CBS: Hillary’s Mom is ‘Secret Weapon,’ Plays on ‘Primal Fear’ of Voters

On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith played a clip of a recent Hillary Clinton campaign ad featuring her mother and asked Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield: "Is Hillary's mom the real secret weapon in the campaign?" Greenfield responded by describing the ad’s brilliance:

I very rarely look at ads these days and one line just jumps out at me. Hillary's mom lives with her, not mother, mom. Why? Women outlive men. Wives outlive their husbands. Primal fear: 'I will spend the rest of my life alone or in a home.' And the idea that this prototypical career woman, who her enemies see as driven and cold, has taken her mom in to live with her, I think that packs a powerful emotional wallop. And in Iowa, women vote in caucuses more than men and older people do more than younger.

Smith agreed with Greenfield’s assessment, "Right. And older women especially. Yeah this is -- boy -- talk about right to the heart."

Smith and Greenfield went on to discuss John McCain, who’s mother had recently joined him on the campaign trail, and Greenfield offered kind analysis of the "maverick" Senator:

Right, first of all, it looks like he's had a B-1 injection. He looks ten years younger, he's on the 'Straight Talk Express.' He's doing the same thing he did in 2000. He's -- everything's on the record, he's juiced. Why? One, the debates. Just as they helped Mike Huckabee, they reminded people of why they liked him in the first place...the dissatisfaction of all the Republicans, means that a lot of Republicans who don't like McCain on immigration, campaign reform -- finance reform, he was against the Bush tax cuts, he's a maverick, but now their saying 'well, all of these other people we're unhappy with in one way or another, this guy actually has some -- some chops.'

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:15AM TEASER:

JULIE CHEN: Well, ahead in this half-hour of the broadcast, the emergence of the candidates moms on the campaign trail. The new 'Mommy Factor.'

7:18AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Good morning again, I'm Harry Smith. This is "The Early Show" on CBS. Today we look at Hillary Clinton's latest family member on the campaign trail. Her mother, Dorothy, who lives with the Clintons and is now in the latest campaign ad.

DOROTHY RODHAM: What I would like people to know about Hillary is what a good person she is. She never was envious of anybody. She was helpful, and she's continued that with her adult life, with helping other women. She has --

SMITH: Here's CBS News Senior Political Analyst Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, good morning.

GREENFIELD: Hi.

SMITH: Is Hillary's mom the real secret weapon in the campaign?

JEFF GREENFIELD: I very rarely look at ads these days and one line just jumps out at me. Hillary's mom lives with her, not mother, mom. Why? Women outlive men. Wives outlive their husbands. Primal fear: 'I will spend the rest of my life alone or in a home.' And the idea that this prototypical career woman, who her enemies see as driven and cold, has taken her mom in to live with her, I think that packs a powerful emotional wallop. And in Iowa, women vote in caucuses more than men and older people do more than younger.

SMITH: Right. And older women especially. Yeah this is -- boy -- talk about right to the heart. And how interesting is this in contrast to yesterday we saw the pictures. They've got Magic Johnson out there, they've got Bill Clinton out there. We've asked this question for a couple of days. Is he helping more than hurting because he goes out into a crowd and everybody rushes to the former President of the United States, she's left holding a cup of coffee.

GREENFIELD: Right, is he helping or hurting? The answer's yes. Democrats do like him, first only two-term Democrat since Roosevelt, but Dems don't like them, that reminds them. But it reminds me a little of 92' when Clinton was the effective nominee and they suddenly realized people don't know who he is, and they put him on Arsenio Hall playing the saxophone.

SMITH: Sure.

GREENFIELD: Yeah, that's what's going on here. It looks like -- if you try to guess what's going to happen in the caucuses, be my guest.

SMITH: You be my guest. Alright, speaking of the 'Mother Factor,' it was just a month or two ago that John McCain was out campaigning with his mother who is --

GREENFIELD: Yeah, true. In her 90s.

SMITH: In her 90s, no less. Just to show what?

GREENFIELD: Well he's the oldest -- he would be the oldest president ever and he's trying to so -- say genetically I'll be ready to do this job for a while.

SMITH: Right, now you just came off the campaign trail with him.

GREENFIELD: Yeah.

SMITH: Talk to me a little bit about what's going on there, because this guy was politically left in the ash heap four months ago.

GREENFIELD: Right, first of all, it looks like he's had a B-1 injection. He looks ten years younger, he's on the 'Straight Talk Express.' He's doing the same thing he did in 2000. He's -- everything's on the record, he's juiced. Why? One, the debates. Just as they helped Mike Huckabee, they reminded people of why they liked him in the first place. The Petraeus strategy in Iraq seems to have vindicated McCain, saying 'we've got to change and I know better than anybody else in this race how to win this -- this effort.' And third, the dissatisfaction of all the Republicans, means that a lot of Republicans who don't like McCain on immigration, campaign reform -- finance reform, he was against the Bush tax cuts, he's a maverick, but now their saying 'well, all of these other people we're unhappy with in one way or another, this guy actually has some -- some chops.' He's still well behind in New Hampshire, he's running on fumes.

SMITH: And he's not really running in Iowa.

GREENFIELD: No, he's basically said 'okay I'm on the ballot.' But it's a very simple strategy for him, if he can catch up and beat Romney, who has spent millions of dollars and is a neighboring state governor, sling shot to Michigan, where independents vote, he thinks he has a shot.

SMITH: Wow, very interesting to watch. I'm not sure it's ever been quite this interesting.

GREENFIELD: This one, I'm telling you, if you -- whoever called it political science, had no idea what they were talking about.

SMITH: Jeff GREENFIELD, thank you so much.

GREENFIELD: Okay.

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