MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." zoomed in on rifts developing within the Republican House majority Friday morning – but ignored a growing spat between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats who don't want her to continue as the party's leader in the House.
With the headline "GOP Civil War?" anchor Chris Jansing explored the conflict between upstart Tea Party Republicans and the establishment. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a two-term congresswoman and Tea Party leader, seeks the party's fourth-most senior position in the House. Standing in her way is establishment-backed candidate Rep. Jeb Hensarling.
Jansing used the case to underline the differences between the Tea Party and the establishment GOP, and wondered how the relationship between the two sides will evolve. "There are already splits within the Republican Party, and they include things like health care. ...There are a whole series of issues on which they disagree, Michele Bachmann being just part of it."
Former GOP congresswoman Susan Molinari dismissed the differences as "much ado about nothing." "This is the way politics works," Molinari stated. "In any political party, there's going to be some disagreements around the edges of major pieces of legislation."
Molinari added that the Democrats are experiencing a similar rift in party lines, with Speaker Pelosi supported by the party establishment in her bid for House Minority Leader but opposed by other Democrats, including two who are challenging her for the position.
Pelosi's announcement that she will run for House Minority Leader has been met with opposition that is "growing – but still small," according to the Washington Post. Two House Democrats have already called for Pelosi to step down as the party's House leader.
"I think they [the Democrats] are going to have quite a thrashing when it comes to re-evaluating what happened in the Democratic Party in this election, and how they move forward for 2012," Molinari speculated.
A partial transcript of the segment, which aired on November 5 at 10:12 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
CHRIS JANSING: Could be the first big test of a newly emboldened, and in many ways, divided Republican Party. The GOP is lining up its leadership in the House, but already there's a potential conflict between the Tea Party and the establishment. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who founded the Tea Party caucus, is mounting a bid for the fourth-most senior position, which is a direct challenge to the candidate backed by Republican leaders.
JANSING: Kevin, let me start with you. Tea Party activists helped give House Republicans the majority. Do conservative voters expect payback? Do they expect a Michele Bachmann to be in the leadership?
JANSING: We know, Susan, that there are already splits within the Republican Party, and they include things like health care. Some are for repealing everything, some are saying, you know, we have to do it slowly, or repeal only portions of it. There are a whole series of issues on which they disagree, Michele Bachmann being just part of it. How do you see this shaping up, as somebody who worked within the caucus?
SUSAN MOLINARI, Fmr. Congresswoman: You know what, I think with all due respect, this is much to do about nothing. This is the way politics works. I think the Republican Party clearly acknowledges that, were it not for the energy and enthusiasm of Tea Party activists throughout this country, many of whom were disaffected Republicans, Republicans wouldn't be in the majority of the House of Representatives. And of course, in any political party, there's going to be some disagreements around the edges of major pieces of legislation. Your last panel talked about the fact that the Democrats are divided over who their leaders are going to be, whether it's going to be Speaker Pelosi or maybe – well, Speaker Pelosi's still there – Leader Hoyer, so there's disagreements in the Democratic Party, and I think they're going to have quite a thrashing when it comes to re-evaluating what happened in the Democratic Party in this election, and how they move forward for 2012. When it comes to Michele Bachmann and Jeb Hensarling, you know, Jeb Hensarling's, you know, pretty conserative too. So I think that there's a very thin line between Michele Bachmann and Jeb Hensarling, and I think that the conservatives in the House of Representatives would find him very acceptable.
JANSING: Yeah, he certainly has been very conservative on the economy, which obviously is the key issue here. Let me ask you, Kevin, about the whole idea of compromise, because we've heard a lot of people talk about it. I had one of the newly-elected congressmen from the Tea Party from Staten Island on yesterday. He was not happy about some of the calls, for example, to get rid of Barack Obama in 2012. He thought that was going a little far. But do you think it is much ado about nothing, or do you see that there could be some tension within the Republican Party as we move ahead?