CBS ‘Early Show’: ‘Nasty’ McCain Ad Shows ‘Gloves Are Off’

Russ Mitchell and Bill Plante, CBS At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell teased a segment about a new McCain campaign ad criticizing Barack Obama for not visiting wounded American soldiers in Germany: "...it is 99 days until election day and John McCain this weekend took off the gloves off with an ad criticizing Barack Obama for among other things, going to the gym while on his trip overseas last week." The segment later began with a report by correspondent Bill Plante, who described: "... it's now just 99 days to the election. But those 99 days promise a pretty rough ride. This new TV ad from the McCain campaign targets Obama's decision to cancel a visit with U.S. troops in Germany."

Plante then played a brief clip of the McCain ad and followed up with the Obama campaign’s defense: "The Obama campaign's return shot, quote, 'John McCain is an honorable man who is running an increasingly dishonorable campaign.' Back from a tour abroad focused on foreign policy and rock star TV coverage, Obama is talking this week about pocket book issues." After Plante’s report, Mitchell talked to Republican strategist Kevin Madden and former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers about the ad. Mitchell asked Madden: "...how nasty is this likely to get over the next few months?"

Prior to asking that question, Mitchell asked Myers: "Dee Dee we saw that ad in Bill Plante's piece from John McCain this weekend, criticizing Barack Obama for, among other things, going to the gym while on his trip last week overseas. Are the gloves definitely coming off at this point?" That gave Myers the opportunity to proclaim:

Boy, aren't they? It's early, I think in the minds of a lot of Americans who think this doesn't start until Labor Day. But I think that was a sign that this camp -- the McCain campaign is increasingly struggling for a way to change the dynamic and to get the focus off Obama as a world leader and back here where he feels he has a change to, again, shake it up.

During the segment Mitchell also focused on new poll numbers showing an Obama lead: "...a new poll came out this morning that has one camp, I'm sure, giving high fives, the other saying rut row...I want to begin by talking about the results of a new Gallup poll out today that shows Barack Obama nine points ahead of John McCain."

At the end of the segment, Mitchell asked both Madden and Myers to give two vice presidential choices for the respective candidates. Madden suggested Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlent on the Republican side. However, Myers used the opportunity to bash the McCain campaign one more time and Mitchell offered little protest:

MITCHELL: Dee Dee, on the Democratic side, give me two names.

MYERS: Well, rather than give you two names, I think it's much more important for John McCain to do something that, again, is a, kind of a home run. I think the stakes are much lower for Barack Obama. He is the focus of this campaign.

MITCHELL: Okay. Alright Dee Dee I gave you -- I asked you two names, you give me that. But that's okay.

MYERS: Yeah, well, because it's more important.

MITCHELL: Alright, it's okay.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

RUSS MITCHELL: Also, it is hard to believe, but it is 99 days until election day and John McCain this weekend took off the gloves off with an ad criticizing Barack Obama for among other things, going to the gym while on his trip overseas last week. We're going to talk about that and a new poll came out this morning that has one camp, I'm sure, giving high fives, the other saying rut row. We've got two of our political experts here this morning.

7:12AM TEASER:

MITCHELL: Coming up, only 99 days left until election day and the presidential campaigns are going into high gear.

7:16AM SEGMENT:

RUSS MITCHELL: Election day, November 4th, is closer than you think and that's sending both presidential campaigns into overdrive. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante is outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a place Barack Obama and John McCain hope to call home come January. Bill, good morning.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning to you, Russ. If you think that the '08 presidential race has been going on forever, like since the beginning of last year, take heart, 20 candidates and too many debates later, it's now just 99 days to the election. But those 99 days promise a pretty rough ride. This new TV ad from the McCain campaign targets Obama's decision to cancel a visit with U.S. troops in Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.

PLANTE: The Obama campaign's return shot, quote, 'John McCain is an honorable man who is running an increasingly dishonorable campaign.' Back from a tour abroad focused on foreign policy and rock star TV coverage, Obama is talking this week about pocket book issues.

BARACK OBAMA: Tomorrow I'm going to actually be calling some of my top economic advisers together to start thinking about how do we take some short-term steps to shore up the economy, but also how do we take those long-term steps.

PLANTE: McCain continued his focus on Obama's unwillingness to support the troop surge in Iraq.

JOHN MCCAIN: Senator Obama doesn't understand. He doesn't understand what's at stake here. And he chose to take a political path that would have helped him get the nomination of his party.

PLANTE: 99 days left to reach the voters. Many of whom haven't yet begun to pay close attention.

MIKE ALLEN: The campaigns know that in this final stretch people could make up their minds at any moment. So every day counts, every mistake counts.

PLANTE: Next on the calendar, the Democrats Denver convention, the last week of August. And the Republicans in St. Paul the first week of September. But as they say on TV, wait, there's more. Three presidential debates, one vice presidential debate. And if you live in one of the so-called battle ground states, about three months of non-stop political ads on TV. Russ.

MITCHELL: Alright. Bill Plante at the White House, thank you very much. And joining us here in New York is Republican strategist Kevin Madden and in Washington is former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers. Good morning to both of you.

KEVIN MADDEN: Good morning.

DEE DEE MYERS: Good morning.

MITCHELL: I want to begin by talking about the results of a new Gallup poll out today that shows Barack Obama nine points ahead of John McCain. Kevin let me ask you, If you're advising John McCain this morning, what are you telling him is the first thing he needs to do this morning?

MADDEN: Well, you have to make this campaign right now, you have 99 days left and this is where you really draw the contrast. And the most important contrast that John McCain can draw is the one on experience. He has to make this campaign over the next 99 days a referendum on Barack Obama's inexperience. That way he can say to the American public, 'at the end of the day you're going to be judging who's ready to be president. I'm ready to be president.'

MITCHELL: Dee Dee Myers let me ask you, in the world of mistakes, what mistakes should Barack Obama definitely avoid at this point?

MYERS: Well, obviously, any mistakes, but certainly any mistakes that do kind of underscore the fact that John McCain is more experienced on foreign policy. But as I think we saw last week Barack Obama's very comfortable on the world stage. He had a very good trip, I think people looked at that and could easily imagine him as commander in chief. That doesn't solve the problem, nor the -- or the issue for him, but he needs to do more of the same. Look, I'd rather be playing Barack Obama's hand right now than John McCain's. McCain needs to get his campaign together, he needs to find a more optimistic tone and he needs to do something to change the dynamic of this race.

MITCHELL: Dee Dee we saw that ad in Bill Plante's piece from John McCain this weekend, criticizing Barack Obama for, among other things, going to the gym while on his trip last week overseas. Are the gloves definitely coming off at this point?

MYERS: Boy, aren't they? It's early, I think in the minds of a lot of Americans who think this doesn't start until Labor Day. But I think that was a sign that this camp -- the McCain campaign is increasingly struggling for a way to change the dynamic and to get the focus off Obama as a world leader and back here where he feels he has a change to, again, shake it up.

MITCHELL: Kevin, how nasty is this likely to get over the next few months?

MADDEN: Well when was the last time we saw a presidential campaign that didn't get very tough? I mean, again, this is the 99 days where you're going to see contrast emerge. And they're really going to try and point out each other's differences as much as they point out where they agree. And I think that what you're going to see is a lot of Republicans are going to worry that John McCain may, like Dee Dee said, may start to look too angry. So instead he has to give Americans a reason why they should vote for John McCain, he has to hammer home a very optimistic economic message. And he also has to talk about what he's going to do for the future on everything from education, to health care, as well as national security, which is his strong point.

MITCHELL: Kevin, give me two names, very quickly. Who's in the front row of the vice presidential sweepstakes? Republican side.

MADDEN: I think if I were to say, the top two would probably be Mitt Romney, my former boss, because of the economy, he's very strong on the economy. And Tim Pawlenty, because he has such a strong personal relationship with John McCain.

MITCHELL: Dee Dee, on the Democratic side, give me two names.

MYERS: Well, rather than give you two names, I think it's much more important for John McCain to do something that, again, is a, kind of a home run. I think the stakes are much lower for Barack Obama. He is the focus of this campaign.

MITCHELL: Okay. Alright Dee Dee I gave you -- I asked you two names, you give me that. But that's okay.

MYERS: Yeah, well, because it's more important.

MITCHELL: Alright, it's okay. Dee Dee Myers and Kevin Madden. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

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