CBS’s Smith: ‘Will the Obamas Return to Camelot in the White House?’

John Kennedy and Barack Obama, CBS Continuing the narrative of Barack Obama as John F. Kennedy, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith described how: "As the nation prepares for President-Elect Barack Obama to move into the White House, many Americans can't help but draw similarities between him and the late President John F. Kennedy." Co-host Julie Chen earlier teased the segment: "The new first family has been compared to JFK and Jackie and their young children. Can the Obamas bring that 'one brief shining moment,' that was known as Camelot, back to the White House?"

Smith narrated the segment, which juxtaposed images JFK with Obama: "It was a presidency filled with idealism, glamour, and excitement...A young Senator had been elected to lead his country. Now 47 years later, America has chosen another young Senator." Smith went on:

And the similarities are striking. JFK was 43 when he was inaugurated. Obama is just three years older, bringing a certain youthful vigor to the White House, including, young children. Both Obama and Kennedy were criticized for lacking experience and both knew the power of well-chosen words...Kennedy had more than his share of charisma and Obama knows how to light up a room. But it's their wives who might be the real superstars. Both men overcame significant obstacles to become elected. Anti-Catholic sentiment was still widespread in the country but JFK was elected the first Roman Catholic President of the United States.

Smith concluded: "JFK was, and Obama is, someone who professes great optimism and one of the children of Camelot sees similarities." A clip of Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama was played: "I have never had a candidate who inspires me the way people say that my father inspired them. But I do now! And that candidate is Barack Obama."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:17AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Plus, will the Obamas return to Camelot in the White House?

7:30AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: The new first family has been compared to JFK and Jackie and their young children. Can the Obamas bring that 'one brief shining moment,' that was known as Camelot, back to the White House?

7:41AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: As the nation prepares for President-Elect Barack Obama to move into the White House, many Americans can't help but draw similarities between him and the late President John F. Kennedy. It was a presidency filled with idealism, glamour, and excitement.

JOHN F. KENNEDY: The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.

SMITH: A young Senator had been elected to lead his country. Now 47 years later, America has chosen another young Senator.

BARACK OBAMA: Change has come to America.

SMITH: And the similarities are striking. JFK was 43 when he was inaugurated. Obama is just three years older, bringing a certain youthful vigor to the White House, including, young children. Both Obama and Kennedy were criticized for lacking experience and both knew the power of well-chosen words.

KENNEDY: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

OBAMA: The times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed, 'Yes, we can.'

KENNEDY: I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris and I've enjoyed it.

SMITH: Kennedy had more than his share of charisma and Obama knows how to light up a room. But it's their wives who might be the real superstars. Both men overcame significant obstacles to become elected. Anti-Catholic sentiment was still widespread in the country but JFK was elected the first Roman Catholic President of the United States.

KENNEDY: This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal.

SMITH: And perhaps even Kennedy would have been surprised that four decades after that speech, the first African-American was elected president. JFK was, and Obama is, someone who professes great optimism and one of the children of Camelot sees similarities.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: I have never had a candidate who inspires me the way people say that my father inspired them. But I do now! And that candidate is Barack Obama.

SMITH: This notion of Camelot, though, was never invoked during the actual presidency. It wasn't until the president had been assassinated that his widow, in an interview with Theodore White, said 'I want people to remember this one bright shining moment,' which is a line, literally, from the play itself, which happened to open in 1960.

JULIE CHEN: Wow. Alright.

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