Two Shows, Two Takes on Obama-Clinton Race

On July 25, two of the major morning news shows, "Today" and "The Early Show," covered the recent foreign policy disagreements between Senators Obama and Clinton with very stark contrasts. Bob Schieffer on CBS’s "Early Show"hyped her supposedly inevitable nomination exclaiming "it’s Christmas in July for Mrs. Clinton" and "this is going to be Mrs. Clinton’s nomination to lose." Scheiffer, noting Clinton’s response to Obama, fawned "boy...she jumped on this one" and tied it in to her "experience." To top it off, Schieffer claimed "this Clinton machine is now really running."Tim Russert on NBC’s "Today," by contrast, forecasted "a fight to the finish" because Obama "punches back" by accusing Clinton of irresponsibility voting for the Iraq War. Russert also opined that Hillary risks hurting the left wing base of her party.

"[Hillary Clinton] has to be careful that she just doesn't hammer Barack Obama into the ground, thereby saying to a significant part of the Democratic primary constituency, 'You're not important to me.'"

The relevant portion from "The Early Show" is below.

SMITH: Yeah, see, you can't just show up. You got to get on the phone. Let's talk a little bit about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That space between the two sort of stays the same in terms of the polls. Barack Obama has gotten a lot of good press because he's raised a lot of money. And they got into it a little bit in this debate the other night down there at the, at the Citadel, Obama sort of trying to stake some territory, saying he'd go out and talk to some of these discredited world leaders. She said that's naive, that's not a good idea. What do you make of all of that?

SCHIEFFER: I think it's Christmas in July for Mrs. Clinton on this one. What Hillary Clinton has been trying to do is establish herself as the experienced tough person who could be the one who's seen all of this before and can bring experience to the job. When Obama said -- he promised to meet with some of America's worst enemies during his early days of his administration, I mean, she jumped on it. And I think fairly so. She said, well that -- you know, that's just naive, that's just a sign of inexperience. You can't promise to talk to some of these people until you have some idea where you know this is going. The Clinton family's not known for its subtlety. And, boy, they -- she jumped on this one, as you might have expected her to do. More and more, Harry, it looks to me as if this is going to be Mrs. Clinton's nomination to lose. Yes, Barack Obama's raising money. Yes, he makes a very good impression. But this Clinton machine is now really rolling. They're raising money. Their team is in place. More and more she is the person to beat for this nomination, I think.

Then from "Today." 

LAUER: It seems to me the deal is that the dancing has stopped. That these two people have identified each other as the, the only person they really have to worry about in this still-crowded field. Is that the way you see it?

RUSSERT: This is it, Matt. Game, set, match. Obama versus Clinton. Experience versus change. Convention versus inspiration. This is a microcosm of this campaign.

LAUER: But if this starts to get dirtier, if it starts to get nastier, Tim, which candidate, in your opinion, has the most to lose?

RUSSERT: Well Matt this is going to be a fight to the finish because both are well-financed and that's why we saw, on display in Andrea's piece, and all across the TV, radio, newspapers, yesterday, the importance of this debate. When Hillary Clinton suggests that Barack Obama is irresponsible and naive and inexperienced and he punches back by saying, 'Hold on! You want naiveté? You want irresponsibility? Is voting for George Bush's war.' What you have is a Democratic candidate, an insurgent named Barack Obama, who's saying, 'Turn the page.' And what he's saying there is, turn the page on George Bush and Hillary Clinton. She's punching back by saying, 'He's not ready to be President.' This is a clash of titans and we're seeing it played out.

LAUER: Yeah but I guess what I was getting at, Tim, is, if this becomes a streetfight, doesn't it hurt Barack Obama more? Because in the beginning of his campaign he's the guy who promised a different kind of campaign, a different kind of politics. Not the usual negative campaigning. And if he gets down in the street with, with Hillary Clinton, who's known as a very, very tough politician, doesn't he lose something of his image?

RUSSERT: He could, by being knocked off that pedestal of being the inspirational candidate. And yet he also has to show a toughness and a willingness to engage, politically, Matt, because Democrats know that the Republicans are not gonna be sitting on the sideline playing bean-bag. And so yes it is a fine line and a delicate balance for Barack Obama and for Hillary Clinton. She has to be careful that she just doesn't hammer Barack Obama into the ground, thereby saying to a significant part of the Democratic primary constituency, 'You're not important to me.