CBS on Obama Victory: ‘New Era,’ ‘A Privilege,’ ‘Breath-Taking,’ ‘Euphoria’

Maggie Rodriguez, CBS The co-hosts of Wednesday’s "CBS Early Show" used as many glowing adjectives as they could think of in reporting Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, with Harry Smith leading the way:

"America votes for change. Barack Obama elected the 44th President of the United States after a decisive victory over John McCain. The nation opens a new era, a powerful moment in history."

Maggie Rodriguez described what it was like to be at Obama’s victory speech in Chicago: "I have to say that to be here last night for that moment was to live history, it was a privilege...the sea of waving American flags and feeling the euphoria and the emotion that was emanating from that crowd here last night...a chilling victory speech, it -- it left people here just speechless, it was breath-taking."

Smith later shared his own experience of crowd "euphoria": "I was actually in Times Square for a while last night, and it was amazing as the results came up on to the screen, state by state by state, the crowds erupted in various states of euphoria." Correspondent Jeff Glor continued the theme as he reported: "...we watched the results come in, we watched the crowd react... eventually as the final results came in, go from a chant of 'Yes We Can' to 'Yes We Did'...when Barack Obama got the nod, the raw emotion of the moment was too much for many Americans." Glor later observed: "Obama's victory speech was reserved, not rousing, perhaps by design, delivered by a man who prides himself on keeping cool, no matter how good or bad the news."

As NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein earlier reported, co-host Julie Chen also shared her thoughts on Obama’s victory: "...it was so moving last night. You couldn't help but feel so emotional...And what was most inspiring to me was when Barack Obama was addressing that huge crowd out there in Chicago, was watching such a diverse group of faces, all with so much hope in their eyes. That made me feel really good."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

BARACK OBAMA: Because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

HARRY SMITH: America votes for change. Barack Obama elected the 44th President of the United States after a decisive victory over John McCain. The nation opens a new era, a powerful moment in history.

7:01AM TEASE:

SMITH: This is the picture from Grant Park last night as more than a hundred thousand people poured out of the streets and into this place to hear the words of the President-Elect Barack Obama, who will become the 44th President of the United States. Morning everybody. Morning, Maggie.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Harry, Julie, good morning to you. I have to say that to be here last night for that moment was to live history, it was a privilege. And a couple of things are etched in my mind. First of all, looking back at this empty field and remembering just the sea of waving American flags and feeling the euphoria and the emotion that was emanating from that crowd here last night. And of course, watching the president-elect, one who looks like none ever has before, deliver a chilling victory speech, it -- it left people here just speechless, it was breath-taking. And I have to say, though, that even though this night belonged to Barack Obama, Julie and Harry, I've also heard enormous respect for the way that John McCain bowed out of this, himself noting the historical significance of an Obama victory and vowing to work with him in the years to come, which was so encouraging, and I thought perfect punctuation to this historic election.

JULIE CHEN: Yeah, it was so moving last night. You couldn't help but feel so emotional and I agree with you, I think John McCain did a really classy job in his speech, in acknowledging Barack's big win. And what was most inspiring to me was when Barack Obama was addressing that huge crowd out there in Chicago, was watching such a diverse group of faces, all with so much hope in their eyes. That made me feel really good.

SMITH: Alright, we've got lots to do this morning, let's get right to our election -- [no audio]. This was the picture in Times Square, I was actually in Times Square for a while last night, and it was amazing as the results came up on to the screen, state by state by state, the crowds erupted in various states of euphoria. And we'll have lots to get to and a lot to talk about this morning.

7:02AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Let's get to our election results. It was a record turnout, more than 130 million Americans voted and Barack Obama won the popular vote by a comfortable margin, 52% to 47%. The electoral vote turned into a landslide, 349 for Obama, 163 for McCain. Obama maintained control of the usual Democratic strongholds and won some key battleground states. Obama was the easy winner in places like Pennsylvania, surprisingly also, in Ohio. He won Nevada, Colorado, and even eked out a victory in Virginia, which has not voted Democratic in more than 40 years. Let's go back to Chicago, here's Maggie.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Harry and Julie, I want to show you some local headlines from the president-elect's hometown of Chicago. From the Chicago Sun Times this morning, on the cover, a photo of Barack Obama and the words 'Mr. President.' And now from the Chicago Tribune, it is a full page shouting 'It's Obama!' and showing a photo of the crowd here reacting to the news that he had won. 150,000 people gathered inside and around Grant Park behind me, to be here to witness this historic moment. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor and I were among them. We sat right on this very platform, got here early in the evening and left early in the morning.

JEFF GLOR: Yeah, we watched the results come in, we watched the crowd react. And we watched this crowd last night, Maggie, eventually as the final results came in, go from a chant of 'Yes We Can' to 'Yes We Did.' It was a day that was going to become a historic night, no matter which ticket won. Still, when Barack Obama got the nod, the raw emotion of the moment was too much for many Americans.

BARACK OBAMA: America, we have come so far, we have seen so much, but there's so much more to do.

GLOR: The president-elect took the stage in Chicago at 11 local time.

OBAMA: At this defining moment, change has come to America.

GLOR: Earlier in the night, got his first sizable slice of good news when Pennsylvania became the first battleground called in his favor.

KATIE COURIC: CBS News now projects Barack Obama will win the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

GLOR: Next, Ohio, an ominous sign, making it increasingly unlikely McCain would win.

COURIC: We can now tell you that CBS News can project Barack Obama has won the state of Ohio.

GLOR: While other crucial states like Indiana and North Carolina remain too close to call, the race was decided for good when the west coast weighed in and a winner was appointed.

COURIC: Because of victories in California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii, CBS projects that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois will be the next President of the United States.

GLOR: Obama's victory speech was reserved, not rousing, perhaps by design, delivered by a man who prides himself on keeping cool, no matter how good or bad the news.

OBAMA: The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight, that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.

GLOR: While McCain, addressing a solemn crowd, pledged his support.

JOHN MCCAIN: Tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all it's citizens. Whether they supported me or Senator Obama, I wish God's speed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.

GLOR: From coast to coast, north to south, the nation reacted.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everyone is so excited, and so happy, and so ready for change.

GLOR: And Maggie, it's worth mentioning, as you've noted off the top, as many people have noted, the grace and dignity of John McCain's speech in Arizona, really interesting to watch that as well as Obama's speech that followed.

RODRIGUEZ: And the point that you made in your piece, I've heard more than one people mention that they felt Obama's speech didn't have enough excitement to fit the occasion, but you think it was absolutely by design.

GLOR: I think it's in keeping with his character of he says, ‘not getting too high when times are good and not getting too low when times are bad.’ He realizes the challenges the country faces and I think he's ready to head right in.

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