CBS ‘Early Show’ Features Dem Spin on Hillary Speech

Harry Smith, CBS At the top of the 8am half hour of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to former Hillary Clinton Press Secretary Lisa Caputo about Clinton’s convention speech: "Everybody in the Pepsi Center buzzing last night about Hillary Clinton's prime time speech...So did she accomplish what she set out to do?" Caputo responded: "She knew what she had to do. And I think in many respects she delivered beyond expectations. Certainly the news media had ramped up this so-called rift between the two camps, which was just not the case. And I think she really hit it out of the park last night."

Smith took exception to Caputo’s criticism of the media: "Although, we didn't make this up. I mean there was a sort of a sense from her, a little holding back, and she certainly was reluctant to get out of the race when it was clear that she was -- really wasn't going to get the nomination. So that was real." However, Caputo and Smith were back on the same page after she observed: "...you saw her really kind of take the gloves off last night, diplomatically, with Senator McCain. You know, 'no way, no how, no McCain' seems to be a great line-" Smith added: "There were some great lines. There were some great lines. And the Harriet Tubman – quoting Harriet Tubman was really the crescendo that just drove this place off the edge."

Smith did offer some challenge by mentioning that some Clinton supporters were "still on the fence" and that there was some criticism: "You know what though, the criticism then that has come subsequently, because there will always be criticism, was, well she didn't really address her issue with Barack Obama, which was he doesn't have the experience. Is that -- was there a way for her to do that or she chose not to do that?"

However, earlier in the show, Smith did not acknowledge such criticism when he declared: "Hillary Clinton stands and delivers....What a speech last night....If you appreciate stagecraft at any level you had to say she did a good job with that." Only after hearing critiques from former Bush Communications Director Dan Bartlett and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in segments that followed, did Smith seem to realize any flaws in Clinton’s speech.

Just prior to speaking with Caputo, Smith talked with co-host Maggie Rodriguez and weatherman Dave Price about the Democratic convention. Rodriguez remarked: "What an amazing convention it's been so far." Price added: "And the drama is coming to a crescendo, of course, as everyone awaits Barack Obama to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party in front of 75,000 people in an open football stadium. It's going to be remarkable." Rodriguez concluded: "Yeah, Harry is like a kid in a candy store with his political fix out there."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

8:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Hillary's big night in Denver, where she called for unity among Democrats.

HILLARY CLINTON: This is a fight for the future and it's a fight we must win together.

SMITH: But will her delegates support Obama?

7:01AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Got a beautiful shot there. That's the state capitol of Denver with the gold leaf dome shining there on this beautiful Wednesday morning. This, of course is the site of the Democratic National Convention. And we are inside the Pepsi Center, where there was a lot of buzz last night for Hillary Clinton's big speech. Did she gain the confidence and swing the persuasion of her supporters in support of Barack Obama? I'm Harry Smith in Denver. Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price are in New York. Good morning, guys.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Good morning, Harry.

DAVE PRICE: Morning to you, Harry.

RODRIGUEZ: What an amazing convention it's been so far. And tonight, like you were saying, Harry, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. I'm sure that they're going to choose their words ever so carefully, but with those two, it's kind of like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get, right?

PRICE: And the drama is coming to a crescendo, of course, as everyone awaits Barack Obama to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party in front of 75,000 people in an open football stadium. It's going to be remarkable.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, Harry is like a kid in a candy store with his political fix out there.

PRICE: And we haven't even gotten to the Republicans yet, Harry, and all the drama there.

RODRIGUEZ: I know.

SMITH: That's it. Lots of stories to tell. Let's get right to it then, guys. Everybody in the Pepsi Center buzzing last night about Hillary Clinton's prime time speech.

HILLARY CLINTON: It is time to take back the country we love. And whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose.

SMITH: So did she accomplish what she set out to do? Joining us is Lisa Caputo, a Democratic strategist and Hillary Clinton's former press secretary. Good morning.

LISA CAPUTO: Good morning.

SMITH: Were you a little nervous before last night?

CAPUTO: Oh, sure. Let me tell you. This speech was being written right up until the last minute. Senator Clinton was tweaking things, rewriting things, and really put a lot of gusto into this speech, I would say.

SMITH: Yeah.

CAPUTO: In fact, after the speech, you know, she was really on a high. There were a group of us who sort of hung out in the hotel suite for a while and telling stories and she was really on a high and feeling pretty great.

SMITH: She felt like she accomplished what she set out to do.

CAPUTO: Absolutely. You know, she went in with full conviction. She knew what she had to do. And I think in many respects she delivered beyond expectations. Certainly the news media had ramped up this so-called rift between the two camps, which was just not the case. And I think she really hit it out of the park last night.

SMITH: Although, we didn't make this up. I mean there was a sort of a sense from her, a little holding back, and she certainly was reluctant to get out of the race when it was clear that she was -- really wasn't going to get the nomination. So that was real. On the other hand, let's talk about, what did she feel like she had to do because there -- as we talk to the delegates here, there are people who are still kind of on the fence. They're still waiting to be won over.

CAPUTO: Well, she stayed in the race, Harry, because she felt a responsibility to her supporters. And so she got out in June and then she's been campaigning for Senator Obama ever since. Last night, she felt she had to deliver a message to her supporters, which is, 'you can't sit on the sidelines in this election. This is too important. I'm asking you to go with conviction and support Barack Obama, just in the same way and with the same conviction you supported me.' She also really wanted to set forth -- to define this race between Obama and McCain. And that's why you saw her really kind of take the gloves off last night, diplomatically, with Senator McCain. You know, 'no way, no how, no McCain' seems to be a great line-

SMITH: There were some great lines. There were some great lines. And the Harriet Tubman – quoting Harriet Tubman was really the crescendo that just drove this place off the edge.

CAPUTO: Yes. I mean, it's really quite incredible that she delivered this speech on the anniversary of women's suffrage.

SMITH: Yeah. You know what though, the criticism then that has come subsequently, because there will always be criticism, was, well she didn't really address her issue with Barack Obama, which was he doesn't have the experience. Is that -- was there a way for her to do that or she chose not to do that?

CAPUTO: Oh, I think she laid out last night what the Democratic Party stands for and what Barack Obama stands for. And I think that she made a very credible case, and I think by tipping the hat to Senator Joe Biden, who has been in the Senate for such a long time and such a experienced hand, I think was all she had to do. And I think it was also important for her to recognize Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, which I think was the right thing to do. So I don't see that at all as an issue, and I think you'll see Senator Biden tonight do what he has to do.

SMITH: And from the sisterhood of the traveling pant suit-

CAPUTO: Yes, I'm in the traveling pant suit.

SMITH: [Laughter] That's right. Lisa thanks so much. Really appreciate it, great to see you.

CAPUTO: Nice to see you.

SMITH: You bet. We're going to have -- talk to some delegates in a couple of minutes, five Clinton delegates, and see how they are feeling this morning about this speech last night.

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