20 Months Before 2012 Election, ABC's John Berman Mocks GOP Contenders for Not Joining Race

Even though there's still a year and eight months to go until the 2012 presidential election, Good Morning America's John Berman on Monday derided the GOP field for not joining the race yet. As a mocking trombone sound played, Berman joked that Newt Gingrich "had us on the edge of our seats" last week by establishing only an exploratory website.

Highlighting Mitt Romney's failure to officially enter the race, Berman offered this insulting aside: "But will it be him? What other possible explanation could there be for the  fact that Romney, who was trying to shake the reputation that he was born in a business suit, has apparently has lost all of his neck ties?"

Highlighting a conservative for dismissing other conservatives, the ABC reporter quoted, "Some Republicans feel timing isn't the problem, but the field. Columnist George Will writes, 'If pessimism is not creeping into Republicans' thinking about their 2012 prospects, that is another reason for pessimism.'"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

At the end of the segment, host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Bill Clinton didn't enter the 1992 race until October of '91. (Stephanopoulos would know. The former Democratic operative worked on Clinton's campaign.)

During the 2008 campaign, Berman offered similarly nasty reports, including highlight just how old John McCain was.

[Thanks to MRC intern Matt Hadro for the video.]

A transcript of the March 7 segment, which aired at 7:06am EST, follows:
 

7:01

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Big day for potential Republican challengers for President. The first cattle call in Iowa. Five are going to take the stage together tonight. The first caucus is there, less than a year away. But, who's not jumping in and why is as interesting right now as who's in. Sarah Palin actually weighing in an interview right now. She's on her way to India.

7:06

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to politics and a milestone today for at least some of the potential challengers to President Obama. Some big names descending on Iowa less than a year now before the caucuses there to reach out to a critical group of Christian voters.  Ahead of that, John Berman has been tracking the candidates' latest moves. He is here with more. Hey, John.

JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, George. You know, this is one of those momentous days in presidential politics. What's being called the first Republican cattle call in the key state of Iowa. It's a meeting of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. What all the candidates appearing there today have in common? For the most part, they aren't actually official candidates- yet. Waukee, Iowa. Today's world headquarters for Republican candidates not running for President who are actually already running for President: Pawlenty, Santorum, Gingrich, who had us on the edge of our seats-

NEWT GINGRICH [In a bit of a monotone]: Because of our concern for the future of the country-

BERMAN: With the dramatic announcement that-

GINGRICH: We are today establishing a website.

[Mocking trombone sound]

BERMAN: A website? How about the arguable front runner? Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, who had us on the edge of our seats.

MITT ROMNEY: It's going to take more than a good speech to put Americans back to work.

[Drum roll]

BERMAN: With the dramatic announcement that-

ROMNEY: It's going to take a new president of the United States.

BERMAN: But will it be him? What other possible explanation could there be for the  fact that Romney, who was trying to shake the reputation that he was born in a business suit, has apparently has lost all of his neck ties? Four years ago, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had officially been running for more than a month by now. Can you name the only Republican officially running so far? If you guessed the former part owner of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, you win! Some Republicans feel timing isn't the problem, but the field. Columnist George Will writes "If pessimism is not creeping into Republicans' thinking about their 2012 prospects, that is another reason for pessimism." And what about Sarah Palin? The latest on the BBC today from Alaska. She says she'll only be an official candidate if she feels the American people are officially ready for her.

SARAH PALIN: Will the American electorate be ready for someone a bit unconventional in terms of a candidate who calls it like she sees it and will not be beholden to special interests or such obsessive partisanship as to let a political machine get in the way of just doing what's right for the voters?

BERMAN: Sarah Palin. Well, Mitt Romney likes a joke but no one ever came up to him after 2008, saying, you know, "I wish the race could have been just a little bit longer."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it has seemed in the past that races have started a lot earlier. Robin and I were talking about that just before we got on air. On the other hand, I remember back   I remember back in 1992, Bill Clinton didn't get in until what would have been October, because so many people thought people thought George Bush was strong that time around. But, John, when you look at these different candidates, why do you think some of them aren't doing it? There are different reasons for each one.

BERMAN: There are reasons. Romney doesn't want to be labeled the official front runner because he doesn't want to be a punching bag. That's the reason he doesn't jump in full force right now. People like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, the reason they might not be getting int? They really haven't made up their minds. They genuinely aren't sure if they're running yet or not. Then there are people like Pawlenty and others right now, they don't need to get in because there are ways to raise money fast now. There are ways to run without doing it officially.

ROBIN ROBERTS: But, it seemed to help Barack Obama the fact that it was so long, because people got to know him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Got used to the idea that he was running. Didn't seem so strange.

ROBERTS: Exactly. But, as you said with President Clinton, it didn't- So, are we reading more into it? Does it really matter the timing of it?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think John hit on it at the end. There are other ways for candidates to be running without running right now. They set up independents PACs. I think one other factor, John, is you saw last week that Fox News suspended both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. I think they want both Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin want to keep those jobs.

BERMAN: That's right. They want their paychecks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. Okay, John.

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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