RNC Chair Fires Back at CNN Host for Reading Democratic Talking Points

In a Thursday morning interview on CNN, RNC chairman Reince Priebus called out host Carol Costello for reading Democratic talking points. Costello had just told her guest that she was trying to wean him away from his talking points, but one can only wonder if she would do the same to DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

When Costello told him "I'm just trying to get you off your talking points," Priebus retorted "Well, you've been reading the Democratic talking points for the last seven minutes, Carol."

While Costello's first questions about Mitt Romney and accusations of him saying anything to get elected were fair, she then veered off in defense of President Obama's economic record.

Costello touted that "there are signs the economy is getting better" and challenged Priebus on his battering of President Obama's economic plan. "[C]an you really say that President Obama's overall economic plan has been a dismal failure?" she pressed the RNC chair.

The incident which started a testy exchange between the two was Costello interrupting her guest while he was answering her question about what specifically Mitt Romney would do to turn the economy around.

Priebus answered that according to the GOP candidates, the economic environment needs to be more positive for small businesses. Costello butted in that Obama was signing a bipartisan jobs act. "And they're signing the jobs act today, right? So they did that," she insisted.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 5 on Newsroom at 9:05 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[9:05]

(Video Clip)

MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: President Obama's comments to President Medvedev are deeply troubling. That incident calls his candor into serious question. He doesn't want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press. By flexibility, he means that what the American public doesn't know won't hurt him. His intent is on hiding. You and I are going to have to do the seeking.

(End Video Clip)

(...)

COSTELLO: Good morning. Mr. Romney is not mincing words. Is Mr. Romney accusing the President of deliberately misleading the American people?

(...)

COSTELLO: Well, Reince – Reince, for Democrats and some Republicans, that's an interesting road for Mr. Romney to travel, because he himself has been accused of saying anything to get elected. I mean here's Newt Gingrich saying it. Listen.

(Video Clip)

NEWT GINGRICH, Republican presidential candidate: I mean some people talk about making pledges that are in stone, but the idea that a Romney pledge is on Etch-A-Sketch, this would just resonate, I think, to remind everybody in the conservative movement why they are very worried about a Romney presidency and about a Romney candidacy. And it really makes you doubt – it makes you wonder about his sincerity.

(End Video Clip)

COSTELLO: So how does Romney overcome these kinds of attacks when they're coming from fellow Republicans, you know, once we get to a general election?

PRIEBUS: Well, the same way that Obama withstood the attacks from Hillary Clinton for six months. I mean the fact of the matter is we're going to have a unified Republican Party. And I would say, you know, it's one thing to modify a position that you have over a period of time. But it's another thing to tell the American people that you're going to cut the deficit in half, you're going to curb spending, you're going to bring jobs under 6 percent if you pass a trillion-dollar stimulus package, and you don't even attempt to do it. I mean Nancy Pelosi couldn't get Obama one single vote on his budget.

COSTELLO: Yes, but you're not really answering my question –

(Crosstalk)

PRIEBUS: I mean, I just – hey, come on. He's the President of the United States, he's got a responsibility here.

COSTELLO: Let's go back to my original question. Mr. Romney is accusing President Obama of misleading the American people to get re-elected. Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of the exact same thing. So how does he overcome that?

(...)

COSTELLO: Well, let's talk about the economy, because you were saying that President Obama doesn't have a plan to turn the economy around. But there are signs the economy is getting better. I mean the private sector added 209,000 jobs in March. Car sales are up 12.7 percent. Even the return from the TARP bank program swelled to $18 billion. So now the American people are actually making money on that. So you can't say that – can you really say that President Obama's overall economic plan has been a dismal failure?

(...)

COSTELLO: And just a final question. You know, as far as Mitt Romney's economic plan is concerned, what one thing will he do that will turn the economy completely around, that will make that unemployment rate go down? What one single thing – most important thing will he do?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I'm not speaking for the Mitt Romney campaign, but I can tell you that all of our candidates believe that we ought to make it easier for small businesses to hire more people, to have less regulation, to have an energy policy that makes sense.

(Crosstalk)

COSTELLO: And they're signing the jobs act today, right? So they did that.

PRIEBUS: Wait a second.

COSTELLO: Okay.

PRIEBUS: Do you want me to answer your question, Carol, or not?

COSTELLO: No, I just want to – I do. Please do.

PRIEBUS: Okay, well, then, you know, if you ask a question, you ought to at least allow the guest to answer. The last regulation –

COSTELLO: I'm just trying to get you off your talking points but go on.

PRIEBUS: Well, you've been reading the Democratic talking points for the last seven minutes, Carol.

COSTELLO: If you say so.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014