CBS’s Smith: GOP Base ‘Mostly White, Older, Very Religious’

Harry Smith, CBS While discussing the future of the GOP on Sunday, CBS’s Harry Smith wondered: "Is there room for moderates in the Republican Party?...there’s a brand-new Gallup poll that mostly white, older, very religious, just almost demographically the future of the party can’t just be based in those folks."

Smith, filling in for Bob Schieffer as host of Face the Nation, spoke with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about the state of the Republican Party and began by asking: "Who’s the most real Republican, you, Dick Cheney , Sarah Palin , Colin Powell, Rush Limbaugh?" Gingrich responded diplomatically: "Oh, all of us are. So is Mitt Romney. So is Bobby Jindal. So is Governor Lindle – Lingle of Hawaii."

In response to Smith wondering if there was "room for moderates" in the party, Gingrich explained: "I am a Reagan Republican. Reagan believed in a very broad base. He always talked about ‘my fellow Republicans’ and those independents and Democrats who want a better future...Here’s my simple test for Republicans. In California, a state which voted 61% for Obama, two weeks ago, 64% of the state voted against higher taxes and more spending in Sacramento."

Gingrich went on to observe: "Not a single county voted for it, which means a majority of San Francisco voted against higher spending and more taxes...If you’re thinking about a future Republican majority, you now have 64% of California that’s potentially your ally. But that would mean you’d actually go to San Francisco and have a happy, positive meeting focused on taxes and spending." Smith snidely commented: "This is – this is the Pollyanna in you. Because the fact is, is that this – there’s a brand-new Gallup poll that mostly white, older, very religious, just almost demographically the future of the party can’t just be based in those folks."

Smith later remarked: "Well, but you also have a voice of ideological purity out there that, unless people kowtow to-" Gingrich replied: "Yes, shrug them off." Smith wondered: "Shrug them off?..So your advice to other Republicans is shrug off Rush Limbaugh?"

Here is the transcript of the exchange:

10:49AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Let’s talk about the future of the Republican Party a little bit. A lot – that’s been a subject of magazine covers and a lot of conversation for the last couple of months. Who’s the most real Republican, you, Dick Cheney , Sarah Palin , Colin Powell, Rush Limbaugh?

NEWT GINGRICH: Oh, all of us are. So is Mitt Romney. So is Bobby Jindal. So is Governor Lindle – Lingle of Hawaii. So, I mean, look-

SMITH: Is there room for moderates in the Republican Party?

GINGRICH: I – Yes. I am a – I am a Reagan Republican. Reagan believed in a very broad base. He always talked about ‘my fellow Republicans’ and those independents and Democrats who want a better future. A third of his vote were Democrats. Here’s my simple test for Republicans. In California, a state which voted 61% for Obama, two weeks ago, 64% of the state voted against higher taxes and more spending in Sacramento. Not a single county voted for it, which means a majority of San Francisco voted against higher spending and more taxes. Now, are Republicans-

SMITH: Well, I don’t know if that’s-

GINGRICH: No, but my point-

SMITH: And you have a Republican governor who is sitting there saying, ‘I have a budget of

some billions and billions and billions of dollars that I can’t even begin to figure out how to – how to compensate for.’

GINGRICH: Right, which is a sign of how bankrupt Sacramento is. My point is this, though. If

you’re thinking about a future Republican majority, you now have 64% of California that’s potentially your ally. But that would mean you’d actually go to San Francisco and have a happy, positive meeting focused on taxes and spending. Now, I think Republicans-

SMITH: This is – this is the Pollyanna in you. Because the fact is, is that this – there’s a brand-new Gallup poll that mostly white, older, very religious, just almost demographically the

future of the party can’t just be based in those folks.

GINGRICH: But I just said, I’m happy to say, let’s base it on 64% of Californians,

many of whom are younger minorities, would represent a very diverse party overnight. And – and – and go back and look at Reagan in ‘79, 21% of the country was Republican in 1979. Reagan defeated Carter decisively a year later because he was open to everybody who was unhappy.

SMITH: Well, but you also have a voice of ideological purity out there that, unless people kowtow to-

GINGRICH: Yes, shrug them off.

SMITH: Shrug them off?

GINGRICH: None of them – Reagan shrugged them off. Reagan was frequently attacked. I talked to Michael Reagan the other night, you know-

SMITH: Right.

GINGRICH: Governor – President Reagan’s son, who pointed out that Reagan had done all sorts

of things that were deviancies from the conservative purity, but people knew in general he was a

conservative and people accepted that he was as a conservative. And he built a very broad coalition.

SMITH: So your advice to other Republicans is shrug off Rush Limbaugh?

GINGRICH: My – my advice is that – that Colin Powell is a great American. I’m proud that he’s

Republican. And, you know, Dick Cheney is a great American. I’m proud he’s Republican. I’m glad both of them are Republicans.

SMITH: There you go.

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