CBS’s Smith: ‘An Extraordinary Number’ of Republicans for Obama

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterIn yet another fawning interview with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith touted Obama’s bi-partisan appeal: "Though he leads Hillary Clinton in national polls, Obama trails in Pennsylvania. He's hoping record voter registration and an extraordinary number of people who have switched parties to boost his chances." Smith then asked the Illinois Senator: "What is your sense from what your own people tell you about the switching that has taken place already in Pennsylvania in terms of Republicans coming over to support you?" Given Rush Limbaugh’s "Operation Chaos," in which he encourages Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton to keep the Democratic race in turmoil, one wonders if this "extraordinary number" of Republicans crossing over for Obama is a similar effort rather than true support.

Even Obama had to admit that there was no solid evidence of a large Republican turnout for him, though he still insisted a "sizable" amount of support: "You know, at this point it's still anecdotal. I can tell you that there's not a rally we have in which we don't hear from a sizable number of people who say they've switched registrations or that they're a Republican and that they're going to vote for me in the primary and in the general election."

This interview was Smith’s second with Obama since the Reverend Wright controversy and in neither case did Smith ask once about the scandal. While filling in for Katie Couric on the March 27 "Evening News," Smith focused on asking whether Obama would call for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race. On Wednesday’s "Early Show," after Smith asked about Barack’s ‘Obamacans,’ he went on throw more softballs: "What do you know now that you didn't know when you announced 14 months ago?" To which Obama replied: "I did not know how hungry people were for a different kind of politics."

Smith also commented on Obama’s bowling performance, or lack thereof: "Earlier this week Obama went bowling for voters in Altoona, reaching out to the group once again so critical, blue collar workers. His performance on the lanes prompted an April Fool's challenge from Hillary Clinton." After playing a clip of Clinton challenging Obama to a bowl-off, Smith asked: "Are you willing to take her up on it?"

Smith, along with co-host Maggie Rodriguez, concluded the already soft interview this way:

SMITH: Obama clearly having some fun on the trail. He's even been flirting as he campaigns, offering one woman a kiss if she would change her Hillary button to one supporting his campaign. Today Obama's expected to pick up the endorsement of former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, the top Democrat on the 9/11 Commission.

RODRIGUEZ: It's come down to kissing and bowling.

SMITH: Kiss the babies. Kiss the women, maybe. I don't know, whatever it takes to get the votes.

RODRIGUEZ: At least they're having a little fun.

SMITH: Yeah.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Two new polls show Barack Obama closing the gap, less than three weeks before the vital Pennsylvania primary, and today another key endorsement. We're on the road with the Illinois Senator.

7:01AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: I spent a very interesting afternoon on the campaign trail with Senator Barack Obama yesterday. We'll have that story in just a moment.

7:02AM SEGMENT:

SMITH: First though, with three weeks to go until the crucial Pennsylvania primary, polls show that Hillary Clinton's lead over Barack Obama is shrinking. Both candidates campaigned in the northeastern part of the state yesterday, and I jumped aboard the Obama campaign bus in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where the candidate had harsh words for America's fastest growing economic rival.

BARACK OBAMA: I am a strong believer in free trade, but I think that we have not been very savvy negotiators when it comes to China. I think they've played us. They definitely are stealing our intellectual property, and that has direct consequences in terms of the bottom lines for businesses here in the United States.

SMITH: And there is concern about China's violations of human rights. Should we be a full participant in the Olympic games?

OBAMA: I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I think that what's happened in Tibet, China's support of the Sudanese government in Darfur, is a real problem. I'm hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest because I think it's partly about bringing the world together.

SMITH: Though he leads Hillary Clinton in national polls, Obama trails in Pennsylvania. He's hoping record voter registration and an extraordinary number of people who have switched parties to boost his chances. What is your sense from what your own people tell you about the switching that has taken place already in Pennsylvania in terms of Republicans coming over to support you?

OBAMA: You know, at this point it's still anecdotal. I can tell you that there's not a rally we have in which we don't hear from a sizable number of people who say they've switched registrations or that they're a Republican and that they're going to vote for me in the primary and in the general election.

SMITH: It has been 14 months since Obama first announced his candidacy. You surely either thought you'd be out or you'd have the nomination by now.

OBAMA: That is true.

SMITH: What do you know now that you didn't know when you announced 14 months ago?

OBAMA: I did not know how hungry people were for a different kind of politics. What's up, guys?

SMITH: Earlier this week Obama went bowling for voters in Altoona, reaching out to the group once again so critical, blue collar workers. His performance on the lanes prompted an April Fool's challenge from Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON: Today I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off. A bowling night right here in Pennsylvania. Winner take all. I'll even spot him two frames.

SMITH: Are you willing to take her up on it?

OBAMA: You know, I am always game for a little competition. Now, I have to say that I think she has to be heavily favored given my track record in bowling.

SMITH: Once again, trying to play down expectations there. Obama clearly having some fun on the trail. He's even been flirting as he campaigns, offering one woman a kiss if she would change her Hillary button to one supporting his campaign. Today Obama's expected to pick up the endorsement of former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, the top Democrat on the 9/11 Commission.

RODRIGUEZ: It's come down to kissing and bowling.

SMITH: Kiss the babies. Kiss the women, maybe. I don't know, whatever it takes to get the votes.

RODRIGUEZ: At least they're having a little fun.

SMITH: Yeah.

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