CBS's Schieffer Denies Vote a Referendum on Obama, Compares Conservatives to McGovern

Shortly before the polls closed, CBS's chief Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer, rejected any effort to tie President Barack Obama to two the Democratic gubernatorial candidates for whom Obama campaigned, insisting on Tuesday's CBS Evening News that the contests were more about local issues and so “I don't think they had much to do with anything but New Jersey and Virginia.”

Citing the special congressional race in New York, Schieffer rued “this third-party conservative who literally pushed a moderate Republican out of the race,” and proceeded to analogize Republicans this year to leftist activists who in 1972 pushed Democrats to pick an un-electable presidential candidate:
The Republican Party is really split and it is the conservatives who seem to have the juice right now. It's very much like what Democrats went through in 1972. The party activists on the left were so upset with mainstream candidates that in an effort to purify their party they pushed it so far to the left that they nominated the very liberal George McGovern for President. Now it's conservative Republicans who are upset with their mainstream candidates. They want to push the party to the right.
As if Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman is any less mainstream than the liberal Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, who suspended her campaign over the weekend.

Fill-in anchor Harry Smith had asked Schieffer: “So many would love to tie President Obama's fortunes to these elections, these governor elections in New Jersey and Virginia. Is that valid?” Seemingly presuming the Republican will win in both states, Schieffer tried to separate Obama from the two potential losses:
I don't know about that. I mean, he campaigned in both states for the Democrats, but I'm not one who thinks that local candidates are ever helped out much by a national candidate who comes in. These two races -- in both Virginia and New Jersey -- were so much about local issues, about property taxes, about the economy, that I don't think they had much to do with anything but New Jersey and Virginia, quite frankly.
From the 6:30 PM EST edition of the Tuesday, November 3 CBS Evening News:
HARRY SMITH: Bob Schieffer is our chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation. Bob, a question for you tonight. So many would love to tie President Obama's fortunes to these elections, these governor elections in New Jersey and Virginia. Is that valid?

BOB SCHIEFFER: I don't know about that. I mean, he campaigned in both states for the Democrats, but I'm not one who thinks that local candidates are ever helped out much by a national candidate who comes in. These two races -- in both Virginia and New Jersey -- were so much about local issues, about property taxes, about the economy, that I don't think they had much to do with anything but New Jersey and Virginia, quite frankly.

SMITH: Well, let's talk about the House race. New York District 23. So much has been set about orthodoxy and the Republican Party. Will this tell us trends in terms of how the Republicans expect to be running in the future?

SCHIEFFER: In this case, I think it will, Harry. This is the most interesting race on the card by far, because what you have is this third-party conservative who literally pushed a moderate Republican out of the race. And she went on to endorse Obama [actually, the Democratic candidate].

The Republican Party is really split and it is the conservatives who seem to have the juice right now. It's very much like what Democrats went through in 1972. The party activists on the left were so upset with mainstream candidates that in an effort to purify their party they pushed it so far to the left that they nominated the very liberal George McGovern for President. Now it's conservative Republicans who are upset with their mainstream candidates. They want to push the party to the right. And if this frustration continues, I think you're going to see more moderates challenged next year in Republican primaries by conservatives.

SMITH: Bob Schieffer, thanks.
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