Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose predictably conducted a hostile interview of Senator Marco Rubio on Friday's CBS This Morning, badgering the Republican for his opposition to a budget proposal from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray. O'Donnell hinted that he was in the pocket of conservative special interest: "I want to ask you about the criticism that you may be more beholden to these conservative groups than to your own party."
The anchor later wondered if "these groups have too much power". Rose himself carried water for the supporters of the proposal: "Speaker Boehner has said, and others have said, is that it's going – it's the first step in the right direction, and you've got to find common ground and you've got to find compromise – otherwise, you'll have government shutdowns, which everybody loses." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
O'Donnell led the segment by highlighting "Speaker Boehner's comments...he said these conservative – the criticism is ridiculous. He blamed them for the shutdown, and said they've lost all credibility. Do you agree or disagree?" Rubio answered, in part, "I was simply asked my opinion on whether this budget takes us in the right direction as a country, and I personally feel that it does not. I mean, I think that the budget, unfortunately, continues to increase spending at a rate that is still unsustainable for our country."
Rose followed up with his "step in the right direction" quote from Boehner. The Florida Republican stated that he was opposed to government shutdowns, but added that "we have a government that's going to spend about $600 billion more than it takes in. And then, this budget comes in and actually adds money to that equation – to the amount of money that we need to borrow to function. So, I'm not sure that's a step in the right direction."
The two anchors then took turns hammering Senator Rubio for his position, starting with O'Donnell's suggestion that he more loyal to conservative groups than the GOP. The politician pushed back at their questioning:
NORAH O'DONNELL: Senator, I want to ask you about the criticism that you may be more beholden to these conservative groups than to your own party, or – in the interest of legislating. For instance, if you look at the vote in the House yesterday, it had nearly equal Democratic and Republican votes. You had Congressman Ryan, the Republican, with the Democrat, Senator Patty Murray, working for months to work out a compromise. Shouldn't you be encouraging a rare outbreak of bipartisanship?
RUBIO: Well, I think that's good, and I've worked on projects before that involved Democrats, and I think compromise is a good thing. But compromise also has to be a solution. I mean, compromise just for the sake of compromise, so we can feel good about each other – I don't think – is progress for the country. I recognize that how difficult it is-
O'DONNELL: Really? Really? That's what you think?
RUBIO: Yeah. For the – for the sake of compromise that doesn't solve problems – just for the sake of it? Yeah, that's not a good thing for the country. They also have to have solutions-
ROSE: But – but, Senator, they're not saying-
RUBIO: No, no. We have a very serious problem in this country. I'm surprised that you're surprised by my answer, because-
ROSE: But Senator, they're not saying they're compromising for the sake of compromising-
RUBIO: No, no, no – but listen-
ROSE: They're saying they're compromising so that they can move forward – not for the sake of compromise.
RUBIO: No. That's what you have described the question as. No – that's how you've described the question. Compromise is a good thing, especially if it arrives at a solution. Our ultimate goal here is to solve problems, and to make progress on issues that confront our country. We have a government that continues to spend more money than it takes in at an alarming pace. That is going to trigger a debt crisis. It is stifling job creation. It is holding American ingenuity back. When is there going to be urgency around here about addressing that? This budget does not do that. And while compromise, hopefully, will lead to a solution on that, so far, it has not.
The former NBC correspondent then dropped her "too much power" question about right-leaning groups. The politician retorted, "Well, I don't know who backed down. I mean, the bill passed in the Senate. The House is not going to do the Senate bill. I'm trying to be realistic here. We're trying to make progress on that issue."
Rose and O'Donnell have a long history of unleashing on Republican/conservative guests, while conducting softball interviews of Democratic/liberal ones (their October 4, 2013 interview of Nancy Pelosi was a rare exception). The previous morning, O'Donnell slammed Congressman Paul Ryan himself over a reduction of benefits to veterans included in his bipartisan budget plan with Senator Murray. More than two weeks earlier, both CBS anchors hounded House Majority Leader Eric Cantor over his opposition to the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.
[Update: the full transcript of the Marco Rubio interview from Friday's CBS This Morning is available at MRC.org.]