Ross Kaminsky Show, Cory Gardner, August 28, 2018

Station:    KHOW, 630 am

Show:       Ross Kaminsky Show

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:        August 28, 2018


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HOST ROSS KAMINSKY: [00:00:18] All right, let’s not waste any time, here, [and] go right to our VIP line [with] my friend, friend of the show, Senator Cory Gardner, from right here in this state of Colorado. I invited Corey to be on to tell us a little about his reaction, his feelings following the passing of John McCain and we had a couple of your colleagues on yesterday, Corey. But that was before the Senate opened again. And we got to hear some of the words of Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer and some others. So, how are you feeling today about the loss of your colleague?

UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER: [00:00:50] Well, you know, I think John McCain has just an incredible life story. And, you know, I remember traveling with Senator McCain to a defense forum in Singapore. And when we walked into this Defense Forum there probably, you know, 50 or 60 foreign heads of the defense department, secretaries of state, ministers of defense, those kinds of things. And everybody knew John McCain. You know, the level of seriousness — gravitas, so to speak — that he brought with him when he traveled representing the United States was pretty remarkable. I don’t think anybody — at least, surrounding me now — has that level, that same level of foreign policy recognition that John McCain did. It’s pretty remarkable to think about the impact he’s had for so many decades on this country.

KAMINSKY: [00:01:36] John McCain, for sure, is best known in the world of foreign policy, although [he was] obviously involved in other areas as well. One of your major issues — in fact, kind of before it was cool to talk about — was North Korea, something you’ve been worried about for quite a long time.

GARDNER: [00:01:52] Yes.

KAMINSKY: [00:01:53] We normally think about John McCain with Middle East issues but I’m betting he had something to say. I’m betting you had some interesting conversations with him about North Korea.

GARDNER: [00:02:01] You know, we certainly did about North Korea, about what was happening there, and about Asia security writ large. I’m going to be passing out of committee a major Asia strategy — a strategic initiative, called the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act on September 6. That’s coming up in just a couple of weeks. A big chunk of what we’ve developed in that legislation, I worked with Senator McCain to create: the Asia Pacific Security Initiative. This is an effort to authorize funding to help us get a handle on military concerns, exercises, training, [and] antiterrorism efforts throughout Asia. And so, you know, with North Korea specifically in mind, that’s a pretty powerful tool that we’ll be passing out of the committee just in a couple of weeks and has, you know, significant thumbprints — fingerprints –from Senator McCain’s work all over it.

KAMINSKY: [00:02:48] I don’t know that John McCain ever really represented the Republican Party. John McCain was his own kind of maverick, whether you liked it or didn’t like it. A lot of times I didn’t like it. But in any case, there are a lot of people asking now who’s going to fill that role of this kind of bipartisan senior figure in the Senate, who can cross the aisle, and all that. And I’m wondering whether you think that that’s a role that even really exists anymore, much less who might fill it.

GARDNER: [00:03:16] Well, I think it’s dangerous to really try to say that somebody’s shoes need to filled, somebody’s shoes have to be filled, somebody’s shoes won’t be filled. I think that’s an analysis that really is looking for perhaps a time — or perhaps something — that never existed.

KAMINSKY: [00:03:31] Right?

GARDNER: [00:03:31] What we have to have are people who, like John McCain did, challenged authority. Here’s a guy who would be going to bat for the Defense Department while at the same time he’s berating a four star general because of the way that four star general was carrying out a war, or spending resources. So, you know, it’s less about filling shoes, but being willing to do the same things that he did in terms of challenging authority and the powers that be, because he had an expertise and understanding of an issue that was second to none. And so, that’s what needs to be filled, is just really the understanding — the deep understanding he had — of military spending, of defense spending, of intelligence operations, of foreign relations. And so, you know, that means that people do have to step up when it comes to learning an issue as well as he did.

KAMINSKY: [00:04:16] That’s a great point. In fact, Newt Gingrich wrote a really good piece about McCain a day or two ago — a couple of days ago — in which he said we need more mavericks and fewer conformists. And a lot of people jumped down his throat saying,”Well, why are you championing McCain?” But that’s not really the point. It’s also not the point you’re making.

GARDNER: [00:04:36] That’s exactly right, you know? And I think that’s a very important point. I mean, it’s not about whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him. It’s about — you have to have people who, when you have a cabinet member in front of your committee, when you have — you know, just like I did with Secretary Pompeo not too long ago — you’ve got to be willing to say, “Hey, wait a minute!a I know this is what’s being said, but it’s not what’s being done. How do you explain the difference between the two?”

KAMINSKY: [00:04:58] Okay, let me change gears with you for a minute. Yesterday we heard President Trump announce some kind of trade deal with Mexico that, at least right now, doesn’t include Canada. And I was explaining to the listeners earlier the the politics of the situation — separate from what you think of the terms of the deal — are really interesting because of the timing with Mexico and Canada is not really involved yet. Can you explain a little bit about what Congress’s role would eventually be in approving some kind of trade deal, and what that path looks like to you right now? You

GARDNER: [00:05:33] Right. So — so, under the current negotiations, it very much looks like they could be required to have additional authority under trade promotion authority to do what they’re doing, meaning that Congress is going to have to have basically a shot clock where we’ll be under a deadline to confirm new powers of the President to negotiate this deal. And if that’s approved, then Congress would be given I think 90 days to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the terms of a new deal. So that’s kind of the process that we’re in right now, depending on where they went with this agreement. As details emerge, it may actually require new authorities from Congress to be given to the President in order to do this to receive the fast track of trade promotion authority, which is an expedited approval process for Congress in terms of trade agreements. And then Congress approves this, or not. And so that’s kind of the role that Congress plays. Either way, I think you’re looking at a spring of 2019 vote, or a summer 2019 vote, depending on what happens to approve this deal.

KAMINSKY: [00:06:33] Wow!

GARDNER: [00:06:33] And I do think that Canada will come forward within the next several weeks with an agreement, as well. So, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still going to be a spring or summer of 2019 kind of vote by Congress.

KAMINSKY: [00:06:44] That’s interesting, because by that time the new President of Mexico will have been inaugurated, who might object to then some of what was just agreed to by the old president of Mexico. So that could throw a wrench into the works, as well.

GARDNER: [00:06:57] Yeah, I do think some of that timing is going to matter on how this gets set up. And so, they have been — I believe the administration has been working closely with the representatives of the new government coming in in Mexico, so they are aware of what’s happening. And they’re trying to do their best to make whatever happens go as — I guess — seamlessly — if you can use that word — as possible.

KAMINSKY: [00:07:18] If President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada continue their pissing contest, and somehow we get to spring or summer of next yearand there isn’t an agreement with Canada, do you think Congress would approve an agreement that only includes Mexico?

GARDNER: [00:07:34] I don’t believe so. And you know, Congress wouldn’t need to approve anything if nothing has been agreed to yet under NAFTA. So, it’s possible the President could turn around and ask for, “Hey, we’re just going to move forward with this.” But I think there’s an argument that Congress would have to be involved in the unraveling of NAFTA, so to speak. So, I just don’t see that scenario playing out.

KAMINSKY: [00:07:53] And my last question for you: if it came to something that you could vote on, would you vote to rename the Russell Office Building as the John McCain Office Building?

GARDNER: [00:08:02] I think we’ve got to have a process in place for this. I haven’t even had a chance to talk to the McCain family about what they want. And so, I think, look, let’s get through this week, this funeral and let’s talk about what the appropriate tribute is to Senator McCain. And so, I think, you know — and that means you’d talk to the family, as well. Maybe they would like that, maybe they wouldn’t. I want to make sure that what we do is befitting the moment, and that we don’t to act in a way that is too rushed without having conversations with people that quite frankly we need to. That’s just a candid answer because, you know, nobody knows exactly what the McCain family wants. And until we do, I think we should hold — keep our powder dry.

KAMINSKY: [00:08:42] Yeah, you know what? That’s a great answer, and I haven’t heard anyone reference the family’s wishes at all, until you just did. And I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t even think of it, myself. So, I really appreciate that answer, Cory. Senator Cory Gardner, right here from the great state of Colorado, thanks for your time. As always, [I] look forward to having you back in the future.

GARDNER: [00:08:59] Hey, thanks, Ross. Thank you to Ross. Thank you very much. Thanks! Take care!