CBS’s Smith Uses Giuliani in Hospital to Discuss ‘Campaign Troubles’

While reporting on Rudy Giuliani’s hospitalization on the campaign trail in Missouri on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith also used the opportunity to discuss Giuliani’s struggling campaign: "We are closely following the news that Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized overnight in St. Louis where he's undergoing tests. This at a time when his Republican lead has been challenged and he is slipping quickly in the polls." So Smith is not sure if Giuliani’s health is okay, but he knows the New York Mayor’s campaign is going under. Not much of a get well message.

After a report on Giuliani’s hospital visit by a local CBS News station in St. Louis, Smith moved on to the campaign:

This health scare only adds to Rudy Giuliani's troubles on the campaign trail. He has struggled with persistent questions about his personal life and one national poll shows that he has dropped 13 points. Mike Allen from politico.com joins us from Washington.

Smith then decided to make a joke of Giuliani’s health problem and asked Allen’s diagnosis:

SMITH: You might not be feeling too well, either, had you been looking at Huckabee's rise and Giuliani's drop. Can that be part of -- part of what's going on here?

ALLEN: Well, Mayor Giuliani's been under an incredible amount of stress, and that 13-point drop that you cite is such an unusual number in these polls where everybody's been pretty close, these polls still show that anybody among the top Republicans can win...

Smith went on to question a recent Giuliani Christmas campaign ad:

SMITH: There's this new Giuliani ad. This kind of -- they all have Christmas ads, which is so strange in the first place, but his ad with the Santa Claus and everything else, is that humanizing Rudy Giuliani or is that a little -- a little weirdness, some of the old Rudy Giuliani weirdness, that we've experienced here in New York City?

ALLEN: Right. Harry, you've got to wonder if beating voters over the head with how likable you are is really a good idea. But this -- this ad is -- really does tickle you. Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a red sweater next to Santa, Santa kind of awkwardly handles -- hands him a candy cane.

This is the same Harry Smith who just yesterday said of a campaign ad featuring Hillary Clinton’s mother: "Yeah this is -- boy -- talk about right to the heart." Apparently Smith thought that ad humanized Hillary and was not "weird" at all.

Allen then built up Mike Huckabee, who recently compared Giuliani to Richard Nixon:

And what's fascinating about this movement the polls is it shows these decisions are very personal. That -- people actually like Mike Huckabee, and that's why he's moving up. Just as with Mayor Giuliani, his drop reflects questions about his business and his character. People just enjoy Huckabee. I've talked to Governor Huckabee yesterday, and he said people don't want someone dour. He told me we tried that with Richard Nixon and it didn't work so well...

At the end of the segment, Allen also made a revealing observation of a new CBS News poll regarding Barack Obama and Clinton: "...a fascinating finding by this CBS News poll is that Oprah Winfrey didn't make that big a difference for him, but Bill Clinton did make a big difference in propping up Hillary Clinton."

Well, I guess Hillary really is no longer inevitable if she needs Bill’s "propping up."

Here is the full transcript:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Breaking news overnight. Rudy Giuliani hospitalized, after worsening flu symptoms prompted a call to turn his private jet around mid-flight.

7:01AM TEASER:

SMITH: We are closely following the news that Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized overnight in St. Louis where he's undergoing tests. This at a time when his Republican lead has been chALLENged and he is slipping quickly in the polls.

7:01AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: But first breaking news. Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani spent the night in a St. Louis hospital with flu-like symptoms. John Mills of our St. Louis station KMOV has the latest.

JOHN MILLS: Good morning, Harry. Rudy Giuliani is in good condition this morning. His doctor wanted him checked out to make sure the condition wasn't more serious. Giuliani appeared to be in good spirits, smiling as he arrived in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield for a visit with supporters last night. But a campaign spokeswoman says he had been feeling flu-like symptoms while campaigning across Missouri and he felt worse as the day wore on. After taking off for New York last night, his spokeswoman says Giuliani felt so sick his plane returned to the St. Louis area so Giuliani could come here to Barnes Jewish Hospital for what were described as routine tests. But this morning, a Giuliani spokeswoman says he is in very high spirits and he is thanking doctors and nurses for checking him out. He goes back to New York later today. I'm John Mills for CBS News in St. Louis. Harry, back to you.

SMITH: This health scare only adds to Rudy Giuliani's troubles on the campaign trail. He has struggled with persistent questions about his personal life and one national poll shows that he has dropped 13 points. Mike Allen from politico.com joins us from Washington. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE ALLEN: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: You might not be feeling too well, either, had you been looking at Huckabee's rise and Giuliani's drop. Can that be part of -- part of what's going on here?

ALLEN: Well, Mayor Giuliani's been under an incredible amount of stress, and that 13-point drop that you cite is such an unusual number in these polls where everybody's been pretty close, these polls still show that anybody among the top Republicans can win, but Harry, what we can see from this is the candidates that look strong, now are back on their heels in a weak position. Some of the ones we were barely covering, now are in striking distance.

SMITH: Yeah, exactly. There's this new Giuliani ad. This kind of -- they all have Christmas ads, which is so strange in the first place, but his ad with the Santa Claus and everything else, is that humanizing Rudy Giuliani or is that a little -- a little weirdness, some of the old Rudy Giuliani weirdness, that we've experienced here in New York City?

ALLEN: Right. Harry, you've got to wonder if beating voters over the head with how likable you are is really a good idea. But this -- this ad is -- really does tickle you. Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a red sweater next to Santa, Santa kind of awkwardly handles -- hands him a candy cane. But this is a result of his weird collision of the holiday season when voters are not wanting to hear from candidates, certainly not wanting to hear a negative message, and the calendar coming right up, the candidates are afraid the voters will make their decisions at the end, so they have to be in the conversational mix.

SMITH: Here's my question of the morning. We know Mike Huckabee is a jogger. Does he have the legs to actually sustain this lead? Because he is jumping out on top all over the place.

ALLEN: And what's fascinating about this movement the polls is it shows these decisions are very personal. That -- people actually like mike Huckabee, and that's why he's moving up. Just as with Mayor Giuliani, his drop reflects questions about his business and his character. People just enjoy Huckabee. I've talked to Governor Huckabee yesterday, and he said people don't want someone dour. He told me we tried that with Richard Nixon and it didn't work so well, so he's out, he's literally running to -- he's put on 12 pounds and tells me he's going to run it off.

SMITH: He is starting to look like those suits don't quite fit. Very quickly, the Barack Obama phenomena in South Carolina, where he is in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton. And it's so interesting because in the polls the women prefer him and the men prefer Hillary Clinton.

ALLEN: That's right, Harry. They're calling it a reverse gender gap. And what it's driven by is black women being strongly for Senator Obama, a fascinating finding by this CBS News poll is that Oprah Winfrey didn't make that big a difference for him, but Bill Clinton did make a big difference in propping up Hillary Clinton. So we've been focused on Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina comes right after that. It's a big state and it's a state where interestingly Obama and Huckabee are strong. So, it could shake things up.

SMITH: A wild, wild political season. Thank you very much, Mike Allen, take care.

ALLEN: Thank you, Harry.

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