Ignoring National Journal's recent finding that Barack Obama had the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate in 2007, Time Magazine's senior political analyst Mark Halperin, appearing on Thursday's American Morning on CNN, claimed that both Obama and John McCain were "centrists" as he explained New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent decision not to run for President. Citing Bloomberg's intent to run only if both major parties nominated extreme candidates, Halperin explained: "He ended up with two guys who are centrists." (Transcript follows)
Even though anchor John Roberts hinted that the words "independence" and "bucking some party orthodoxy" apply less to Obama than to McCain, Halperin suggested that those words only apply more to McCain "in terms of their time in Washington, in part because Obama hasn't been there very long." After describing McCain as someone who has "made a career" of "going after his party when he thinks the country's interests should stand above the party's interests," Halperin asserted that "that's what Obama is talking about as well."
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Thursday February 28 American Morning on CNN with critical portions in bold:
JOHN ROBERTS: So Mark, what do you make of all of this, the timing for Bloomberg, and the fact that he has finally decided to close the door on a presidential run if that door was ever open?
MARK HALPERIN, Time Magazine Senior Political Analyst: Well, he did have that ballot deadline, as you mentioned. But I think that the handwriting went right up on the wall when the nominees were determined. Now, John McCain, as you said, the de facto Republican nominee, good friends with Bloomberg and someone who shares a lot of what Bloomberg wants to see in a President. In fact, if you read Bloomberg's op-ed piece, a lot of it could have been written by John McCain. Now, the other two possible presidents, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, also present challenges for Bloomberg. Clinton, of course, also from New York, has worked closely with the mayor. And if Obama is the nominee, which is more likely than a not, at this point, he also has a lot of the same qualities that Bloomberg would offer up -- appeal to independents which McCain also has, and at least the rhetoric of saying Washington doesn't work, I want to change the way things work. The very appeal that Bloomberg would have brought to the race is the very appeal that McCain and Obama have for a lot of voters.
ROBERTS: Yeah, you know, an advisor to McCain says it's good to great news, I guess, thinking about the idea that Bloomberg could have played spoiler the way Ralph Nader did back in 2000. And here's what Bloomberg said, just to reiterate. Quote, "If a candidate takes an independent nonpartisan approach and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy, I'll join others in helping that candidate win the White House."
Mark, you suggested just a second ago that both John McCain and Barack Obama have got elements of that independence and perhaps bucking some party orthodoxy. But what Bloomberg said there, does that, does that describe McCain to a greater degree than it does Obama?
HALPERIN: Well, it does certainly in terms of their time in Washington, in part because Obama hasn't been there very long. McCain has made a career out of doing just what Bloomberg says he wants, going after his party when he thinks the country's interests should stand above the party's interests. That's what John McCain has gotten famous for. That's what he's done for most of his career in Washington on a lot of big issues, and that's what Obama is talking about as well. Bloomberg's plan all along was, to run, was to see two nominees on the extremes -- people who were more partisan or more associated with the extreme wings of their party. He ended up with two guys who are centrists. Bloomberg only wanted to run, John, if he thought he could win, and I think he sees very little room. And he likes both McCain, and he also likes Obama a lot.