AP's Babington Warns of Damage 'Hard-Right' Positions Cause GOP White House Hopefuls
Published: 6/1/2011 1:52 AM ET
"GOP presidential contenders drift to the right," reads the headline over a Monday night dispatch by the AP's Charles Babington who devoted an entire story to fears "Republican candidates are drifting rightward on a range of issues, even though more centrist stands might play well in the 2012 general election." (I caught a shortened version in Tuesday's Washington Examiner.)
"Independents," the Associated Press White House correspondent warned, "may be far less enamored of hard-right positions than are the GOP activists." He soon repeated the "hard-right" pejorative as he relayed how "some in Obama's camp," as if they are genuinely concerned for Republicans or offer any kind of reliable political insight, "say the presidential contenders risk locking themselves into hard-right positions that won't play well."
A search via Nexis found no stories by Babington, who jumped in 2007 to the AP from the Washington Post, tagging anyone as "hard-left."
Instead, Babington gently noted Democrats "edge to the left" before returning to "the center," claiming: "Democratic candidates generally edge to the left to attract liberal activists before hewing back to the center for the general election."
In his May 31 article, Babington's "hard-right" case began with: "Climate policy is a dramatic example of how GOP presidential hopefuls have shifted to the right in recent years" and he maintained "the Republican Party's rightward drift is causing headaches for the presidential hopefuls on the issue of Medicare."
Though he conceded "many Republican activists are delighted by the rightward tack of their party and its presidential contenders," he countered: "Some in Obama's camp, however, say the presidential contenders risk locking themselves into hard-right positions that won't play well when less ideological voters flock to the polls in November 2012."
Flashback to 2008, Babington trumpeted: "There's ample evidence that Obama is something special, a man who makes difficult tasks look easy, who seems to touch millions of diverse people with a message of hope that somehow doesn't sound Pollyannaish."
From the top of Babington's May 30 story:
In the first presidential election since the tea party's emergence, Republican candidates are drifting rightward on a range of issues, even though more centrist stands might play well in the 2012 general election.
On energy, taxes, health care and other topics, the top candidates hold positions that are more conservative than those they espoused a few years ago.
The shifts reflect the evolving views of conservative voters, who will play a major role in choosing the Republican nominee. In that sense, the candidates' repositioning seems savvy or even essential.
But the eventual nominee will face President Barack Obama in the 2012 general election, when independent voters appear likely to be decisive players once again. Those independents may be far less enamored of hard-right positions than are the GOP activists who will wield power in the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary and other nominating contests.
"The most visible shift in the political landscape" in recent years "is the emergence of a single bloc of across-the-board conservatives," says the Pew Research Center, which conducts extensive voter surveys. Many of them "take extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues," Pew reports. They largely "agree with the tea party," and "very strongly disapprove of Barack Obama's job performance."
Climate policy is a dramatic example of how GOP presidential hopefuls have shifted to the right in recent years. Former Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Jon Huntsman of Utah, along with other likely candidates, have backed away from earlier embraces of regional "cap-and-trade" programs to reduce greenhouse gas pollution...