Piers Morgan Butters Up Moderate Republican Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman may be the liberal media's favorite Republican candidate, and CNN's Piers Morgan did nothing to dispel that notion in a two-part puff-piece interview Monday and Tuesday. The CNN host provided plenty of softball questions and positive commentary in what seemed at times to be a campaign promotion.

Morgan described the moderate candidate as "pragmatic" and "sensible," took pleasure in Huntsman's past as a young rock star, and pointed out his "impressive" resume as former governor of Utah. In contrast, he painted Huntsman's GOP opponents as taking the low road, telling the former governor they want to "tear your throat out."

"Jon Huntsman may be that very rare thing in the Republican Party – a moderate. He believes in global warming, civil unions, and was once in a rock band," Morgan began on Tuesday.

He praised Huntsman's record as governor of Utah before asking him about his jobs plan. "I mean it is an impressive record you had in Utah. In simple terms, easy to understand terms, how would you get America back to work? What is your great master plan?"

For further evidence of Morgan's idealization of Huntsman as a centrist messiah, he expressed his dismay that Huntsman would have opposed (gasp!) a 10-to-one spending cuts to tax increases proposal, "because you're a pragmatic, sensible member of the Republican Party. And not all of them are."

"And I would have thought that the pragmatist would have said – it doesn't – you're the compromise guy. You're the guy that gets deals done. Why would you vote against that?" Morgan lamented.

He also made sure to pit the candidate against the fringe movements of his party – particularly the Tea Party – as NewsBusters reported Tuesday.

"You said in that bumper we will conduct this campaign on the high road. The problem with wanting to be on the high road is a lot of your competitors will not want to be on the high road. They're going to want to rip you to pieces, tear your throat out," Morgan told the former governor.

"But if you're the Republican nominee, how are you going to control these Tea Party side of the GOP, because they're so intransigent," Morgan also asked Huntsman, on Monday night.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 22 and 23, is as follows:

CNN
PIERS MORGAN
8/23/2011
9:45 p.m. EDT

MORGAN: Jon Huntsman may be that very rare thing in the Republican Party – a moderate. He believes in global warming, civil unions, and was once in a rock band. Now more from my exclusive interview with him.

(...)

MORGAN: Why should he be President?

MARY KAYE HUNTSMAN, wife of Jon Huntsman: Because I think he's the greatest leader out there. He's been there and he's done that, and taken a state to number one right there. I think that the confidence is there. And I think people would have a confidence. They'd know that we are in good hands from day one with Jon at the helm.

MORGAN: I mean it is an impressive record you had in Utah. In simple terms, easy to understand terms, how would you get America back to work? What is your great master plan?

JON HUNTSMAN, GOP presidential candidate: The principles are the same, whether in Utah or whether on a national basis. We've got to make ourselves a safe haven for the attraction of brain power and the aggregation of capital. One, we need tax reform. You can't have the second highest business tax in the developed world and expect to compete. I want to do what we did in Utah. You phase out the deductions and the loopholes and the biases. And you buy down the rate and you broaden the base. It's not a difficult thing to do.

Two, we've got to get the regulatory monkey off our back. There's no predictability in the marketplace. Capital isn't flowing, and people aren't being hired because of the red tape and regulatory measures. Three, energy independence is the lowest of low-hanging fruit. T. Boone Pickens says 500,000 jobs over five years and I believe it. Those are the three steps that I believe would be the most powerful immediately in getting this country going again. And the marketplace would respond.

MORGAN: The one part of the whole debt ceiling debate that I was surprised about involving you – because you're a pragmatic, sensible member of the Republican Party. And not all of them are. And there came the moment when you were all asked, look, if you cut spending by 10 dollars, would you prepare to get a dollar up in revenue? And you voted against that.

And I would have thought that the pragmatist would have said – it doesn't – you're the compromise guy. You're the guy that gets deals done. Why would you vote against that?

J. HUNTSMAN: I'm not the compromise guy. I'm the guy who would lead out based upon principles and what I've done.


CNN
PIERS MORGAN
8/22/2011
9:29 p.m. EDT

PIERS MORGAN: Governor, what do you think are the biggest misconceptions about you personally? Other than people saying you're boring?

(...)

MORGAN: I mean the bit I like about your early background, which is not commonly known I think, is that you dropped out of high school to be a rock star, to be the next Freddie Mercury. I mean, that alone dispels all sports of rumors.

(...)

MORGAN: I mean, you're, as everyone knows, Mr. Nice Guy. You said in that bumper we will conduct this campaign on the high road. The problem with wanting to be on the high road is a lot of your competitors will not want to be on the high road. They're going to want to rip you to pieces, tear your throat out.

(...)

MORGAN: But if you're the Republican nominee, how are you going to control these Tea Party side of the GOP, because they're so intransigent. They've got their gander up. They've held the president to ransom successfully. They're all sitting there thinking we've got them on the run here.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center