Sour Schieffer Scolds Cain for Ad: ‘It’s Not Funny to Me...I Don’t Think It Serves the Country Well’

CBS’s Bob Schieffer unintentionally played the foil to Herman Cain on Sunday’s Face the Nation as Schieffer expressed his politically-correct displeasure with Cain’s “downright bizarre” Web video which briefly shows Cain’s chief of staff smoking, was flummoxed by Cain’s sense of humor (“You also said at one point that you might want to back that fence up with a moat and fill it with alligators. Was that a joke too?”) and was baffled by Cain’s accurate claim Planned Parenthood was spurred by the eugenics movement’s desire to reduce the black population.
 
On the ad, Schieffer decried how “it sends a signal that it’s cool to smoke” before he scolded Cain: “Well, let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me....I don't think it serves the country well, and this is an editorial opinion here, to be showing someone smoking a cigarette.” (video below)

He continued his lecture: “You're the frontrunner now and it seems to me as frontrunner you would have a responsibility not to take that kind of a tone in this campaign. I would suggest that perhaps as the frontrunner, you’d want to raise the level of the campaign.”

Seeing omniscient powers in Cain, Schieffer demanded: “Why don’t you take it off the Internet.”

When Cain said he’d have “no problem saying” people should not smoke, Schieffer insisted: “Well, say it right now.” Cain complied.

 

 

Audio: MP3 clip which matches the video

Over on Meet the Press, NBC’s Tom Brokaw was just as appalled, offering his derogatory definition of Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan:

I was stunned by that ad that he did with his campaign manager ending up smoking a cigarette which, in my judgment, is one of the great health hazards in America in terms of lethal diseases and also the costs of it all. I think that maybe 9-9-9- stands for you’ve got nine months to live with lung cancer, nine months to live with emphysema, nine months to live with coronary artery disease. I can’t imagine why they thought that was an effective image.

Schieffer later treated Cain’s accurate recitation of the motivations behind Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger as some kind of bizarre notion: “There was at one point back there when the question of Planned Parenthood came up and you said that it was not planned parenthood, it was really planned genocide because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the black communities because they wanted to kill black babies before they were born. You still stand by that?”

When Cain said he does, Schieffer demanded: “Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?”

From the Sunday, October 30 Face the Nation:

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about the ad that we just saw at the top of this broadcast. I just want to show you -- and I will preface that by saying the person doing the talking here is your campaign manager Mark Block.

HERMAN CAIN: Chief of staff, yes.

SCHIEFFER: Just listen to this.

MARK BLOCK IN CAIN VIDEO: We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen but then America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain. We need you to get involved because together we can do this. We can take this country back. [SINGER: I am America, one voice united we stand. I am America, one hope to heal our land.]

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Cain, I have to ask you what is the point of that? Having a man smoke a cigarette in a television commercial for you?

CAIN: One of the themes within this campaign is let Herman be Berman. Mark Block is a smoker. We say let Mark be Mark. That's all we're trying to say because we believe let people be people. He doesn't deny that he's a smoker.

SCHIEFFER: Are you a smoker?

CAIN: No I'm not a smoker. But I don't have a problem if that's his choice. So let Herman be Herman, let Martin be Martin. Let people be people. This wasn't intended to send any subliminal signal whatsoever.

SCHIEFFER: But it does. It sends a signal that it’s cool to smoke.

CAIN: No it does not. Mark Block smokes. That's all that ad says. We weren’t trying to say it’s cool to smoke. We have a lot of people in this country that smoke, but what I respect about Mark as a smoker, who is my chief of staff, he never smokes around me or smokes around anyone else. He goes outside.

SCHIEFFER: But he smokes on television.

CAIN: Well, he smokes on television. But there was no other subliminal message.

SCHIEFFER: Was this meant to be funny?

CAIN: It was meant to be informative. If they listen to the message where he said America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain. That was the main point of it. The bit on the end we didn't know whether it would be funny to some people or whether they were going to ignore it or whatever the case may be.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just tell you, it's not funny to me. I am a cancer survivor like you.

CAIN: I am also.

SCHIEFFER: I had cancer that was smoking related. I don't think it serves the country well, and this is an editorial opinion here, to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. You're the frontrunner now and it seems to me as frontrunner you would have a responsibility not to take that kind of a tone in this campaign. I would suggest that perhaps as the frontrunner, you'd want to raise the level of the campaign.

CAIN: We will do that, Bob. I do respect your objection to the ad. Probably about 30 percent of the feedback was very similar to yours. It was not intended to offend anyone. Being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to that sort of thing.

SCHIEFFER: Would you take the ad down?

CAIN: Well, it's on the Internet. We didn't run it on TV.

SCHIEFFER: Why don't you take it off the Internet.

CAIN: It's impossible to do now. Once you put it on the Internet it goes viral. We could take it off of our Web site but there are other sites that have already picked it up. It's nearly impossible to erase that ad from the Internet.

SCHIEFFER: Have you ever thought of just saying to young people, don't smoke. 400,000 people in America die every year from smoking related-

CAIN: I will have no problem saying that. In fact-

SCHIEFFER: Well, say it right now.

CAIN: Young people of America, all people, do not smoke. It is hazardous and it's dangerous to your health. Don't smoke. I've never smoked and I have encouraged people not to smoke.

SCHIEFFER: It’s not a cool thing to do.

CAIN: It is not a cool thing to do. That's not what I was trying to say. Smoking is is not a cool thing to do.

SCHIEFFER: All right. You talked some about the missteps you have made in the campaign. I want to clear up just a couple of things to make sure your position is on the record. You talk about at one point, talking about immigration, you talked about sealing off the water with an electric fence that had barbed wire on the top and with a sign on it that said this fence can kill you. You said that. Then you went on Meet the Press and told David Gregory, listen I was just kidding. That was a joke. But then the next day you said well an electric fence is part of it. I want to ask you do you think part of solving this problem is putting an electric fence on the border?

CAIN: I believe that solving the illegal immigration problem means solving four problems. First secure the border for real. That will be secure with the fence, not necessarily electric, but a fence. Another part with technology and another part with troops because of some of the areas that are so dangerous. So it will be a combination of the three. Yes, I said that was an over-exaggeration. Secondly we've got to promote the path of citizenship that's already here. We've got to enforce the laws that are already here. And we've got to empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing. I was in Alabama yesterday. They passed some laws and now Justice Department, the Obama administration, is coming down on them just like they came down on Arizona. I don't agree with that. I believe that the actions that Alabama took and that Arizona took to try and defend themselves and then do something about this is the right thing to do.

SCHIEFFER: You also said at one point that you might want to back that fence up with a moat and fill it with alligators. Was that a joke too?

CAIN: That was totally in jest, Bob. Some people getting used to my sense of humor and as I get more attention I will tone down the sense of humor until I become President because America needs to get a sense of humor.

SCHIEFFER: That would be pretty expensive by the way.

CAIN (laughing): Right. It probably would.

....

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you since we're on the subject of abortion, there was at one point back there when the question of Planned Parenthood came up and you said that it was not planned parenthood, it was really planned genocide because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the black communities because they wanted to kill black babies before they were born.

CAIN: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: You still stand by that?

CAIN: I still standby that.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?

CAIN: If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger's own words that's exactly where that came from. Look up the history. If you go back and look up the history. Secondly, look at where most of them were built. 75 percent of those facilities were built in the black community and Margaret Sanger's own words, she didn't use the word genocide, but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born.

SCHIEFFER: So you would not see any advantage to having young mothers get counsel and advice that Planned Parenthood could give them? I mean, with so many black babies born out of wedlock?

CAIN: There are a lot of centers that offer sincere counseling rather than Planned Parenthood claiming to be those centers when in fact they would rather for the young lady to come in and say they want to get an abortion and facilitate that. Plenty of centers out there genuinely do that. What I'm saying is Planned Parenthood isn't sincere about want to go try to counsel them not to have abortions.

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