George Stephanopoulos Touts Democratic Talking Points, Urges Pawlenty to Denounce Tea Party Candidate

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Friday parroted Democratic talking points while interviewing Governor Tim Pawlenty about the tea party movement. The potential presidential candidate mentioned the victory of several GOP women on Tuesday, prompting Stephanopoulos to pounce: "You didn't mention Sharron Angle, who's going to be the Senate candidate up against Harry Reid." [Audio available here.]

After playing a clip of the Nevada Republican saying there's "no such thing" as too conservative, Stephanopoulos listed several of Angle's positions and derided, "Are you concerned that some of your new candidates, especially those who have been backed by the Tea Party, may make it harder to win those seats in November?"

According to Stephanopoulos' spin, Democrats are "licking their chops" at the opportunity to run against Angle. The ABC anchor must have ignored a new Rasmussen poll showing her up 11 over Reid.

The journalist's critique followed closely to talking points released by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Tuesday: "[Angle] cares more about promoting a strict social doctrine than helping grow the state's economy. Sharron Angle's rigid social agenda may generate national headlines, but Nevadans cannot afford it."

Considering the host's past as a Democratic operative, this shouldn't be too surprising. Twice this week, Stephanopoulos highlighted rumors against another Republican, Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

Pressing the gubernatorial candidate on allegations of infidelity, the ex-Clinton aide brazenly demanded, "Can you assure South Carolina voters that they're not going to be embarrassed if they elect you?"

A transcript of the June 11 segment, which aired at 7:35am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It was a big political week with the continuing fallout from the oil spill for President Obama. And a fresh batch of potential Republican stars, mostly women, coming out of Tuesday night's primary elections across the country, which makes it a perfect week to kick off our series of conversations with the men and women who have their eyes on the biggest political prize of all, the White House. GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, of course, has not announced yet. But, he's a rising star in the party. And he's starting to put in his time in places like Iowa. We're so glad to see you hear this morning.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY: Good morning, George. Thanks for having me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, let's start out talking about the oil spill. You've been pretty tough on President Obama, saying the rig explosion happened on his watch. But, do you really think he could have done anything to prevent it?

PAWLENTY: Well, we know a number of things. First of all, we have to get all the facts. But, one fact that's important, in April of 2009, under this administration's watch, the relevant federal agencies approved categorical waivers for environmental review for this operation. You know, that's a significant decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was following the practice of past administrations.

PAWLENTY: Yeah, we should be fair and say the notion that all administrations had these kind of operations going and they had no plan for really responding to this kind of disaster is horribly disappointing. A significant failure of government, broadly. But, we also know during this administration's watch, they had the final say up or down on this operation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And does it make you rethink your support for oil drilling? Do you support, for example, the pause until we're sure all of the rigs are safe?

PAWLENTY: I do support the pause. We also need to make sure- this is an industry that's operated 40 or 50 years, mostly without incident. But, you can't have these things pumping oil on the bottom of the ocean floor without a plan and capacity to respond to a crisis like that. It's pretty clear, they had no plan for what happens if a blowout preventer fails.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who should pay for all of this now? The Chamber of Commerce has said that it shouldn't be all BP's responsibility, that the federal government should pick up part of the tab. Do you agree with that?

PAWLENTY: No. I mean, on what theory would the for be responsible for BP's failure? The facts are still coming in. But, there were news reports coming in that there was a test for the blowout preventer. And it was delayed at BPs request. Now, what was behind that? Were they concerned because there was a malady or failure in the system? Why didn't that come to the surface of the discussion earlier? There's going to be questions and hopefully answers along those lines.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about election night, Tuesday. Who was the big winner?

PAWLENTY: Women. This is going to be, I think, in part, the year of woman. That's a great thing. Particularly for my party, our party. My party needs to have more faces and voices that aren't just middle-aged men. And so, I really applaud and celebrate the success of our women candidates. Susana Martinez down in New Mexico is going to be a fantastic candidate. Of course, you have got Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina and others in California. I think it's going to be terrific and I think, of course, the pendulum, we believe, is swinging back our way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn't mention Sharron Angle, who's going to be the Senate candidate up against Harry Reid. And I want to show you something she said on election night.

SHARRON ANGLE: They said that Reagan was too conservative to win. There's no such thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, you know Democrats are licking their chops. They look at Sharron Angle's record. They say she wants to do away with Social Security, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS, make alcohol illegal. And they say that sure is too conservative. Are you concerned that some of your new candidates, especially those who have been backed by the Tea Party, may make it harder to win those seats in November?

PAWLENTY: Well, each state is different. Each race is different. I don't think you want to make a broad generalization that somebody is too conservative. What works in Nevada may be different than what works in Vermont. As a general rule, the Republican Party is a conservative party. The values and traditions that we have-

STEPHANOPOULOS: Doing away with Social Security?

PAWLENTY: Well, I'm not familiar with all of her record. But, you know, doing away with Social Security is not something I think most Republicans would support. We want to reform it and fix it and try to move it in a market direction. But I think most Republicans would say Social Security needs to be reformed, not abolished.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, I know, if you want to, you can tell us you're going to run for President, if you want to take the opportunity.

PAWLENTY: I'm going to, George. President of my hockey association.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I knew- very good pause. Okay. Give us a window in how you're thinking about it. How you're thinking about looking at the race. And what would tip your decision one way or another?

PAWLENTY: Well, a number of things. I'm very concerned about the direction of the country. I think I have ideas and experience, based on my time in Minnesota, a blue state. Conservative governor, reducing spending, holding line on taxes, reforming schools and public pensions and many other things. So, first of all, there's a concern. I want to contribute to it and improve the outlook for the country in 2010. As to 2012, the way I look at it, if I can add value to the debate and be the one that delivers the message, I'd at least be open to continuing to public life in some fashion. But, maybe not. So, part of it is, is the message needed? Am I the one who should help deliver it? Or can I help in other ways?

STEPHANOPOULOS: When you were thinking of running for governor of Minnesota, your wife Mary grabbed you by the lapels and said, "We need you. Minnesota needs you. You've got to do it." What is she saying now?"

PAWLENTY: [Laughs] My wife Mary, who I hope is watching this morning is wonderful. I hope you have a chance to meet her sometime. She has got great advice. But, she is very supportive to me continuing to play a role in public service, but is open to what that may be. You know, mostly to run for president these days, you have to be famous, have a lot of money or have novelty. I don't have anything of that. But I have some good ideas and some good experience.

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