ABC's Dan Harris Dismisses Tea Party, Hints: 'Complacency' Is the Big Risk for 'Gleeful' Democrats

ABC's Dan Harris on Saturday offered some odd spin in the debate over the Tea Party. The weekend Good Morning America co-host argued that "complacency" was the big risk for Democrats "gleeful" over the anti-big government protesters. [MP3 audio here.]

Harris announced, "But some Democrats, including some people in the White House, seem to be verging on gleeful when it comes to the rise of the Tea Party, because the logic seems to be, some of these people have said such extreme things in the past, that they're gonna be easier to beat."

Talking to Democratic strategist Karen Finney, the journalist wondered, "Is there complacency potentially setting in?"

According to a September 19 Rasmussen tracking poll, the Republicans have a ten point generic ballot lead over the Democrats. So, worrying about the "complacency" of "gleeful" Democrats is certainly an unusual analysis.

However, this isn't the first time Harris has tried to portray the Tea Party movement as bizarre and out of the mainstream.

On the September 15, 2009 World News, Harris chided the protesters: "...Some prominent Obama supporters are now saying that it paints a picture of an opposition driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black President."

A transcript of the September 18 segment, which aired at 8:04am, follows:

DAN HARRIS: Let's stay in Washington now and get some insight from two political pros. Republican Robert Traynham and Democrat Karen Finney. Good morning to both of you.

ROBERT TRAYNHAM (REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST): Good morning.

KAREN FINNEY (DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST): Good morning.

HARRIS: Thanks for getting up early. We appreciate it. Let me start with you, Karen. Is Sarah Palin running?

FINNEY: You know, I don't think so, I think she enjoys being something of a political celebrity, obviously in the primary season, she's been able to have an influence on the process. And, you know, she seems to enjoy being able to get paid and back candidates without having the accountability of any policy ideas.

HARRIS: Robert, is she running?

TRAYNHAM: I don't know the answer to that. And truth be told, I don't think she knows the answer. But she's doing everything that she can to possibly can to at least position herself, that if she chooses to run, she has the staff and the resources in place to do so.

HARRIS: Well staying with you for a second. If she does run, do you think she can win?

TRAYNHAM: In the primaries, I think she could. I mean, look, if you take a look at it, there's really three states that determine who the Republican nominee is gonna be. Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. When you take a look at the demographics of those states, Sarah Palin has a significant ground force. The real question becomes whether or not she can win in the general. And I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to that question or not. But look, she is a force to be reckoned with, there's no question about it.

HARRIS: Karen, is this a candidate that the Obama White House would like to face or would fear facing?

FINNEY: You know, I think Democrats learned a long time ago when they were hoping Ronald Reagan would be the Republican nominee not to try to guess or foreshadow. But look, you know, again, I don't think Sarah Palin's seriously running. I think, again, what she's doing here is trying to stake out a base in the party, which she clearly has. And be, you know, a political player.

HARRIS: Robert, while Palin appeared in Iowa, we had this cattle call going on in D.C., which is gonna continue straight through the weekend at the Values Voters Summit. Is there anybody in the field, a large field of potential Republican presidential candidates that stands out to you?

TRAYNHAM: Not really. I mean, the only person that pretty much is putting his big toe in the water right now, and arguably could have a chance at this, is Mitch Daniels, the Republican Governor of Iowa- of Indiana. He is someone that definitely strikes me as someone that is a deficit hawk. He is someone that clearly talks the talk of a lot of social conservatives. But truth be told, the field is wide open. We have about a dozen Republican candidates, everyone from Newt Gingrich, to Mitt Romney, possibly Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour. The field is wide open, and they all recognize that Obama is very vulnerable right now.

HARRIS: Karen, there's so much energy on the right right now. But some Democrats, including some people in the White House, seem to be verging on gleeful when it comes to the rise of the Tea Party, because the logic seems to be, some of these people have said such extreme things in the past, that they're gonna be easier to beat. Is there complacency potentially setting in?

FINNEY: No, I hope not. And I hope we learned our lesson, frankly, from the Massachusetts Senate race. I mean, that was a big wake up call. And I think frankly even Lisa Murkowski's race should be a big wake up call to anyone who's an incumbent that you cannot take anything for granted. You've got to do the work and show up. That being said, I think what Democrats recognize is that while there's been so much talk about the enthusiasm gap, what we've seen is really Republican enthusiasm folding in against itself. Not necessarily against Democrats, which suggests that during the general election, we don't know how those Tea Party candidates are going to fair. If Democrats can really turn out the vote, things might turn out a little bit differently than everybody's predicting.

HARRIS: Well Robert, what's your state of anxiety or lack thereof right now? With the Tea Party, obviously, it was a huge phenomenon during the primaries. The primaries are now over. We're heading into the general election, are you worried that the Tea Party phenomenon could hurt the party going forward?

TRAYNHAM: Well I'm not sure. This is a healthy conversation that the Republicans are having amongst themselves about the heart and soul of the party. You know, I agree with Karen that you should never take anything for granted. And you can look at Arlen Spector, you can look at all the primaries across the country, Bob Bennett in Utah. Obviously, Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. But I disagree with her. This is not really a conversation within the Republican Party, per say, or civil war. This is a-

FINNEY: Robert- Robert-

TRAYNHAM: Karen- Karen- this is a conversation that the American people are having because take a look at this. The Democrats should be very happy right now that the, the President Obama ended the Iraq war. That comprehensive health care reform has passed. That the Consumer Protection Agency has a new head, and by the way, they're very, very unhappy right now with the Democratic Party, so the truth be told, there's some real issues within the President's party that he needs to address.

DAN HARRIS: I'd love to see you two use each other's names against each other the way you've done, but unfortunately, we've got to cut this off. I'm gonna do this, however, with Bianna going forward. Bianna.

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