CNN's Martin: Dems are a 'Big Tent,' GOP Risks 'Fringe' Status

November 3rd, 2009 4:32 PM
Roland Martin, CNN Political Contributor |

CNN’s Roland Martin picked up where Anderson Cooper left off on Monday’s AC360, claiming that there’s “the beginnings of a civil war” in the GOP and that Tea Party protesters “want to radicalize the right” in the party. Martin also claimed that the Democrats are more of a “big tent” than Republicans: “You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal...moderate...and conservative Democrats.”

The liberal political contributor appeared with Tea Party Express’s Mark Williams for two segments starting three minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. Cooper first sought Martin’s take on the New York 23rd congressional district race. Unsurprisingly, he forwarded the Chris Matthews/mainstream media spin on the contest: “There is no doubt you are seeing the beginnings of a civil war play out, in terms of folks who are saying that we do not want moderates, in terms of being involved in this party.”

Later in the segment, after Williams highlighted how Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava endorsed Democrat Bill Owens after she withdrew from the New York 23 race, Martin struck back with his “big tent” claim about the Democrats: “You talk about endorsing a Democrat. I’m sure Mark has no problem with former Democrat Joe Lieberman saying he’s going to campaign for Republican candidates....You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, and conservative Democrats. What Republicans are saying is, we don’t want any liberal or moderate Republicans. We only want conservative Republicans, and you cannot expand a party nationally only having just conservative Republicans. You’re not going to win long-term.”

When Williams countered that the Democrats were the liberal party and the Republicans were the “constitutional values” party, the CNN contributor stuck with his talking point: “Zell Miller, a former governor of Georgia, he was a conservative Democrat....You have people like Heath Shuler of North Carolina. He is considered to be a conservative Democrat. The point is, there are individuals who do not simply toe the line in terms of just being one ideology. There are people who do believe in Republican principles, but disagree on some issues.”

Martin went on to claim during the second segment that the Tea Party movement and their fellow travelers sought to make the GOP “fringe” right. Williams immediately replied to the charge: “Roland, since when is believing in the Constitution a fringe?” The two engaged in a back-and-forth for most of the second segment.

MARTIN: We’re seeing right now moderate and conservative Democrats playing a huge role in the changing of the health care bill in Congress. The point there is this here. You have folks like Mark who also- talk about the left being radicalized- you have people who want to radicalize the right. The point is this here. You can’t have people who are not from the fringes of both parties represent a party. So, conservative and moderate Democrats play a crucial role.

WILLIAMS: Roland, since when is believing in the Constitution a fringe?

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark- you are not going to have a strong Republican Party nationally-

WILLIAMS: How does that make me a fringe? I believe in the Constitution. I don’t believe in socialism.

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark- let me finish.

WILLIAMS: That makes me a fringe?

MARTIN: Mark, let me finish-

WILLIAMS: I’ll wear that label proudly.

MARTIN: Mark, let me finish. I believe in the Constitution as well. But the point is this here. You cannot have a truly national party if you are pushing people out that you simply disagree with.

COOPER: Mark, what about that idea of the big tent for the Republican Party? I mean, years ago, there used to be a lot of talk about wanting the Republican Party to be a big tent. Does that- from your vantage point, is that a negative thing, because it- you believes it waters down-

WILLIAMS: No, not at all, not at all. America is a huge tent. But this vile ideology of collectivism, the ideology of Marx and Lenin over that of Thomas Jefferson-

MARTIN: Oh, come on.

WILLIAMS: And Madison, that’s what we’re up against-

COOPER: But Mark, wait, wait, wait- before Roland jumps in-before Roland jumps in.-

WILLIAMS: As far as the way- as far as representing the people of the 23rd District of New York, I’ve got far more roots there than any of these people who sat behind closed doors in a smoke- filled room and imposed this socialist fake Republican of the 23rd District.