CNN Panel Tells Republicans to Move to the Center

"Tone deaf" Republicans are too conservative, or so said CNN's panel on Friday's Starting Point. CNN's Don Lemon remarked, "I think unless the GOP becomes the GNP, which is the Grand New Party, they're on the verge of extinction because they're tone deaf."

All three guests agreed that the GOP needs to move to the center. How's that for intellectual diversity? Anchor Soledad O'Brien started it off by lauding "one of the very best tweets" from the election, CNN regular Abby Huntsman saying (surprise!) her dad Jon Huntsman should have been the party's nominee.

O'Brien quoted none other than liberal journalist Nicholas Kristof making the same point, that the party should have picked Huntsman who is now affiliated with the liberal Brookings Institution.

And CNN anchor Don Lemon challenged GOP conservatives "doubling down" on pushing the party further right. "I'm doing a piece this weekend on my show, is it time for an intervention for the Republican Party? Because, when you see this election, and I couldn't believe that, you know, they didn't think that the outcome was going to be the way that it was," he said.

Abby Huntsman whacked GOP primary voters for not welcoming a moderate presidential candidate, adding that today's GOP is "one that is thinking too small."

The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza told the story of Bill Clinton's success in dragging the Democratic Party towards the center, but noted "I don't see the Republican figure out there right now that's able to go to the right and make that case because to do it, you have to have credibility."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 9 on Starting Point at 7:44 a.m. EST, is as follows:

[7:44]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: One of the very best tweets that we saw during the election cycle came from Abby Huntsman who tweeted this: "Something pretty exhilarating about voting for someone you believe in. I'll sleep well tonight knowing I wrote in Jon Huntsman," her dad.

Some people are saying, not just you, that Jon Huntsman would have been the better nominee. Nick Kristof of The New York Times writes this, "if the Republicans had nominated Jon Huntsman Jr., they might have been the ones celebrating right now. But he had no chance in the Republican primaries because primary voters are their party's worst enemy." Think that's true? That the primary is what, what, what kills it for anybody who, who is a moderate in the Republican Party?

ABBY HUNTSMAN, host, HuffPost Live: This time it was. I think that, you know, you can always think about what ifs. And of course, I'm going to be biased. And we probably would have seen a different general election had my dad been the nominee. But, you know, if my dad were here he'd probably tell you that he comes from the Republican Party of Lincoln, of Roosevelt, and of Reagan. Where you know, they – they really were about big, bold ideas, about bringing people together, about solving some of the biggest problems that we're faced with.

And the Republican Party that we see today is not that. It's one that is thinking too small. It's not one that's inviting to these key groups like the Latinos, like women and that's something that's going to have to change. I mean, people talk about them moving more to the right and you say how much further right can the party actually go?

O'BRIEN: It's interesting in the aftermath of the election, there are some people who are doing soul-searching, but there are others whose response was we should be more conservative. We should be more about the Tea Party. Keli Carender who we talked to was more like that.

DON LEMON, CNN correspondent: Yeah, doubling down on it. I'm doing a piece this weekend on my show, is it time for an intervention for the Republican Party? Because, when you see this election, and I couldn't believe that, you know, they didn't think that the outcome was going to be the way that it was. Because if you were on the ground and you saw those lines where people were voting early, there were people who were brown, there were women, there were Hispanics, there were all types of people and you knew which way this country was going to go just from being on the ground. It wasn't going to go extremes. It's not a party. It's not just about, quite frankly, old, white men don't decide who the President is going to be anymore. So I think unless the GOP becomes the GNP, which is the Grand New Party, they're on the verge of extinction because they're tone deaf.

HUNTSMAN: Right and I think that's what people loved about my dad that he was not an ideologue, but that was tough to get through the primary this time. He was someone that put the country first. He wanted to come up with ideas that were best for the country.

LIZZA: The Democrats went through this in the '80s and '90s. They lost three elections in a row, right, '80, '84, and '88, and who emerged out of the chaos and the soul searching in the civil war in the Democratic Party, but Bill Clinton who went to the liberal base of the Democratic Party and said your way isn't working. We need to moderate on crime and welfare and a few other key issues, and he yanked his party into the future and he won, of course, in 1992 and served two terms. I don't see the Republican figure out there right now that's able to go to the right and make that case because to do it, you have to have credibility. And with all due respect to Abby's father, who I admire a lot and think is a great guy, what it doesn't have is the – you can't do like a Nixon to China. He doesn't have the credibility with the right wing to be able to tell them your way isn't working, try it my way.
 

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