CBS ‘Early Show’ Looks At ‘Struggling’ McCain Campaign

Maggie Rodriguez and Ed Rollins, CBS On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on John McCain giving Republican strategist Steve Schmidt greater control of his campaign: "John McCain shakes up his campaign again. Is this the jump start he needs to get him to the White House?" Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased the segment this way: "Up next here for us, John McCain shakes up his struggling presidential campaign. We're talking with Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican campaign strategist."

The segment began with a report by correspondent Chip Reid, who declared:

For months, top Republicans have been urging John McCain to make changes in his campaign after a series of missteps...One example, the night of the final Democratic primary. Both Barack Obama and McCain gave speeches as their party's nominees...But compared to Obama's speech, McCain's fell flat with a small crowd and an ugly green back drop. It was a cry for change.

However, a major "misstep" by the Obama campaign this week, Obama supporter Wesley Clark degrading John McCain’s military record, was only given two news briefs during Tuesday’s "Early Show," totaling 90 seconds. Considering Clark’s comments were made on CBS’s "Face the Nation," one would expect a bit more coverage. In contrast, Thursday’s segment on McCain’s "struggling" campaign received nearly three and a half minutes.

Following the report by Reid, Rodriguez spoke with former Mike Huckabee campaign chairman Ed Rollins, and asked questions like: "What do you think his first priority should be? What's the biggest problem in the McCain campaign?...Can you go to Latin America on Fourth of July week?...I've heard people criticize John McCain for not being enough like Barack Obama. Not having the same style, not having the same energy. But every time I have spoken with Senator McCain he makes it a point to point out how different he is." In response to that last point, Rollins added: "Well, he is different. I mean, you can't be Barack Obama. There's one Barack Obama. He's an extraordinary candidate, extraordinary communicator."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: John McCain shakes up his campaign again. Is this the jump start he needs to get him to the White House?

7:13AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Up next here for us, John McCain shakes up his struggling presidential campaign. We're talking with Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican campaign strategist.

7:16AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: John McCain has shaken up the top leadership of his presidential campaign. He put in charge a man who worked closely with Karl Rove, the engineer of President Bush's successful campaigns. CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Chip Reid reports.

CHIP REID: For months, top Republicans have been urging John McCain to make changes in his campaign after a series of missteps.

JONATHAN MARTIN: The day to day message from the campaign was not there. The organization was not there. And frankly, the larger strategy wasn't there at all.

REID: One example, the night of the final Democratic primary. Both Barack Obama and McCain gave speeches as their party's nominees.

JOHN MCCAIN: From my first day in office-

REID: But compared to Obama's speech, McCain's fell flat with a small crowd and an ugly green back drop. It was a cry for change. Finally, on Wednesday, the campaign announced that McCain aid Steve Schmidt, a veteran of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign, will take over the daily operation.

MARTIN: This is a remedy. It's an attempt to bring in somebody who is known for being very aggressive, very disciplined, somebody who will demand results and accountability from campaign operatives.

REID: At least officially, Schmidt will continue to report to campaign manager Rick Davis. But it appears the controls of the campaign have now changed hands. Chip Reid, CBS News, Washington.

RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now is Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican strategist who recently served as chairman of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Good morning Ed.

ED ROLLINS: Good morning, how are you?

RODRIGUEZ: I'm well, thank you for being here. I know you know Steve Schmidt. You run in the same circles. Good choice for McCain?

ED ROLLINS: Excellent choice. This is a tough smart guy. The Bush people know how to run campaigns. They may have had other problems, obviously, being president, but not running campaigns, is not one of their deficiencies. This guy ran the war room, which is the rapid response and that's what this campaign needs. He'll put discipline in this campaign, he'll get them on message and there'll be a strategy there which there hasn't been.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you think his first priority should be? What's the biggest problem in the McCain campaign?

ROLLINS: Well, first of all, getting a message. Figuring out what the strategy's going to be. For Long term, four months to go, which is plenty of time. But at the end of the day you've got to make this candidate become very disciplined. You have to make -- go to events that make sense -- you can't go to Santa Barbara and talk about offshore oil without alienating a political base that's there. So, there's a lot of little things that have happened in this campaign.

RODRIGUEZ: Can you go to Latin America on Fourth of July week?

ROLLINS: Well you should not. And the reality is that -- and you shouldn't shake up your staff when you're down there trying to show what a leader you are internationally. So those are the kind of missteps that have occurred. What Steve will do is he'll put discipline in this campaign. You know, at the end of the day a campaign manager sometimes gets too much credit for victories, and too much blame for losses.

RODRIGUEZ: It's the candidate, right?

ROLLINS: It's the candidate. And what you are is a jockey. And the real test here is you've got a good jockey now. We'll see how good the horse is.

RODRIGUEZ: I've heard people criticize John McCain for not being enough like Barack Obama. Not having the same style, not having the same energy. But every time I have spoken with Senator McCain he makes it a point to point out how different he is.

ROLLINS: Well, he is different. I mean, you can't be Barack Obama. There's one Barack Obama. He's an extraordinary candidate, extraordinary communicator. John has great strengths. But he's still not defined to the American public. People know he's a prisoner of war, people know he's been a senator, but they don't know who he is, they don't know how effective a leader he can be. And that's what they have to prove in this campaign.

RODRIGUEZ: Okay, thank you. Ed Rollins, appreciate your time, thanks for coming in.

ROLLINS: My pleasure, thanks.

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