Earlier this week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced that he will step down in January as the Republican Conference Chairman, the number three GOP leadership post in the Senate. Speaking to reporters David Espo, Associated Press, and Paul Kane, Washington Post, on C-SPAN's Newsmakers, Sen. Alexander called his decision "liberating."
Sen. Alexander denied that his was stepping down because he was not guaranteed the number 2 leadership position when current Whip Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) retires as the end of 2012. "Leadership has to reflect the majority of your caucus. Now I'm free to do what I want."
Freed from the constraints of leadership, he pointed to his goal of creating bipartisan coalitions to work on issues such as nuclear waste, No Child Left Behind, and environmental regulation. "We should be focused on results instead of making speeches."
During the interview, Sen. Alexander also described changes in the way the Senate conducts its business, obstacles facing entitlement reform and the prospects for the deficit reduction "super committee."
"I'm optimistic. We need for them to succeed. The consequences of not succeeding are severe."
As a former governor of Tennessee, Sen. Alexander gave his support to the three governors in the GOP presidential race. "Romney, Huntsman and Perry each could do a better job than Pres. Obama."
Sen. Alexander reaffirmed that he expects to run for re-election in 2014.
Newsmakers airs on Sunday at 10am ET and 6pm ET.