Following a story on Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News," when fill-in anchor Harry Smith described how an anti-Obama ad run by the North Carolina GOP was proof of the campaign getting "nastier," on Thursday’s "Early Show" Smith continued that theme as he exclaimed: "And the tone of the remainder of the campaign season may be getting even nastier."
Correspondent Chip Reid followed with a report on the North Carolina Republican ad and framed it this way:
A lot of that nastiness is being aimed directly at Barack Obama, and it's not just coming from Hillary Clinton and her campaign. You know there's an absolutely crucial primary in North Carolina in less than two weeks. And now the North Carolina Republican Party is going after Obama with a new hard-hitting negative ad.
The ad, directed at the two North Carolina Democrats vying for the nomination for governor of the state in the May 6 primary, plays a clip of Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright saying "God damn America!" and then criticizes both Democratic candidates for their endorsement of Obama: "Now Beth Perdue and Richard Moore endorse Barack Obama. They should know better. He's just too extreme for North Carolina."
After playing the ad, Reid goes on to describe how Obama is being "hammered from both sides":
Now, John McCain denounced that ad, but meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is continuing to go after Obama...Obama, for his part, though, is insisting that he's going to continue to try to at least to take the high road...So, as he gets hammered from both sides, we'll see, Harry, how long he can keep that positive tone.
Here is the full transcript of Thursday’s "Early Show" segment:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: The race for the White House gets nastier. And with no end in sight, can a revived Hillary Clinton shape a strategy to win the nomination?
HARRY SMITH: The Democratic candidates have now turned their attention to the May 6th primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. But does Senator Clinton, who is behind in delegates and money, have a real shot at winning the nomination? We're going to take a look at this question in just a couple of minutes. The answer may surprise you.
HARRY SMITH: First, though, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama turned rather rough in Pennsylvania. And the tone of the remainder of the campaign season may be getting even nastier. CBS News Capitol Hill Correspondent Chip Reid is live with more on that this morning. Good morning, Chip.
CHIP REID: Well, good morning, Harry. A lot of that nastiness is being aimed directly at Barack Obama, and it's not just coming from Hillary Clinton and her campaign. You know there's an absolutely crucial primary in North Carolina in less than two weeks. And now the North Carolina Republican Party is going after Obama with a new hard-hitting negative ad.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: For 20 years Barack Obama sat in his pew listening to his pastor.
JEREMIAH WRIGHT: And then wants us to sing 'God Bless America?' No, no, no. Not God bless America. God damn America!
WOMAN: Now Beth Perdue and Richard Moore endorse Barack Obama. They should know better. He's just too extreme for North Carolina.
REID: Now, John McCain denounced that ad, but meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is continuing to go after Obama. Her basic argument is that she believes she is the stronger candidate, the one who can defeat McCain in November. She says Obama can't beat McCain in November. Obama, for his part, though, is insisting that he's going to continue to try to at least to take the high road.
BARACK OBAMA: I know that people like to talk tough and use a lot of rhetoric about fighting and obliterating and all that stuff. You know, I've always believed that if you're tough, you don't have to talk about it.
REID: So, as he gets hammered from both sides, we'll see, Harry, how long he can keep that positive tone.
SMITH: There you go. Chip Reid with us live in Washington this morning, thanks. Following Hillary Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, the latest CBS News delegate count shows Barack Obama with 1,715, Hillary Clinton with 1,585. There have been plenty of calls for Clinton to drop out, but has her political obituary been written prematurely? Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton could not have been more clear.
HILLARY CLINTON: Some people counted me out and said to drop out. But the American people -- well, the American people don't quit, and they deserve a president who doesn't quit either.
OBAMA: And our time for change has come.
SMITH: Since Barack Obama's string of 11 victories following Super Tuesday, his camp tried to argue his nomination was mathematically inevitable.
PATRICK LEAHY: I don't see her as being the nominee, just because of the way the numbers are going.
SMITH: But there is a possible road map to a Clinton victory.
KATHLEEN FRANKOVIC: Neither she nor Barack Obama will have a majority of the total delegates to the Democratic convention based on pledged or elected delegates only. Both of them need to count on the votes of the 795 superdelegates.
SMITH: Of those 795 superdelegates, 309 remain publicly undeclared. More than enough for Clinton to make up for her deficit among pledged delegates. The Clinton campaign hopes to convince superdelegates that with her proven ability to win big states like California, Ohio, and now Pennsylvania, and Obama's inability to win the nomination outright, that she's the better choice to beat John McCain.
FRANKOVIC: She needs to carry most of the superdelegates who have yet to make a commitment to either Clinton or to Obama, but what's even more interesting is that those Democratic superdelegates who've made a commitment or say they're supporting someone don't have to stay with that person. They're free to change their mind and change their mind again.
SMITH: Change their mind and change their mind again. Joining us now from Washington, CBS News Political Consultant Joe Trippi. Joe I want to bring your attention to the front page of The Wall Street Journal this morning. "Clinton win stirs doubts on Obama." Enough doubts that if she continues to win over the next couple of weeks that these superdelegates could, in fact, go her way? What do you think, Joe?
JOE TRIPPI: I don't think so. I mean think, look, she cracked the door open to that with the win in Pennsylvania, but it's still a very, very uphill fight, Harry. She would have to win two-thirds of the superdelegates that are left. There's 300 of them left. She'd need 200. Obama only needs 100 of them. I mean, she did crack the door open. But most of these superdelegates think, are hoping that she'll get out of the race, I think, so they don't have to make the decision.
SMITH: She's not going anyplace, though.
TRIPPI: I know.
SMITH: And hang on, what if she gets close in North Carolina and what if she wins in Indiana? All of a sudden she's going to say 'I've got the mo' here. You've to come my way. I'm the one who can beat John McCain.'
TRIPPI: I think you just put -- Harry, you just put your finger on where -- where the real critical fight is right now. If she can win Indiana and upset Barack Obama in a state he's supposed to win, North Carolina, then, yeah, now she didn't just open the door a little bit, she's knocked it open and some of those superdelegates could start to move her way. But that's a very tough thing to pull off. But with this momentum out of Pennsylvania, she may be able to do it.
SMITH: Yeah, and if you're Barack Obama, in our 30 seconds that we have left right now, what do you do to swing the tide back in your direction?
TRIPPI: He's got to start getting blue collar white men to vote for him in Indiana and North Carolina. If he can do that it takes all the doubts that Clinton's made on him, takes him right off the door -- right off the table, I mean.
SMITH: There you go. Joe Trippi, as always, thanks for your expertise sir, do appreciate it. Have a good morning, we'll talk to you again soon.