Joe Klein Finds 'Republican Base is the Problem' for Romney, Paul Ryan 'Vastly Overrated'

On Monday's Charlie Rose show on PBS, during a discussion of Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan having the positive effect of "energizing" the GOP base, Time magazine's Joe Klein faulted Romney for not taking a "moderate stance" for the general election, asserting that the "Republican base is the problem, not the solution." He began:

Could I just say that the Republican base is the problem, not the solution to winning the presidency for Mitt Romney right now? ... if they only represent 47 percent of the population in the end, you have to get that three percent in the middle. He has done absolutely nothing, nothing to appeal to those people. You know, in some ways, Obama may appeal less-

After host Rose jumped in to bring up the bad economy as a factor that may bring over non-conservative voters, Klein continued:

But what has Romney done to sell them? Every single opportunity that he's had to take a moderate stance during the campaign, he didn't do it. You know, Bill Clinton, during the campaign, was trying to change the campaign there, took moderate stances that upset his base on issues like crime and welfare. Here, Romney, you know, Romney hasn't done that at all.

A few minutes later, he declared that Congressman Ryan is "dead wrong" on Medicare and Social Security, and that, "as a thinker, he's vastly overrated." Referring to Medicare and Social Security, Klein asserted:

But his version of what to do with them is, I think, dead wrong, and I think that, as a thinker, he's vastly overrated. You know, many of his ideas, the most important ideas have been tried and they failed, like supply-side economics.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, August 27, Charlie Rose show on PBS:

11:29 p.m.

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: Could I just say that the Republican base is the problem, not the solution to winning the presidency for Mitt Romney
right now. And if he had gone with-

CHARLIE ROSE: (INAUDIBLE) ...that gets out the vote is going to help you.

KLEIN: Yeah, but if they only represent 47 percent of the population in the end, you have to get that three percent in the middle. He has done absolutely nothing, nothing to appeal to those people. You know, in some ways, Obama may appeal less-

ROSE: (INAUDIBLE) ...affected by the condition of the economy?

KLEIN: But what has Romney done to sell them? Every single opportunity that he's had to take a moderate stance during the campaign, he didn't do it. You know, Bill Clinton, during the campaign, was trying to change the campaign there, took moderate stances that upset his base on issues like crime and welfare. Here, Romney, you know, Romney hasn't done that at all.

If he had doubled down on who he is, if he had said, if he had picked Rob Portman and said this guy knows more about the federal budget and the federal government than anybody I know, the two of us, that's our job, our job is to get this thing back on track, and that's why I picked him. That would have at least doubled down on the message that he's going to make things better.

(...)

KLEIN: I give him credit for raising formerly untouchable issues like Medicare and Social Security?

ROSE: Do you agree they should not be untouchable?

KLEIN: No, they should not be untouchable. But his version of what to do with them is, I think, dead wrong, and I think that, as a thinker, he's vastly overrated. You know, many of his ideas, the most important ideas have been tried and they failed, like supply-side economics.