CNN's Cooper and Crowley: Lamont victory shows that centrists cannot win Democratic primaries

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

Discussing incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's defeat in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary, CNN host Anderson Cooper and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley both suggested that the election result shows that "moderates" or "centrists" cannot win a Democratic primary race. Their assertions are based on a false premise: that on the issue on which challenger Ned Lamont primarily ran -- the Iraq war -- Lamont's view that the United States should withdraw is one held only by liberals, and that Lieberman's opposition to withdrawal is the "centrist" position.

During August 8 coverage of the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, host Anderson Cooper and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley both suggested that incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's defeat shows that "moderates" or "centrists" cannot win a Democratic primary race. Their assertions are based on a false premise: that on the issue on which challenger Ned Lamont primarily ran -- the Iraq war -- Lamont's view that the United States should withdraw is one held only by liberals, and that Lieberman's opposition to withdrawal is the "centrist" position. In fact, as Media Matters has previously noted, recent polling shows that most Americans believe that the Iraq war was a mistake and most Americans support withdrawal. Even so, after Cook Political Report senior editor Amy Walter noted the deep unpopularity of the Iraq war in Connecticut, Cooper asked Crowley how "Democrats try to bring more people into the political tent and win national elections if the candidates who are trying to do that, are trying to sort of be more moderate, can't get past the primaries?" Crowley replied that "it's sort of the honey-I-shrunk-the-middle period in politics" where "[i]t is very hard for a centrist, as Joe Lieberman is" and where "the middle is having a tough time."

From the August 8 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

COOPER: Amy, were you surprised at, not only the vehemence, sort of the vitriol against Joe Lieberman from those -- from some bloggers, but also the power that the bloggers ended up having in this race?

WALTER: Well, look, I think you're talking about a very -- first of all, we have a state like Connecticut, where it's a very liberal state, where the -- Bush's unpopularity is about as high as anywhere in the country, where concerns about the war are about as high as anywhere else. So I think it was almost a perfect test tube to try a campaign like this against an establishment senator, like Joe Lieberman. So I think that was really pretty critical. But there's no doubt that what the blogs are able to do is fuel a lot of this enthusiasm, a lot of the grassroots support, and the real question now is, where they're going to be, come November.

COOPER: Well, Candy [Crowley], how do Democrats try to bring more people into the political tent and win national elections if the candidates who are trying to do that, are trying to sort of be more moderate, can't get past the primaries?

CROWLEY: Well, it's sort of the honey-I-shrunk-the-middle period in politics. It is very hard for a centrist, as Joe Lieberman is -- and on the other side, we have Lincoln Chaffee who's a Republican who's often gone up against George Bush, he's in trouble in his home state, so the middle is having a tough time. These are very sharp partisan times. And you saw Joe Lieberman, in his concession speech, say, "Listen, I'm going to go on, because I believe in working together and I believe in bipartisanship." So having spent the last several weeks talking about what a good Democrat he is, and how many times he went up against George Bush, he turned that corner right away and said, "Look, I'm a bipartisan guy, I believe in working across the aisle, and I want all like-minded people to join Team Lieberman."

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Candy Crowley
Show/Publication
Anderson Cooper 360
Stories/Interests
2006 Elections
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