The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan that aired Sunday, August 7, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: Michigan Rep. Peter Major is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump after the attack on Capitol Hill. Last Tuesday, he lost his primary race against a Trump-endorsed challenger. Congressman Meijer joins us this morning from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Good morning to the MP. The person who won this primary is an election denier named John Gibbs who is endorsed by former President Trump. Why do you think Michigan Republicans favored him?
REP. PETER MEIJER: Good morning, Margaret. And like you said, I missed my elementary school and that’s on me. I take responsibility for that. But it’s important to note that it wasn’t just former President Trump who was in this race, but about half a million dollars that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in its first outlay of the 2022 midterms threw to boost him. So we had a scenario where not only did I get the former president aligned against me, but in a rare display of bipartisan unity, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Campaign Committee also joined together to try to get me off the ballot. Now, this just highlights the cynicism and hypocrisy of our politics today. And frankly, it will be unknown what that ultimate impact was, but the fact that we have the establishment left and the far right gunning for common cause paints a very telling picture of where our politics are in 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN” Correct, what you’re talking about is an ad in which the Democratic congressional committee campaigns spent $325,000 to boost Mr. Gibbs, which was almost as much as Gibbs spent on his entire campaign. That’s what you’re referring to, that’s what our viewers see there. But do you think the ad really made a difference? I mean, Democrats don’t vote in these primaries, they’re Republicans, why did Michigan Republicans fall for this ad?
REP. MEIJER: Well, you know, I think there’s a clear delegation issue here, of course, and at the end of the day, Republican voters are going to vote as they see fit. I should note that this ad was not targeted – it didn’t play on MSNBC, it didn’t play in places where Democratic voters might see it, it was targeted in places to try to influence and persuade Republican voters to try to vote for my primary. challenger a push up and again. And I should add that I lost by about 3%, out of over 100,000 votes cast, we lost by less than 4,000 votes, and I think that’s important to remember when you have a very close election like this. And he’s obviously competing against very strong headwinds, having a Trump-backed challenger in a party where President Trump still has over 75% approval. This is a message of focus on the essence of what I was able to achieve in the office. I’m proud that our office is on track to set a record for the most bills signed by a freshman, that these kinds of accomplishments are lost in our current political persona, lost in a larger sense. And I think that’s one of the fundamental challenges that we face as a country, and that’s, frankly, frustrating for Michigan families. We’re dealing with a politics that doesn’t reward substance that doesn’t reward, you know, reality.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But that means…
REP. MEIJER: This focuses on rhetoric and personality above all else.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think the Democrats are going to get what they paid for here? Correctly? I mean, they bet it would be easier to beat. Mr. Gibbs than you. Will your district go to a Democrat?
REP. MEIJER: It’s important to note that this is a district that President Biden won in 2020 by about nine points, I was one of five Republicans running for re-election in seats that President Biden won in the 2020 election by eight points or more. And so, while I think there was definitely a cynical calculus at play with the Democrats getting involved, that’s a dangerous strategy. It’s a dangerous strategy. Where President Biden has his approval, he’s so in the gutter, it’s hard to see this strategy – it’s easy to see this strategy failing spectacularly, and that’s all the more reason why he shouldn’t we adopt the zero sum concept of politics. We shouldn’t embrace that—this notion that if we can keep a problem alive, keep it soaked, but be able to gain a marginal advantage in the process, that somehow equals victory. I think it’s a dark and cynical way of looking at our politics that, frankly, 48% of the electorate in the primaries here rejected. They resisted the cynicism that they were focused on someone who was working to deliver results.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your Republican colleague Liz Cheney is going to face an August 16 primary in her state, former Vice President Dick Cheney, her father, released this video.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney (SOT): “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been a person who poses a greater threat to our democracy than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the last election by using lies and violence to stay in power after voters rejected him. He’s a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it. He knows it. And deep down I think most Republicans know it.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s Mr. Cheney there because 57 percent of Republicans told CBS News they’re more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by the former president. Is the former president, the leader of the Republican Party, or the greatest threat to our nation’s Democracy?
REP. MEIJER: Well, I certainly think President Trump wants to maintain those numbers. He wants that degree of influence, and I mentioned earlier the common cause between the extreme right and the establishment left. Nancy Pelosi, I think she wakes up every day crossing her fingers that Donald Trump is the nominee in 2024, that he announces well before the midterms, because right now, the midterms are going to be a referendum on President Biden’s leadership and Speaker Pelosi and many of my House Democratic colleagues do not want this. They want it to be a referendum on former President Trump, and I think former President Trump wants it too.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’ll watch that primary. And Congressman, thank you for joining us today. We will be right back.