My “Morning Joe” colloquy with Mr. Scarborough on the potential problems ahead for the GOP.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Mark Halperin, this is so bad for the Republican party. Because I talk about the Republican brand. Yeah, it’s been really hurt over the past five, ten years. The conservative brand? Still pretty darn good. 40 percent of Americans tell Gallup they’re conservative. That’s twice as much as say they’re liberal. And there’s still conservatives out there who don’t think Republicans believe what they’re saying. So here you have a group of Republicans, these freshman, supposedly the most conservative, going to a sacred religious site for Evangelicals – it is – this is the Holy Land. And basically, I won’t even say the word, just messing all over this holy site. And that reverberates from church to church, from pew to pew, from family to family, from preacher to preacher. And you know what, I know, these are people who voted for me and people who I still talk to a lot. For about five, ten years, they’re like, these republicans, I guess I’ll vote for them, but they don’t believe in anything. Doesn’t that just compound the problem?
HALPERIN: You’re making the case this was a bad idea?
SCARBOROUGH: I’m making the case that this is more of an internal crisis. Forget the news coverage. And Eric Cantor knows this. You’re going to have to talk to Republicans in synagogues and Pentecostal churches, this is an internal problem. This isn’t a media problem. This is a base problem. They have offended their base.
HALPERIN: For 48 hours, the press will drive this. We’ll see video of the site and see if anybody took pictures. Then there’s two interesting questions, I think, about what happens next. One is, is there criticism from the right? Are they denounced by pastors and religious figures on the right as having done something improper.
SCARBOROUGH: But let me tell you what. That’s irrelevant. It’s irrelevant whether national preachers come out because I know what preachers in the pew are going to say. I know what Sunday school teachers are going to say. I know. Trust me, I know. They don’t need to hear from Pat Robertson to know that this is a party that doesn’t respect their values. And that’s what Eric Cantor has to get ahead of and he needs to scald these people politically.
HALPERIN: The other issues though, again — you’re right in terms of the base but I’m talking about as a national political issue. Most stories die after 48 hours unless the opposition makes a big deal of it. The President, for instance, could come out and denounce this. What will Nancy Pelosi say about it? All of that could drive this into the fall.