Both Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist appeared live on Friday's Today show, and both received the same question by NBC's Meredith Vieira, was Crist's departure from the GOP just another example of the Republicans being "intolerant" to moderates? In addition to advancing that liberal view of the Florida Senate race, Vieira also questioned if Rubio was being "manipulated" by the Tea Party, as seen in the following exchange:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Do you feel you're being manipulated at all by the Tea Party? Because they're the ones that have sort of helped boost your numbers. You've become their darling.
MARCO RUBIO: Absolutely not. Well you know what? The Tea Party is just a collection of every day Americans, most of whom have never participated in politics before, who are tired of the direction of this country and want their voices heard. This is not a professional political movement. In fact, it's only a year old but I think it's been a good thing for American politics to see people get involved and have their voices heard. I'm proud of the, of the support they've given me. [audio availabe here]
Before that exchange Vieira threw out the "GOP is too intolerant" line, first to Crist:
How should MSNBC supplement its income? Have the DNC underwrite part of Norah O'Donnell's salary. She's certainly earning it . . .
Yesterday, as noted here, a giddy Norah enthused that Charlie Crist's vote-splitting independent run gives the Dems "a real shot" to win the Florida Senate seat.
O'Donnell was back on the Dem ramparts this morning on Morning Joe, defending Janet Napolitano's execrable record on border security, leading Joe Scarborough to mock the Homeland Security secretary with some effervescent imagery . . .
During Thursday's 11AM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean about Florida Governor Charlie Crist's expected announcement to run as an independent in that state's senate race: "Is this a sign that people, perhaps centrists or moderates, like Charlie Crist, have no place in this new emerging Republican Party?"
That set up the left-wing Dean to bash conservatives and the GOP: "What effect does the tea party have on the Republican Party? And this is a really good example. They've driven another moderate out of the Republican Party....there just apparently is no place in the Republican Party for moderate, thoughtful people anymore."
Hall first asked Dean about an odd rumor: "There is a story online that's being picked up by conservative blogs that you offered to contribute to Charlie Crist's campaign if he left the Republican Party. What happened there?" Dean explained: "That was a joke between me and Joe Scarborough which some enterprising staffer for Crist picked up and pushed it around. It's not true. I'm supporting Kendrick Meek." He then added: "I actually think that the two big winners out of this are the United States, who are hopefully going to get a real senator instead of a far-right person, and I do think, of course, it helps the Democratic Party and Kendrick's candidacy as well."
After Hall introduced Dean at the beginning of the segment, she remarked: "I say it like you're a correspondent now....I love that being a possible segment Governor Dean, you coming on and talking about the top political news of the day."
Gov. Charlie Crist "goes it alone in his bid for Senate," the Miami Herald noted in its headline today for a story about the Florida governor's plan to ditch his floundering attempt to secure the GOP Senate nomination in favor of an independent run.
The story by Herald staffers Steve Bousquet, Adam C. Smith and Beth Reinhard painted Crist in a sympathetic light as a misunderstood statesman who's become a "pariah" to his party and has thus been "forced to run an unconventional race" (emphases mine):
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Charlie Crist, a pariah in the Republican Party that has been vital to his success, will launch a risky political career Thursday as a ``people's candidate'' for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation.
Crist began telling campaign donors of his decision Wednesday, which he will announce at 5 p.m. at Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg, surrounded by family members, friends, local supporters and an army of media personnel.It will be an extraordinary event in Florida's colorful political history, as a one-term governor who blew a 30-point lead in the Republican Senate primary is forced to run an unconventional race.
ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday gushed over "rising star" Charlie Crist's decision to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent in the Florida Senate race. Next to a graphic that read "Declaration of Independence," co-host George Stephanopoulos speculated, "Is this trouble for Republicans? Will more independents rise up?" [Audio available here.]
Stephanopoulos also oddly called the Florida governor a both a "GOP star" and a "rising star," despite the fact that Crist's popularity has been fading within the party for almost a year. However, when then-GMA host Diane Sawyer interviewed Joe Lieberman on August 9, 2006, she was highly critical of the Democrat's decision to leave his party.
Sawyer scolded, "Senator, I heard you say 'I'm a Democrat.' But you're talking about running as an independent and there are members of the party who've already said, commentators, that this is a selfish decision. How can you run against the party?...You're going to be all alone out there."
Chris Matthews -- who was offended by Rush Limbaugh calling the Obama administration the "regime"-- claimed the Republicans were engaged in a "Stalinesque" purge. On Tuesday's Hardball Matthews charged that conservatives challenging moderates within the Republican Party (like Marco Rubio versus Charlie Crist in Florida) was akin to Joseph Stalin's violent purges in the 1930s, as he teased an upcoming segment this way: "Coming up what happens to Republicans who don't march to the right wing tune? Well they're getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff."
Later on in the segment Matthews claimed the GOP was engaging in something "particularly nasty" in "pruning itself" and warned Republicans risked losing "sophisticated" voters in the suburbs if it continued to turn towards "Palin-ism and gun-toters."
The following Matthews quotes were aired on the April 20 edition of Hardball:
Whenever a liberal columnist gives some "friendly" advice to a Republican who is running for public office, you can be sure that he almost always has an ulterior motive. Such was the case with columnist Michael Mayo of the ailing Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Not only did Mayo urge Charlie Crist to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, he also cynically advised Crist to open himself up for bribery ala Ben Nelson should this year's elections result in a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats:
Democrats now have a 57-41 edge over Republicans in the Senate, and there are two independents who align with the Democrats, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
With 36 Senate seats up for grabs in November, Democrats and Republicans could end up virtually deadlocked for the majority.
Could you imagine if there was a 49-48 split and Crist were one of three independents?
Anything Florida wanted, Florida would get.
How about this idea: Our junior senator could broker a deal where all Florida homeowners get affordable windstorm coverage through national catastrophe insurance. In exchange, we allow expanded oil drilling off Florida's shores.
I say go for it, Independent Charlie.
For Floridians, it could have a nice ring — and ka-ching — to it.
Friday follies. Before the weekend ends, two quotes from journalists worth noting made on Friday night shows:
♦ On MSNBC’s Hardball, NBC’s Chuck Todd forwarded the notion that if Florida Governor Charlie Crist drops out of the Republican primary -- where polls put him way behind conservative Marco Rubio -- and wins the Senate seat as an independent, “he becomes the most powerful Senator in the United States Senate” and “he becomes, probably, the viable third party candidate in the middle in the country” for President in 2012.
♦ A few hours later on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, David Remnick, author of the new book, ‘The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,' outed the real liberal agenda behind ObamaCare as he predicted that instead of being an “albatross” that will hurt Democrats at the ballot box in November, all those new beneficiaries will be grateful and vote Democratic:
When you add 30 million people to the rolls of getting health care, access to health care, seems to me a huge gain and the potential widening of the base for the Democratic Party among a lot of people who might not necessarily vote before. So, I don't think you're going to see a repeat of 1994 come this fall.
Of course, few of those 30 million will have any better access to health care by this November than they had before the bill passed.
Arianna Huffington stuck her foot in her mouth during Tuesday's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, and ended up being totally humiliated by host Joe Scarborough and guests Rudy Giuliani and Mort Zuckerman.
As the subject of Florida's Senate race was broached, Huffington decided to attack the former Mayor of New York City rather than address the qualifications of Republican candidates Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.
"Your judgment in people has not been stellar -- Bernard Kerik, anybody, so the fact that you're supporting Rubio now, I don't know exactly how seriously we should take it," irrelevantly spouted the liberal publisher.
Marvelously, some of the gentlemen on the panel didn't appreciate the cheap shot including Giuliani himself who finally said, "I come on here just to talk about Marco Rubio, you're attacking me on Bernie Kerik, you're attacking me on how I ran my presidential race. I imagine you're going to attack me on what I did in the Little League when I was a child" (video follows with partial transcript, h/t NB reader Pam):
In his Feb. 19 "Washington Sketch" column, Milbank declared Marco Rubio, an opponent of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in that state's GOP Senate primary "the anti-Crist." Get it - "anti-Crist," as in "anti-Christ?"
In an interview with Florida Governor Charlie Crist on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez turned to the hotly contested Senate race: “your opponent in the primary, fellow Republican Marco Rubio, and you...are in a dead heat in this race. Critics say that it’s because he is a true conservative and you are...a RINO, a ‘Republican In Name Only.’ How do you respond to that criticism?”
As Rodriguez spoke, the latest Quinnipiac University poll of the primary appeared on screen, showing Rubio with 47% among Republican voters and Crist with 44%. Crist defended his conservative credentials: “Well, if I’m a RINO, then so is Ronald Reagan.” At the same, time he seemed to attack conservative Rubio for being an “ideologue”: “...we do things a little differently here in Florida, we actually work together to get things done for the people. And I think that’s exactly what the American people want. They don’t want bickering and some ideologue on one end or the other to sort of be a standard bearer.”
While Rodriguez mentioned conservative criticism of Crist, she did not bring up the Governor’s well known hug with President Obama last year and staunch support for the stimulus package. In contrast, back in 2006, CBS correspondent Trish Regan labeled Democratic Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s embrace with President Bush as an “infamous kiss.” On the August 8 Early Show she touted how Lieberman’s left-wing primary challenger “Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the President.” Apparently CBS isn’t interested in Crist being “cozy” with Obama.
On Thursday’s World News, ABC correspondent Kate Snow filed a report that avoided portraying Tea Party activists as extremists, instead conveying the movement’s growing appeal and the fact that even some former Barack Obama supporters have signed on. Snow: "The majority of supporters are long-time Republicans like Danita, but there are growing numbers of independents, and even some former Obama supporters."
After recounting the movement’s recent successes in bringing down moderate political figures for not being conservative enough, Snow related that "moderates are scrambling to show their support." The piece also included a soundbite of ABC News contributor Matthew Dowd who suggested that Democrats are making a mistake in "trying to marginalize" the movement. Dowd: "I think Republicans definitely dismiss this at their peril. I also think Democrats, by trying to marginalize it, underestimate the anger out there."
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Thursday, January 7, World News on ABC:
Whenever Time magazine praises a Republican, you can almost always be sure it is because of an ulterior motive. And, sure enough, the motive for Time magazine to praise Florida Republican governor Charlie Crist is to slam his much more conservative senate primary opponent, former state House speaker Marco Rubio. Note the sympathy for Crist in this Time story by Tim Padgett coupled with criticism of Rubio:
Ever since a conservative tent revival began sweeping America last summer, sparked by angry misgivings about health care reform and other harbingers of big government, Republican purists have targeted Crist's moderate, bipartisan style. Seizing on his embrace of President Obama's $787 billion economic-stimulus plan, they've treated him as a whipping boy...
...Along the way they've anointed Rubio, a 38-year-old Cuban American, as the right wing's new boy wonder, a genuinely conservative David who can slay Crist's Goliath RINO (Republican in Name Only) in the primary next August.
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show continued pressing the theme that the election is over as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Countdown to election day. The swing state showdown continues as Obama appears to open up an advantage in early voting." Co-host Harry Smith cited polls with wide margins to further shovel dirt on the McCain campaign: "New polls out with just 13 days to go until election day. A poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal gives Barack Obama a ten-point lead over John McCain, that's 52% to 42%. A poll by Reuters, C-Span, and Zogby shows the same ten-point spread." Correspondent Jeff Glor followed with a report: "Those poll numbers you mentioned and the math in these states makes the situation look increasingly difficult for John McCain."
Glor went on to describe how: "John McCain will campaign today in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Florida, following a big push for Pennsylvania." However, Glor immediately threw out the wet blanket: "Though registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the state by more than a million voters..." Glor also touted how Smith’s Tuesday interview with McCain was referenced by Joe Biden during a recent stump speech: "Joe Biden is sharply challenging John McCain over those controversial robocalls...Following Harry Smith's interview." Highlighting an Obama stump speech, Glor declared: "Obama pointing out that Florida, where he spent Tuesday, and where we've seen those long early voting lines, lost more jobs than any other state in the past year." Glor concluded the segment by observing: "In Florida, and other battleground states, officials say Democrats are early voting in greater numbers than their Republican counterparts, a good sign for Obama."
Charlie Crist, Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney better hope John McCain isn't banking on Tony Blankley for guidance on his Veep pick. Newt's former press secretary is blah—at best—on all three.
Blankley, also the former editorial page editor of the Washington Times and who continues to write a column there, made his remarks on MSNBC's "Race for the White House" this evening as part of a panel reacting to the news that McCain has invited the three governors—past and present—to meet with him over the Memorial Day weekend.
DAVID GREGORY: What would Governor Crist bring to McCain's ticket?
TONY BLANKLEY: I don't think he brings much. I think if McCain can't carry Florida on his own, he's not going to carry it. He needs to carry something else. I doubt, I don't think he brings much to the ticket.