On CNN Wednesday night, host Anderson Cooper asked how the GOP would court Latino votes with party "extremes" standing in the way.
"I mean how do you change it? You've got – because you have extremes in your party who certainly on the -- on the immigration issue, for instance, don't want to see some sort of a compromise," he told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who admitted the GOP was moving in the "wrong direction" with Latinos.
[Video below. Audio here.]
He also pressured Graham over raising taxes to reduce the deficit. "I
mean this President got re- elected very clearly saying that is what he
wanted to do. To raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans," noted Cooper.
"The Republican challenger said he did not want to do that and he did not get elected. Doesn't that give President Obama and the Democrats some right to push for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans?"
Graham shot back, "Well, I think the House got re-elected. Their mandate is to not raise tax rates."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 7 on Anderson Cooper 360 at 8:04 p.m. EST, is as follows:
ANDERSON COOPER: I want to turn next to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who famously said just a couple of days ago, if Mitt Romney loses in Republican states because he wasn't conservative enough he'll, quote, "go nuts." Senator, Americans – first of all, how are you doing today? Have you gone nuts? Because I've heard a lot of Republicans saying just that.
Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.): No –
Well, I just think the honest truth is that we have a demographic problem. If we'd gotten 40 percent of the Hispanic vote Mitt Romney would be president. You know, 43 – Bush 43 got 41 percent, McCain got 31 percent, and Romney got 27 percent. We're going in the wrong direction.
COOPER: So how do you change that? I mean how do you change it? You've got – because you have extremes in your party who certainly on the -- on the immigration issue, for instance, don't want to see some sort of a compromise.
COOPER: Senator, Americans are going to see massive tax increases if Congress fails to strike a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff. And it's not just tax increases. Also massive budget cuts. Every single American will feel the effects. What level of hope do you have tonight that Congress can really come together and strike a deal? Because there's always talk about oh yeah, we're going to work together, and then it just never materializes.
COOPER: But if you look at the polls, I mean, that people actually voted for, a lot of them do support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Boehner said he would not do that today, he wouldn't support it. Harry Reid still said Democrats would insist on those taxes being raised.
GRAHAM: Well, all I would suggest is that every bipartisan group has looked at this. The Gang of Six. Three Republicans, three Democrats. Simpson-Bowles rejected higher tax rates. They raised revenue by eliminating deductions and exemptions, taking that revenue back into the Treasury, applying it to the debt and buying down rates to create economic growth. And some future economic growth can be dedicated --
COOPER: But did that really get you where you need to be on deficit reduction?
GRAHAM: Oh absolutely it does. It does. Well, there is $1 trillion out there every year that we give away through the tax code. Take that $1 trillion back, apply some of it to the debt, some of it to lowering tax rates to create jobs, and future economic growth set some of that aside to get out of debt. Raising tax rates was rejected by Simpson-Bowles and the gang of six, and there'll be no Republican who will go down that road because it will hurt job creation. Tax policy and job creation go hand in hand.
COOPER: Well, didn't this – I mean this President got re-elected very clearly saying that is what he wanted to do. To raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The Republican challenger said he did not want to do that and he did not get elected. Doesn't that give President Obama and the Democrats some right to push for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans?
GRAHAM: Well, I think the House got re-elected. Their mandate is to not raise tax rates.