George Stephanopoulos is quickly becoming the favorite news anchor for 2020 Democratic candidates to talk to as they enter the presidential race. It’s no surprise, since the one-time Clinton operative has welcomed several new contenders to the campaign with softball interviews on ABC’s Good Morning America or This Week.
On Monday, it was former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s turn to endure a friendly chat with Stephanopoulos on GMA. After playing a clip of the Democrat’s campaign announcement in which he claimed he was running “because we’re facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for,” Stephanopoulos wondered: “What is that crisis?”
Having been teed up to deliver his talking points, Hickenlooper proclaimed:
You know, I think this is a crisis of division. And I think it’s probably the worst period of division that we’ve had in this country since the civil war. And ultimately, I’m running for president because I believe that not only can beat Donald Trump, but that I am the person that can bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done.
Stephanopoulos followed up by fondly recalling Barack Obama’s disingenuous call for bipartisanship: “You know, that reminds me of President Obama, when he was Senator Obama back in 2004, saying, ‘There’s no red America, there’s no blue America.’ He wanted to heal the divisions as well.” Obama’s divisiveness while in office was ignored as the morning show host asked: “They didn’t defeat him, but he couldn’t solve that problem. How can you?”
Moments later, Stephanopoulos noted the “huge field on the Democratic side” of “maybe 30 candidates” and fretted: “The first challenge for any candidate, how do you stand out?...What sets you apart?”
As an example, the anchor pointed to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who entered the race on Friday, “focusing his whole campaign on climate change.” Stephanopoulos of course treated Inslee to a softball sit-down on Sunday’s This Week and agreed with liberal politician’s agenda: “There’s no question that taking on the issue of climate change, all the science has reached a consensus on this, is critical.” Though he did ask: “Who is going to bear the burden of taking it on? What kind of sacrifices will you require from Americans?”
One thing missing from Stephanopoulos’s exchange with Inslee was any mention of the radical Green New Deal proposed by House Democrats. Only on Monday’s The View did Inslee get grilled on that subject by co-host Meghan McCain, at least before the segment was cut short by a commercial break.
On Monday’s GMA, Stephanopoulos wrapped up his conversation with Hickenlooper by remarking that “we picked a good day for you to come to Good Morning America” because the former governor was “a Hozier fan.” The singer was performing later on the morning show.
Left out of the portion of the taped interview that aired on the broadcast was a question in which Stephanopoulos worried that Hickenlooper would be too moderate to win the Democratic nomination. The host also pressed the Democrat on how he would work with Republicans in the Senate if they still controlled the majority. Those questions were edited out so that viewers could see the important Hozier discussion in its entirety.
The friendly forums for Hickenlooper and Inslee were just the latest cases of Stephanopoulos helping his fellow Democrats. On February 11, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was asked “what does it feel like” to announce a run for president. On January 21, Stephanopoulos and co-host Robin Roberts fawned over California Senator Kamala Harris and wondered if she thought “Trump has committed an impeachable offense?”
While 2020 Democrats can expect softball interviews from many in the media, they know it’s a guarantee with Stephanopoulous.
Here is a transcript of Stephanopoulos’s questions to Hickenlooper on the March 4 GMA:
8:22 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And we’re gonna turn now to a new face jumping into the White House race, two-term Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper joined a growing Democratic field early this morning. I spoke with him for his first interview right after the release of this video announcement.
FMR. GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER [D-CO]: I’m John Hickenlooper. I’m running for president because we’re facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor, thank you for joining us this morning. What is that crisis?
HICKENLOOPER: You know, I think this is a crisis of division. And I think it’s probably the worst period of division that we’ve had in this country since the civil war. And ultimately, I’m running for president because I believe that not only can beat Donald Trump, but that I am the person that can bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, that reminds me of President Obama, when he was Senator Obama back in 2004, saying, “There’s no red America, there’s no blue America.” He wanted to heal the divisions as well. They didn’t defeat him, but he couldn’t solve that problem. How can you?
HICKENLOOPER: This is gonna be a huge field on the Democratic side, maybe more than two dozen candidates, maybe 30 candidates in there. The first challenge for any candidate, how do you stand out? I was talking to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington yesterday, he’s focusing his whole campaign on climate change. What sets you apart?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you’re the doer, not the dreamer in this race. Who are the dreamers?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it seems like we picked a good day for you to come to Good Morning America. You’re a Hozier fan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Couldn’t stay for the concert, he’s already running.
ROBIN ROBERTS: But how is that going to be, to differentiate yourself?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s the hardest job for all of them. This field is going to be huge. It is wide open. Battle of personalities, issues, temperament, experience. It’s going to be exciting to watch.
ROBERTS: And you can watch the full interview where?
STEPHANOPOULOS: On our website. We’ll be right back.