Nasty ABC Wonders: Just How 'Mean' Will Romney Will Get?

Previewing Saturday's Republican presidential debate, "Good Morning America's" John Berman on Friday offered up "key questions" for how each candidate would do. At one point, he sneered, "How mean for Mitt Romney? Will Romney go after his new chief rival, Rick Santorum, or leave that to his new friend John McCain?"    

A huge graphic showcased a picture of Romney next to bold lettering: "How mean will he get?" ABC doesn't often ask how nasty Barack Obama will be in 2012?

Berman then highlighted a campaign event Santorum had in Concord, New Hampshire. Linking that to the debate, the reporter speculated, "Will [Santorum] bristle at tough questions?"

Berman's example of "bristling" was a clip of the Republican debating gay marriage with college students. However, if one looks at a longer clip of the video, it actually seems as though Santorum was conducting a college seminar. The former senator asked the students questions and quizzed them on the subject:

RICK SANTORUM: So anybody can marry several people?..So, I'm just positing some things you need to think about...If it makes three people happy to get married, based on what you just said, what makes that wrong and what you said right?

The full exchange can be found here:

A transcript of the January 6 segment, which aired at 7:05am EST, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, to politics. Your voice, your vote. All the attention now on New Hampshire, as you know. We have an exclusive first look at a new poll from our New Hampshire station, WMUR. It shows Mitt Romney with a boost heading into next week's primary. Moving up from 42 to 44 percent. Our John Berman starts us off in our coverage this morning from the very place where the Saturday debate will happen. And that is Manchester, of course. Good morning, John.

JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, Robin. This is a huge moment with huge scores to settle and some huge questions to answer, including can anyone put a dent into those big numbers for Mitt Romney. Well, finally, we'll get some answers to these questions right here on this stage tomorrow night. Rick Santorum is grabbing for the Granite state. Event after event after event. Including his biggest crowd yet.

RICK SANTORUM: Lead, don't follow the national polls or don't follow the pundits.
       
BERMAN: So, key huge debate question number one: What will he do with his new Santorum spotlight? Will he bristle at tough questions? This exchange with a student over gay marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How about the ideas that all men are created equal?

SANTORUM: Are we saying that everyone should have the right to marry? Everyone?

CROWD: Yes!

BERMAN: And will he ratchet up his so far not-too tough language about Mitt Romney?

SANTORUM: America needs something bold, someone strong, someone who has convictions.

BERMAN: Key huge debate question two. How mean for Mitt Romney? Will Romney go after his new chief rival, Rick Santorum, or leave that to his new friend John McCain?

JOHN MCCAIN: Earmark spending is the gateway to corruption. Senator Santorum and I have a strong disagreement a strong disagreement, a strong disagreement that he believes that earmark and pork barrel projects are good for America. I think it's wrong for America.

BERMAN: Huge debate question three, who has the Gingrich gaze? Will newt be all-anti-Romney all the time? Or will he try to take on Rick Santorum? He has hinted at a non-aggression pact.

NEWT GINGRICH: We find ourselves in the awkward but happy position of being competitors.

BERMAN: But sometimes, he can't help himself.

GINGRICH: If you think of us as partners, he would clearly, in his historical experience, have been the junior partner.

BERMAN: Two big endorsements to report this morning. First, that endorsement for Jon Huntsman from the Boston Globe, Mitt Romney's home state paper. But, there's also an endorsement from Mitt Romney, from a Buchanan. Not Pat Buchanan, but Republican commentator Bay Buchanan, Pat's sister. The Buchanan name carries serious weight here in New Hampshire. Remember, Pat won the primary here in 1996.

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