As GOP Takes Over Congress, Nets Hype Party Problems & Division

While Republicans officially took control of both the House and the Senate on Tuesday, NBC, ABC, and CBS all touted GOP setbacks. NBC's Today led the way, with correspondent Peter Alexander seizing on comments from the top Senate Republican: "Among incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's main goals for his party: don't be scary."

Alexander went on to promote Republican divisions and controversy: "Their first tests, whether John Boehner can hold off Tea Party conservatives challenging his speakership and the controversy over Louisiana's Steve Scalise, the House's number three Republican, still defending his speech to a white supremacist group led by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke twelve years ago."

Noting how "White House aides pounced" on the Scalise story, Alexander teed up a sound bite from Obama press secretary Josh Earnest, who declared: "Who Republicans decide to elevate into a leadership position says a lot about who – what the conference's priorities and values are."

Moments later, The Washington Post's Robert Costa upped the stakes for the GOP: "Republicans know there's a lot on their shoulders. There's expectations from voters to get something done. Can they prove that ahead of 2016 they can be a governing party? A party that has a positive agenda?"

On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos warned that Republicans "promising to move fast on their agenda...sets up more confrontation with President Obama."

In the report that followed, White House correspondent Jon Karl proclaimed that the historic Republicans gains in Congress meant observers could "look for confrontation, not cooperation" in Washington.

Karl went on to push the same divided GOP storyline as Alexander:

There's going to be a little drama today. The House will elect their new speaker. Boehner almost certainly will be re-elected Speaker of the House. But, George, ten Republican House members have already said they will vote against Boehner and I am told that number could get to be as high as twenty, really an extraordinary show of rebellion by Tea Party members of the Congress.

CBS This Morning was the only network morning show to actually interview an incoming Republican member of Congress. However, co-host Norah O'Donnell still pressed New York's newly elected Elise Stefanik if the Republican Party had an "image problem."

Here are full transcripts of the January 6 reports on Today and GMA:

Today
7:11 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And now to politics, the 114th Congress convenes today with Republicans officially taking control of Capitol Hill. So what does that mean for the President and the gridlock in Washington? NBC's national correspondent Peter Alexander's at the White House this morning. Peter, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Takes Control of Congress; To Challenge Obama on Health Care, Energy]  

PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. For the first time since the Bush administration, Republicans will control both the House and Senate. Their top order of business, trying to overcome some grumblings from conservatives within the party as John Boehner looks to secure his third term as speaker later today.

Fresh off November's Republican rout...

SEN. JONI ERNST [R-IA]: We are going to make em' squeal!

ALEXANDER: ...the Grand Old Party is eager for a new start.

SEN. CORY GARDNER [R-CO]: I do think we need to work together, I think that was the failure of Harry Reid, is his refusal to work together.

ALEXANDER: Among incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's main goals for his party: don't be scary. Telling the Washington Post, "I don't want the American people to think that if they add a Republican president to a Republican Congress, that's going to be a scary outcome."

Their first tests, whether John Boehner can hold off Tea Party conservatives challenging his speakership and the controversy over Louisiana's Steve Scalise, the House's number three Republican, still defending his speech to a white supremacist group led by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke twelve years ago.

On Monday, White House aides pounced.

JOSH EARNEST [WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY]: Who Republicans decide to elevate into a leadership position says a lot about who – what the conference's priorities and values are.

ALEXANDER: Republicans will push to pass the Keystone Pipeline and fight the President over immigration.

ROBERT COSTA [THE WASHINGTON POST]: Republicans know there's a lot on their shoulders. There's expectations from voters to get something done. Can they prove that ahead of 2016 they can be a governing party? A party that has a positive agenda?

ALEXANDER: Meanwhile, overnight, with Florida becoming the thirty-sixth state to allow same-sex marriages, the state's former governor Jeb Bush, now considering his own presidential run, appeared to soften his stance on gay marriage, calling for "respect for the good people" on all sides of the issue.

And with 2016 as the backdrop, perhaps the best bellwether of who's running is a carousel of upcoming book tours. Listen to this, they will star Republicans Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, as well. Pretty soon, Matt and Savannah, the potential 2016 candidates will have a lot to say, at least on paper.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, book tour's the new presidential exploratory committee. Peter, thank you very much, appreciate it.

MATT LAUER: And going to be busy here in the studio as they come through to talk about those things.

GUTHRIE: Yeah.   


Good Morning America
7:06 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to politics now. Washington back to work this morning. New congress will be sworn in. Republicans taking control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in eight years, promising to move fast on their agenda, and that sets up more confrontation with President Obama. ABC's chief White House correspondent Jon Karl tracking the showdowns. Good morning, Jon.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Washington Gets Back to Work; Obama & Boehner's Final Battle]

JON KARL: Good morning, George. Not only are Republicans fully in control for the first time under Obama of both the Senate and the House, in the House they have the biggest majority that the Republicans have had in nearly a century. So, yes, look for confrontation, not cooperation. The first thing Republicans are saying they're going to act on is the Keystone oil pipeline. The White House hasn't said what they'll do in response to that bill passing, as it probably will, almost certainly will. But, George, I expect that would be the first presidential veto of this new congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Looks like that could come. John Boehner expected to be elected speaker today, but he's got a bit of a challenge.

KARL: There's going to be a little drama today. The House will elect their new speaker. Boehner almost certainly will be re-elected Speaker of the House. But, George, ten Republican House members have already said they will vote against Boehner and I am told that number could get to be as high as twenty, really an extraordinary show of rebellion by Tea Party members of the Congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys are already getting hit by that snow down in D.C. today.

KARL: Yeah, we've got snow, quite a bit of it. Just a little while ago we had the snow plows right behind me here on the White House grounds.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, well, get inside, Jon. Thanks very much.

Campaigns & Elections 2014 Congressional Conservatives & Republicans ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Peter Alexander Jonathan Karl

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