CBS’s Schieffer: Colin Powell ‘Saying Aloud What a Lot of Republicans Are Saying Privately’

On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: "To hear Colin Powell say that he's not sure John McCain can handle the economy, he's not sure if Sarah Palin is qualified, he doesn't like the nasty tone of this campaign, how significant was that, Bob?" Schieffer replied: "...this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately. Things seem to be breaking his way. This just adds to the momentum."

Rodriguez then followed up by wondering: "What do you think privately the McCain campaign is making of this endorsement?" At that point, Schieffer proclaimed: "Well, I'm sure they don't like it but, you know, this is -- what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive. I think Colin Powell said aloud yesterday what some Republicans, at least, are saying privately." [audio excerpt here]

To her credit, Rodriguez did make mention of tightening national polls: "Barack Obama raised $150 million last month, Bob, but even so, the polls show that his lead is actually shrinking. John McCain is saying ‘I still have a chance here.’" Schieffer admitted: "Well -- oh, I think John McCain does still have a chance." But he quickly added: "As for that money, though...That is just a staggering sum. Think of this. $150 million raised in one month... Money is still an overwhelming factor in politics. This was a very important thing that happened."

While teasing the segment at the top of the show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge observed: "Incredible to hear Colin Powell say that John McCain's campaign not only bad for the country, but also bad for the country's reputation around the world." While introducing a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, which proceeded the discussion with Schieffer, Rodriguez announced: "...as we begin the final two weeks of the presidential race, Barack Obama's campaign is stronger than ever."

In his report, Glor furthered the theme of the race being over: "Barack Obama's front running campaign was propelled by three more big numbers over the weekend. 150 million, the staggering amount his campaign raised in September...A hundred thousand, the number of people Obama drew to a St. Louis rally on Saturday...And finally, one, as in the one endorsement that got everybody's attention, from Republican Colin Powell...Who called Obama's campaign ‘transformative.’" Glor went on to describe Powell’s endorsement: "Powell denied making the pick based on race, but did knock the McCain campaign, insisting attacks on Obama were over the top and indicating Sarah Palin is under-qualified."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: The last two full weeks, as the presidential race leads into the final stretch and Obama picks up a coveted endorsement.

Bob Schieffer, CBS COLIN POWELL: I think he is a transformational figure and for that reason, I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

RODRIGUEZ: But can Colin Powell's choice make a difference?

7:01AM TEASE:

RODRIGUEZ: Hard to believe it's 15 days till election day after this long year.

CHRIS WRAGGE: Incredible, incredible.

RODRIGUEZ: We only have two weeks and it would appear that things are working out for Barack Obama. He got this coveted endorsement from Colin Powell, he raised a record $150 million last month, but the polls show that his lead is actually shrinking and John McCain says don't count me out just yet.

WRAGGE: Incredible to hear Colin Powell say that John McCain's campaign not only bad for the country, but also bad for the country's reputation around the world.

7:02AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first, as we begin the final two weeks of the presidential race, Barack Obama's campaign is stronger than ever. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor's in St. Louis. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF GLOR: Hey Maggie, good morning to you. One of the reasons we're here in St. Louis is because Missouri is a state that's voted for the winner in 25 of the last 26 presidential elections. Both campaigns want to win here, both campaign's think they can win here. John McCain will be here today and Barack Obama just left. Barack Obama's front running campaign was propelled by three more big numbers over the weekend. 150 million, the staggering amount his campaign raised in September, almost half of what John Kerry raised in his entire campaign four years ago. A hundred thousand, the number of people Obama drew to a St. Louis rally on Saturday.

BARACK OBAMA: What a spectacular sight.

GLOR: And finally, one, as in the one endorsement that got everybody's attention, from Republican Colin Powell.

COLIN POWELL: I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama.

GLOR: Who called Obama's campaign 'transformative.'

POWELL: I think Senator Obama has captured the feelings of the young people of America and is reaching out in a more diverse, inclusive way across our society today.

GLOR: Powell denied making the pick based on race, but did knock the McCain campaign, insisting attacks on Obama were over the top and indicating Sarah Palin is under-qualified.

POWELL: Now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.

GLOR: McCain, calling Powell a friend, said the endorsement wasn't a surprise. And embraced the game of catch-up he's now playing.

JOHN MCCAIN: Are we behind? Sure. I'm the underdog. We're going to be in a tight race and we're going to be up late on election night.

GLOR: Palin, in Roswell, New Mexico, took a different approach. Charging Obama's economic policies were alien to the American way of life.

SARAH PALIN: Friends, now is no time to experiment with socialism.

GLOR: We mentioned that John McCain will be here in St. Louis today. Barack Obama will be campaigning with Hillary Clinton in Florida. Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: They're going after the bellwethers. CBS's Jeff Glor in St. Louis, thank you. Joining us now is Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation. Good morning, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Morning, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: To hear Colin Powell say that he's not sure John McCain can handle the economy, he's not sure if Sarah Palin is qualified, he doesn't like the nasty tone of this campaign, how significant was that, Bob?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I've never thought endorsements are game-changers but this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately. Things seem to be breaking his way. This just adds to the momentum. I don't think it's going to change the election in any way, but I think it's very good news for him.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you think privately the McCain campaign is making of this endorsement?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm sure they don't like it but, you know, this is -- what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive. I think Colin Powell said aloud yesterday what some Republicans, at least, are saying privately.

RODRIGUEZ: Barack Obama raised $150 million last month, Bob, but even so, the polls show that his lead is actually shrinking. John McCain is saying 'I still have a chance here.'

SCHIEFFER: Well -- oh, I think John McCain does still have a chance. As for that money, though, and what you saw yesterday, I mean, given the endorsement, given a choice between the endorsement and the money, I think Barack Obama, and I think most politicians, would take the money. That is just a staggering sum. Think of this. $150 million raised in one month. The previous record was $66 million raised the month before and it, too, was raised by Barack Obama. Money is still an overwhelming factor in politics. This was a very important thing that happened.

RODRIGUEZ: I like the quote in the Wall Street Journal this morning. Someone said that John McCain is 'in a shouting match with a man who has a megaphone.' That's tough to compete with.

SCHIEFFER: It's going to be very, very difficult. I think the McCain campaign has made a command decision that the best chance they now have is simply to convince voters that Barack Obama is a far left, big government liberal, who's going to raise their taxes and John McCain is not. Now, the Obama people will tell you that is flat out wrong on all counts, but from what you hear and what you were hearing all day yesterday, that seems to be the attack that John McCain will take in these last days.

RODRIGUEZ: Bob Schieffer, always appreciate you being on. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Maggie.

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