CBS: Democrats ‘Live,’ Republicans ‘Die’ by YouTube

On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," host Harry Smith and reporter Jeff Greenfield analyzed the effectiveness of YouTube videos for 2008 presidential candidates.The segment described how a an Edwards campaign video "...says let's get serious about what matters," while Giuliani and Romney are examples of how candidates can "...die by YouTube."

After they described how successful videos were for Democrats, Smith decided it was time to analyze the effect on Republican campaigns: "... but there is a whole other backlash on this, as well, right?"

This is some of the analysis of Democratic candidates:

GREENFIELD: ...for instance, Dennis Kucinich, no money, no organization, so he goes to YouTube, puts out an ad. It's not particularly compelling. He's talking about a peace tower as a way of symbolizing peace. This has been seen about 6600 times, which isn't much, but how many times does a candidate like Kucinich get to talk to 6600 people at virtually no expense?"

They move on to Clinton:

SMITH: "Yeah. But everybody's using this stuff, even the big guys."

GREENFIELD: "Right. The Clinton Campaign. Now, if Clinton's image is a little too humorless maybe, a little too sturdy, director Rob Reiner has a video where he's supposedly instructing Clinton advisers how to behave. We'll take a quick look...That's a lightening up."

SMITH: "Yeah."

Finally there’s Edwards:

GREENFIELD: "Now, John Edwards, took a lot of heat for the $400 haircut. His campaign produced a video that says let's get serious about what matters...And even if they're just his supporters, it's a way of saying we're not taking this hair cut thing seriously, John Edwards is talking about serious matters."

Compare all that glowing analysis with this description of the Giuliani and Romney campaign gaffes on YouTube:

GREENFEILD: "Live by YouTube, die by YouTube. Rudy Giuliani was at the National Rifle Association, he interrupted his speech to take a cell phone call from his wife. How endearing, the loving husband. Right? Within an hour or so, the Romney Campaign put on YouTube this video which shows that he did precisely the same thing almost three months earlier, very clearly suggesting spontaneous, loving event? No. A calculated effort to prove that now at last he's found the right woman."

And of course they could forget to call Romney a flip-flopper:

GREENFIELD: "On YouTube, a comment is forever. Romney is running as a social conservative. From the moment he joined the race, we don't know if it was another campaign or just old opponents, other people put on YouTube a clip from Romney when he ran in Massachusetts in 1994, and again in 2002, showing a very different view about social issues like abortion and gay rights."

Greenfield helped to sum up the segment with this observation: "It's a fascinating new medium. It can be a great asset [for Democrats]. It can be a very tricky liability [for Republicans]."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

HARRY SMITH: "In the race for the White House, you need to reach the voters. The more directly the better. So far this year, candidates have done that 22 million times on YouTube alone, using online campaign videos, like this one from Republican Mike Huckabee."

MIKE HUCKABEE: "That war is about will. Whoever gives up, loses. Al Qaeda knows that if we give up in Iraq, we lose."

SMITH: "CBS News Senior Political Correspondent, Jeff Greenfield, is here with more. This is so interesting. Tape your own thing, stick it on YouTube, stick it on the internet, you bypass us, you bypass paid advertisers, this is a great way to get your message across."

JEFF GREENFIELD: "Right. It's cheaper. When you add up 22 million hits, remember in 2004, 24 million people voted in both primaries put together. So, that's a pretty significant number, 22 million."

SMITH: "Yeah. Who's -- typically, who's using this?"

GREENFIELD: "Well, everybody is. But let's -- for instance, Dennis Kucinich, no money, no organization, so he goes to YouTube, puts out an ad. It's not particularly compelling. He's talking about a peace tower as a way of symbolizing peace. This has been seen about 6600 times, which isn't much, but how many times does a candidate like Kucinich get to talk to 6600 people at virtually no expense?"

SMITH: "Right, if he has 60 in a room in New Hampshire, he's doing well right?"

GREENFIELD: "This is -- that's right, so this is a good medium for an under funded candidate."

SMITH: "Yeah. But everybody's using this stuff, even the big guys."

GREENFIELD: "Right. The Clinton Campaign. Now, if Clinton's image is a little too humorless maybe, a little too sturdy, director Rob Reiner has a video where he's supposedly instructing Clinton advisers how to behave. We'll take a quick look."

UNKNOWN MAN: "Hello. Do you have a minute? I'd like to talk to you about Hillary Clinton."

ROB REINER: "No, no. That's not working. Look at her reaction. Nothing. She'd rather do laundry than talk to you."

GREENFIELD: "That's a lightening up."

SMITH: "Yeah."

GREENFIELD: Now, John Edwards, took a lot of heat for the $400 haircut. His campaign produced a video that says let's get serious about what matters and used this very familiar song from the late '60s to do it. So let's take a listen and look."

VIDEO MUSIC: "Head with hair, long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, stinging, flaxing, waxing."

SMITH: "And as it turns out, that was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people."

GREENFIELD: "And even if they're just his supporters, it's a way of saying we're not taking this hair cut thing seriously, John Edwards is talking about serious matters."

SMITH: "Here's the thing though, when you do this, you control your message, but there is a whole other backlash on this, as well, right?"

GREENFIELD: "Live by YouTube, die by YouTube. Rudy Giuliani was at the National Rifle Association, he interrupted his speech to take a cell phone call from his wife. How endearing, the loving husband. Right? Within an hour or so, the Romney Campaign put on YouTube this video which shows that he did precisely the same thing almost three months earlier, very clearly suggesting spontaneous, loving event? No. A calculated effort to prove that now at last he's found the right woman."

SMITH: "And so and if Romney goes after Giuliani that way, then Romney ends up saying, well, everybody has skeletons in their closet. Or the truth of their past."

GREENFIELD: "On YouTube, a comment is forever. Romney is running as a social conservative. From the moment he joined the race, we don't know if it was another campaign or just old opponents, other people put on YouTube a clip from Romney when he ran in Massachusetts in 1994, and again in 2002, showing a very different view about social issues like abortion and gay rights."

SMITH: "Take a look, real quick."

ROMNEY: "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it."

SMITH: "This is where the future of the campaign certainly is."

GREENFIELD: "It's a fascinating new medium. It can be a great asset. It can be a very tricky liability."

SMITH: "Jeff Greenfield as always thanks so much."

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC