Questions to Political Panel From CBS's Schieffer Focus on GOP Problems 6 to 1
Instead of acknowledging the greater political challenges facing Democrats, Schieffer began by acting as if both parties were equally in trouble: "You have Democrats on the one hand saddled with a very bad economy, high unemployment....Republicans, on the other hand, have – find themselves suddenly with some very, well, how would I say it, unusual candidates, people who have taken very extreme views on things." Schieffer then proceeded to focus almost exclusively on Republican obstacles.
In his first electoral question to former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, Schieffer asked about one of those "unusual" GOP candidates: "...you have Linda McMahon, who is formally – or maybe she still is part of the World Wrestling Federation." After playing a clip of McMahon appearing at a WWE event, Schieffer pressed: "I expect Republicans are going to be seeing that video a lot this year, and they're going to have to defend it. Is this somebody who's going to be good for the Republican Party? Is this a good image for Republicans to have?"
Before Gillespie could respond, Schieffer made this bizarre comparison: "I mean, if the president's going to – every candidate is going to have to defend what the President did on the mosque down there [at Ground Zero], isn't this going to be kind of a tough one for you guys?" Gillespie shot back: "You could also show the footage of President Obama when he was running for president appearing on WWE, calling out to voters there....not so long ago, President Obama and the Democrats thought the WWE was a great place to go to talk to voters." Undeterred, Schieffer followed up: "So you're comfortable with her? And she – you think on balance she helps or hurts Republicans overall?"
Schieffer then turned to his next guest, current Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, and asked the same question about Republican candidates with "very extreme views": "...what do you think about some of these candidates?" That gave Kaine the opportunity to rant: "The Republicans are putting up a whole series of extreme candidates that are way outside the mainstream of what Americans want."
Feeling that some balance was missing, Schieffer followed Kaine's response by noting: "I would also add, the Democrats have their share of candidates that some of the other Democrats might think are rather embarrassing to have on the ticket this year, Charlie Rangel being one name that comes to mind." Instead of pressing Kaine about Rangel, Schiefffer moved on to Republican strategist Ed Rollins and wondered if the RNC should dump current chairman Michael Steele: "He's so immersed in controversy that he's – he's kind of in a bunker these days." Schieffer didn't ask if Kaine was worried about his future as DNC chair if the Democrats suffer major losses in November.
Finally, Schieffer turned to Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and actually detailed the threat facing Democrats due to the poor economy: "...we've had now 15 months of unemployment above 9%....How are Democrats going to get around that? Because, after all, when people are unemployed, they generally blame it on the people in office."
After Rendell spent his entire answer blaming Republicans unchallenged, Schieffer decided it was time to turn back to Gillespie and more "extreme" Republican views: "...a lot of people are saying, even people who had problems with the current efforts at immigration reform, saying Republicans may have gone a step too far when they start talking about amending the 14th – the Constitution, the 14th amendment....Is this a problem for you?"
Schieffer went back to Kaine and again asked a question about how Republicans would be hurt be their conservative views: "Harry Reid said the other day that he cannot imagine why any Hispanic would want to vote for Republicans now, after all of this controversy about immigration that's come about. Is that overstating the case or do you think – is he making a good point?" Again Kaine got a chance to slam the GOP: "Well, I think Senator Reid was making a point that the Republican policies, which are so anti-new American, even to the point of shredding up the 14th amendment...is chasing new Americans, not just Latinos, into the Democratic camp."
After concluding the panel discussion, Schieffer came back from the commercial break with Politico's John Harris and the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty to further analyze the midterms. At one point, Schieffer turned to Harris and confessed: "I kind of take issue with what Ed Gillespie says about some of these Tea Party candidates. I thought from the beginning the Tea Party was a bigger problem for the Republican establishment than maybe it was for Democrats....Where do you see some of these candidates going, John? Isn't it going to be very difficult for them?"
Harris fully agreed with that assessment: "Ed was valiant here on the show – but it would be interesting to talk to him on truth serum as to what he really thinks about this. There's no question that the sort of professional operative class which, frankly, all of your earlier guests were part of, on the show, they think that the Republicans have not nominated the most electable candidates."