CBS’s Schieffer Parrot’s WaPo Analysis of Colin Powell Endorsement

Dan Balz, CBS On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer talked to Washington Post reporter Dan Balz about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama and Balz argued: "Well I think it's obviously significant. I don't think endorsements ultimately mean that much, but there are two, I think, important things that happened with his endorsement of Senator Obama...the criticism of McCain for picking Governor Palin as his running mate, he said explicitly he did not think she was ready. This is something that is beginning to become almost a chorus in some parts of the Republican Party."

On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Schieffer offered almost identical analysis of Powell’s endorsement: "Well, I've never thought endorsements are game-changers but this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately...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."

On Face the Nation, Schieffer asked Balz: "He also said that he -- he said 'I've known John McCain for years but I believe his campaign has become too polarizing.' And I thought that was an interesting comment to be coming from Colin Powell." Balz replied: "Well -- and it's a damning criticism, frankly, because John McCain has never been known for that. John McCain has been known as somebody who has reached across party lines. He's obviously worked successfully with a lot of Democrats, been seen as a maverick and an independent minded person. And I think that there are people who believe that the campaign has gone down too narrow a track." That sounds very similar to Schieffer’s observation that Republicans: "...think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive."

Here is the full transcript of the Face the Nation segment:

10:48AM SEGMENT:

BOB SCHIEFFER: And back now for our Campaign Quick Check. Joining us in the studio, my friend Dan Balz of the Washington Post and, man, when did you go on your first trip to cover this campaign, Dan.

DAN BALZ: I think the first trip was in late November of 2006 for the Tom Vilsack announcement for president and the second trip was to New Hampshire about ten days later for Barack Obama's first ever trip to New Hampshire before he had quite decided to run.

SCHIEFFER: I'll ask you what everybody asks me. Have you ever seen one like this?

BALZ: No, I really haven't. I mean, I think that the only one you might compare it to would be '68, two assassinations in that year, that tumultuous riot of a convention in Chicago in '68, but in so many ways this campaign has had things that I don't think any campaign has had in terms of the cast of characters, the twists and turns and frankly the historic nature of what this campaign is about.

SCHIEFFER: It really has. I mean we keep using this word historic, but it really is.

BALZ: It really is.

SCHIEFFER: It was really historic. So, your assessment of Colin Powell's announcement.

BALZ: Well I think it's obviously significant. I don't think endorsements ultimately mean that much, but there are two, I think, important things that happened with his endorsement of Senator Obama. One is to say to people, who have perhaps had questions about it, that he believes he's ready to be president and to be commander-in-chief. Colin Powell obviously speaks with credibility on that issue and I think for people who may be still on the fence wondering about that, there's some reassurance there. I think the other is the criticism of McCain for picking Governor Palin as his running mate, he said explicitly he did not think she was ready. This is something that is beginning to become almost a chorus in some parts of the Republican Party. I think again that will raise questions for people who are undecided.

SCHIEFFER: He also said that he -- he said 'I've known John McCain for years but I believe his campaign has become too polarizing.' And I thought that was an interesting comment to be coming from Colin Powell.

BALZ: Well -- and it's a damning criticism, frankly, because John McCain has never been known for that. John McCain has been known as somebody who has reached across party lines. He's obviously worked successfully with a lot of Democrats, been seen as a maverick and an independent minded person. And I think that there are people who believe that the campaign has gone down too narrow a track.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think it's going to be difficult for John McCain now, when you look at this electoral map? I think we have about nine states that we list at toss-ups at this point. If my adding and analysis is correct, John McCain probably has to win every one of the states we now listed as toss-ups, as well as the ones where he's now the favorite and he probably has to win a couple more that are now leaning toward Obama.

BALZ: He has an almost entirely defensive strategy at this point or defensive need. If you look at where the Republican National Committee is advertising, they're in eight states -- [cough] excuse me -- only one of those is a Democratic state, the rest are all Republican states. In Chicago, the Obama people talk about the 3-2-1 strategy. One state will do it an Ohio or Florida is enough to put him over the top. They're assuming they get Iowa and New Mexico, two states that went for Bush. There's a two-state strategy in which if he wins Virginia he needs only one of those states or a three-state strategy. Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado. They have so many avenues at this point that John McCain, if he tries to plug a leak in one state, there's another elsewhere. What he needs at this point is a general rising of the water in his direction so that some of these states that have looked like they're tilting to Obama become tight again and maybe there will be a sense. But it is a very tough road he's got.

SCHIEFFER: But as you and I know both know, anything can happen in politics. So it's not over until it's over. That's for sure. Dan, thank you very much. And I'm just glad you made it thus far. I didn't know if I would. But It's been quite a campaign.

BALZ: It sure has.

SCHIEFFER: I'm sure you wouldn't have missed it either. Back with the final word in just a minute.

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