CNN Welcomes Mourdock to Senate Race: Aren't You Going to 'Undermine' American Unity If You Win?

After CNN's Erin Burnett lamented the defeat of "moderate" Dick Lugar in Indiana's GOP Senate primary, Wednesday's Starting Point panel had a cold welcome for the victorious Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock.

Anchor Soledad O'Brien asked Mourdock if his "confrontational" attitude wouldn't help "undermine" the cause of uniting Americans. It's doubtful whether Soledad thought the same of President Obama as he shoved liberal legislation down the throats of Republicans in the first two years of his term.

"[D]oesn't that actually just undermine any sense of trying to get Americans united and together and raise some of those numbers for approval, frankly?" Soledad challenged Mourdock. CNN's panel obviously had a problem with Mourdock's premise that the two parties were too far apart for effective compromise.

According to the GOP candidate, "the ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. I don't think there's going to be a lot of successful compromise." He wished instead for a "conservative majority" where Democrats could reach across the aisle to help lower taxes and reduce government spending.

Again, the liberal media were not freaking out when Democrats held the presidency and both houses of Congress, and worked to shove through the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and ObamaCare. However, when a conservative candidate declares that he will not compromise his principles to work with liberals, the media question the lack of bipartisanship.

Margaret Hoover pressed him "What would you say when people criticize you as saying that you don't understand the nature of the institution you're running to represent, the Senate, which is really premised on the notion of compromising with your colleagues?"

A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 9 on Starting Point at 7:21 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[7:21]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Mr. Lugar last night sent out a message to his supporters and others, I guess, as well, and he said it was really about an anti-incumbent head winds. He also said linking him to Senator Obama at the time would be used against him and that he was also a target of Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

And Club for Growth sent out an e- mail late last night – which I was awake and was reading – and it said this: "Total independent expenditures by Club for Growth entities" – the Club for Growth Action, Club for Growth, and Club for Growth PAC – "combined amounted to 40 percent of all independent expenditures in Indiana's Senate race in the last 30 days before Election Day."

Do you think that he has a point, which is funding from some major sources somewhere between $2 million from them, maybe $4 million total, really was what helped push you over?

(...)

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN contributor: Mr. Mourdock, Margaret Hoover here. A follow-up question. Many people have likened Jim DeMint and the Tea Party to not compromising in the Senate. And what would you say? I want to give you an opportunity to respond. What would you say when people criticize you as saying that you don't understand the nature of the institution you're running to represent, the Senate, which is really premised on the notion of compromising with your colleagues?

MOURDOCK: Well, I'm a huge student of American history, and I recognize that this is one of those times where there's great polarization between the two parties. And, frankly, the ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. I don't think there's going to be a lot of successful compromise. Hence you have the deadlock we have today.

What I've said about compromise and bipartisanship is I hope to build a conservative majority in the United States Senate so that bipartisanship becomes Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government, reduce the bureaucracy, lower taxes, and get America moving again. The stimulus plan hasn't worked.

O'BRIEN: So what I hear you say is that you're not going to compromise. In fact the only compromise you'll do is really getting other people on the other side of the aisle to come to your side of the aisle, which, I guess, is the definition against compromise. You said this in the New York Times –

MOURDOCK: Well, it is the definition of political effectiveness.

O'BRIEN: True. So political effectiveness, you're saying, is not possible with compromise. Some people would say political effectiveness in the Senate actually requires compromise. There are many issues that cannot be done if you do not get bipartisan support. You're not going to work toward bipartisan support?

MOURDOCK: Well, the fact is, you never compromise on principles. If people on the far left have a principle they want to stand by, they should never compromise. Those of us on the right should not either. Compromise may come in the finer details of a plan or a budget. But the real principles that I've mentioned about having government rolled back in size, lowering taxes – those things are the principles that caused me to get in this race. They're what has motivated many people to get out and work for us. And we are at that point where one side or the other has to win this argument. One side or the other will dominate.

O'BRIEN: You told the New York Times, "The time for being collegial has passed. It's time for confrontation." And when I look at the polls and talk to people who are frustrated about I would say a lack of what's getting done in Washington, D.C., I mean there's genuine frustration and the anger can be seen on some of the poll numbers – I think approval is probably 17 percent approval for Congress.

Doesn't going in with an attitude potentially, of course, if you're able to be victorious at the very end, that collegial has passed and we're going to be confrontational, doesn't that actually just undermine any sense of trying to get Americans united and together and raise some of those numbers for approval, frankly?

MOURDOCK: Well, we are at that point right now. If you want to see where we have collegiality? Okay, we have collegiality and we have Congress with a 17 percent approval rating. So it's not working.

O'BRIEN: I don't know that you have collegiality, sir. I'm going to argue against that.

MOURDOCK: Well, I -- my point was in that interview and it is still today, those who are saying we need more collegiality, well, Mr. Lugar was seen as a very collegial person, and yet there was that very frustration. I'm certain part of the reason we won yesterday was the very fact as you mentioned that Congress is seen as so unpopular because it's so ineffective. When I say I want to be confrontational, I want to confront the issues. I'm bipartisan in the sense that I want to confront the big spenders who are both Republicans and Democrats. I want to confront those who would protect the bureaucracy rather than the Republicans or Democrats. That's the kind of confrontation we need to address the real issues that will get this country going again.

We have a difficult time ahead, we have to make some tough decisions, I'm willing to make them. And if people see that as confrontational, so be it. I like to see it as effective leadership.

O'BRIEN: Richard Mourdock, congratulations on your win yesterday. Thanks for talking with us about it. We appreciate it.

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