In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) discussed his wait-and-see attitude on the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race and his new book, “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document.”
Transcript as follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Unlike his best Senate friends, Lee is not running for president. But he does have a new book, “Our Lost Constitution,” where he reimagines the lively debates of our founders to make the case that today’s Washington ignores what the founders wrote then when it clashes with what lawmakers want now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Senator Mike Lee joins us now. Welcome to THIS WEEK.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is in read — you know, reading the book, listen, you really had a lot of fun writing it, getting yourself back in the heads of the founders.
What do you think they’d be most surprised by now?
LEE: I think they’d probably be most surprised by the fact that Congress has been so willing and even eager to delegate so much of its legislative authority. As I explain in my book, Alexander Hamilton tanked his political career, making it impossible for him ever to become president, by actually proposing a monarchy at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
Now, the — that idea went over like a lead balloon, as should have been expected. But they rejected it because they were very afraid about what would happen if one person got too much power. And I think they’d be surprised that we have given so much power to the executive…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what’s the…
LEE: — with Congress delegating the power.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just wave your magic wand.
What’s the single biggest change you’d make right now?
LEE: The single biggest change I’d make, especially to deal with that problem, would be to pass something like The Raines Act, which has passed the House of Representatives for three years in a row, would require that all new major rules, major regulations adopted by executive branch bureaucracies, would have to be passed by the House and by the Senate and then signed into law by the president, as contemplated under “The Constitution.”
I talk about that in my book and talk about other solutions for restoring our lost “Constitution.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: And it’s a — it’s a great read.
I do want to ask you, though, about this upcoming presidential race. You are in a unique position. Three close friends all in the race — Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio. It puts you in a little bit of a delicate position.
How are you going to balance this all out?
LEE: Look, I — I — I love all three of those guys. They’re — they’re among my best friends and closest allies in the Senate. And I think that among them and among the other candidates, whoever emerges as the most principled and positive and proven candidate, with an affirmative conservative agenda, is going to win — is going to get the nomination and has the best chance of beating Hillary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: “The Weekly Standard,” we show it right here, says that Marco Rubio is winning the Mike Lee primary.
Is that true?
LEE: I’m sure what the Mike Lee primary is, but I haven’t endorsed any of them and I don’t intend to get involved, because I — I can’t endorse one of them without endorsing against the others.
So for the time being, I want to be as helpful as I can to all three of them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just give me one thing that people need to know about each candidate quickly.
LEE: Uh, Rand Paul is a — a lifelong devotee of limited government. He understands the risks that accompany too much government intervention. He has the ability to expand the tent of the party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ted Cruz?
LEE: Ted Cruz is passionate he memorized “The Constitution” when he was about six months old. You will not find a more impassioned advocate for constitutionally limited government than Ted Cruz. And he brings a lot of people into the fold because of his passion for this issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, Marco Rubio.
LEE: Marco Rubio can speak in a way that conjures up emotion and a great love for our country. And he — he brings to the table a degree of natural political talent that is truly remarkable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All three of them are going to want you.
Mike Lee, thanks very much.
The book is called “Our Lost Constitution.”
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor