CNN: GOP Battle Between 'More Tolerant' Moderates & 'Staunch Conservatives'

Wolf Blitzer, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgDuring a segment on Tuesday’s Situation Room program, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer characterized the ongoing post-election identity struggle in the Republican Party as being between moderates who are “more tolerant on fiscal and social issues” and “staunch” conservatives “who don’t want the party to become more moderate.” Later in the same segment, Gloria Borger, one of the network’s senior political analysts, labeled some of the moderate Republicans being considered for 2010 congressional races as being “very pragmatic choices.”

Blitzer introduced Borger’s analysis by highlighting the “serious battle...brewing in the Republican party....On the one side, moderates more tolerant on fiscal and social issues -- on the other side, staunch conservatives who don’t want the party to become more moderate.” The analyst herself focused on how this struggle was affecting statewide races, specifically in the northeastern states of Connecticut and Delaware. She argued that Republicans in Connecticut “need to put up a moderate candidate in that state to go against Chris Dodd.” She also cited unnamed conservative recruiters in the GOP who were supposedly saying, “we need moderates in the state of Connecticut.”

Borger advanced that the same was the case in Delaware: “There’s a possibility that Beau Biden is going to run to try and take that seat in Delaware, and they’re actively lobbying now a moderate Republican, Congressman Mike Castle, to go up against Beau Biden, because Republicans understand, and even conservative ones understand, that it’s their only shot of winning the state of Delaware.”

The analyst later reported that other Republican recruiters in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania tried to find a moderate there as well: “...They tried to get former Governor Tom Ridge to run, and in the end, he decided not to. So now they’ve got a conservative candidate, Pat Toomey, out there as a Republican, and that hurts their chances a bit in that state.”

The full transcript of the segment, which began 47 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of Tuesday’s Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: A serious battle is brewing in the Republican party. We’ve been reporting on it for days now. On the one side, moderates more tolerant on fiscal and social issues -- on the other side, staunch conservatives who don’t want the party to become more moderate. Let’s go to our senior political analyst Gloria Borger. She’s here joining us. This could play out -- this battle, in several future races, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER: In the Senate. You know, Wolf, we have this theoretical argument going on at the national level, as you point out, about whether the Republican Party should go more to its conservative base, or whether it should be a big tent Republican Party. But at the state level, where they’re now recruiting senate candidates -- if you drill down, what you see -- lots of very pragmatic choices that are being made by the Republican Party.

Let’s take a look at the state of Connecticut, for example. You have a vulnerable senator there, Senator Chris Dodd, because of his issues relating to the chairmanship of the Banking Committee. And that is a state that Obama won by 23 points. So Republicans need to put up a moderate candidate in that state to go against Chris Dodd. One of the people they’re looking at is Rob Simmons, who is a moderate pro-choice Republican. And so, you’ve got conservative recruiters in the Republican Party saying, we need moderates in the state of Connecticut. Same thing going on in the state of Delaware, a state that President Obama won by 25 points. There’s a possibility that Beau Biden is going to run to try and take that seat in Delaware, and they’re actively lobbying now a moderate Republican, Congressman Mike Castle, to go up against Beau Biden, because Republicans understand, and even conservative ones understand, that it’s their only shot of winning the state of Delaware. So whatever the argument is on the national level, on the state level, they just want to level the playing field.

BLITZER: So are the Republicans having any success in recruitment?

BORGER: Well, it’s kind of mixed success. For example, when Arlen Specter decided that he was going to become a Democrat, they had to scramble in the state of Pennsylvania, and they tried to get former Governor Tom Ridge to run, and in the end, he decided not to. So now they’ve got a conservative candidate, Pat Toomey, out there as a Republican, and that hurts their chances a bit in that state. But overall, Republican recruiters say it’s easier for them now than it was when George W. Bush was president.

BLITZER: All right.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center