ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
Sen. Byron Dorgan, the veteran Democrat from North Dakota, didn’t lose in Tuesday’s wave that swept Democrats out of office in Republican-leaning parts of the country nation-wide; he chose not to seek a fourth term in the Senate.
His seat flipped to the Republicans, and Dorgan told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today that he’s not sure he could have done any better had he been on the ballot.
“I don’t know,” Dorgan said. “You know, I’ve done 30 years here in the US Congress, and I just felt, for me, that I didn’t want to commit to another seven years -- this year plus six more. So, it would have been interesting to try. You know, I’ve been very successful. I’ve run 12 times statewide. But it was a big night for Republicans.”
At the same time, Dorgan said, Republicans would be mistaken if they interpret the election results as a mandate for their party.
“This was a pretty big tide, you know. And I don’t know that there was a specific message from it, except that people want change,” he said.
Dorgan was specifically critical of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s contention that Republican’s top priority should be defeating President Obama in 2012.
“That one comment by Senator McConnell demonstrates more than almost anything I know how dysfunctional this place has become,” Dorgan said. “If that is, in fact, his top priority, as the minority leader of the Senate, then he’s missing what’s happening in this country.”
Both parties have failed to put enough focus on the need to grow the economy, he said: “Washington has not done enough to incentivize the things necessary to help create jobs out in the private sector.”
And Dorgan said he expects the White House to reach a deal with Republicans where all of the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year are extended for a period of time, perhaps a year or two.
“I think that probably will end up being the case. It has to be done by the end of December,” Dorgan said. “My own view is we have a $13 trillion debt, we have a $1.3 trillion annual budget deficit at the moment. It’s coming down, but it’s huge. And I’d like to err on the side of being conservative and cautious here. I would propose that we extend for two years the middle income tax cuts – up to $250,000 – and leave it at that. I don’t think that’s what is going to happen. I think there’s going to be a compromise.”
Watch the full interview with Sen. Byron Dorgan HERE .
We also checked in with National Journal’s Susan Davis, about maneuverings on Capitol Hill in the wake of the Republican rout, plus President Obama’s next series of moves.
Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE.