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Lesley Stahl Mocks 'Out of Mainstream' GOP; Joe Klein Smears Tea Partiers as Racist

60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl is apparently concerned about how such "out of the mainstream" Republicans ran in the 2012 presidential primaries, given what a "centrist" country America is.

Stahl moderated a New York Historical Society discussion on the state of the race. Time journalist Joe Klein appeared at the May 3 event to smear conservative groups as racist.

After noting that he attended a Tea Party rally in Arkansas, Klein mocked the organization's fears at this: "And there are Mexican Americans all over the place and their grandchildren are marrying out of their race or becoming gay. The President of the United States doesn't have the good sense to be either black or white and his middle name is Hussein."

He condescendingly added, "And as a New Yorker, I have to say that the things their most afraid of are the things I love the most about the country."

Earlier, Klein described going around the country and discussing the Tea Party with other Americans. He swore they told him, "We know who those folks [Tea Partiers] are. They're the ones who show up at the city council and complain about fluoridation."

In a bewildered tone, Stahl admitted, "I keep hearing we're a centrist country... And yet, you have a Republican Party that is in no way in the center, in terms of their issues. They're clearly out of the mainstream in rolling back...70 years of legislation."

The panel was televised by C-SPAN and video can be found here.

A partial transcript of the event can be found below.

New York Historical Society Forum on 2012 Presidential election
05/12/12

12:07
[on taxing the rich]

LESLEY STAHL [On raising taxes on the rich]: I covered an election two years ago in Washington State. It was an initiative on the ballot to just tax the very- top one percent in the state of Washington. Both Gates- Bill Gates and his father were supporting this initiative to put a surtax on multi-millionaires. And it didn't pass. And I was astonished it didn't pass. But, I mean- Isn't it counter-intuitive.


13:08
[On the left/right divide in America]

STAHL: Okay, here's another issue that I'm confused about. I keep hearing we're a centrist country and that candidates, after they get through their primaries have to pivot back to the center, because that's where we all are. And yet, you have a Republican Party that is in no way in the center, in terms of their issues. They're clearly out of the mainstream on rolling back, on really rolling back 70 years of legislation.

16:13
[On the Tea Party]

JOE KLEIN: And believe me, I go out into the country and talk to actual civilians on road trips and they're all kind of astonished at the power we in the media have given the Tea Party folks. They say, "We know who those folks are."

STAHL: They win elections.

KLEIN: "We know who those folks are. They're the ones who show up at the city council and complain about fluoridation." They- These

STAHL: They're running Congress.

KLEIN: Well- That's in part because if you give people a choice between nothing and more government, they're going to choose nothing.

1 hr and 6 minutes

KLEIN: You know, you go to a Tea Party meeting and you see a forest of people who are scared to death because this country has changed underneath them. You go to a Tea Party meeting in Arkansas, which I did, and all of a sudden they're looking at a country that- where South Asians run all the mini marts and motels. And there are Mexican Americans all over the place and their grandchildren are marrying out of their race or becoming gay. The President of the United States doesn't have the good sense to be either black or white and his middle name is Hussein. The economy sucks. The jobs they used to be able to hold without having a high school diploma have disappeared. And as a New Yorker, I have to say that the things their most afraid of are the things I love the most about the country.


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