CBS: McCain Still Attacking Obama, Palin Still A ‘Drag’ On Ticket

Harry Smith and Jeff Glor, CBS At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the presidential campaign and continued to portray Barack Obama as the victim of John McCain’s attacks: "Meanwhile, the campaigns were making their closing arguments, with special emphasis on the arguing part...John McCain backers have launched an array of new attacks on Barack Obama, including more robocalls." Glor then skipped over any of Obama’s robocalls and instead delcared: "The Obama campaign's relentless responses come quickly." Glor then played a clip of the "response": "John McCain wants to tear Barack Obama down, with scare tactics and smears."

Following Glor’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the candidates’ chances in Pennsylvania with former Republican Governor Tom Ridge and current Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. Rodriguez began by asking Ridge: "Last week you said that you thought that McCain would be faring much better in your state had he chosen you as a running mate. Sarah Palin certainly is trying really hard, she's been there 11 times, four more times today. Do you think she's been a drag on the ticket in your state?" Ridge responded by correcting Rodriguez’s mis-characterization of his comments: "Well, first of all, I said that Senator McCain chose a vice presidential candidate not to win one state, but someone who had appeal across the board in all fifty states. It would be like saying would Senator Obama be doing even better in Pennsylvania if he had Ed Rendell as a running mate, I suspect he would."

In contrast, Rodriguez asked Rendell if Obama would be a victim of rascism: "...polls show in the state that Barack Obama has a commanding lead there. But there's been a lot of talk about race in this race, especially on election day. Do you believe that race was a factor when your friend Hillary Clinton won the primary there? And do you think it'll be a factor one week from today?" Meanwhile, the Early Show did not report on comments made by Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who referred to western Pennsylvania voters as racist.

Rodriguez turned back to Ridge and asked: "...yesterday Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens was convicted on corruption, do you think that this will at all effect the McCain-Palin race?" At the very end of the segment, Rendell picked up on Rodriguez’s first question to Ridge, remarking: "And Tom Ridge should've been the vice presidential choice, he's too modest to say."

Following Rodriguez’s interview with Ridge and Rendell, she turned to correspondent Bill Plante, who reported on McCain’s chances: "Now, most polls have John McCain down anywhere from 3 to 13 points, a week before election day. Now McCain has been counted out before and comeback, but can do it? What are his chances by next Tuesday?" Plante got analysis from American University professor James Thurber, who explained: "It's rare at this stage, 8 days out, that candidates will come from behind and win."

While Thurber and Plante cited some recent historical examples of political comebacks, Plante concluded the segment by observing: "But this year, early voting means that the choices of millions of voters are already locked in." Thurber added: "If some event occurs in the next 8 days to help McCain, he may still lose, because a whole lot of people have already voted for Obama." Plante continued: "And there's another problem, there aren't that many undecided voters left, maybe 5%. So a McCain comeback is possible, but it would take a very large swing of already committed voters."

Here is the full transcript of Glor’s report and Rodriguez’s interview:

7:00AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Seven days to go and the race intensifies.

JOHN MCCAIN: Senator Obama's running to be redistributionist-in-chief, I'm running to be commander-in-chief.

RODRIGUEZ: We'll take you to the one state that could decide it all.

7:01AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Alright, let's get right to our top story this morning, we're now in the home stretch, election day one week from today. The final push for both John McCain and Barack Obama centers on key battleground states, most noticeably, Pennsylvania. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor is in Hershey, Pennsylvania with more this morning. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF GLOR: Harry, good morning to you. And your right, this state is turning out to be hugely important, maybe even more so for John McCain. He'll be in Hershey today here, while Barack Obama's only a couple hours away, outside Philadelphia. As both candidates begin a final week of campaigning, there was the news that two self-described white supremacists in Tennessee were arrested and charged in a scheme to assassinate Barack Obama and murder dozens of African American students. A plot Obama addressed on camera.

BARACK OBAMA: You know, look, I think what's been striking in this campaign is the degree to which these kinds of hate groups have been completely marginalized, that's not who America is, that's not what our future is.

GLOR: Meanwhile, the campaigns were making their closing arguments, with special emphasis on the arguing part.

JOHN MCCAIN: Senator Obama's running to be redistributionist-in-chief, I'm running to be commander-in-chief.

OBAMA: The plain truth is, is that John McCain has stood with George Bush every step of the way.

GLOR: John McCain backers have launched an array of new attacks on Barack Obama, including more robocalls.

[CLIP OF MCCAIN ROBOCALL]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Obama and Democrats' politics endanger American lives. They are not qualified to lead our military and our country.

GLOR: The Obama campaign's relentless responses come quickly.

[CLIP OF OBAMA AD]

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: John McCain wants to tear Barack Obama down, with scare tactics and smears.

GLOR: But while the two men's messages do not cover the same ground, their feet do.

OBAMA: Pittsburgh I've got two words for you, one week.

GLOR: Both are running laps around the rust belt.

MCCAIN: Let's start out with the message tonight we need to win Pennsylvania and we're going to win Pennsylvania.

GLOR: And for McCain, no state is getting more attention than Pennsylvania, where he's behind. Just look at the numbers, from the day each clinched their nomination, McCain has spent 25 days in Pennsylvania, Obama 7. Sarah Palin's been here 11 times since joining the ticket, Joe Biden, 6. Seemingly bracing for the possibility that they may lose some of the states that George Bush won four years ago, the McCain campaign believes that snatching Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes could make up the difference and provide them a narrow uphill path to victory. Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: CBS's Jeff Glor, thank you, Jeff. It's time now for a little 'R & R' as in Ridge and Rendell, two men hard at work trying to deliver Pennsylvania to their candidates. In Hershey, campaigning with Senator McCain, is former Republican Governor Tom Ridge, and in Philadelphia, current Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat. Good morning, Governors.

ED RENDELL: Good morning.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Ridge let me-

TOM RIDGE: Morning, Maggie. Morning, Ed.

RODRIGUEZ: Good morning. Let me begin with you Governor Ridge. Last week you said that you thought that McCain would be fairing much better in your state had he chosen you as a running mate. Sarah Palin certainly is trying really hard, she's been there 11 times, four more times today. Do you think she's been a drag on the ticket in your state?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, I said that Senator McCain chose a vice presidential candidate not to win one state, but someone who had appeal across the board in all fifty states. It would be like saying would Senator Obama be doing even better in Pennsylvania if he had Ed Rendell as a running mate, I suspect he would. So at the end of the day, it's really not about vice presidential candidates, it's about presidential candidates, and John McCain's record of reform, his record of bipartisanship, his willingness to bring fiscal discipline to Washington, and to cut taxes, is the message that resonates around Pennsylvania.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Rendell, polls show in the state that Barack Obama has a commanding lead there. But there's been a lot of talk about race in this race, especially on election day. Do you believe that race was a factor when your friend Hillary Clinton won the primary there? And do you think it'll be a factor one week from today?

RENDELL: No and no. I think Hillary Clinton won the primary here because she ran a great campaign, appealed to Pennsylvanians everywhere, from the Philadelphia suburbs, which she carried, to the blue collar parts of coal mining areas. And I don't think it'll be a factor, if it ever was, and certainly some people might consider it, I said it might be a factor in some voters minds. I think the economy has trumped it. When the economy is this bad, people don't care what race, or religion, or ethnic background, or where the candidate comes from, they want to know what the candidate can do to get the economy revitalized. And Senator Obama's cool, collected, reasoned approach contrasted with Senator McCain, who's first opening was that the fundamentals of the economy are still sound. People shook their heads and said 'that guy just doesn't get it, Senator Obama does' and race ceased to become a factor. And that's when the polls went up dramatically for Senator Obama.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Ridge, yesterday Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens was convicted on corruption, do you think that this will at all effect the McCain-Palin race?

RIDGE: Not -- absolutely not. I mean, at the end of the day, I think, Ed identified the issue that's going to drive much of the voting patterns throughout Pennsylvania and around the country, and that's the economy. And I think if you take a look particularly at a battleground state like Pennsylvania, they don't their political cars in the far left lane. I mean, I think on some of these issues, Senator Obama, as Senator Clinton pointed out, is probably even outside the mainstream of his own party, and if you get a President Obama with a Senator Reid and a Speaker Pelosi, and a vice president who says it's your patriotic duty to pay more taxes. I don't think Pennsylvanians think that they're under-taxed, I don't think they're prepared to pay more taxes and they certainly don't want a Supreme Court who -- with activist judges who take it upon their responsibility to bring economic justice with redistributing the wealth. The job is to create wealth, that's what presidents do, not to share it or redistribute it and I think John's plan focusing on the energy sector, giving incentives for small business, research and development tax credits, linking all those together to drive us out of this economic mess. As well as leading the world with an experienced man in the area of military and foreign policy, fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The combination of an experience tested leader is exactly what Pennsylvanians are looking for-

RODRIGUEZ: Alright-

RIDGE: -and I suspect, will vote for, on election day.

RODRIGUEZ: Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, we have to leave it there, at least you both agree on who should win the World Series, right?

RENDELL: And Tom-

RIDGE: Yes we do.

RENDELL: And Tom Ridge should've been the vice presidential choice, he's too modest to say.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, thank you, Governors.

 

Here is the full transcript of Plante’s report:

7:08AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Now we turn to the issue of comebacks, specifically a possible one from John McCain. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, is in Washington. Bill, good morning.

BILL PLANTE: Morning to you, Maggie. Now, most polls have John McCain down anywhere from 3 to 13 points, a week before election day. Now McCain has been counted out before and comeback, but can do it? What are his chances by next Tuesday?

JAMES THURBER: It's rare at this stage, 8 days out, that candidates will come from behind and win.

PLANTE: But it's happened before, in 1980, Ronald Reagan trailed Jimmy Carter in the polls but surged ahead in the last week, following their only debate.

THURBER: He turned the election into a referendum on Carter and what Carter had done in the previous four years.

PLANTE: In 1968, Hubert Humphrey almost overtook Richard Nixon.

THURBER: Promising to get out of the war in Vietnam and that got a lot of people excited about him and he almost won.

PLANTE: Al Gore was down by 12 points in 2000 and came back to win the popular vote, though not the election. So what would it take in 2008?

THURBER: What it would take is to have a clear strategy, theme, and message by McCain on the economy and have people believe in it.

PLANTE: But this year, early voting means that the choices of millions of voters are already locked in.

THURBER: If some event occurs in the next 8 days to help McCain, he may still lose, because a whole lot of people have already voted for Obama.

PLANTE: And there's another problem, there aren't that many undecided voters left, maybe 5%. So a McCain comeback is possible, but it would take a very large swing of already committed voters. Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: CBS's Bill Plante, thank you, Bill.

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