CBS’s Logan Gushes Over Egyptian ‘Excitement’ For Obama Speech

Harry Smith and Lara Logan, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Lara Logan described President Obama’s upcoming speech in Egypt’s capital as if it were a campaign stop: "...everywhere you go in this city it's what everybody is talking about...The one word that keeps coming up over and over is excitement. There is definitely a lot of anticipation about this visit...very excited that he chose Cairo."

Logan was responding to co-host Harry Smith asking about the speech during a segment outlining Obama’s trip to the region: "Is there a way to measure the anticipation there for this speech?" Logan did acknowledge some opposition: "And I mean, although there are the detractors, there are extremists, they are small in number. Most of the people that we've encountered, everyone we've spoken to, says that people have great expectations." Logan fretted those "great expectations" would be Obama’s biggest challenge: "...the only concern is that there may be too much expectation riding on the shoulders of one man, because hopes here are extremely high."

After Smith wondered about security in Cairo for the speech, Logan exclaimed: "The campus itself -- we are here at the university where President Obama will deliver his speech. This is an incredible venue. No American president has ever given a speech like this here before."

At the top of the show, Smith described Obama’s Mideast trip as "his most sensitive foreign mission" and "a trip designed to repair relations with the Muslim world." Before talking to Logan, Smith declared: "One of the highlights of the President's trip is a speech in Cairo where he is aiming to reshape America's relationship with the Muslim world."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: President Barack Obama starts his most sensitive foreign mission today. Touching down in Saudi Arabia on a trip designed to repair relations with the Muslim world.

7:09AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: President Barack Obama begins his trip to the Middle East today and we've got it covered. Our CBS News correspondents Chip Reid and Lara Logan are standing by in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. First to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. President Obama is beginning his trip in that city. CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid is there. Good morning, Chip.

CHIP REID: Good morning, Harry. The President is scheduled to touch down here in Riyadh in a matter of minutes for what the White House says is a continuing effort to reach out to the Muslim world. The President left Washington Tuesday evening for the 12-hour flight to Riyadh, where he'll spend about three hours in meetings with King Abdullah at his horse farm. The two met in April at the G-20 summit in London, and the President says he and the King already have a good relationship. That could come in handy since Mr. Obama says he intends to tell the head of this oil-rich nation that the U.S. needs to begin weaning itself away from oil because of global warming. The President will also be looking for help kick-starting the stalled Middle East peace process. But the relationship between the two countries is a tortured one according to analyst Michael O'Hanlon, who says expectations for this meeting are low.

MICHAEL O’HANLON: Well, I think the fact that he's going to be there only a short time is consistent with the reality that he can't get much done, no matter how long he stays.

REID: From Riyadh the President heads to Cairo, Egypt, where he'll give what the White House is calling a major speech reaching out to the Muslim world. Today, the number two man in Al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri, in a taped message, urged Egypt to reject President Barack Obama and called Egyptian officials who welcome him, quote, ‘slaves.’ The President is scheduled to be here on the ground in Saudi Arabia only about 16 hours. And that includes overnighting at the King's horse farm. Back to you.

SMITH: Chip Reid in Riyadh this morning, thanks. One of the highlights of the President's trip is a speech in Cairo where he is aiming to reshape America's relationship with the Muslim world. Let's go to Cairo now and CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. Good morning, Lara.

LARA LOGAN: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: Is there a way to measure the anticipation there for this speech?

LOGAN: It's not very difficult, Harry, because everywhere you go in this city it's what everybody is talking about. And I mean, although there are the detractors, there are extremists, they are small in number. Most of the people that we've encountered, everyone we've spoken to, says that people have great expectations. The one word that keeps coming up over and over is excitement. There is definitely a lot of anticipation about this visit. People are very interested in what President Obama is going to say, very excited that he chose Cairo for this venue. And in fact, the only concern is that there may be too much expectation riding on the shoulders of one man, because hopes here are extremely high.

SMITH: What do people there want to hear?

LOGAN: Well, first and foremost, is the Israeli/Arab/Palestinian question. And people here say it's not enough just to have words. They want some concrete sign from Obama that there is a real commitment to resolving this process. That it's going to happen early in his administration. And they would like to hear about real steps that he intends to take to bring this to a resolution. They are tired of this. It's gone on far too long. And they believe that none of the other problems in the Middle East can be solved unless you first deal with the issue of a Palestinian state.

SMITH: And what of security there? It must be unbelievable.

LOGAN: Security is unbelievable. In fact, so much so that many people are being encouraged to stay home in Cairo. This is a huge city, 20 Million people. And it's always congested. Traffic is always bad. It's going to be even worse with so many of the roads closed. The campus itself -- we are here at the university where President Obama will deliver his speech. This is an incredible venue. No American president has ever given a speech like this here before. There are some 150,000 students normally on this campus alone, Harry. It's over 100 years old, this university. Only 2,500 students will be at the speech tomorrow, but there will definitely – already security is very tight. It's difficult to move around. And that is only going to get worse.

SMITH: Alright, Lara Logan in Cairo this morning. Thank you so much. We'll be in touch. And we'll have more of Lara's special report tonight on the Evening News with Katie Couric.

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