CNN allowed Romney to "plug[]" McCain's "credentials on fiscal issues" without noting Romney's own previous attacks


Reports on CNN's American Morning and its Political Ticker blog quoted former Gov. Mitt Romney praising Sen. John McCain's "credentials on fiscal issues," but neither report noted that "questioning McCain's economic credentials was the centerpiece" of Romney's campaign during the Republican presidential primary in Florida.

On the April 15 edition of CNN's American Morning, in response to former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) assertion that the economic "view" espoused by Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is to "always expand government," co-anchor Kiran Chetry said to Romney: "[Y]ou're bringing both of them up. They're criticizing [Sen.] John McCain's economic experience." Similarly, in an April 15 Political Ticker post about Romney's appearance on American Morning, Martina Stewart and Emily Sherman wrote that Romney "plugged the Arizona senator's credentials on fiscal issues," and that McCain "has faced charges that he is relatively inexperienced dealing with economic policy." However, in neither the American Morning interview nor the Political Ticker post did CNN note that Romney and McCain himself have suggested that McCain is "relatively inexperienced" on the economy. Indeed, as an April 15 Associated Press article noted, while Romney "was on television Tuesday touting the economic credentials of John McCain," "questioning McCain's economic credentials was the centerpiece of Romney's recent Florida primary campaign." Further, McCain has reportedly stated that "[t]he issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should" and that "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."

From the April 15 AP article:

Three months after Mitt Romney said Washington experience does not translate into economic wisdom, the former Republican presidential contender was on television Tuesday touting the economic credentials of John McCain in part on the strength of his congressional tenure.


Yet questioning McCain's economic credentials was the centerpiece of Romney's recent Florida primary campaign. It continued through their Feb. 5 Super Tuesday showdown, which McCain won and forced Romney from the race.

For example, on Jan. 25 in Pensacola, Fla., Romney mocked McCain for equating his Senate tenure and committee chairmanship with Romney's prior work in the private sector as a venture capitalist and outside the Beltway as governor of Massachusetts.

"Now he's engaging in 'Washington talk,' " Romney said of McCain, jabbing as the senator's self-professed "straight-talk" manta. " 'Washington talk' says that somehow, because you've been in Washington, and you've been on a committee, that you somehow know about how the jobs of this country have been created."


On Jan. 29, in his Florida concession speech, Romney did not relent. He told a prime-time audience: "At a time like this, America needs a president in the White House who has actually had a job in the real economy." He added, "At a time like this, knowing how America works is more important than knowing how Washington works."

And on Feb. 1, Romney told a crowd at a Denver Ford dealership: "At a time like this, in a country like this, I think it is important to have a president for whom the economy is his strong suit."

The AP noted further that while McCain's economic plan includes a proposal to suspend the federal gas tax, Romney previously "opposed a similar idea amid a price spike in Massachusetts in 2005."

CNN itself reported Romney's attacks on McCain's economic credentials at the time. On the February 5 edition of American Morning, Chetry reported: "You know, on the Republican side, Mitt Romney is promising a Super Tuesday surprise saying don't count on a McCain sweep. Romney told voters in Oklahoma that he's the true conservative choice and the man who can protect their money." On the February 2 edition of CNN Newsroom, congressional correspondent Dana Bash reported of McCain's ability to handle the economy, "Mitt Romney is hitting him on the issue saying he really doesn't get it."

A December 18, 2007, Boston Globe article and a January 28 Time magazine article both reported that McCain claimed on December 17, 2007, that "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." Similarly, in a November 2005 interview with Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore, McCain asserted: "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." As Media Matters for America previously noted, during the January 24 Republican presidential debate, McCain was presented with a quote in which he claimed he knows "a lot less about economics" than "military and foreign policy issues." In response to a debate question about the quote, McCain suggested he had not said it, asserting, "I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm very well-versed in economics."

From the April 15 edition of CNN's American Morning:

CHETRY: There's a lot to chew over. In fact, our political analyst, Mark Halperin, even said that, you know, you could use all 180 minutes of American Morning and not get to everything. The challenge will be for John McCain to help explain that to people.

But let's talk a little bit about this flat funding, as they call it, or this freeze on discretionary spending. Some of the departments: homeland security, food inspection, education. Some of these federal programs would really actually end up seeing, you know, a cut when you count in inflation. How are you going to get voters to think that that's a good idea, especially as we've been hearing, you know, concerns about food safety as well as other things like national security?

ROMNEY: I think the American people understand that there is massive waste and inefficiency and, in some cases, abuse in the federal government and it's spending. And Senator McCain is saying, you know what? For this coming year, we're going to freeze spending on government programs in these discretionary accounts and then we're going to evaluate each of these programs one by one and see which of those should be grown and which of them should be eliminated or cut back. And there are going to be a lot of cut backs. There are going to be a number of programs which over years have been evaluated as being not very effective, not doing the job they were designed to do.

It's interesting in Washington, you pass a bill to create a program and it stays there for decades. There's never any evaluation of how well it's working. And Senator McCain is saying, enough of that. The people come before government. We're going to let the people keep their money, particularly at a tough time like this where gas prices are high, when there are recessionary burdens that people are feeling. Let's let our individuals have their taxes simplified and made lower. And let's have government finally pull back. And, of course, that's a very different approach than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would take.

CHETRY: It's interesting that, well, you know --

ROMNEY: Their view is, always expand government.

CHETRY: Well, you're bringing both of them up. They're criticizing John McCain's economic experience and also his plan to deal with the housing crisis over the weekend.

In fact, let's listen to what Senator Obama said this weekend.

OBAMA [video clip]: John McCain, it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he's saying I'm out of touch?

CHETRY: We're waking up to the news this morning of home foreclosures up yet again for the month. What is his plan to help people who are suffering now?

From the April 15 Political Ticker blog:

As John McCain shifted focus to his economic policies with a major address Tuesday, former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney plugged the Arizona senator's credentials on fiscal issues, telling CNN that "if you take Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's experience and multiply it by ten, you still haven't caught up with Sen. McCain when it comes to experience on the economy."

McCain, who has focused his campaign on his national security and foreign policy credentials, has faced charges that he is relatively inexperienced dealing with economic policy.

Romney defended the presumptive GOP nominee's record on CNN's American Morning Tuesday.

"For a person who's spent over 25 years in Washington, D.C., working on economic policies, from the days of Reagan and throughout the current time, Sen. McCain is very well aware of the spending programs in Washington," Romney told Kiran Chetry. "Which ones need to be cut back, which ones need to be grown. He understands also how to relieve the pressure on the American taxpayer."

Kiran Chetry
American Morning
Mitt Romney, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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