CBS ‘Early Show’: ‘Hillary Clinton is Fighting for Her Political Life’

Monday’s CBS "Early Show" was unusually tough on Hillary Clinton as co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming interview with the New York Senator: "And with Clinton, why she's fighting for her political life." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez similarly teased the interview later: "Up next here on "The Early Show," Senator Hillary Clinton on why she's fighting for her political life." Finally, Harry Smith began the interview with Clinton using the phrase one last time for good measure: "Hillary Clinton is fighting for her political life, following her third place showing in the Iowa caucuses."

Smith’s first question to Clinton kept the pressure on:

Spent a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire over the last couple weeks following these campaigns, I've talked to a lot of voters. Plenty of people like you. They respect you. But there's a whole other group out there who are saying, it's time to turn the page. Is there any way you can get them back on to your side?

After Clinton emphasized her commitment to keep campaigning and getting her message out, Smith did not let up:

I can't imagine you are -- would feel as good as if the polls had come out this morning showing you ahead. In fact, we've got Barack Obama ahead in a couple of polls by double digits. The headline on your favorite paper, "The New York Post," this morning has a picture of you, and it has in giant print, "Panic." Is your campaign in a panic?

When Clinton countered that she was comfortable with the comparison between herself and Obama, Smith fired one last shot: "You know, the Iowa voters, though, basically made that choice. They said we're not choosing experience. We want something new altogether."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: And with Clinton, why she's fighting for her political life.

7:11AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Up next here on The Early Show, Senator Hillary Clinton on why she's fighting for her political life.

7:15AM SEGMENT:

BARACK OBAMA: You're likeable enough, Hillary.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you so much Barack.

HARRY SMITH: Good morning again. I'm Harry Smith. This is The Early Show. Hillary Clinton is fighting for her political life, following her third place showing in the Iowa caucuses. She joins us this morning from Concord, New Hampshire. Senator Clinton, good morning.

CLINTON: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: Spent a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire over the last couple weeks following these campaigns, I've talked to a lot of voters. Plenty of people like you. They respect you. But there's a whole other group out there who are saying, it's time to turn the page. Is there any way you can get them back on to your side?

CLINTON: Well, Harry, I'm going to just work as hard as I can today and tomorrow. Obviously, it's a short period of time, but I feel really good about the crowds that we're drawing, the intensity and excitement of the people who are coming out to see me. We expected a thousand people yesterday. We had nearly 4,000. And there's just a lot of real focus on this campaign here in New Hampshire. And you know, New Hampshire voters are fiercely and famously independent. And they're asking me every question you can imagine, trying to get the information that they need in order to make their decision tomorrow. So I feel really good about this whole process. And you know, whatever happens tomorrow, we're going on. And we're going to keep going until the end of the process on February 5th. But I've always felt that this is going to be a very tough, hard-fought election, and I'm ready for that.

SMITH: I can't imagine you are -- would feel as good as if the polls had come out this morning showing you ahead. In fact, we've got Barack Obama ahead in a couple of polls by double digits. The headline on your favorite paper, The New York Post, this morning has a picture of you, and it has in giant print, Panic. Is your campaign in a panic?

CLINTON: Well, I'm not. You know, I have been through a lot of campaigns, so maybe that's why I just see this from the longer-term perspective, you know. You go up and you go down. But the important thing is to keep, you know, talking about what it is you want to do. But even linking it with what you've already done. You know, if you want to know what someone will do, ask what they've done. And I thought the debate here in New Hampshire on Saturday night really helped to frame that choice for voters here and across the country. We have to start looking at, you know, what it is that each of us brings to this race because we're asking the American people to pick a president to clean up a lot of a mess that has been left by George Bush. And then to go on and do the positive things to set some big goals for America. And I feel very good when that comparison is made.

SMITH: You know, the Iowa voters, though, basically made that choice. They said we're not choosing experience. We want something new altogether.

CLINTON: Well, that's why there's more than one contest. In fact, that's why there's a series of them because campaigns and the sort of pace and information that people have to make judgments about obviously grows and expands. You know, I was reminded yesterday that my husband in '92 didn't win anything for about --

SMITH: Did not win New Hampshire, right. Did not win --

CLINTON: No. And then lost about five or six other contests coming in second or third. But if you believe, as I believe, that I am the person best suited to be president for our country at this time and the kind of intensity of support that I have is incredibly gratifying to me, then I'm going to keep making my case and doing it as effectively as possible because I want people to be able to make an informed judgment. We need to pick a president who will be ready to lead on day one, and we need to pick a nominee who will actually win in November 2008, and I think I fit both of those criteria.

SMITH: Senator Clinton, thank you very much for your time this morning. Do appreciate it.

CLINTON: Thanks a lot. Good to talk to you, Harry.

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