Cokie Roberts: GOP ‘Should Stay Out of Iowa Altogether’

Over the weekend, Congressman Steve King (R-IA) hosted the Iowa Freedom Summit, which featured several potential Republican presidential candidates and on Sunday's ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts, correspondent for NPR, eagerly took a shot at the gathering of influential conservatives. 

Speaking during the show’s panel discussion, Roberts slammed the GOP event and insisted that “Republicans should stay out of Iowa altogether. What happens to them is that they get pushed so far to the right in those venues that it gives them a terrible time in the general election.”  

Roberts continued to hit the GOPers who attended the Iowa event, and rather than focus on the impressive list of Republicans speaking there, the NPR correspondent focused on the liberal media’s obsession with Steve King “who hosted this, is absolutely toxic in the Hispanic community. And if the Republicans want to get that vote, they shouldn't be showing up at a Steve King event.”

Rather than recognize that Iowa plays a key role in the GOP's presidential nominating process, Cokie Roberts seemed more concerned with playing up how Steve King will give "them a terrible time in the general election." 

For his part, Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, pushed back at Roberts and maintained that “looking at the Iowa event, it cheered me up. If you look at the Republicans in Congress, you get a little depressed honestly, sometimes. But there are a lot of good young candidates there. You know, there are governors like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal who you talked with.” 

Cokie Roberts’ disdain towards the base of the Republican Party is nothing new as she frequently bashes conservatives, specifically the Tea Party wing of the GOP. In September of 2013 Roberts claimed that “some of this Tea Party anger is racist and that having a non-black person on the ticket will diffuse it to some degree.” More recently, on December 1, 2014, the NPR correspondent fantasized about how the GOP-controlled Congress could shut down the government

See relevant transcript below. 

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos

January 25, 2015

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're back now with the roundtable. And Sara Fagen, let me begin with you. You have worked in a lot of Iowa caucuses, most recently for George W. Bush. What did you make of the big cattle call yesterday? A lot showed up. 

SARA FAGEN: There were a lot of candidates and I think that speaks to the diversity of the Republican field. And I think ultimately it would prove to be a strength as we nominate somebody. But the interesting thing about the caucuses this time, and the early states, is momentum always matters in politics. But it's going to really matter this time. And as you think about Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Super Tuesday, March 1, over 600 delegates going to be decided. So it's about expectations, not about who has the best speech or who ultimately even wins the caucuses. 

COKIE ROBERTS: I think Republicans should stay out of Iowa altogether. What happens to them is that they get pushed so far to the right in those venues that it gives them a terrible time in the general election. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hurt Mitt Romney last time. 

ROBERTS: It hurts them all. And, by the way, Steve King, who hosted this, is absolutely toxic in the Hispanic community. And if the Republicans want to get that vote, they shouldn't be showing up at a Steve King event. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw Jeb Bush not only stay away from the event. But also, the night before the event, Bill Kristol, making a comment about immigration, Steve King's big issue. Saying, no there has to be path to get these people out of the shadows. 

BILL KRISTOL: It will be contested in the Republican primaries. I would say looking at the event, as a Republican and a conservative, looking at the Iowa event, it cheered me up. If you look at the Republicans in Congress, you get a little depressed honestly, sometimes. But there are a lot of good young candidates there. You know, there are governors like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal who you talked with. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: You agree with Jon Karl that Scott Walker helped himself the most yesterday? 

KRISTOL: Yes, I think he’s less well known. He's thought to be sort of dull. But in fact, he's an impressive -- look, the guy's been a good governor. Mike Lee, the senator from Utah, who’s very thoughtful, who’s not running, gave a speech actually in Iowa yesterday and said, “I’m the only guy up here not running.” And he said, “I want a conservative who is positive, principled, and proven.” And then he king of went through that. Intelligent. But what is striking about Lee who is close to Rubio and Cruz is that he said, "I want someone who has shown he can win elections and then govern after winning elections." The only point I’m trying to make is I think people are underestimating in D.C. and in New York and among the donor class the resistance to Bush and Romney. People want a fresh face.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential ABC This Week Bill Kristol Rep. Steve King Cokie Roberts George Stephanopoulos

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