CBS ‘Early Show’ Builds Huckabee Up to Tear Him Down

Following two days of positive coverage of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and his front-runner status in Iowa, on Wednesday the CBS "Early Show" decided it was time to tear down the former governor’s campaign: "He's being dogged by new reports that he had a much bigger role in the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond while he was Governor of Arkansas than he had previously been claiming."

Compare that statement by co-host Harry Smith, with Smith’s previous assessment of Huckabee when previewing an interview with the candidate two days ago:

When he announced he was running for the Republican nomination, many people said Mike who? Hucka what? But Evangelical Christians, a powerful force here, have rallied to his support. Pro-life, traditional marriage, they have found their champion. But they have found something more, a candidate who is good on his feet...His thoughtful debate performances have set him apart.

Smith did another story on Huckabee yesterday, featuring additional parts of the interview not aired on Monday. At the conclusion of that segment, co-hosts Hannah Storm, Smith, and Julie Chen gushed:

STORM: Do you get the sense that not everything he says is run through a focus group?

SMITH: You know that's --

STORM: You do.

SMITH: I actually said that. He can't afford a focus group.

STORM: No, no he just seems like the real -- the rock and roll preacher!

JULIE CHEN: Yeah, came across very real.

So what happened? Well, as CBS Correspondent Joel Brown explained during a report leading Wednesday’s Huckabee coverage:

As Governor of Arkansas, he apparently used his influence to help free a man from prison, a man convicted of rape. But the Huffington Post reports that the way it unfolded back then is not exactly how Huckabee portrays it now on the campaign trail. As Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee pushed for the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond, despite warnings that the man would likely strike again if released.

In addition to the use of the "Huffington Post" as a legitimate news source, with no mention of it being a left-wing blog routinely filled with hate speech toward conservatives, the report all but portrays Huckabee as a rapist supporter.

Smith then took the story even further, "...we'll have an exclusive interview with the mother of one of Wayne Dumond's victims who says she is vowing to do whatever it takes to stop Huckabee from winning the election."

During that interview with Lois Davidson, Smith decided it was best to show how Dumond’s release was part of the vast right-wing conspiracy against the Clintons:

SMITH: You know that it's a very complicated case from the standpoint that --

DAVIDSON: Yes.

SMITH: -- This guy had gone to prison, the person he had been convicted of raping was a relation of Bill Clinton, that the conservatives in the state of Arkansas had demanded his release because they said the only reason he had gone to prison was because he'd been a relative of Bill Clinton's. Does any of that make any difference to you?

DAVIDSON: No.

SMITH: Yeah. Of course not.

If that aspect of the case would "of course not" make a difference to Davidson, then why did Smith bring it up at all?

Toward the end of the interview, Smith asked Davidson, "...people were literally pleading for him not to be released. Is it your feeling that the governor may have just disregarded that, or did he just bend to political pressure?" So much for Huckabee being the "thoughtful" "rock and roll preacher."

Here is the full transcript of the Wednesday and Monday segments:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Breaking news this morning -- a political bombshell threatens to derail Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.

7:04AM:

SMITH: Breaking news this morning on the campaign trail. Could Republican candidate Mike Huckabee's remarkable surge in Iowa come to a stop because of action he took as Governor of Arkansas? CBS News Correspondent Joel Brown is live in Washington with the story. Joel, what's going on?

JOEL BROWN: Harry this is no doubt a story Mike Huckabee wishes would just go away. As Governor of Arkansas, he apparently used his influence to help free a man from prison, a man convicted of rape. But the Huffington Post reports that the way it unfolded back then is not exactly how Huckabee portrays it now on the campaign trail. As Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee pushed for the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond, despite warnings that the man would likely strike again if released. Dumond was paroled from an Arkansas prison in 1999. He moved to Missouri where he later raped and murdered 39-year-old Carol Sue Shields and another Missouri woman, Sara Andrasek. Dumond was convicted of Shields' murder and sentenced to life in prison. On the campaign trail, Huckabee has said that he supported Dumond's release because he had no reason to believe the man constituted a future threat. Just last week, Huckabee told CNN none of us could have predicted what he would have done when he got out. But in a letter just released one of his victims warned, "I feel that if he is released it is only a matter of time before he commits another crime and fear that he will not leave a witness to testify against him the next time." Wayne Dumond died in prison September 1st, 2005. A woman he attacked more than 20 years ago in Arkansas says she met with Governor Huckabee to try to persuade his decision, but it was clear at that time the governor had already made up his mind. Harry?

SMITH: Alright, thanks very much. Joel Brown in Washington. Ahead in our next half hour, we'll have an exclusive interview with the mother of one of Wayne Dumond's victims who says she is vowing to do whatever it takes to stop Huckabee from winning the election. We'll have more on that in the next half hour.

7:31AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Yeah, we're going to shift gears quite a bit, guys. As reported, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's recent surge in the polls could be in trouble. He's being dogged by new reports that he had a much bigger role in the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond while he was Governor of Arkansas than he had previously been claiming. Lois Davidson is the mother of Carol Sue Shields, who was murdered by Dumond after he was released from prison. We thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us what happened to your daughter?

LOIS DAVIDSON: Well, she was running an errand for some friends, and she went in this apartment. And while she was in there, why, Wayne Dumond killed her.

SMITH: What was your reaction when you found out that Wayne Dumond had been paroled and originally had been sentenced to life plus 20 in prison?

DAVIDSON: Well, it was quite a while after he was paroled, or that we heard about it, but when we heard it, we couldn't believe that somebody like that could be paroled, especially since he'd been sentenced for life plus 20 years.

SMITH: And what is your feeling, then, about, why are you coming out and speaking out now?

DAVIDSON: I don't think Mr. Huckabee ought to be president. I don't think he should be running the country.

SMITH: Because?

DAVIDSON: With a -- because I don't think he did enough background research on Wayne Dumond's life, and if he didn't do that kind of research, I don't think he is going to be good for the country.

SMITH: Right. Tell me a little bit about your daughter. How old was she when she was killed?

DAVIDSON: She was -- he killed her the 20th of September in 2000, and she would have been 40 years old the 11th of November.

SMITH: 11th of November. That had to be an excruciating experience for you.

DAVIDSON: It was.

SMITH: You know that it's a very complicated case from the standpoint that --

DAVIDSON: Yes.

SMITH: -- This guy had gone to prison, the person he had been convicted of raping was a relation of Bill Clinton, that the conservatives in the state of Arkansas had demanded his release because they said the only reason he had gone to prison was because he'd been a relative of Bill Clinton's. Does any of that make any difference to you?

DAVIDSON: No.

SMITH: Yeah. Of course not.

DAVIDSON: That, I don't think, was the only reason he went to the pen.

SMITH: Yeah.

DAVIDSON: Because he had a very bad background.

SMITH: Right. There apparently was some -- also some correspondence that went to not only Governor Huckabee but also to the parole board which indicated that Wayne Dumond may have hurt some other people and people were literally pleading for him not to be released. Is it your feeling that the governor may have just disregarded that, or did he just bend to political pressure?

DAVIDSON: I think he could have made a bigger effort to kept him in there.

SMITH: Alright.

DAVIDSON: Because he told him that -- or he was told that if he would live someplace other than Arkansas that he -- they would parole him.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

DAVIDSON: And Missouri had refused him before. And I think if they didn't want him in their state, I don't know why he would -- I just don't understand why he would parole him.

SMITH: Well, Miss Davidson, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today. We do appreciate it.

DAVIDSON: Uh-huh. Oh, thank you.

SMITH: Alright, thanks.

 

MONDAY 12/03 SEGMENT:

7:31AM TEASER:

HANNAH STORM: But first, Harry Smith is going to tell us about the big interview he has coming up in the next half hour with Republican front-runner -- yes, front-runner -- Mike Huckabee, there in Iowa. Harry?

HARRY Smith: Yeah, there's a really cool thing on Mike Huckabee's website, because nobody really knows who this guy is -- things you didn't know about Mike Huckabee -- says here he's a great cook, he likes to snorkel, he even likes the Colbert Report, how about that. There's a lot more to Mike Huckabee than just what's on this list, let's take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mike Huckabee from Arkansas would now like to make a few remarks.

SMITH: We first met Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee a couple of summers ago in Little Rock. Huckabee became famous as the incredible shrinking governor. He lost more than a hundred pounds and made obesity his cause.

MIKE HUCKABEE: I liked going to the state fair and having a fried twinkie or a fried oreo. Those were my choices. They were bad choices.

SMITH: When he announced he was running for the Republican nomination, many people said Mike who? Hucka what? But Evangelical Christians, a powerful force here, have rallied to his support. Pro-life, traditional marriage, they have found their champion. But they have found something more, a candidate who is good on his feet.

ANDERSON COOPER: Would Jesus support the death penalty?

HUCKABEE: Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson.

SMITH: His thoughtful debate performances have set him apart.

COOPER: Would you allow support from the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republicans?

HUCKABEE: You know, my position in this entire election, I need the support of anybody and everybody I can get.

SMITH: Mike Huckabee, once known for being the biggest loser could come out the big winner in Iowa. Loser, we mean by losing weight, of course, just to set the record straight. Mike Huckabee live with us in just about 30 minutes, an in-depth interview like you've not seen before on morning television. We'll have that for you in just about 30 minutes.

8:01AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Plus, Republican dark horse Mike Huckabee pulls ahead in the Iowa race. How did he do it, and what does he really stand for? He joins us live. Morning, again, everybody, I'm Harry Smith. We're live in Pella, Iowa, on the campus of Central College -- along with Governor Mike Huckabee. And I tell you what, when you wake up on Sunday Morning and the Des Moines Register says this -- right -- and you wake on Monday morning and your picture is on the cover of USA Today, something's going your way.

MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, there's a new slogan --the best part of waking up is seeing your face on the front page of the paper, without a number on your chest, and that's a good thing.

SMITH: There you go. We were with you this summer, just not so many miles from here in Indianola, we're in a little park shelter on a hot, hot summer afternoon. Maybe two dozen people there? 30, if you stretched it, right?

HUCKABEE: Yeah. That included, you know, the kids and everybody else.

SMITH: Exactly right. No money in the pockets.

HUCKABEE: No.

SMITH: Very low poll numbers. What has transpired from then to now?

HUCKABEE: I think the people of America have started paying attention to the race. They really are realizing that it's not about waving a check book in front of the voters, it's waving some ideas in front of the voters, getting them to understand that electing a president is not electing a person who can just raise money, but who can raise the future of this country, not just for Republicans, but for everybody. This is a very polarized country. People are looking for somebody who is going to lead vertically, not horizontally.

SMITH: Okay. So much of your support comes from Evangelical Christians. That's a big, powerful voting block here among the Republicans who really do go to the caucuses.

HUCKABEE: Yeah.

SMITH: Can a Baptist preacher become President of the United States?

HUCKABEE: We're going to find out this year. No, I think it's not about being a Baptist preacher, it's about being an effective governor for 10 ½ years and a lieutenant governor before that. But having been a pastor, it helped shape me in understanding the real issues that people face, because nobody sees humanity up front and closer than does a pastor. You have a front row seat to every social pathology that's going on in this country. And so you see life from the cradle to the grave, and I think it has helped shape me as a public official, not to be sterile, not to be indifferent, callous, and sort of detached, but very much aware.

SMITH: You talked about being -- about polarization in the country and people feeling that. To be pro-life, to be pro-family values, in quotation marks, all of the things that would catapult you to the success that you've had so far, those in the end can be very polarizing issues in a general election.

HUCKABEE: But they don't have to be. Unfortunately, a lot of times the pro-life issue has been seen as anti-abortion. It's not that for me. It's about the affirmation that every life has intrinsic worth and value. So it's not saying I'm against something. I'm for looking at every person, regardless of his or her IQ, his or her economic status, and saying as a human being they're important.

SMITH: But your opponents are going to say he's going to get more Justices on the Supreme Court, they're going to strike down Roe v. Wade, that's got to be part of his engine, we're sure it is.

HUCKABEE: There'll always be the critics. You can't answer every critic. If you do, that's all you'll spend your time doing. And one of the things that I think people are responding to in my campaign -- they're not seeing me go around bashing the other candidates. I think people are so sick of that. What they want to know is what would I do for America, not what I would do to the other candidates.

SMITH: Right, right.

HUCKABEE: This whole sort of taking the hammer against the kneecaps of my opponent-type philosophy, I believe has been counter productive for my opponents. It seems like the harder they hit me, the better my numbers get. So what I would say is hit me again.

SMITH: Let's talk about the record as Governor in Arkansas, because your opponents are starting to say, well, he's not a real Republican, because real, real Republicans cut taxes --

HUCKABEE: Which I did.

SMITH: They're fiscally conservative. They'll say you raised taxes there. You're a tax-raiser, not a tax-cutter.

HUCKABEE: You know, in the 10 ½ years I was governor, the state and local tax burden, according to the U.S. Department of Chamber of Commerce, went up all of 1.1%. Income tax was the same as it was. There was a one-penny difference in the sales tax, but we also improved education, which is a good thing, partly because of Supreme Court order. But they forget to tell you that we cut taxes 94 times, we eliminated the marriage penalty, we cut the taxes for the lowest income earners. The tax policies we did helped the people at the bottom reach the next wrung on the ladder and that's the kind of real tax policy the country's looking for to help working people.

SMITH: Alright, let's go beyond Arkansas then, let's talk about the world.

HUCKABEE: Yes.

SMITH: People watch Mike Huckabee, he's funny on the debates. He was great on the YouTube debate. He's great with a one-liner. No one knows what your feeling is about the war in Iraq.

HUCKABEE: Well, I've been pretty clear that the surge is working. We need to make sure that we finish this mission and we finish it with honor. There's two reasons why. If we don't succeed in Iraq, someone takes in that vacuum, and it won't be people who like us. That's not a good thing. The beach head that will be established for terrorism is something we can't live with. We also would demoralize our military, Harry, and it would take a generation to rebuild that. I've been over there, and I'm telling you, the guys who are there believe and know they're getting a job done and doing it right. A lot of mistakes made. We all acknowledge it. But the biggest mistake now would be to just leave before we have finished the job that we went there to do.

SMITH: The current occupant of the White House is a former governor. He sought advice from some people who, I suppose over the last four years, some folks would say did not give him very good advice. Who would you look to for advice? You're a governor from Arkansas. What's your foreign policy team? Who are you going to rely on?

HUCKABEE: Well, other than Harry Smith, I'll put together a really good group of people. You know, sometimes that's the question. Gosh, he's been a governor, but so was Bill Clinton, so was Ronald Reagan. And if you think back, Ronald Reagan went into office with this big rap against him -- he doesn't know anything about foreign policy. He was an actor, he was a -- you know, he was a governor. What could he possibly do? Within ten years there wasn't a Cold War, the Berlin Wall was down, and there wasn't a Soviet Union.

SMITH: Right.

HUCKABEE: I'd say he had a pretty good record, and you know why, it's because he had principles, he had convictions. He knew that America had to be strong. We had to have a strong military because peace is not achieved by being weak. It's achieved by being strong. And having the kind of military that nobody out there wants to engage in a battle.

SMITH: Speaking of Russia, Russia is back. Vladimir Putin just got the election he wanted. I mean, we're looking at an evil empire 2.0, potentially.

HUCKABEE: The biggest threat that we face is our own enslavement to foreign oil. One of the first things that I want to do as president is to accelerate our pace to become energy independent, because if you want to know why we're so afraid of what's going on in Iran -- their capacity to build a nuclear reactor is based on oil money.

SMITH: Right.

HUCKABEE: What if they had to finance that reactor by selling rugs? They couldn't do it.

SMITH: Last question very quickly. I read some place that you read from the Book of Proverbs every morning.

HUCKABEE: Yes.

SMITH: What did you read this morning?

HUCKABEE: Well, I will read it later, but Chapter 3, Verses 5 through 6, Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, cling not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.

SMITH: There you go. We have a lot of undecided voters here. We'll find out later if it had any influence or any effect. Governor, thank you very much for being here.

HUCKABEE: Thank you.

SMITH: There you go.

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