CBS Discusses Future of GOP With Liberal Journalists

Erica Hill, CBS During a 6-minute segment on the Saturday Early Show on CBS, co-host Erica Hill spoke with liberal journalists Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News and World Report, and Steven Kornacki of the New York Observer, about the future of the Republican Party. Republican strategist and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez was also part of the panel discussion, but was only allowed 44 seconds to speak during the segment, frequently being cut off by Hill, Zuckerman, and Kornacki.

Zuckerman described the future of the GOP this way: "Obama's popularity is surging and the support for the Republican Party is declining, in part because if there is any symbol of the Republican Party, it was Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, speaking after President Obama, and articulating a philosophy that was so completely discredited under the Bush administration that it's hard to imagine that they think they're going to do anything other than consolidate their support in a very small number of arch-conservative districts in the United States."

Kornacki shared a similar view, suggesting Republicans give up on conservative principles and simply follow Democratic Party ideals: "Republicans in Congress, the Republicans on talk radio, on Fox News, Republicans who are dominating the party and driving the philosophy of their party right now and they are denying reality...2008 was a revolt against the excesses of the Reagan philosophy, and the Republicans right now seem to be saying...'we got to click our shoes together three times, repeat our favorite Reagan catch phrase and poof, we're going to be good again.' It's not going to work. The public is looking for people who want government to take a leading, active, and aggressive role. Republicans aren't even speaking to that."

Zuckerman responded to Kornacki by declaring: "The American people today say 'we think government is part of the solution.' It is the philosophy of the previous administration, that was the part of the problem." Kornacki added: "And nothing better symbolizes that than Bobby Jindal's statement on Tuesday night, or whenever it was, when he said, 'you know, government -- people say government solves problems but those of us who went through Katrina have our doubts.' The lesson the American people took from that, however, was not that government was the problem, that incompetent government administered by people who don't believe government has a role is the problem."

Sanchez attempted to counter those arguments: "But you know there's a -- I think that's simplifying it. This massive expansion of government is what people fear. They want efficient government. They want government that's going to make a difference." Kornacki replied: "Isn't this massive expansion of government Republicanesque?" Sanchez began to respond: "No, no, I-" but he cut her off: "$6 trillion in debt." Sanchez attempted to continue: "I think there's fault on either side, I don't think -- there's mud on both boots." She was then silenced by Hill, who gave Zuckerman the last word: "Mort, I want to end with a final thought from you."

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

9:00AM TEASE:

ERICA HILL: Budget bashing, the Republicans fighting the President's $3.5 trillion budget, but do they have a strategy to take on the popular president and win?

9:01AM TEASE:

HILL: We want to tell you about something new we are starting this week, a brand new segment called 'The Early Line' where we are going to take you behind the headlines of some of the best journalists, the best minds in this country, to take a look at the top issues and the top stories affecting you every day.

9:04AM SEGMENT:

ERICA HILL: Our new segment this morning is called 'The Early Line.' Every Saturday we're going to bring together a panel of experts to discuss the big news story of the week. And the topic this week, how does the Republican Party come back? To help us answer that question, Steve Kornacki is a political columnist for the New York Observer, Leslie Sanchez is a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, and the chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News and World Report Mort Zuckerman, who is also publisher of the New York Daily News. Good to have all of you with us in the studio this morning. Mort, I want to start with you on this question, it seems in some ways that the strategy of the Republican Party as of late has been to say no to President Obama. Is that an effective strategy that could work heading forward?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: I think they've had one of the least successful strategies of any party in our memory, because they've lost dramatically both houses of Congress, they lost the presidency, part of the largest vote, and Obama's popularity is surging and the support for the Republican Party is declining, in part because if there is any symbol of the Republican Party, is was Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, speaking after President Obama, and articulating a philosophy that was so completely discredited under the Bush administration that it's hard to imagine that they think they're going to do anything other than consolidate their support in a very small number of arch-conservative districts in the United States.

HILL: Which obviously isn't going to be enough to just simply consolidate that support.

ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not.

HILL: So Leslie, then, heading forward there's been a lot of talk, too, about Rush Limbaugh, is he sort of the new voice of the Republican Party and people can go back and forth on this all day. But heading forward as a party, what is your message going to be? How do you bring that back together and bring more people in?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: Well no, I think recovery begins where denial ends. There's no doubt about it. The Republican Party has become increasingly white, evangelical. I mean, if you saw the base of Senator McCain's support came from that constituency. Unless we broaden that in very much the way the Reagan coalition did, expand it to different things, other ethnic minorities, other suburbanites, we lost suburbanites and we lost people that had a bit of a higher education, we have to bring them back.

HILL: Mike Steele talked about that, talking about having sort of a hip-hop strategy, wanting to go after young Latino and African-American voters. Is there really a solid strategy in place, though, to say to these young folks, and to minorities, there is a place for you in what's known as the 'Grand Old White Party' to many people?

SANCHEZ: Well, it's not only about race, it's about solutions, it's looking at what the real role of government's going to be, but what are -- we're not talking about education, we're not talking about health care. Those tend to be issues that more centrists or moderates want to talk about. We're going to have to expand that and have solutions that look like good contrast to the Democrats.

HILL: Steven, it sounds all well and good, pointing out what needs to be done. You wrote this week that 'Republicans are their own worst enemy.' So then, how do you reverse course and become your own best supporter?

STEVE KORNACKI: Well, Leslie is honest. I mean, you acknowledge reality. And I am looking at Bobby Jindal this week, the Republicans in Congress, the Republicans on talk radio, on Fox News, Republicans who are dominating the party and driving the philosophy of their party right now and they are denying reality. Something profound happened in 2008, something as profound in 2008 as in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected. Ronald Reagan was elected by sort of channeling a public mood against government, government was too big, it was suffocating, government was the enemy. That drove a conservative revolution in this country. 2008, and it was years in the making, but 2008 was a revolt against the excesses of the Reagan philosophy, and the Republicans right now seem to be saying, I didn't hear this so much from Leslie, but I heard, I hear this from every single Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, are basically saying 'we got to click our shoes together three times, repeat our favorite Reagan catch phrase and poof, we're going to be good again.' It's not going to work. The public is looking for people who want government to take a leading, active, and aggressive role. Republicans aren't even speaking to that.

SANCHEZ: Okay, I don't know-

ZUCKERMAN: What Reagan famously said was government is a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. The American people today say 'we think government is part of the solution.' It is the philosophy of the previous administration, that was the part of the problem.

KORNACKI: And nothing better symbolizes that than Bobby Jindal's statement on Tuesday night, or whenever it was, when he said, 'you know, government -- people say government solves problems but those of us who went through Katrina have our doubts.' The lesson the American people took from that, however, was not that government was the problem, that incompetent government administered by people who don't believe government has a role is the problem.

SANCHEZ: But you know there's a -- I think that's simplifying it. This massive expansion of government is what people fear. They want efficient government. They want government that's going to make a difference.

KORNACKI: Isn't this massive expansion of government Republicanesque?

SANCHEZ: No, no, I-

KORNACKI: $6 trillion in debt.

SANCHEZ: I think there's fault on either side, I don't think -- there's mud on both boots.

HILL: And the American people would likely agree that there is probably mud on both boots, especially these days. Mort, I want to end with a final thought from you. Because we're talking about Reagan and looking to the past, but the New York Times Sunday magazine, coming out tomorrow, actually has a huge cover story, a picture of Newt Gingrich, and in this article they say 'is the future of the Republican Party in the past?,' in looking at Newt Gingrich. Could he in some way be a savior for the party?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, If his ideas were beginning to be adopted by the Republican Party, yes. He's one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people in all of American politics and he really is trying to fashion a whole set of ideas, and principles, and politics, that address some of the issues we were talking about before in health care, in education, in the way government is involved in our lives, but nobody's paying that much attention to him, frankly. I think he's a brilliant man and I think he would be a vastly better leader, and would have been a vastly better speaker for the Republican Party, had he been the person who followed Barack Obama rather than Bobby Jindal.

HILL: Bobby Jindal is having a tough time for this one, taking a lot of flack for it. We have to leave it there, I'm sorry. But such a pleasure to have you all here and we look forward to having you back. Mort Zuckerman, Leslie Sanchez, Steve Kornacki, thanks again. Chris, back over to you.

CHRIS WRAGGE: Erica, thank you. Love the new segment.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC