PRESS TOUR: Political chat on 'Morning Joe'

Saturday, 07 January 2012 02:20 PM Written by 

morning_joeFor a link to Friday's TV Q&A column and recent posts from the 2012 winter Television Critics Association press tour, click here.

PASADENA, Calif. -- "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski said their goal is to offer a place where people of differing political views can come for a conversation without it turning into a shouting match.

"People who come on the show know it's a safe zone, even if I don't agree with them," Scarborough said."They know they won't be attacked."

At the same time, the pair are also willing to call a spade a spade, particularly when it comes to aspiring presidential candidates.

"If someone is a sideshow, we'll characterize them as a side show," Brzezinski said.

Read more after the jump. ...

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, had few kind words for the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls.

"Without passing any judgment on their idelogical positions, I think every single serious journalist I spoke with in Iowa that follows the campaigns said it's without question the weakest presidential field they’ve seen in modern history," Scarborough said. "I'm not exactly sure why that is. From their ability to get on the stump and deliver a 4-5 minute speech -- or in Rick Santorum's instance a speech as long as those Castro used to make in the center of Havana -- they don't do the basics. They haven't organized. All except Romney are broke. It's been a remarkably weak field, especially considering that at least a few months ago the president's apporval ratings were in the low 40s. And you look back to the 2010 election, which historically was the greatest landslide on a state legislative level and national level in modern history. You'd think that would have brought in a Mitch Daniels, a Chris Christie or a Jeb Bush. But we are stuck with what I believe is a historically weak field and the result being Mitt Romney will win big in New Hampshire and roll on.

"Mitt Romney is the only guy built to go the distance," Scarborough said later. "The rest are more heat than light."

Scarborough expects if Ron Paul performs well in New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman will drop out of the race. He does not think Paul will ultimately run for president as an independent.

"His son is a Republican senator and some of us went to a press conference with Ron and Rand Paul and saw - " Scarborough began.

"A set-up," Brzezinski chimed in.

"I wouldn't call it a set up," Scarborough said. "But if his son wants to run later on, if [Ron] ran as an independent, that would hurt his son in the future."

Scarborough also offered his own explanation for the impasse in congress: Cowardice on the part of elected officials. He said if a liberal and conservative work together, they'll be hammered by partisans at either end of the political spectrum in blogs and on some cable talk shows.

"The sort of compromises that worked 15-to-20 years ago aren't possible unless you're willing to keep your head down and ignore the ground noise and focus on the signal," he said. "Unfortunately, most politicians in Washington are running scared every single week."

As for rumors that CBS was wooing Scarborough and Brzezinski for their revamped morning show that debuts Monday, Scarborough said,  "It's just not true at all...well maybe a little bit."

It actually, it sounds like more than that because Scarborough described discussing the possibility of such a move with Brzezinski's father, former U.S. National Security Adviser Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said the pair should pass on such an offer because they wouldn't be allowed to do 15-minute interviews on CBS.

"His point was that we have the opportunity ... to talk about ideas in a way you just can't talk about on other networks," Scarborough said.

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