort of ignorance is seen as strength. But people like Jefferson, Adams and Franklin, those were not ignorant people. Those were brilliant people.

RAZ: That's Congressman Bob Inglis from South Carolina.

Congressman, thank you so much.

Rep. INGLIS: Good to be with you.

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