In just a matter of days, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will announce his choice for his 2012 running mate. No matter who Romney picks, however, the liberal media's line of attack is already clear. The Media Research Center reviewed news coverage of several potential picks, and found many have already been caricatured as too far right or outside the mainstream.
Last year, for example, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz slammed Senator Marco Rubio as a "pretty boy" and a "hack," screaming that his "policies are downright ugly." A few weeks later, CNN sought out New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to pass judgment on Representative Paul Ryan's plan to reform Medicare. "The voucher would kill people, no question," Krugman smeared.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has also been hit as too far to the right; on MSNBC last year, ex-CNN correspondent Bob Franken wildly claimed that Pawlenty was "pandering" to "the very wealthy" so that he could "be the person who heads their oligarchy." In 2010, CNN's Roland Martin denounced Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for naming a "Confederate History Month" – that's like "saying, 'Let's celebrate Nazi soldiers for simply doing their job,'" Martin fumed.
Others who have been prominently named, like Ohio Senator Rob Portman, haven't drawn as much media heat (although Portman is frequently denigrated as "boring"). But no matter who winds up getting the nod, expect liberal reporters to quickly rally around a handful of Democratic talking points, including some that have already surfaced.
Here are some of the key attack quotes against the prospective VP candidates, as found in MRC's archives:
Paul Ryan: Heartless Scrooge Whose Policies Would 'Kill People'
CNN's Gloria Borger: "[House Budget Chairman Paul] Ryan became popular by pushing the unpopular, things like killing his colleague's pork projects, or trying to revamp Social Security, and eventually change Medicare into a program of vouchers for private insurers...."
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman: "To be a little melodramatic, the voucher would kill people, no question....The cuts in Medicare that he's proposing, the replacement of Medicare by a voucher system, would in the end mean that tens of millions of older Americans would not be able to afford essential health care. So that counts as cruelty to me."
-- From a profile of Ryan that aired on CNN's Stories: Reporter, September 25, 2011.
"Where is the empathy in this budget?...Do you acknowledge that poor people will suffer under his budget? That you have shown a lack of empathy to poor people in this budget?"
– Ann Curry to Ryan, NBC's Today, April, 10, 2012. [Audio]
Tim Pawlenty: Pushing for Wealthy 'Oligarchy' While Leaving His State in 'Disarray'
"...He's pandering to the segment of the Republican Party, the very wealthy, by basically letting them off the hook for any responsibility. They're interested in buying back a government. And so he is out there trying to see to it that he is the one where they shower all their wealth on, so he can turn around then and lead the government and be the person who heads their oligarchy."
– Ex-CNN correspondent Bob Franken slamming Tim Pawlenty's tax plan with MSNBC's Cenk Uygur, June 8, 2011.
"Let's talk about, you know you're a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and you criticized the President after his State of the Union Address. You basically called him a chicken, that's the word you used, for failing to address real fiscal issues in this country. But your successor in Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton, has criticized you for leaving a $6.2 billion deficit. Last night in his State of the State Address, he said that he was left with a horrendous fiscal mess and state agencies poorly managed. So what makes you better-equipped to run the nation's economy, if you left your own house in such disarray?"
– Then co-host Meredith Vieira to Pawlenty, NBC's Today, February, 10, 2011.
Marco Rubio: A 'Pretty Boy' Whose 'Policies Are Downright Ugly'
"And in Psycho Talk tonight, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He's on the attack against the Big Three. Now Rubio is an early favorite to take the number two spot on the Republican presidential ticket next year thanks to his Tea Party ideology and his pretty boy looks. But his policies are downright ugly....I'll tell you what's weakening our people, political hacks like Marco Rubio, who want to get rid of social safety nets....But these right-wingers remain determined to dismantle the Big Three, no matter how many Americans suffer. For Marco Rubio to say programs like Medicare and Social Security weaken Americans is flat out Psycho Talk."
– Ed Schultz on MSNBC's The Ed Show, August 25, 2011.
Condoleezza Rice: Incompetent Bush 'Parrot' Who Likes to Boss the World Around
"What he's doing is shutting down any kind of dissent, any kind of opposing views. I mean, Condi Rice will go and do what she does best which is to parrot the administration line....Incompetence is so rewarded. I mean, Condi Rice didn't see terrorism coming, she went out and really lied about what she knew....[But] Colin Powell is out and Donald Rumsfeld, who to me is the biggest incompetent in this administration the way he's handled this war, gets to keep his job. This administration doesn't admit mistakes and rewards incompetence."
– Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, November 20, 2004 McLaughlin Group.
Katie Couric: "A passionate student of history, Condi Rice believes turmoil often precedes periods of peace and stability. And she rejects the notion that the U.S. is a bully, imposing its values on the world."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "What’s wrong with assistance so that people can have their full and complete right to the very liberties and freedoms that we enjoy?"
Couric to Rice: "To quote my daughter, 'Who made us the boss of them?'"
— CBS's 60 Minutes, September 24, 2006. [Video and audio]
Bobby Jindal: A Hypocrite On the 'Outside Rail' of GOP
"When he [Obama] sees people like Bobby Jindal, you know, standing up, screaming about more federal action, more federal aid, well, six months ago, that's not the person that Bobby Jindal was. He was a small-government, no federal aid kind of guy. And the President is calling out those people for hypocrisy."
– Politico's Roger Simon bashing Bobby Jindal for criticizing Obama administration's slow response to the BP oil spill, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, June 15, 2010.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: "What can the Republican response be?...How do you come out against recovering the nation's sense of self and its optimism? How do you come out against words like 'boldly, 'wisely,' 'swiftly,' and 'aggressively?'"
Co-anchor Chris Matthews: "[Bobby Jindal]....is running for the outside rail of the Republican Party, the right-wing rail....That's all the room that's left on that side because Barack has grabbed the center with the charm he showed tonight in his excellent rhetoric."
– MSNBC's live coverage of Obama's State of the Union address and Jindal's delivery of the official GOP response, February 24, 2009.
Rob Portman: 'Boring White Guy' Who Clucks Like a Chicken
David Brooks, New York Times columnist: Now a Romney/Portman race would be like a bunch of boring white guys. So it wouldn't be like scintillating, but it would be, oh, they're decent enough....
Helene Cooper, New York Times: I'd say either Portman or McDonnell. McDonnell brings to the table the same sort of things that Portman does. You know, he would be seen as, seen as a little bit boring...there again you'd have these two white guys who look like, eh, not so bad.
– Panel discussion on NBC's Meet the Press, April 22, 2012.
"Did you ever notice how many of the Republican candidates seemed to have animal issues? Rick Perry shot that coyote, and Jon Huntsman got bitten by a goat -- really, that was the high point of the Huntsman campaign. Also, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the veep front-runner, recently imitated a chicken on television. You will be hearing more about this incident because I think I speak for the entire national media when I say that we are planning to discuss possible Republican vice presidential candidates nonstop through the spring and summer."
– New York Times columnist Gail Collins, April 25, 2012.
Bob McDonnell: Celebrator of 'Domestic Terrorism' And Shamer of Women
"That's like someone sitting here and saying 'Let's celebrate Nazi soldiers for simply doing their job....When you sit here and say well, we will celebrate the Confederate veterans, these folks committed treason by taking up arms against the United States. You celebrate that? They were domestic terrorists."
– CNN contributor Roland Martin reacting to Bob McDonnell naming April as Confederate History Month in Virginia, April 7, 2010.
"Only a last-minute media glare caused Virginia's Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, and its Republican-led Legislature to modify a shockingly punitive law aiming to shame and in many cases penetrate women seeking abortions. The version that passed on Thursday is still harsh enough to damage McDonnell's vice presidential prospects."
– New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, March 3, 2012.
Chris Christie: 'Tony Soprano' Who 'Screams' at People Just 'Embarrassing Himself'
"He's not a governor. He's a character. He's a Tony Soprano....He's cutting back on schools. He's cutting back on so many programs that people need....He's a mess. He doesn't listen. He just says whatever he's thinking. There's no filter."
– Washington Post Magazine contributing editor Cathy Areu on Chris Christie, CNN's Starting Point, February 22, 2012. [Audio]
"I think Chris Christie is really good at polishing his own brand. And his brand at this point is, 'I'm the guy who screams at my own constituents'....Chris Christie is auditioning for vice president. Chris Christie would like to be taken seriously on the national stage. That's why he's embarrassing himself in his own state....He is auditioning. And his brand is 'I will be rude.' And rudeness is actually what he's trying to sell as a form of political authenticity."
– MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on NBC's Today, June 29, 2011.