Rick Sanchez: Some 'Far-Right' Tea Partiers Wouldn't Vote for Reagan, Too Liberal

CNN's Rick Sanchez thinks that Ronald Reagan wouldn't even be conservative enough for certain members of the Tea Party.

Sanchez discussed Tuesday's Republican Senate Primary in Delaware on his Monday news hour. He criticized the Tea Party's opposition to GOP establishment candidate Congressman Mike Castle as over-the-top, and claimed Castle is "respectable" and "conservative enough" for the region. Castle has a lifetime ACU rating of 52.

Tea Party members in Delaware have largely supported the more conservative Christine O'Donnell. Sanchez believes O'Donnell gives the GOP less of a chance to win in the general election.

"But you know what's interesting about this," Sanchez continued, "I mean if you put this in perspective, Ronald Reagan would be taken out of the mix by some of these more far-Right Tea Party folks. Richard Nixon would never have become the President of the United States."

"I mean, there's really a move that comes not even right-of-center, really far Right, pushing out the guys that are closer to the middle," Sanchez stated. He asked if it wouldn't be harder for Republicans to win an election with a fringe candidate rather than with an establishment candidate.

Meanwhile, CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin disagreed with him over his assessment of Tea Party voters and Reagan. "One, I suspect many Tea Party activists would disagree with you on Ronald Reagan, because Reagan is a hero to many of them," Yellin responded.

But Sanchez wouldn't budge. "We would quibble back with immigration, for example. Ronald Reagan would say – Ronald Reagan would be called by anyone in the Tea Party today a 'pro-amnesty Republican.' That's what he would be called."

"Well, everybody reads history the way they want," Yellin answered.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on September 13, at 3:21 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN anchor: Not finding Congressman Mike Castle, Republican, conservative enough, the Tea Party is now pushing candidate Christine O'Donnell in the Republican primary. And Jessica Yellin's all over this primary for us.

I mean, this is interesting. Because, you know, once again, you got a guy like Mike Castle, most people think Mike is a, you know, respectable, Republican, conservative enough, especially considered for his region. I mean, we're talking about a Republican from the Northeast, we're not talking about an Arizona Republican for example. And yet, they want to crush this guy. What's going on?

JESSICA YELLIN: Well he's a middle-of-the-road Republican in a state that's pretty middle-of-the-road, and he's very well-known and popular statewide, Rick. But he – but tomorrow when the primary is held, only Republicans can vote. Democrats and Independents cannot vote in it. So it's a close primary, and this year you know what has happened to moderate, middle-of-the-road Republicans. They've largely been targeted by these Tea Party candidates, and the latest development is that Sarah Palin has now recorded a robo-call for Castle's opponent, Christine O'Donnell, which she's broadcasting on the radio here. And it essentially accuses "establishment Republicans" of being desperate in trying to smear O'Donnell with "vicious" personal attacks.

So it's become very personal, very mean, in a state that really is not used to this kind of harsh campaigning. It's very new to Delaware voters.

SANCHEZ: But you know what's interesting about this, I mean if you put this in perspective, Ronald Reagan would be taken out of the mix by some of these more far-Right Tea Party folks. Richard Nixon would never have become the President of the United States. I mean, there's really a move that comes not even right-of-center, really far Right, pushing out the guys that are closer to the middle, which means when they do have a general election, they probably will get the support; or I imagine they're thinking about this, and I don't know if we've done any reporting on this – would it be harder for them to win some of these elections, in Delaware, for example, if you've got somebody who's on the far right as opposed to the middle or even right-of-center?"

YELLIN: Two points. One, I suspect many Tea Party activists would disagree with you on Ronald Reagan, because Reagan is a hero to many of them. And you can quibble about whether his policies actually square with what they say now, which is –

SANCHEZ: Well, you can start – well, you could, you could – I mean, we would quibble back with immigration, for example. Ronald Reagan would say – Ronald Reagan would be called by anyone in the Tea Party today a "pro-amnesty Republican." That's what he would be called.

YELLIN: And I'm sure they'd be – I'm sure they'd be happy to quibble with you over it, Rick. But –

SANCHEZ: Well they couldn't, it's the policy! He's the guy who – I mean they couldn't. He's the guy who actually did that –

YELLIN: Well, everybody reads history the way they want.

SANCHEZ: Alright, go on.

YELLIN: Um, the, uh – the point that you're making, which is that are some of these candidates unelectable – is actually a point that some Tea Party groups are concerned with. You know Dick Armey who runs FreedomWorks, that very active national umbrella group that supported a lot of Tea Party candidates, his group says no, they're staying out of this race and they're not going to back Christine O'Donnell, this Tea Party candidate because they don't think she's electable. There's just too much, and too many reasons why they don't think she'll win. So that's an unusual wrinkle this election season. And there are a lot of Democrats that are excited about the prospect of O'Donnell winning, because they actually think that means Democrats would hold the seat statewide. Democrats agree she is not electable statewide. So she's a risky gamble for the Republican Party.
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014