Stephanopoulos Pushes Romney to ‘Show Some Distance’ from Conservatives; Does Hit Schumer on Maher Hypocrisy

Mitt Romney can’t close the deal with Republican primary voters because too many don’t trust that he’s a real conservative, but on Sunday’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos pressured Romney to move left to win in November. “How does Mitt Romney manage to continue to try to get conservatives over to his side,” Stephanopoulos wondered in acknowledging that shortcoming, “while reaching out to independents?” He soon fretted during the roundtable:

Does he have the freedom at this point to do what a lot of people are recommending, find a place to pick a fight, show some distance from the base of the party?

A “lot of people” in Stephanoploulos’ liberal Manhattan news media orbit. Mary Matalin fired back: “That’s a ridiculous kind of pundit strategy.”

Earlier in the program, however, Stephanopoulos did press a Democratic guest, Senator Chuck Schumer who appeared with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, about liberal hypocrisy in embracing Bill Maher while condemning Rush Limbaugh over comments derogatory toward women. Schumer weak retort diminished his ally: “Rush Limbaugh has tremendous weight in the Republican Party” while “Bill Maher’s a comedian who’s on at 11:00 o’clock at night but has very little influence.” The exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Several Democrats made a lot of hay with the comments of Rush Limbaugh last week, but some Republicans are seeing hypocrisy there. I want to show a bit of an ad that’s being run by a group called ShePAC, it’s aligned with Sarah Palin. They’re saying the Democrats should be asking Bill Maher, the comedian, to turn back that million dollars he gave to Obama’s Super PAC because of his history of attacks on women. Take a look.

AD CLIP: Hi, Bill Maher here. Sarah Palin agreed to do commentary at Fox News, which is actually very similar to her day job, talking to a baby with Down syndrome/Speaking of dumb twats/It’s not because they have breasts, it’s because they are boobs.

STEPANOPOULOS: Should Democrats give the money back?

SCHUMER: Well, no, I mean, look the bottom line is, that Rush Limbaugh’s comments were just nasty and directed at a particular young woman who had a particular point of view and was expressing herself. Bill Maher’s a comedian. It’s much different. Rush Limbaugh has tremendous weight in the Republican Party. No one will rebut him. Bill Maher’s a comedian who’s on at 11:00 o’clock at night but has very little influence on what’s happening here.

Actually, Maher’s HBO show, Real Time, first runs at 10 PM ET on Friday nights.

The MRC’s Media Reality Check, “Hypocritical Cable Networks Eagerly Bash Rush But Embrace Crude Bill Maher,” provides a long list of times when Maher has denigrated conservative women.

From the roundtable on the Sunday, March 11 This Week:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How does Mitt Romney manage to continue to try to get conservatives over to his side while reaching out to independents?

NICOLLE WALLACE: I think the troubles that he’s having, in bringing along really the hard-core elements of our base, will serve him well in the general. It was a little bit similar to what John McCain faced where he had supported comprehensive immigration reform. It was a uge burden in the Republican primary, but it didn’t, some of the more difficult things to swallow for women’s voters who make up a majority of independents made it easier for him to make his case to those same voters in the general election and I think that-

JAKE TAPPER: McCain did not do well with Latino voters.

WALLACE: Well, women though, women. Some of these issues that feel hard or harsh turn off women voters. And I think that Romney will have an easier time. I think some of the social issues don’t attach themselves to Romney.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does he have the freedom at this point to do what a lot of people are recommending, find a place to pick a fight, show some distance from the base of the party?

MARY MATALIN: That’s a ridiculous kind of pundit strategy, okay? I don’t care what -- you can look at any poll and by three to one, four to one, I don't care what kind of conservative you are, you care about the economy. I don't care what kind of independent you are, you care about the economy. The very last thing voters say they care about are social issues. He’s going to be running against Barack Obama, whose numbers as an incumbent more closely resemble Bush One. And Carter. They do not resemble LBJ’s or Clinton’s. So this canard that he's a Goldwater or a Dole analogy, it’s just that.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center