Republican Robert Dold served in the House from 2010-2012. Now-Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) unseated him by a slim margin in 2012, and the two are facing each other once again in suburban Chicago swing district. Schneider’s seat represents one of the GOP’s best pickup opportunities on the 2014 map. Dold sat down with us Wednesday for a conversation about his campaign, the state of the Republican Party, and what’s ahead for Speaker John A. Boehner. Below we’ve condensed the interview down to the nine biggest questions and Dold’s answers.
FIX: You’ve served in the House under Speaker John Boehner. Now, you have an external perspective on him. It’s been a rough couple of months for House Republicans. Do you see things changing?
Bob Dold: I think the House GOP has to change. I think that really what I’m hearing from the people back in my district is that they are looking for bridge builders, they are looking for more moderates to come in to actually solve the big problems — more people that have met a budget and payroll [and] actually understand that doing a deal requires give and take and compromise. And my record certainly demonstrates that. I’m very proud of that. And it’s exactly what the people of the 10th district are looking for. I think that it has to change in that regard. There’s no question about it. I think that if we look at what happened with the shutdown, it was absolutely the wrong thing to do from my perspective, and we should have avoided it.
FIX: How would you have done things differently in the budget negotiations?
Dold: From my perspective, I would have gone out there and first of all talked to the leadership to say that we should not be talking about trying to defund the Affordable Care Act as a mechanism for keeping the government open.
FIX: You announced for Congress before the shutdown. How scared were you as it was progressing that it would torpedo your campaign?
Dold: I don’t think it was going to torpedo my campaign. I think people became angry. In what I was listening to them, [what I heard] is they were absolutely disgusted with what’s going on in Washington, frankly from both sides of the aisle, which is why you had such a high percentage in a recent poll that was put out, I think it was like 60 percent that said throw them all out. And really, when I’m talking to people they say, ‘look, we want people to go there to be compromisers and try to [find] the big solutions.’
FIX: Do you think Boehner handled the shutdown situation well?
Dold: I think the speaker was in an extremely tough position because I think the other side of the aisle made it perfectly clear that they wouldn’t do anything unless you showed them 218 votes. And there weren’t 218 votes for just about anything.
FIX: How do you feel about Ted Cruz’s influence on today’s Republican Party?
Dold: Ted Cruz doesn’t influence me. Listen, Ted Cruz, I respect his right to be able to get up and talk in the United States Senate. For me, I’m looking at trying to build a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to be able to solve problems.
FIX: Is the situation with Obamacare one in which Republicans should say the law should be fixed to make it work as well as we can or do you think you should keep focusing on trying to repeal?
Dold: I don’t believe that a repeal of the law would pass.
FIX: If it did, would you like it?
Dold: I think it is interesting to take a look at one-fifth of the economy that came and passed without a single Republican vote, which is not the way big legislation like this in the past has happened — whether it be Social Security, whether it be Medicare. This is an enormous chunk of our economy that I believe we really need to have bipartisan support for. And so from my perspective, I do think we’ve got a number of things that have to happen to try to make sure that things are better than they are now.
FIX: Who do you view as the leader of the Republican Party right now?
Dold: I think that there are a lot of Republican voices out there that are advocating, certainly as we look at some people trying to emerge in 2016, I think a lot of Republicans actually go back to Republican governors and what they are doing back in their states as opposed to Washington, D.C. And I do think that there’s a lot of different stories to be told.
Fix: It sounds like you don’t think there is any one leader right now.
Dold: Not for me.