ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper apparently thinks the race is just about over for many campaigns before the Iowa caucus has even begun. On Thursday's Good Morning America, Tapper credited Mitt Romney's recent success in the polls with other campaigns "exploding" on the campaign trail.
Tapper later repeated his former assertions, insisting that other candidates were "just self-immolating and careening off the highway" – harsh language for campaigns that have not even undergone the test of primary season. [Video below the break.]
"[W]hile other candidates have been exploding as Iowa voters go down the road of the Iowa Caucus process, Mitt Romney has been the one steady at 25 percent in the polls," Tapper noted. He added that because of Romney's message of electability, combined with other campaigns floundering, voters were finally coming over to his side.
And ABC's headline also touted that the Gingrich campaign was "In Freefall," due to his drop in the polls. News anchor Josh Elliott teed up Tapper by asking what had happened to Gingrich, in light of Tapper's words about the candidates self-destructing.
Tapper, however, blamed negative attack ads by opponents for Gingrich's downfall, and not the candidate "self-immolating."
Ironically, in 2003 ABC had a much different attitude about Howard Dean's infamous scream which led to the collapse of his presidential campaign.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on December 29 at 7:05 a.m. EST, is as follows:
JOSH ELLIOTT: And Jake, again, as we just heard in Jonathan's piece here comes Mitt Romney now. Certainly the White House has always thought that Mitt Romney perhaps was going to be the candidate they'd face. Joe Biden's op-ed in last Friday's Des Moines Register suggesting that. And he looked good nationally, but why is Romney now closing so strong in Iowa?
[HEADLINE: "Romney on a Roll: New Poll Shows Major Surge"]
JAKE TAPPER: Well he's been, as Jon points out – while other candidates have been exploding as Iowa voters go down the road of the Iowa Caucus process, Mitt Romney has been the one steady at 25 percent in the polls. And so ultimately, with Romney's message that he is the most electable, he is the one who can beat Barack Obama – combined with all these other candidates just self-immolating and careening off the highway – a lot of voters are finally saying okay, fine, Mitt Romney, I believe you, you're the most electable.
ELLIOTT: Jake, all those action verbs certainly seem to describe Newt Gingrich if no one else. And he had said we're not going to run a negative campaign, and yet you look at that number – 20 points in 20 days – what's happened to Newt Gingrich?
[HEADLINE: "Gingrich In Freefall: Far Behind In New Poll"]
TAPPER: Well, I would say it's less a result of self-immolation as it is a result of having millions of dollars of negative ads dropped on him like a nuclear bomb. You have both the Romney super PAC – which is not legally connected to the Romney campaign – and you have Ron Paul attacking Newt Gingrich with millions of dollars in ads in Iowa, and basically he has not been able to withstand that kind of attack.
ELLIOTT: It certainly has been withering.