Couric Pushes GOP Candidates, Not Dems, to Denounce Each Other

On the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries, CBS anchor Katie Couric displayed remarkably different approaches to Democratic versus Republican presidential candidates, simply asking Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about their poll standings while demanding that Mitt Romney, and John McCain himself, address whether McCain has the “temperament” to be President. She also pressed McCain to say something negative about Romney and Mike Huckabee: “What do you perceive as the biggest weakness of your opponents?” And: “What about Mike Huckabee? What do you think is his biggest weakness?”

Monday's CBS Evening News uniquely ran brief interviews with five presidential candidates, starting with Democrat Barack Obama. Couric wondered “how concerned” he was about CBS's poll showing him behind Clinton and then: “How critical is it for you to win the state of California?” Turning next to Clinton, Couric cited another aspect of the poll which “shows the two of you dead even. What happened?” With McCain, however, Couric raised former Senator Rick Santorum's charge that “I don't think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction.” Couric was even more direct with Romney: “Do you believe John McCain has the temperament to be President of the United States?”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this list of the set-ups and questions posed by Couric in the excerpts aired on the February 4 CBS Evening News:

To Obama:
Senator Obama, our new CBS poll shows you and Senator Clinton running neck and neck nationally, but when it comes to the Super Tuesday states, currently, Senator Clinton is ahead of you by 18 points. Knowing that none of these polls has been omniscient, how concerned are you about that last figure?

How critical is it for you to win the state of California? And if so, why?

Do you need to win California tomorrow? And if so, why?
To Clinton:
Just three weeks ago, our CBS News poll showed you 15 points ahead of Barack Obama nationally. Now our latest poll shows the two of you dead even. What happened?

Our poll also shows respondents evenly split about whether your husband, President Clinton, has been helpful or hurtful to your campaign. Was there a point in time, Senator Clinton, where you wanted to tell him, "Back off"?
To McCain:
Let me first start by asking you, Senator McCain, about some news of the day, if you will. Senator Rick Santorum, who has endorsed Mitt Romney, has done an automated call for the Romney campaign telling voters, quote, "As a conservative, I don't agree with McCain on many issues, and I don't think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction." What do you think about Rick Santorum's use of the word "temperament" in this automated call?

Rick Santorum said he had witnessed problems with your temperament, which he declined to detail, and he said, quote, "I don't know anybody in the Senate who hasn't. Everybody has their McCain story." What's your reaction to that?

As we approach Super Tuesday, and people get one final opportunity to make their choice, what do you perceive as the biggest weakness of your opponents?

What about Mike Huckabee? What do you think is his biggest weakness?
Set up, and to Romney:
When I talked to Mitt Romney today, I asked him if he shares Santorum's concerns about Senator McCain.

But, Governor Romney, I'm asking you about temperament. Do you believe John McCain has the temperament to be President of the United States?

Do you think that Mike Huckabee is hurting your campaign by taking conservative voters away from you in some key contests?
Mike Huckabee is a bit of a spoiler for you, though, isn't he, Governor? Particularly in some key races in the South?
Set up, and to Mike Huckabee:
As to the suggestion that Huckabee is somehow siphoning conservative votes away from Mitt Romney, here's what Huckabee had to say about that.

What do you need to do tomorrow to keep your candidacy alive?
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center