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GOP Rep. Warren Davidson On Trump Win And Freedom Caucus Vision


We're going to get more reaction to the election results now from Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio. He's a Republican and member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Congressman Davidson, welcome to the show.

WARREN DAVIDSON: Thank you. It's nice to talk with you.

CORNISH: Now, establishment Republicans in Ohio have had a mixed relationship with Donald Trump to say the least. Do you think it was a mistake for Republicans like, say, John Kasich to not support Trump? Is the party Trump's party now?

DAVIDSON: Well, the party will become the party that the people have asked for, which is to reject the status quo. So to that extent, Donald Trump clearly ran on a platform of rejecting the status quo. And a part of that involves the kind of traditional political class, but a whole lot of it involves the policies that have resulted in inaction on some of the big issues of the day.

CORNISH: You replace the last House speaker, John Boehner, in his district in Ohio. He left in the middle of his term. Do you plan to support Paul Ryan as House speaker now? Will the House Freedom Caucus move to replace him?

DAVIDSON: Yeah, I don't think that's the topic for the day. I mean there's - we're talking about leadership next week. Today's a good day to celebrate and to unite.

CORNISH: Congressman - so meaning that that is off the table or just something you'll talk about next week?

DAVIDSON: Yeah, that's a topic that the House will take up next week for leadership elections. And I think today's a day to celebrate and just focus on, you know, the direction the country wants to go, which is, you know - all this is inside politics and the kind of struggle for power and inside, you know, baseball are the kinds of things that I think this election says, yeah, we're sick of that; go get stuff done.

CORNISH: But the House Freedom Caucus has been a powerful voice in Congress, but it has been a minority voice. I mean what's your response to what Speaker Ryan had to say today?

DAVIDSON: Well, I enjoy what he had to say. I think it was right on. It's a day to celebrate. We did far better across the conference than most people had projected. We lost a few seats, which is disappointing. We picked up I think 26 new Republicans that will be joining the House. That's something to be thankful for. We held the Senate. There was a lot of debate about that. And we get an opportunity to have a unified government with President Trump going forward.

So when you talk to people in our district, for sure it really felt like we were always on defense, and people were hungry for offense, for us to go out and work to implement really our platform, things like Obamacare, things like the health care system that's been broken. And we tried the Democrats' solution, and it's actually made things worse. So the people are anxious to go out there and say, no, please go solve this problem.

CORNISH: Lawmakers such as yourself and especially in the Freedom Caucus have really tried to rein in government spending. Donald Trump's - some of his major policy issues like, say, an infrastructure bank involve quite a bit of spending. What are your concerns going forward?

DAVIDSON: Yeah, I think that's one of the things that unites conservatives at least. You know, I've met members of Congress that believe deficits don't matter. I'm not one, and conservatives generally agree. At a minimum, we coalesce around don't bankrupt America.

CORNISH: So are there red flags from some of the policy items you've heard from him this year?

DAVIDSON: Yeah, I think there was very little attention paid in the presidential debate about, you know, our debt crisis. But what you did see really, if you look at the contrast to the extent it was in there, between Hillary Clinton's plan and Donald's vision - Donald Trump's vision - is, you know, you had one plan that said, we can spend our way out of a debt crisis. That was what Hillary Clinton offered.

And we had another plan that said, we are going to need to grow our way out of this debt crisis. And that was essentially Donald Trump's plan. I know it's the House's plan, and I think it will work.

CORNISH: Congressman Warren Davidson, Republican of Ohio, thank you so much for speaking with us.

DAVIDSON: Yeah, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.