CNN’s Carol Costello Talks to Congressman David Dreier About Egypt’s Elections

American Morning

Transcript of segment

CAROL COSTELLO: Joining me now is Republican Congressman David Dreier. He’s live in Cairo, Egypt to monitor the election process. Good morning.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: From AMERICAN MORNING to Egypt afternoon. That’s what we’ve got going here.

COSTELLO: It’s awesome. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it. So you have — you have done this all over the world? You have observed elections. So how does what you’re seeing in Egypt compare?

DREIER: You know, every time I do this, it’s inspiring, but it’s never been more uplifting than this election. Obviously, there was a lot of concern going into it. You know, what one woman said to me, that this is the first time in 7,000 years that Egyptians have had a chance to vote.

Now, you know, 1952 nearly 60 years ago, there was an election, but I think that the magnitude of this one is so great and so powerful that people from all walks of life are very encouraged and very upbeat and positive.

There are lots of problems in this country. Just as we face at home, and I’m headed back to Washington tomorrow, where we’re dealing with a challenge of job creation and economic growth.

This country has lost two million jobs since Hosni Mubarak was taken out, and if you — if you look at where they’re going, obviously, it’s due to a lack of tourism and a lack of foreign direct investment that’s come because of uncertainty.

I think having this election can now play a role towards getting this very important country back on track.

COSTELLO: Well, we have observed that there are many, many women voting for the first time in their lives. There are women standing in line to cast their ballots. When you speak to these women, why do they say they’re so passionate about this?

DREIER: Well, because the rights of women are very important, and it’s — it’s not just women overall, but I’ve seen women who are in their 80s and 90s climbing two or three flights of stairs to have a chance to do this, and when I talk to them, the message is basically the same.

This is an opportunity for the first time in my life to cast a vote that will count. One individual said to me that — this was a guy. He said, “In my entire lifetime, my entire lifetime, this is the most important day of my life, because I can now play a role in determining my future.” And women, I think, feel the same way. I will tell you, I just met a woman judge. And, boy, I mean, she is very strong and very tough and doing a great job.

There was concern — I’ve been talking to a lot of the judges as well as voters, and some of the judges were really concerned, as were a lot of people, about what could have happened. And the thing that’s very gratifying to see — well, this is not a perfect election. There’s no such thing as a perfect election. You know, we in the United States have challenges ourselves. But the fact is, things have gone much, much better than many people had feared.

COSTELLO: Some of the women that we’ve talked with said they’re concerned that Islamist extremists will get into office. We have heard that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are standing in line whispering to people to vote for their candidates. Have you seen that, and does that concern you as well?

DREIER: Sure. I mean, there’s no doubt about the fact that the Freedom and Justice Party, which is the Muslim Brotherhood party, is the best organized party in the country. I mean, that’s evident any place you go. And, yes, there are people — not just from the Freedom and Justice, the brotherhood party, but others political parties that are campaigning outside of the voting stations and encouraging people to support their candidates, their party.

But I think the important thing to notice, since 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has made an attempt — well, they have been the opposition to whoever was in power, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and during the reign of Hosni Mubarak. If one looks at that, there’s a big difference. And we know this in the United States of America. There’s a big difference between being the outspoken opposition and having the responsibility to govern.

I will tell you this. I know from having talked to people across this country, job creation and economic growth is what the Egyptian people want and need. And in light of that, I think that whoever, whoever ends up tonight — and I’m going to be at counting stations late this evening — whoever ends up being victorious — and there will obviously be coalition building that will take place. And the other thing to note a three-step process, and then we have presidential elections. So there’s a long road of elections down the line. But again, whoever is in a leadership position, they will have the responsibility to get this economy growing. And we know it’s going to be a challenge.

COSTELLO: Yes, we do. We certainly can relate.

Congressman Dreier, thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate it. We’ll let you get back there.

DREIER: Hey, nice to be with you all.


DREIER: My pleasure. Thanks.

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