CBS ‘Early Show’: McCain is Losing, Sarah Palin to Blame

Harry Smith and Mitt Romney, CBS Continuing the theme that John McCain has lost the election, Monday’s CBS ‘Early Show’ already began the post mortem as co-host Harry Smith declared: "This is the final full week of the 2008 campaign. Barack Obama is pressing in on states that were once GOP strongholds and John McCain is on the defensive about himself and his running mate." Later in the show, Smith interviewed McCain supporter Mitt Romney and asked: "So much time and attention has been spent talking about John McCain's running mate in this -- in this case and, now it's -- they're defending themselves about clothes and all of these other things. One wonders if there's a presidential campaign going on here. Is Sarah Palin, has she turned out to be a drag on this ticket?" In the 7:30AM half hour, co-host Julie Chen did an entire segment on Palin’s fashion purchasing habits.

Following Smith’s interview with Romney, fellow co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, and asked about Palin: "One of the concerns that people have in your state, about Senator McCain, is his choice of running mate. Do you think that if he had chosen someone like, let's say, Mitt Romney, this would be a much tougher battle for Barack Obama?" That gave Kaine the opportunity to bash the Alaska Governor: "When you pick somebody who's in the midst of an ethics investigation in their own state legislature, called by the Republican legislature, you know, there's just going to be surprises, and I think the stories, as they come out about it have raised questions about Senator McCain and kind of his decision-making process." Rodriguez never asked about Obama picking Joe Biden, despite the Delaware Senator's numerous gaffes.

In the Romney interview, Smith asked: "...you're going to meet with John McCain and he's got really eight days to close this deal and literally, certainly, make a case for himself. What is the scenario that has to take place in order for him to overcome what, in some polls, is a double digit lead for Barack Obama?" In contrast, Rodriguez asked Kaine: "You must be a happy camper this morning because you probably saw the Washington Post headline...that says a poll gives Obama an eight-point lead in your state. He's running 52% ahead to John McCain's 44%. Will Barack Obama become the first Democrat to win your state in 44 years?"

Rodriguez did offer one challenging question to the Virginia Governor: "...the Democrats are poised to make great gains in Congress this election. If they also have a Democratic president you will have what amounts to a monopoly. What's your response to that?" Kaine’s response suggested that there’s no need for divided government at all: "Well, I would say that if the American people want to get something done, that's not a bad idea. Divided government gives everybody the ability to not do something and then point the fingers at the other guy and say ‘oh well, we would have done something but the president was going to veto it, or the other house was against us’...So we want action right now and I think that would be the right move for the country."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE

HARRY SMITH: Eight days to go and John McCain claims he is closing in on his rival.

JOHN MCCAIN: You're going to be up very, very late on election night.

SMITH: Does he have enough time to turn it around?

7:05AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Joining us also from Cleveland, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who is meeting with John McCain today. Governor, good morning.

MITT ROMNEY: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: Before we get to talking points, is there a point -- has there been a point in the last couple of weeks where you just said, 'man, do I wish I was on that ticket'?

ROMNEY: All the time. I wanted to be at the top of the ticket, but John McCain, you know, he surprised me and a lot of other people by coming from behind and beating me, beating Rudy Giuliani. You know, he's a guy who knows how to fight all the way to the finish.

SMITH: Yeah. So much time and attention has been spent talking about John McCain's running mate in this -- in this case and, now it's -- they're defending themselves about clothes and all of these other things. One wonders if there's a presidential campaign going on here. Is Sarah Palin, has she turned out to be a drag on this ticket?

ROMNEY: You know, I think for a first-time candidate on the national stage, and I can speak from some experience because I just had that experience, you're subject to the national spotlight. It's more like a national torch, if you will, and she has been able to keep cool under the pressure. I think she, of course, anyone is going to make some mistakes, but net-net she's been a positive addition to the ticket, I think she's fired up the base and is drawing out volunteers.

SMITH: Yeah. Let me ask you this, you're going to meet with John McCain and he's got really eight days to close this deal and literally, certainly, make a case for himself. What is the scenario that has to take place in order for him to overcome what, in some polls, is a double digit lead for Barack Obama?

ROMNEY: Well, some other polls also show it a very, very tight race and that's something that gives us a lot of encouragement. But I think the argument has to be one that connects with the American people, reminding them that in turbulent times, you don't want someone who's just a good charming speaker. You want somebody who has been tested and proven and has the experience to get our economy moving again. And that the course that John McCain sets, low taxes, investment, and energy independence, that's the right course, and Barack Obama's course, which is high taxes on employers and high taxes on corporations, that would prolong a recession and make the future far less bright. So I think that's the closing message.

SMITH: Alright, Governor Mitt Romney, thanks, as always, for your time. Do appreciate it, sir.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Harry.

SMITH: You bet.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Now let's get the Democratic response. Joining us from Richmond, Virginia is Governor Tim Kaine, an Obama supporter. Good morning, Governor.

TIM KAINE: Hey guys, how you doing?

RODRIGUEZ: Very well, thank you. You must be a happy camper this morning because you probably saw the Washington Post headline-

KAINE: Yes.

RODRIGUEZ: -that says a poll gives Obama an eight-point lead in your state. He's running 52% ahead to John McCain's 44%. Will Barack Obama become the first Democrat to win your state in 44 years?

KAINE: Well, we've got a very good chance, but as I've told every group I talk to, since we haven't done it since 1964, we've got to consider ourselves the underdogs until we break that string, but there are good signs for Senator Obama here in Virginia. First, the polling as you mentioned, has been strong. I've not seen a poll where we've been behind since early October. Second, organizationally, the number of offices, volunteers, voter registration, and the advertising on the air, strongly favors Senator Obama now. But most importantly, at the end of the campaign there is an energy and enthusiasm that is palpable for Senator Obama and I'm just not seeing that on the other side. But we have to demonstrate that between now and election day and get everyone out, so we're doing everything we can and leaving no stone unturned.

RODRIGUEZ: One of the concerns that people have in your state about Senator McCain is his choice of running mate. Do you think that if he had chosen someone like, let's say, Mitt Romney, this would be a much tougher battle for Barack Obama?

KAINE: Well, it's just hard to say. You know, there's been a lot of different dynamics. I think that the most salient feature of Senator McCain's pick of Governor Palin was not really Governor Palin, I mean, she is a first-time candidate and I think she's acquitted herself admirably. But the story about how Senator McCain did it. When you pick somebody who's in the midst of an ethics investigation in their own state legislature, called by the Republican legislature, you know, there's just going to be surprises, and I think the stories, as they come out about it have raised questions about Senator McCain and kind of his decision-making process. Those were underlined very deeply by Senator McCain's reaction to the economic crisis.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Kaine-

KAINE: We've got to have somebody who's very steady in leadership and I think Senator Obama has done the unusual thing of now being both the change candidate, but also the steady reassuring candidate.

RODRIGUEZ: I want to get one more question in.

KAINE: Yup.

RODRIGUEZ: She's going to be in your state today and one of the arguments she is likely to make, as we hear John McCain make, is that the Democrats are poised to make great gains in Congress this election. If they also have a Democratic president you will have what amounts to a monopoly. What's your response to that?

KAINE: Well, I would say that if the American people want to get something done, that's not a bad idea. Divided government gives everybody the ability to not do something and then point the fingers at the other guy and say 'oh well, we would have done something but the president was going to veto it, or the other house was against us.' We have a huge crisis, economically, as the news, even of this morning, continues to show, big energy problems, health care challenges, two wars aboard. The American people want to see action. And if you have Democrats in both houses and in the White House, they will be able to look at everybody and say 'we're holding you accountable, you're going to come back for mid-term elections in two years, you better have got something done.' So we want action right now and I think that would be the right move for the country.

RODRIGUEZ: So they'd be willing to take the credit and the blame.

KAINE: Absolutely.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Kaine, thank you.

KAINE: You bet.

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