While members of the media are often pleased when Republicans fight amongst themselves, it's apparently not so fun to see Democrats do the same thing. On Friday's "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos appeared and pleaded for calm in the increasingly contentious battle between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The ABC journalist and former top aide to Bill Clinton proclaimed, "Well, the bottom line is that it's time for a time-out."
Later in the piece, as though refereeing a fight, he declared, "I think there's going to have to be a pulling back from this kind of rhetoric." Co-host Robin Roberts shared that assessment. Earlier, she lamented, "You're just watching this and you're shaking your head a little bit...I mean, it just seems like it's getting a little bit out of hand."
In a tease for the segment, Roberts asserted, "It's not good for either side." Fellow co-host Chris Cuomo concurred and added, "It doesn't seem good...And even more troubling for the Democrats, are they paving the way for a Republican victory?"
Stephanopoulos did, at one point, question the oddity of Clinton's assertion that Obama is acting like Ken Starr. He noted, "What the Obama campaign will say is when you bring up Ken Starr, you're not only hurting Barack Obama, but you're hurting yourself. I mean, why do Democrats want to go back to those days in the 1990s?" Of course, it should be pointed out that Stephanopoulos was in the Clinton White House through the President's reelection, just prior to when the vicious attacks on Starr were being launched.
And while the GMA hosts and guests mentioned that the squabbling between the two Democratic contenders could be good for the GOP, the general tone seemed to be that the fighting is bad and it needs to be stopped. No consideration was given to the idea that many conservatives and Republicans don't want the verbal sniping to stop and, in fact, would like to see it continue for as long as possible.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:13am on March 7, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: I don't have to tell you that the race for '08 continues to intensify. You have Senator Obama demanding that Senator Clinton release her tax returns. And then one of her advisors fires back by accusing him of imitating Ken Starr.
CHRIS CUOMO: And then, not to be outdone, one of his advisers-- One of her advisors says-- No, one of his advisors says that she's a monster. Right?
ROBERTS: It's not good for either side.
CUOMO: It doesn't seem good. And the big question becomes, who is this helping? Who is this hurting? And even more troubling for the Democrats, are they paving the way for a Republican victory?
ROBIN ROBERTS: For the bottom line on all the latest Democratic strategy, we're joined by chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos and, of course, the host of "This Week."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hey, Robin.
ROBERTS: Hey. You're just watching this and you're shaking your head a little bit. Ken Starr. Monster. All this. I mean, it just seems like it's getting a little bit out of hand.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the bottom line is that it's time for a time-out. These guys have been going at it for, what, 18 months. Their nerves are frayed. They're exhausted and they're making mistakes. I think you're seeing that. They're going over the line. Now, the Clinton campaign will say what Samantha Power said is part of a pattern. What the Obama campaign will say is when you bring up Ken Starr, you're not only hurting Barack Obama, but you're hurting yourself. I mean, why do Democrats want to go back to those days in the 1990s? So, I think-- I think there's going to have to be a pulling back from this kind of rhetoric. But, these issues that are being raised are going to be raised right up through Pennsylvania, which is April 22.
ROBERTS: And still a long way to go. And Senator Obama has-- He talked to Charlie Gibson yesterday and kind of indicated he may be willing to fight back a little bit. Take a look.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We're going to have to make sure that we're not just letting a bunch of charges go unanswered. You know, if Senator Clinton wants, for example, to talk about issues of transparency and vetting, than I think it's important for her to release her tax returns as I have, and as many presidential candidates in the past have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He was stunned over the last three days going into Texas and Ohio by that barrage, those kitchen sink attacks that came after him. He's saying now we're going to fight fire with fire. He's going to push for this release of tax returns. I would expect that the Obama campaign is also going to play off an article in USA Today this morning, which says that some of the records from the Clinton White House are not going to be released as well. They'll be focusing on that. But what Barack Obama has to worry about most are his attacks on his national security experience that are now coming from both Senator Clinton and John McCain. This is what people are paying attention to. If they don't think he's a credible commander in chief, they won't elect him.
ROBERTS: Also, what people are talking about again, again and again, Florida and Michigan. What to do about Florida and Michigan and Senator Clinton made a statement yesterday, she said I would not accept a caucus. I think that would be a great disservice to the two million people who turned out and voted. I think that they want their votes counted. She wants Florida seated. We had Howard Dean here yesterday talking about that goes against the rules that are set right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This is turning into a huge controversy that has to be dealt with by the Democratic Party right now. You can't not count Florida and Michigan. So, officials in the state are thinking about, how do we have a do-over vote? The problem is-- I talked to the state party chairman in Florida yesterday. I talked to Michigan officials yesterday. They're not going to agree to anything that first isn't agreed to by both candidates. And until both candidates figure out a way, along with the parties to pay for it, those are very big hurdles.
ROBERTS: I'm sure you'll continue to discuss this with Howard Dean.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On Sunday morning.
ROBERTS: On Sunday on your program "This Week." George, thanks very much.