WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Sen. DeMint Resigns; Will Rep. Tim Scott Be Appointed To Replace Him (VIDEO)

Sen. Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, this week resign. He’s going to greener pastures at the Heritage Foundation. And one of the things being talked about as a replacement for Governor Nikki Haley to appoint in his place is Tim Scott, a congressman from South Carolina. If so, he would be the only black United States senator, the second African-American Republican since Reconstruction. Edward Brooke was a Republican from Massachusetts in the late sixties and early seventies.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features Angela Rye, executive director and general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus; Elroy Sailor, co-founder and CEO of the J.C. Watts Companies; Steve Clemons, Washington editor at Large for “The Atlantic” and and Armstrong Williams, political commentator and host of “The Right Side.”


MR. MARTIN:  All right, folks.  We saw senator Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, this week resign.  He’s going to greener pastures at the Heritage Foundation.  And one of the things being talked about as a replacement for Governor Nikki Haley to appoint in his place is Tim Scott, a congressman from South Carolina.  If so, he would be the only black United States senator, the second African-American Republican since Reconstruction.  Edward Brooke was a Republican from Massachusetts in the late sixties and early seventies.

So, panel, your thoughts about this.  And how will Black America respond?  All of a sudden, I know Armstrong can’t wait to jump in –

MR. CLEMONS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — being a South Carolina guy.

What about some shrimp and grits in the U.S. Senate?

MR. CLEMONS:  [Laughs.]

MR. WILLIAMS:  You know, that’s so unfair and beneath you to make a comment like that.

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]  What?

MR. WILLIAMS:  I’m shocked!  It’s so beneath you.

MR. MARTIN:  Okay.  If y’all so – folks from South Carolina love –


MR. MARTIN:  — shrimp and grits.

MR. WILLIAMS:  No, no, no.

MR. MARTIN:  I’m trying to help –

MR. WILLIAMS:  No, uh-uh.  I’m –

MR. MARTIN:  — the GDP of –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — not going to let – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — South Carolina!

MR. WILLIAMS:  — no.  Look, Tim Scott –

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]

MR. WILLIAMS:  — and Jim DeMint are – Jim DeMint is his mentor.  Yes, I’m from South Carolina.  Senator DeMint is a friend.

MR. MARTIN:  And, yes, you like shrimp and grits.

MR. WILLIAMS:  I’m not going to comment on that.  I’m going to leave that to you.

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]

MR. SAILOR:  I like shrimp and grits, but I’m from Detroit.

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. SAILOR:  But I still like shrimp and grits.

MR. WILLIAMS:  But anyhow, DeMint made it clear to Governor Nikki Haley that – when he was leaving – she was in on the negotiations – that he wanted Tim Scott to succeed him.  And there’s a very strong possibility that will work.

I think the governor of South Carolina wants it for herself, given the fact that her approval rating in the state is 38 percent, but that’s just not going to happen.

That would be wonderful – and not because he’s black.  He’s not Allen West.  He’s someone who’s forceful.  He’s thoughtful.  He doesn’t seek the limelight.  He’s a very good legislat[or], and his approval rating in his own state is almost, like, 70 percent. Remember he beat Strom Thurmond’s son —


MR. WILLIAMS:  — defeated him in a landslide – to win that seat.

MR. MARTIN:  I mean I would love to have Congressman Tim Scott on the show.  We’ve been inviting him for quite some time.

So, you know, Tim, you know, you can come hang out with the bruthas over here, you know.  We have shrimp and grits in the –


MR. MARTIN:  — black room.

MS. RYE:  We should –

MR. MARTIN:  Angela?

MS. RYE:  — talk about –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MS. RYE:  — one thing I do want to – you brought up Allen West.  At least Congressman West joined the Congressional Black Caucus, oftentimes at odds with his colleagues.  But nonetheless, I respect him for that.

With Tim Scott, I think that he does have a strong chance.  I don’t think Nikki Haley wants it.  I hear that people are saying something different, but I don’t think she wants that seat.

The challenge that I have is the appearance of this – right – with the Republican Party.  There was this huge, negative backlash last week about the appointment of the Republican chairs, and they’re all –

MR. MARTIN:  Nineteen chairs, all white guys –

MS. RYE:  — white guys.

MR. MARTIN:  — [crosstalk] – one woman.

MS. RYE:  Yeah, for – the next day, for House Administration, which she never served on.  So, then this week, lo and behold – ta-dah – there’s a black man who has not even finished his first term in Congress who may get this appointment.  It is because he’s black, and I don’t think that that’s necessarily a positive.

MR. WILLIAMS:  It’s because he’s –

MR. SAILOR:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  Elroy?

MR. WILLIAMS:  — conservative.

MR. MARTIN:  Elroy?

MR. SAILOR:  Angela —

MS. RYE:  [Crosstalk] – black and –

MR. SAILOR:  — Angela always –

MS. RYE:  — conservative.

MR. SAILOR:  — makes some good points, but I have to disagree with you a little bit.  Look, the guy served –

MR. MARTIN:  Shocking!

MS. RYE:  It’s the truth.

MR. SAILOR:  — he served –

MS. RYE:  Tell the truth!  [Chuckles.]

MR. SAILOR:  — in leadership. Okay?  So, he’s been at the leadership table.  He understands how to deal make.

MS. RYE:  [Unintelligible.]

MR. SAILOR:  He understands how to deal with the Republican – the NRCC.  He understands politics.  You look at his staff.  He’s got a talented staff over there – Jennifer and Mike McEwen.  He’s got a –


MR. SAILOR:  — great team over there.


MR. MARTIN:  What will –

MR. SAILOR:  He’s also a conservative.

MR. MARTIN:  — well, but I want to know, for our audience, what will it mean for black folks?  Because, again, I mean, to Angela’s point, Congressman Scott chose not to join the Congressional Black Caucus, and – go ahead.

MR. SAILOR:  I love that point when she makes it, ’cause let’s look at this.  J.C. Watts and Gary Franks.  J.C. Watts didn’t join the Congressional Black Caucus, but he got an African-American history museum done with John Lewis.  He got NHH – I’m sorry.  He got healthcare issues done with Donna Christensen, American Community Renewal – [crosstalk] –

MS. RYE:  Tell me one thing –


MS. RYE:  — tell me one thing Tim Scott has done – to [your] J.C. Watts point – you’re talking about his legacy.  Tell me one thing Tim Scott has done with the Black Caucus, or in partnership with African-Americans –


MS. RYE:  — in Congress.

MR. MARTIN:  She went there[?].

MR. WILLIAMS:  Let me answer that point.


MR. MARTIN:  This is going to be good!


MR. SAILOR:  Here’s my response.  I think that’s difficult to answer because –

MR. WILLIAMS:  No, it’s not.

MR. SAILOR:  — I can’t name –

MR. MARTIN:  Uh-oh!  Uh-oh!


MR. SAILOR:  — I can’t name one –


MR. WILLIAMS:  Go to his district!


MR. WILLIAMS:  Go to his district!


MR. WILLIAMS:  Go to his district!


MR. SAILOR:  [Crosstalk] – talking about –

MS. RYE:  No, I’m talking about – [crosstalk] –

MR. SAILOR:  — national legislation – right?

MS. RYE:  — [crosstalk] –


MR. MARTIN:  You-all are just –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk] – what he’s going to do for black folk – [crosstalk]?


MS. RYE:  I’m sorry.  Did you hear his point?  Were you listening to his last point?

MR. WILLIAMS:  Of course –

MS. RYE:  Okay.  So –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — but you’re measuring him –

MS. RYE:  — it’s relevant –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — in terms of blackness.


MR. MARTIN:  Oh, no, no, no!


MR. MARTIN:  Hold up!  Time out!


MR. MARTIN:  No, time out!


MR. MARTIN:  Time out!  Elroy, time out!


MR. MARTIN:  Time out!  Time out!

MS. RYE:  [Crosstalk] – ’cause you’re coming from – [crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN:  Hold on.  Hold on one second.

MS. RYE:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  First of all – first of all – hold up.  First of all, I did not – I always assume qualified, anyway.  I don’t qualify “qualified” –

MS. RYE:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — so I do that.

MR. SAILOR:  Right, right.  Good point.

MR. MARTIN:  But I’m asking again

MR. SAILOR:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — because Elroy set it up by saying essentially –

MS. RYE:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — “This is what Congressman Watts did” –

MS. RYE:  That’s right.

MR. SAILOR:  But – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — “that black folks would like.”

MR. SAILOR:  — right.

MR. MARTIN:  So, to Angela’s point – and I need somebody to answer it –

MR. SAILOR:  And I’m going to try –

MR. MARTIN:  — what has –

MR. SAILOR:  — answer it.

MR. MARTIN:  — Congressman Scott done –

MR. SAILOR:  I’m going to try to answer it.

MR. MARTIN:  — that the bruhs and the sistahs might say –

MR. SAILOR:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — “Aiight, bro”?

MR. SAILOR:  Right.  Now –

MS. RYE:  Regardless of party – right?

MR. SAILOR:  — I was speaking – when J.C. was in leadership, he worked on legislation that went to the President that got signed into law, that was specifically – or, germanely targeted to African-Americans.

MS. RYE:  Right.

MR. SAILOR:  Part of the challenge that we’ve had over the last two years in getting legislation specifically targeted to African-Americans is that the President hasn’t led on specific legislation that’s targeted to –

MS. RYE:  That’s –

MR. SAILOR:  — African-Americans.  You name one piece of legislation that the President

MS. RYE:  American –

MR. SAILOR:  — has –

MS. RYE:  — Jobs Act.  And I will tell you how – [crosstalk] –

MR. SAILOR:  — no, that was specifically targeted to –

MS. RYE:  — it is.

MR. SAILOR:  — African-Americans.

MS. RYE:  Let me tell you why it’s speci- —

MR. SAILOR:  No, that’s a national –

MS. RYE:  — yes it isListen, Elroy.  The reason why –

MR. SAILOR:  Pieces of it are.

MS. RYE:  — I can say with confidence, and can pass a lie detector test on this, is because –


MR. MARTIN:  Boom!

MS. RYE:  — nine of –

MR. SAILOR:  I know – [chuckles] – you’re not lying.

MS. RYE:  — no, just listen!  Nine of the proposals that the Congressional Black Caucus put before the White –

MR. SAILOR:  All right.

MS. RYE:  — House are included in that bill, targeting.  We don’t do “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

MR. SAILOR:  Okay.

MS. RYE:  So, we definitely know that that’s targeted –

MR. CLEMONS:  What’s impor- —

MS. RYE:  — to people of color.

MR. CLEMONS:  — I want to break into this.

MS. RYE:  My question’s still not answered –

MS. RYE:  — Roland.

MR. CLEMONS:  One, we –

MR. MARTIN:  Steve – [crosstalk] –

MR. CLEMONS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — only white guy here, but let me get –


MR. MARTIN:  — [crosstalk] – this.

MS. RYE:  [Chuckles.]  Sorry.

MR. CLEMONS:  Armstrong – I’m convinced that Armstrong believes he’s a competent legislator.  The fact is the U.S. Senate doesn’t look like America.  It should –

MS. RYE:  Right.

MR. CLEMONS:  — look like America, and that’s disgusting that it doesn’t.  And so whether or not he passes all the right litmus tests, it’s a good thing.

That said, what – you know, Mitt Romney just won as many non-white voters as Ronald Reagan did in the last election, that gave Reagan a landslide.  This country’s become very different, and the GOP put its bets on non-white voters.  Now it’s running as fast as it can to find non-white tokens to put into place, whether it’s in the Senate, whether it might be running the party.  And that doesn’t necessarily change the beast that’s underneath it.

MR. MARTIN:  And here’s the deal.  I –

MR. CLEMONS:  You’ve got to look at, you know –

MR. MARTIN:  — and, Steve –

MR. CLEMONS:  — one, he should be in the Senate; but, two, we ought to be skeptical of tokenism –

MR. MARTIN:  — Steve –

MR. CLEMONS:  — in the Republican Party.

MR. MARTIN:  — Steve, here’s the deal.


MR. MARTIN:  No, but one second.


MR. MARTIN:  Hold up!  Hold up!  Hold up!  I got this.

I’m not going to call Congressman Scott –

MS. RYE:  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — a token.

MR. SAILOR:  Yeah, I think that –

MR. MARTIN:  All I’ve simply –

MR. CLEMONS:  And I didn’t either.

MR. MARTIN:  — I understand.  But all –

MR. CLEMONS:  I just said “beware.”

MR. MARTIN:  — all I’ve simply been saying, first of all – again – [is]I would like to see the congressman come on this show, talk to our black audience.  It hasn’t happened in 11 months, and I personally asked three times.  Also – but I’m – again, the reason I’m saying … from an African-American standpoint –

MR. CLEMONS:  He might not like shrimp and grits.

MR. MARTIN:  — well, I’m saying – well, we can have some biscuits.

All I’m saying [is], from an African-American –

MS. RYE:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  — standpoint in terms of being a U.S. senator, the reality is, whether you have women in the U.S. Senate, whether you have people who are Hispanic in the U.S. Senate, or Asian, it is a question of … a relationship with the community.

MR. SAILOR:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  We just had J.C. Watts on this show saying [they] have to have a relationship.

Armstrong, Scott’s district is not –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Let me – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — it’s a predominately white district.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — let me address the question.

MR. MARTIN:  Go ahead.

MR. WILLIAMS:  I just had –

MR. MARTIN:  Finish up.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — I literally just had lunch with a member of the Congressional Black Caucus this week, and this topic came up.  And he said, well, Congressman Scott may not be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.  When they’re trying to get Republican support on issues that are very important to that community, he’s always there.

MS. RYE:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. WILLIAMS:  He doesn’t – I’m not going to get into that –

MS. RYE:  Exactly.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — ’cause that – okay.  But the bottom line is –

MR. MARTIN:  Now, she’s executive director of the Black Caucus.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — you know what?

MR. MARTIN:  She said she don’t know about it.

MR. WILLIAMS:  I’m not hearing that.

MR. MARTIN:  I’m just checking!  I’m just asking!

MS. RYE:  Don’t bring up a point that –


MS. RYE:  — you can’t defend.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — I am free to bring up whatever I choose to bring up.

MS. RYE:  Yeah, you’re right.  You should –

MR. WILLIAMS:  That’s what this panel –

MS. RYE:  — defend it.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — is about.

MS. RYE:  You should be prepared –


MS. RYE:  — to defend it.

MR. WILLIAMS:  He – and this is from a member of Congress – not some executive director of the Congress –

MS. RYE:  Wow!

MR. WILLIAMS:  — that they work with them –

MS. RYE:  Brilliant.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — and he’s very effective in getting the ear of key Republicans that they need.

MR. MARTIN:  Angela, final point.

MS. RYE:  On what issue?  The only question I’ve asked – and, you know, you can get upset and, you know, very colorful.  The only question I’ve asked is, “On what issue?” and I still don’t have that question answered.

So, I respect –

MR. SAILOR:  The Republican Party has had a –

MS. RYE:  — your opinion.

MR. SAILOR:  — national issue –

MS. RYE:  I’m not going to –

MR. SAILOR:  — that impacted African-Americans –

MS. RYE:  — I’m not going to belittle your role –

MR. SAILOR:  — so he has.  That’s –

MS. RYE:  — but I –

MR. SAILOR:  — the bottom line.

MS. RYE:  — reject what you’re saying.  It’s not –

MR. MARTIN:  All right, then.

MS. RYE:  — based on fact.