Surprise: Stephanopoulos Tempers Piers Morgan's Liberal Spin

Of all people, former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos was the one throwing water on Piers Morgan's liberal spin. On Thursday's Piers Morgan Tonight, the host hyped that Mitt Romney's 47 percent remarks "could be an election-ending moment."

"Mitt Romney has clearly hit a bit of a buffer moment here. Could be a game-changing moment. Could be an election-ending moment," Morgan asserted before Stephanopoulos jumped in to stop him. "Wow. That's going a little far actually," he insisted.

Morgan wouldn't give in, though. "Is it going too far?" he asked again before his guest affirmed "I think it is" and provided some polling context.

"But look, and even after all of the hullabaloo over the 47 percent this week, Gallup Poll comes out today, Mitt Romney is picking up a point. It's a dead even race. Now the polls are all over the map right now and Mitt Romney is running out of both time and space, but you can't say game-ender yet," added Stephanopoulos.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on September 20 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:02 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

PIERS MORGAN: You're the perfect guy to ask. Because when you were with Bill Clinton you went through great highs and the occasional massive low. Mitt Romney has clearly hit a bit of a buffer moment here. Could be a game-changing moment. Could be an election-ending moment in terms of --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Wow. That's going a little far actually.

MORGAN: Is it going too far?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think it is. I mean –

MORGAN: Because people are calling it like that –

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, and you don't want your low to hit in the September before the election, Bill Clinton's lows were more during the primary season, January, February. He was on an ascent going into the fall.

But look, and even after all of the hullabaloo over the 47 percent this week, Gallup Poll comes out today, Mitt Romney is picking up a point. It's a dead even race. Now the polls are all over the map right now and Mitt Romney is running out of both time and space, but you can't say game-ender yet.

MORGAN: So all these gaffes – supposed gaffes, I mean, do you see them as gaffes with your old White House hat on? How significant are these alleged gaffes be?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think there have been more unforced errors than you would expect from a presidential campaign in the final months. I mean, if you go back to the trip to Europe and the Olympic gaffes – the convention, there were some significant mistakes at the convention, setting aside Clint Eastwood and the empty chair. There didn't seem to be a coordinated message coming out of the convention in support of Mitt Romney and his agenda going forward. And of course, you know, this tape coming out. Now you can say, is it a gaffe or is it what Mitt Romney really believes. Whatever it was, they didn't want it out this week in this way at this time.

MORGAN: Let's hear a bit of that tape again. It's becoming notorious. But let's play it to remind viewers who may not have heard it.

(Video Clip)

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's – that's an entitlement and the government should give it to them, and they will vote for this President no matter what.

(End Video Clip)

MORGAN: See, here's the difficult question for you. When Bill Clinton was fund raising, for example, would he often go harder on the rhetoric, thinking he was in a secure room with people that he could trust, or is this Mitt Romney's big fatal flaw, that he's been caught talking in a different way?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have just got to assume, when you're in a presidential race, that every single moment is on the record. There is no such thing as off-the-record in a presidential race. Now Bill Clinton – listen, every candidate makes mistakes. In fact, one time when he was President, President Clinton went before a fund raiser I think it was in Houston and he told the crowd, this was after he'd passed the tax increase, which ended up working, that he thought that he had raised their taxes too much. And that was a three or four-day story that we had to deal with. So it does happen. I think the problem here is that actually I think you actually left out the most damaging line in that soliloquy. And that was where he said my job is not to worry about them.

MORGAN: Yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's just like writing off –

MORGAN: I thought that, and also that calling them victims.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and –

MORGAN: The moment you start calling half the country victims –

STEPHANOPOULOS: And then when you add to that –

MORGAN: It's a real patronizing pat-on-the-head kind of thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that 47 percent is actually striking right at the heart of many Romney voters, especially the elderly who receive significant amounts of government assistance, Social Security and Medicare. That's why it caused so much trouble for him.
 

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