CBS’s Smith: McCain Uses ‘Biggest Gun’ to ‘Attack Obama’s Character’

Cindy McCain, CBS At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "The McCain campaign sharpens its attacks on Barack Obama using one of its biggest guns." The "big gun" Smith was referring to was Cindy McCain, who criticized Obama on Wednesday for voting against Iraq troop funding. Smith followed by claiming: "But Obama strikes back with his own secret weapon," referencing Michelle Obama on CNN’s Larry King Live on Wednesday commenting that: "The folks out there right now are scared...They don't care about the sort of back and forth between the candidates."

Smith introduced the later segment by proclaiming: "With less than a month to go before election day, the campaign, especially McCain campaign, has turning -- has been turning up its attack on Barack Obama's character." In the report that followed, correspondent Jeff Glor described how: "John McCain's wife Cindy is usually camera shy but with polls showing the McCain campaign in rough waters it's all hands on deck. For the first time on the stump, Cindy McCain targeted Barack Obama...It's another escalation in the attacks of recent days as the McCain campaign questions Obama's commitment to country and his contacts." On Tuesday, Glor downplayed one of Obama’s "contacts," referring to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers as merely a: "once radical anti-war advocate."

Glor went on to look at the electoral map: "McCain, with his wife and Sarah Palin, is forced to court the crucial swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Mostly telling voters why they think Obama isn't the right man." In contrast, Glor explained that: "Obama, meanwhile, enjoys the luxury of penetrating usually safe Republican strongholds like Indiana, pushing for extra votes and pushing back against McCain."

Following that lead, Smith talked to the editor of the liberal magazine New Republic, Michael Crowley, about some key battleground states: "All of a sudden, there are some states in the South that are in play. This is the electoral map from four years ago. How it went the Republican way. We want to look at Florida this morning, North Carolina, and Virginia. Three states that are suddenly in play. How many electoral votes and how big of a change does this really represent?" Crowley responded: "Well, Florida alone, just based on the 2004 results, plus Florida for Obama, wins it for Obama." An excited Smith replied: "Holy cow." Crowley added: "He can't do it with just North Carolina or just Virginia. But if he wins them both...again, he's the president. And this is a southern battleground John McCain was not hoping to be defending at this point in the race."

Smith later concluded: "Would you imagine then if those three states turned blue in this election, that turns the whole thing on its ear. I mean, you know what the results are by 8:00 or 9:00 on election day." Crowley replied: "Sure, that is a very big win and right now, totally feasible. You got a lead for Obama, toss up, mixed results but some polls have shown Obama in the lead there. It's bad for John McCain. He wasn't hoping to be on the defensive in these states."

Crowley has been on the Early Show numerous times in the last few months, but editors from conservative political publications like National Review or the Weekly Standard have never been featured.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: The McCain campaign sharpens its attacks on Barack Obama using one of its biggest guns.

CINDY MCCAIN: The day that Senator Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son when he was serving, sent a cold chill through my body.

SMITH: But Obama strikes back with his own secret weapon.

MICHELLE OBAMA: The folks out there right now are scared. They're nervous about the economy. They don't care about the sort of back and forth between the candidates.

7:07AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: With less than a month to go before election day, the campaign, especially McCain campaign, has turning -- has been turning up its attack on Barack Obama's character. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor is in Chicago with more. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF GLOR: Harry, good morning to you. When Barack Obama leaves Chicago here today, he'll head for a two-day bus tour of Ohio. John McCain will be in Wisconsin after a heated day on Wednesday.

CINDY MCCAIN: Between us, we have three fine young men serving in the armed forces of America.

GLOR: John McCain's wife Cindy is usually camera shy but with polls showing the McCain campaign in rough waters it's all hands on deck. For the first time on the stump, Cindy McCain targeted Barack Obama.

MCCAIN: The day that Senator Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body.

GLOR: Charging the Democratic nominee didn't fund the Iraq war and put her son, a marine serving there, in danger. It's another escalation in the attacks of recent days as the McCain campaign questions Obama's commitment to country and his contacts.

[CLIP OF MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD]

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Obama and congressional liberals, too risky for America.

GLOR: In response, Michelle Obama went on Larry King Live.

MICHELLE OBAMA: The folks out there right now are scared. They're nervous about the economy. They don't care about the sort of back and forth between the candidates. They want real answers about how we're going to, you know, fix this economy and get the health care -- health care benefits back on track.

GLOR: But what the campaigns are saying right now may not be as important as where they're saying it. McCain, with his wife and Sarah Palin, is forced to court the crucial swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Mostly telling voters why they think Obama isn't the right man.

JOHN MCCAIN: You deserve an answer! And you sure didn't get one last night!

GLOR: Obama, meanwhile, enjoys the luxury of penetrating usually safe Republican strongholds like Indiana, pushing for extra votes and pushing back against McCain.

BARACK OBAMA: I can take four more weeks of John McCain's attacks, but the American people can't take four more years of John McCain's Bush policies.

GLOR: The vice presidential candidates are staying busy as well. For the most part, Sarah Palin has been used to go on the offense. Now Joe Biden says he will be Barack Obama's defender-in-chief. Harry.

SMITH: Jeff Glor in Chicago this morning, thanks so much. Now let's take a look at where the race stands right now, especially in the all-important south. Back with us, Michael Crowley, senior editor at the New Republic. Good morning.

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Good morning.

SMITH: Good to see you again.

CROWLEY: Good to see you.

SMITH: All of a sudden, there are some states in the South that are in play. This is the electoral map from four years ago. How it went the Republican way. We want to look at Florida this morning, North Carolina, and Virginia. Three states that are suddenly in play. How many electoral votes and how big of a change does this really represent?

CROWLEY: Well, Florida alone, just based on the 2004 results, plus Florida for Obama, wins it for Obama.

SMITH: Holy cow.

CROWLEY: He can't do it with just North Carolina or just Virginia. But if he wins them both-

SMITH: Same thing.

CROWLEY: -again, he's the president. And this is a southern battleground John McCain was not hoping to be defending at this point in the race.

SMITH: Right. And they've been spending a lot of time down there in Florida.

CROWLEY: Sarah Palin was just there two days ago.

SMITH: Up in the -- yup in the panhandle. What happens? How can it be that this state could possibly turn blue?

CROWLEY: Well, one big reason, and you're seeing this around the country, is voter registration. Since the 2004 election, Democrats have a 3-1 advantage in voter registration over Republicans, which overall now gives them 500,000 registered voters above the Republicans. So right now Florida's looking like it's a couple of points toward Obama at this point. And again, that one state is a win, presidential win for Obama.

SMITH: And North Carolina. How is it possible that this state might possibly turn blue?

CROWLEY: North Carolina, remarkable. I don't think a lot of people in the Obama campaign even expected to be contesting it. Again, voter registration way up. African-American voters very enthusiastic for Obama there. And a big Democratic advantage of 800,000 voters over the Republicans.

SMITH: 800,000? That's amazing numbers. They thought -- Obama folks thought they had a little bit of a chance in Georgia, didn't happen, so all those people got on a bus and came up there.

CROWLEY: Literally just drove them up 95 when they decided that Georgia wasn't feasible, so they just concentrated their resources and it's working.

SMITH: And the last time Virginia voted Democratic, I think, was Lyndon Johnson back in 1964.

CROWLEY: Right.

SMITH: How is it possible that that might turn blue?

CROWLEY: We don't know the party numbers, you don't register by party in Virginia, but there's been about a quarter of a million new registrations there. The Obama campaign has been organizing it furiously. And Virginia is a state that's changing. Generally, I think you're seeing some of the kind of people in the northeast sort of moving down the coast.

SMITH: Right.

CROWLEY: Northern Virginia in particular, the suburbs-

SMITH: Well, you have that whole area, the suburban Washington area, right?-

CROWLEY: -the suburban around D.C., much more Democratic.

SMITH: Fairfax yeah, yeah, how about that? Would you imagine then if those three states turned blue in this election, that turns the whole thing on its ear. I mean, you know what the results are by 8:00 or 9:00 on election day.

CROWLEY: Sure, that is a very big win and right now, totally feasible. You got a lead for Obama, toss up, mixed results but some polls have shown Obama in the lead there. It's bad for John McCain. He wasn't hoping to be on the defensive in these states.

SMITH: Michael Crowley, thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

SMITH: We'll be back with more of our map on another day in the not too distant future.

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