CBS’s Greenfield: Obama’s ‘Relentless March to The Center’

Jeff Greenfield, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News," political analyst Jeff Greenfield suggested that Barack Obama was becoming more moderate: "...a relentless march to the center. He's determined not to be defined as Dukakis was and as John Kerry was, as outside the mainstream." Greenfield cited examples of Obama’s move to the middle by describing how: "His compromise on warrant -- on how you can wiretap foreign nationals with the FISA compromise, I think, was one example. He's saying maybe his anti-free trade rhetoric was a little overblown."

Greenfield even went so far as to bizarrely claim that Obama’s flip-flop on public financing was somehow evidence of his more moderate positions: "And by abandoning public financing, which he pledged to, he's saying ‘If I got more money than the other guy, I'm going to use it. I want to win.’"

The segment began by anchor Katie Couric declaring: "...the polls of summer. For now the heat is on the Republicans...Barack Obama's getting quite a bounce in the polls." Greenfield continued to tout Obama’s "bounce in the polls" by proclaiming: "It's an early summer blizzard, of polls that is, most of them gladdening Democratic hearts and furrowing Republican brows. Senator Barack Obama is up by 6 points in a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 12 in an LA Times/Bloomberg survey. Newsweek has the spread at 15 points nationally." However, it has been clearly demonstrated that the L.A. Times and Newsweek polls were outliers.

Greenfield also pointed out that: "...while John McCain is even or close in a few states that have recently gone Democratic -- Michigan, for example -- Obama is showing strength in lots of states that Bush won last time. Obama's ahead in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico." Actually, President Bush did not win New Hampshire in 2004.

Beyond looking at the polls, Greenfield found another indicator of how bad things are for Republicans:

But this television ad on the other hand may be an intriguing straw in the wind. Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith, up for re-election this November, cites his work in the Senate with Barack Obama. Citing the presidential nominee of another party is, to say the least, highly unusual...But the larger point is that we all might do better paying less attention to polls this far out and more to those kind of indications like whether politicians from one party are saying nice things about the captain of the other team.

Of course, Oregon is a very blue state and it would not be that unusual for a Republican to run as a moderate.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

6:48PM TEASER

COURIC: And coming up, the polls of summer. For now the heat is on the Republicans.

6:51PM

KATIE COURIC: Now to presidential politics. Barack Obama's getting quite a bounce in the polls. Our senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield has the numbers.

JEFF GREENFIELD: It's an early summer blizzard, of polls that is, most of them gladdening Democratic hearts and furrowing Republican brows. Senator Barack Obama is up by 6 points in a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 12 in an LA Times/Bloomberg survey. Newsweek has the spread at 15 points nationally. And state polls show that, while John McCain is even or close in a few states that have recently gone Democratic -- Michigan, for example -- Obama is showing strength in lots of states that Bush won last time. Obama's ahead in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico. All of which means -- well, what does it mean? Back in July of 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis was 17 points ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush. Bush won comfortably. And in mid-June of 1992, Bill Clinton trailed both President Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot. Clinton recovered.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama.

GREENFIELD: But this television ad on the other hand may be an intriguing straw in the wind. Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith, up for re-election this November, cites his work in the Senate with Barack Obama. Citing the presidential nominee of another party is, to say the least, highly unusual.

GORDON SMITH: I'm Gordon Smith and I approve working together across party lines and this ad.

GREENFIELD: The McCain camp, by the way, points to at least one other poll showing him about even with Obama. But the larger point is that we all might do better paying less attention to polls this far out and more to those kind of indications like whether politicians from one party are saying nice things about the captain of the other team.

COURIC: Well, both candidates were pretty vocal about the Supreme Court decision, both decrying the fact that child rapists could not get the death penalty. But with Barack Obama, you think there's a pattern emerging here.

GREENFIELD: I do. And it's, I think, a relentless march to the center. He's determined not to be defined as Dukakis was and as John Kerry was, as outside the mainstream. His compromise on warrant -- on how you can wiretap foreign nationals with the FISA compromise, I think, was one example. He's saying maybe his anti-free trade rhetoric was a little overblown. And by abandoning public financing, which he pledged to, he's saying 'If I got more money than the other guy, I'm going to use it. I want to win.'

COURIC: Alright. Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, thanks so much.

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