"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo, while discussing politics with Iowa voters on Thursday, spun foes of illegal immigrants as fans of simplistic solutions to a complicated issue. Maligning them, he complained, "Everybody wants to put up a big wall and then find who's not supposed to be here and throw them over that wall."
Cuomo, while speaking to a voter who favored allowing illegals to stay in the country, seemed to morph into a parody of an enforcement conservative. Attempting to channel that mind set, he derided, "But for a politician, you want that red meat. You want to be able to be strong and we want them out!"
In a introduction, co-host Diane Sawyer asserted that the point of the segment, which took place in Drake Diner in Iowa, was to find out what's on the mind of voters. However, Cuomo's preselected group hardly seemed representative. It included a committed Barack Obama supporter, a backer of Senator Hillary Clinton, a man committed to caucusing for Senator Chris Dodd and a voter unsure about his choice. The total didn't exactly sound balanced: Three Democratic voters and one undecided.
It needs to be noted that GMA provided no onscreen identifiers for these Iowans. The undecided individual's name wasn't given or even spoken aloud. He was described as a military man. Cuomo called him "Lieutenant Colonel." He did espouse some conservative viewpoints, especially on Iraq. It's also true that Cuomo asked questions on that topic which could be construed as right-leaning. But on the subject of illegal immigration, the ABC host remained true to his previous on-air comments. On June 8, 2007, Cuomo interviewed then-Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. He asked the Congressman why he chose to "rip" down the amnesty bill and chastised Tancredo for using "scary" words during the debate.
Earlier in the January 3 program, Cuomo derided '08 contender Mitt Romney for comments about John Edwards that could demonstrate "ignorance."
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:15am on January 3, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: So, here are a couple facts about Iowa. It's the sixth most livable state in the union, the eighth safest and in the top ten smartest in the country. So, what's on their minds this morning and have all the voters made up their minds about who their going to vote for yet? Chris Cuomo back at the Drake Diner with his informal survey. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO: Well, Diane, we're all certain about what we're going to have for breakfast. Everybody here has a nice little setup. But in terms of candidates, starting with you, Tia, do you know who your going to caucus for?
TIA: I do. I'm going to caucus for Obama.
CUOMO: You know for sure? Dave?
DAVE: Senator Dodd.
CUOMO: Okay. And Gianna (PH), you?
GIANNA (PH): Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: Okay. And you, sir?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL: Not quite decided.
CUOMO: Not quite-- You might go back and forth, you know. Let's see. So, everybody's a little mixed. But what we do know is the issue that's guiding us. And that's very important. Because as we setting it up here, a lot of talk about change and experience, but not a lot about change what, change how? Experience that will mean what? Now, big issues. Tia, you're young.
CUOMO: You have no health care. Tell me about what this means in your life.
TIA: Um, well-- It's-- A lot of candidates talk about health care for families, health care for senior citizens, but I'm just in between. I don't want to go get a job where just so I can get health care. And I don't want to get married just so I can have health care. Nobody's doing anything about it and nobody's talking to me.
CUOMO: So, you feel that individually, nobody's talking about you and you specifically on the issue you don't hear anything about that's relevant to just you?
TIA: Right. I'm not in college. I'm not under my parents' insurance and there's nothing for me. I have to pay for it. I have to pay a lot and I don't really want to.
CUOMO: And you're not really hearing a whole lot on how the change will happen.
TIA: Exactly. Exactly. Nobody is willing to address that issue and change it for the younger people who are just trying to make their way.
CUOMO: And yet, you know who you want? Why? So, what are you defaulting to for your choice?
TIA: It's not about health care in that sense. I'm really excited about the ideas of a minority president. Really excited.
CUOMO: That would be a first. Lot of history being made there.
TIA: Yeah. Yeah. And nobody's talking about that either.
CUOMO: Lieutenant Colonel, you've been to Iraq. Very important job there. Looking for IEDs, obviously the biggest problem there. But back home here, the war becomes about politics. The decision to stay or go. Very important to you. What's your perspective on it?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL: I look at it-- What does the senior leadership in the country of Iraq right now have to say about us staying or going? And I know that right now there are lots of positive things taking place in Iraq.
CUOMO: Because of the President's-- Because of what troops are doing on the ground? Because of the training that you saw when you were there, now the big political move is to get everybody out. Everybody's trying to figure out how to get 'em out. Do you think that's playing politics with a delicate situation?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL: As long as we continue to support the troops with the very best resources available, give them what they need to do their jobs, I think we're doing the right thing.
CUOMO: So, your concern is that if you start pulling them out without supporting the ones that your leaving there, you wind up creating jeopardy.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL: That's right, as well as the transition between the coalition forces, the American-- the United States soldiers on the ground and the Iraqi security forces. There needs to be a seamless transition there which is not tied to a timetable. I mean, that's gonna' be tied to a situation on the ground in neighborhoods, not necessarily provinces, but individual neighborhoods.
CUOMO: And a lot of the talk here without the experience of being there is "just pull it out, it's time for them to take care of themselves," but you know what vulnerability would be there in that instance, right?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL: That's absolutely right.
CUOMO: All right. And, again, an issue that's a lot of politics now, but not a lot of real planning for what could happen, but we'll have to see what happens with that. Now, Gianna, for you, immigration.
CUOMO: You've been naturalized. You've now here a naturalized citizen three years.
CUOMO: But it's a big issue. Everybody wants to put up a big wall and then find who's not supposed to be here and throw them over that wall. But what is your perspective on that?
GIANNA: Okay. I think that, one, it's not going to work, first, at all. That is a joke. Um, we, immigration is a big issue because we need more humane laws. We need to reunite families. We need to-- There are a lot of negative feelings against immigrations (sp) and we need to be done with that. We need to secure our borders. I totally agree with that. But that doesn't mean you stop immigration. We need to first work with what we have inside, then that will help us protect ourselves from what is outside.
CUOMO: But for a politician, you want that red meat. You want to be able to be strong and we want them out!
GIANNA: I want someone to come out with a solution. Everybody knows what is the problem. Everybody has an idea what is the possible solution. But no one has actually enacted the solution and make it work. And I'm looking for that.
CUOMO: One of those problems that just flies in the face of what America is supposed to be about, but about how you can get a quick answer to something. Because when you say you have to deal with all the people here and most of them might have to stay, that doesn't sound like change.
GIANNA: It is a change if they have the power to make illegal immigrants legal. There are people who deserve to be here in the United States and they can make it. There are people who deserve to be gone. They should be gone. And they can make the difference. The last can make the difference.
CUOMO: Now, Dave, you're looking at the future. You're a father. You want to hear about the environment. We hear those words, but not a lot behind them. What's your take?
DAVE: I'm looking for someone who can bring results, both with the energy, the environment, with education and how I've gone through the selection process is been looking at their past behavior and past performance, trying to find an indicator of what I think would be their future behavior and future performance.
CUOMO: So, you want to hear about the results. You want to hear about what it's all about. I mean, all of you have something that's very close to your heart, but you're hearing it in words or labels and not a lot about what the plans are. But, then again, these are all very sophisticated issues. So you're going to make your decision for a candidate that you think, at some point in the future might address what you really believe in, even if it's not heard now.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL: Right.