CBS devoted half of Sunday's Face the Nation to the pressing question of “divisions within the Republican Party: Is there room for moderates?” Fill-in host Harry Smith of the Early Show allowed guests Dick Armey and Ed Gillespie plenty of time to reject his premise, but he forwarded the media's widely-held presumption in a series of statements as he simply cued up Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who endorsed the Democrat in the special New York House race: “Do you think you were too moderate?”
To Armey and Gillespie, Smith cited a list of principles some in the GOP want candidates to agree to in order to earn party support, and then posed a series of loaded questions, such as, “Is this litmus test a good idea?” and “some have called it a suicide pact,” as well as: “Is moderate a dirty word now in the Republican Party?” Smith was also bewildered anyone could consider South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham inadequately conservative: “Can someone with that kind of credentials be not conservative enough?”
Smith told Armey “some people suggest that the Republicans are fighting a demographic battle that they can't win, that this is going to end up being exclusionary...”
At the top of the November 29 show, after previewing his interview on Afghanistan with Democratic Senator Carl Levin, Smith announced:
Then we'll turn to divisions within the Republican Party: Is there room for moderates. We'll talk with former Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and former Republican chairman Ed Gillespie.
All of Smith's inquiries to the three guests:
- The headlines out of the GOP this week, this notion, the Republican National Committee considering a list of ten principles. Some have called them “The GOP Ten Commandments,” which include things like support for the surge in Afghanistan or opposition for instance to the Obama health plan. As a candidate if you agree with the eight out of ten -- with eight out of ten, you’ll get support from the national GOP. And, if you don’t, you're out of luck. Dick Armey, is this litmus test a good idea?
- Ed Gillespie, some have called this pact -- or the idea of this pact as apparently the GOP will have a serious conversation about this over the next couple of months to decide whether or not to adopt it. Some have called it a suicide pact. Is it a good idea?
- [to Scozzafava] Would you have been able to at least get, agree on seven or eight out of ten?
- [to Scozzafava] Yet as a conservative -- a conservative insurgent in your district you ended up ceding the nomination to him. Is this kind of a list a do or die list, in the end counterproductive because in your district – in the twenty-third district, which I'm familiar with, if somebody would’ve suggested a year ago a Democrat would’ve been elected there, they would’ve been laughed at. There's a Democrat who is going to Congress now.
- Mister Armey, did this, did it work, this, the push by conservatives to try to seize control by the people, to seize control, which is a sort of one of the ideas of the Tea Party movement. Did it-work in the 23rd District?
- Let me ask Ed Gillespie this question. Is moderate a dirty word now in the Republican Party?
- Lindsey Graham is a frequent guest on this program. His ratings from the Conservative Union are ninety percent. He's under fire. There’s a big piece in the New York Times today, in South Carolina because he’s not conservative enough. Can someone with that kind of credentials be not conservative enough?
- Dick Armey, some people suggest that the Republicans are fighting a demographic battle that hey can't win, that this is going to end up being exclusionary and you'll end up in a position of not being able to take back the seats you want to take back in this next year.
- Dede, let me ask you this question. Do you think you were too moderate?