ABC's Claire Shipman Worries About 'Republican-edgy' Tone of CPAC, GOP's 'Big Tent Problem'

Good Morning America's Claire Shipman on Friday highlighted the upbeat mood of the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference, but also fretted about the "Republican-edgy" tone. This came after she mentioned unidentified conference promises of a "Nancy Pelosi pinata and a Harry Reid punching bag."

Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos lectured that for Republicans to retake the White House, "...They're also going to have to reach out to the center. That's the big challenge."

Shipman agreed and derided this as a "big tent problem." She added, "This gathering pulls together so many different kinds of Republicans. A lot of enthusiasm here, George. Can they get their message and agenda together?"

However, the ABC correspondent did spotlight the happy, optimistic atmosphere of the D.C. gathering: "And it is a distinct difference in terms of the contrast with the mood, the Democratic doldrums that have been settling in here around town. It's a three-day conservative blitz on Washington. Exuberance, technology and opinion to spare."

A transcript of the February 19 segment, which aired at 7:44am EST, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, to the rise of the Republicans. An annual gathering of conservatives in Washington drew some of the GOP's biggest names. Former Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance. And he got a huge clear when he declared that Barack Obama will be a one-term President. Claire Shipman joins us with more on a party that, Claire, is more bullish than it's been in years.

ABC GRAPHIC: Republicans Rising: Cheney: "Obama One-Term President"

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: George, it is a very different atmosphere, as you can imagine, at this gathering that it was a year ago. You know, this conservative conference is really meant to rally the troops. There are some 10,000 of them here. Many of them college students, feeling very good about their recent political victories. Very hopeful about the prospects in 2010. And it is a distinct difference in terms of the contrast with the mood, the Democratic doldrums that have been settling in here around town. It's a three-day conservative blitz on Washington. Exuberance, technology and opinion to spare. Starring, that powerful father/daughter combo.

LIZ CHENEY: What a fabulous time to be a conservative.

DICK CHENEY: And I think Barack Obama is a one-term president.

SHIPMAN: The duo, representing the new breed of Massachusetts politician-

SENATOR SCOTT BROWN: Let my say one more time, I'm the Republican Senator from Massachusetts.

MITT ROMNEY: The gold medal that won last night by American Lindsey Vonn has been stripped. It was determined that President Obama has been going downhill faster than she has.

SHIPMAN: And the man who nay be Florida's next senator, thanks to the tea party-

MARCO RUBIO: We're witnessing the single-greatest pushback in American history.

GEORGE WILL: Well, CPAC is conservatism's annual family reunion. And this year, the family is in high spirits.

SHIPMAN: And they're partying around the city, as if they, well, own the place.

ANN COULTER: Nothing gives me more hope for the future of the nation than looking around at night seeing all the young right-wingers meeting, mingling, dating.

SHIPMAN: It's certainly Republican-edgy. Promises of Nancy Pelosi pinata and a Harry Reid punching bag. And bowling with Mitt and Scott. It does feel in Washington right now that Republicans are throwing some strikes. Doesn't it? I mean, how are you feeling about the mood?

ROMNEY: We're coming back.

SHIPMAN: Are you nervous, though? [Scott Brown has a bowling bowl in his hand.]

BROWN: About what?

SHIPMAN: Gutter balls.

BROWN: If you get a gutter ball, you get a gutter ball It's not the Olympics. Who cares? Just having fun.

SHIPMAN: But Romney, clearly aware that bowling is serious stuff for politicians, managed the perfect symbolism on his first throw. [Romney bowls a strike.]

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rubbing in Obama's 37 on the campaign trail.

SHIPMAN: Exactly, George. Exactly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, all the big names there, you saw Mitt Romney. Senator Brown. Also, the Cheneys. But no Sarah Palin.

SHIPMAN: Big missing presence there. No Sarah Palin. Look, officially, her people said, she had some problems, conflicts with some of the sponsors. I think a lot of insiders say, though, she prefers to stand apart and stay outside of the beltway. They think that serves her better.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Looking forward, it's clear conservatives are excited right now, as excited as they've been in year. But, for the party to gain seats and to take back the White House, they're also going to have to reach out to the center. That's the big challenge.

SHIPMAN: Well, they are. This is a big tent problem. This gathering pulls together so many different kinds of Republicans. A lot of enthusiasm here, George. Can they get their message and agenda together? That is not clear yet.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org