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John Berman Lectures Republicans: 'Shift to the Right' Could Mean 'Hurting in the Middle'

ABC's John Berman on Friday chided the Republican presidential candidates for not talking about jobs enough, lecturing the GOP field that social issues could harm their chances of winning the White House. Berman whined, "...The shift to the right in rhetoric could be hurting in the middle."

Regarding Romney's planned speech on tax cuts, Friday, Good Morning America's Berman condescended, " [Romney says [his plan] will help create jobs. Jobs. Remember that word? The candidates uttered the word jobs just four times in two hours in this week's debate." Of course, as Berman proved with video clips, it was the candidates– and not debate moderator John King– who brought up jobs.

An ABC graphic derided, "Countdown to Michigan: Where is the Jobs Talk?"

Doubling down on the idea that social values don't matter, Berman continued, "In an ABC News poll last month, 51 percent said the most important issue to them, the economy and jobs. No other issue cracked double digits. Morals and family values at three percent."

Of course, if conservative GOP primary voters didn't care about social issues, the candidates probably wouldn't be talking about them.

It's not like Romney talking about economic issues drew him more favorable coverage, at least with Berman. When the ex-Massachusetts governor did discuss them, the ABC reporter attacked, "So, just how rich is Mitt Romney and is he paying his fair share of taxes?"

A transcript of the February 24 segment, which aired at 7:12am EST, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, to politics. Your voice, your vote and just four days away from the crucial Michigan primary, the race is a dead heat. The candidates are on the attack. ABC's John Berman joins me now. And, John, in this home stretch, the economy is front and center. The candidates trying to get it back to that.

ABC GRAPHIC: Countdown to Michigan: Where is the Jobs Talk?

JOHN BERMAN: Yeah. It's a return to front and center after a stretch on the sidelines, George. Later today in Detroit, Mitt Romney will lay out the details of his new tax plans. It's an effort to cut taxes, but just as important, an effort to pivot the debate back to where voters they want it. Jobs and the economy. Back in his home state of Michigan today, Mitt Romney will propose an across-the-booed 20 percent cuts on income tax rates. He says it will help create jobs. Jobs. Remember that word? The candidates uttered the word jobs just four times in two hours in this week's debate.

NEWT GINGRICH: Jobs.
                       
MITT ROMNEY: Jobs.

GINGRICH: Jobs. Millions of jobs.

BERMAN: Instead of jobs, Mitt Romney's brand new attack on Rick Santorum? He's a corrupt, rudderless, Washington insider.

ROMNEY: I don't that I have seen a politician explain in so many ways why it was he voted against his principles.

BERMAN: Instead of jobs, one attack ad Rick Santorum has been running? Mitt Romney's not genuinely pro-life.

[Clip of Santorum's text-heavy commercial.]

BERMAN: And in rare interview, Santorum's wife, Karen, discussed her driving goal for her husband's candidacy

KAREN SANTORUM: The want is the mission to make the culture a better culture, more pleasing to God.

SANTORUM AD: Who is on the side of Michigan workers? Not Romney.

BERMAN: Santorum seems to be making the pivot back towards jobs, too. Releasing a new ad this morning saying that Mitt Romney backs Wall Street over Michigan workers. In an ABC News poll last month, 51 percent said the most important issue to them, the economy and jobs. No other issue cracked double digits. Morals and family values at three percent. Perhaps the political environment is changing as consumer confidence improves. But nevertheless, the shift to the right in rhetoric could be hurting in the middle. Four years ago at this time, among independents, both Barack Obama and John McCain were at or above 60 percent favorability. Today, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, just 33 percent favorability. But, before Democrats rejoice, new polling from Gallup shows Mitt Romney with a four point lead with Barack Obama right now and a key vulnerability for the President might be those rising gas prices, which is an issue that Newt Gingrich is hitting hard almost every minute on the trail, George.

 

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.