CBS ‘Early Show’ Wonders: ‘Is the Reid Story Over?’

Harry Smith and Leslie Sanchez, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith followed President Obama’s lead by wondering if it was time to move on from the Harry Reid racial controversy, as he asked Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez and Democrat Dee Dee Myers: “Is the Reid story over and should it be?”

Sanchez rejected the notion that the story, which just broke over weekend, was over: “I think it’s just the beginning. It’s actually compounding....you look at his declining poll numbers in his state, declining support for health care reform, and overall his ineffectiveness in leadership.” Predictably, Myers took the opposite view: “Yeah, it’s pretty much over and it should be. Senator Reid has apologized....African-American leaders across the country have been largely supportive, including the President....he has been an effective leader. He’s gotten health care further than any Senate Majority Leader in 50 years.”

In a prior report, correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: “...the President needs Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid working at full steam if he wants to pass a health care bill quickly....that’s one of the reasons that he’s giving the leader some very high profile defense.” A clip was played of Obama arguing: “This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history....for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense.”

At the top of the segment, Smith reported the latest CBS News poll, showing Obama’s approval rating continuing to fall: “We start this morning with some bad poll numbers for President Obama. A new CBS News poll says 46% of Americans approve of how the President is doing his job. It is the first time on the CBS poll that his approval ratings have dropped below 50%.”

Smith later asked Sanchez and Myers about the poll numbers: “...this recession is this president’s recession and the recovery, if and, or when it happen, he’ll be able to take credit for that, too. 46% in a year, that’s a pretty precipitous drop. Is there anything...this president can do to change that number?” Myers admitted: “You’re right, this is no longer seen as President Bush’s economy. It’s now President Obama’s economy. And he needs to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Smith turned to Sanchez, adding: “...are Republicans chomping at the bit... are they salivating looking at a number like this one year after this president has taken office?” Sanchez replied: “...voters gave the President the benefit of the doubt in putting forward economic policies that would get the economy moving. He’s proven that those were poor choices....It’s very alarming and people are showing it in the polls.”

At the end of the segment, Smith asked about Sarah Palin becoming a Fox News contributor and the impact on her political career. Sanchez observed: “ I think she’s actually taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan play book. It’s something he did in 1976 to 1980. He had a radio show....It’s a good platform and could lead her down the road to 2012.” Myers agreed: “...it keeps her in front of the public, particularly a Republican base that already loves her. Gives her a chance to flesh out positions and stay visible.”

Here is a full transcript of the segment:
7:00AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: President Obama accepts Senator Reid’s apology, but he’s got his own problems. For the first time the President’s approval rating has dipped below 50%, we’ll have the latest CBS News poll.
                
7:00AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: We start this morning with some bad poll numbers for President Obama. A new CBS News poll says 46% of Americans approve of how the President is doing his job. It is the first time on the CBS poll that his approval ratings have dropped below 50%. And the President is still dealing with fallout from Senator Harry Reid’s comments. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes is in Washington with more. Nancy, Good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Harry. And the President needs Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid working at full steam if he wants to pass a health care bill quickly and try to bring those numbers back up. That’s one of the reasons that he’s giving the leader some very high profile defense.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Reid Ruckus; Obama Accepts Senator’s Apology]

BARACK OBAMA: This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history.

CORDES: President Obama made it clear he’s standing by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

OBAMA: For him to have used some in-artful language in trying to praise me and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense.

CORDES: A host of African-American leaders have rallied to Reid’s defense, as well, arguing that despite his poor choice of words, Reid was unfortunately correct when he told the authors of the new book ‘Game Change’ back in 2008 that Barack Obama had a real shot at the presidency because he was a, quote, ‘light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.’

HARRY REID: I’ve apologized to the President, I’ve apologized to everyone within the sound of my voice that could I have used a better choice of words.

CORDES: Reid likely won’t bow to Republican demands that he relinquish his leadership post. Not with the White House and Democratic establishment standing firmly in his corner as they try to turn the focus back to health care reform. Reid, who is 70 years old, is a former boxer. He always describes himself as a fighter and he says that he has apologized now and he just wants to move on. He also says he’s not going to back down from a tough re-election fight in Nevada, where he is currently trailing badly. Harry.

SMITH: Nancy Cordes in Washington this morning, thank you. Joining us also from Washington, Democratic strategist Dee Dee Myers and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez. Good morning to you both.

DEE DEE MYERS: Good morning.

LESLIE SANCHEZ: Good morning.

SMITH: Let me start with you, Leslie. Is the Reid story over and should it be?

SANCHEZ: Not at all. I think it’s just the beginning. It’s actually compounding. Now look – you look at his declining poll numbers in his state, declining support for health care reform, and overall his ineffectiveness in leadership. Yes, they’re moving forward with health care reform, but overall, it’s dismantling in terms of the public – the public support of these efforts. I think it’s nothing but a signal-

SMITH: Dee Dee Myers, let me ask you the same question. Is the Reid story over and should be?.

MYERS: Yeah, it’s pretty much over and it should be. Senator Reid has apologized. I think it’s important, even in Washington, to sometimes apply some context here. African-American leaders across the country have been largely supportive, including the President. Most importantly, the President. Senator Reid – his approval rating is – from the NAACP for example over many years, is 100%. He’s somebody who’s been on the right side of the major issues of concern to the civil rights movement. He’s not going anywhere. He is in a tough re-election at home, though, unrelated to these comments. But he has been an effective leader. He’s gotten health care further than any Senate Majority Leader in 50 years. So we’ll see what happens.

SMITH: Let’s talk about these poll numbers then. First, Dee Dee, whether or not he likes it, this recession is this president’s recession and the recovery, if and, or when it happen, he’ll be able to take credit for that, too. 46% in a year, that’s a pretty precipitous drop. Is there anything, Dee Dee, this president can do to change that number?

MYERS: Well, it is a precipitous drop and obviously unsettling to the White House. I think what the President needs to do, and what he’s trying to do, is finish health care and move on to a greater focus on the economy. It’s very hard to for any president to stay popular when the unemployment is at 10%, that’s just a fact of life. You’re right, this is no longer seen as President Bush’s economy. It’s now President Obama’s economy. And he needs to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.

SMITH: Leslie, do – are Republicans chomping at the bit, are they just – are they salivating looking at a number like this one year after this president has taken office?

SANCHEZ: Let’s be fair about this. Republicans, like all Americans, are concerned about getting this economy back on track. A lot – voters gave the President the benefit of the doubt in putting forward economic policies that would get the economy moving. He’s proven that those were poor choices. I think you’re seeing poor support with health care reform, poor support with his increased spending, the increases in deficits. It’s very alarming and people are showing it in the polls. But overall, I think the sentiment is frustration with Washington and let’s move forward with policies that spark the economy.

SMITH: Alright Leslie, very quickly, Sarah Palin takes a job at Fox. Does this mean she’s not going to run for president or does this mean she’s going to use Fox as a platform to run for – a launching pad to run for president?

SANCHEZ: It’s more of the latter, I think she’s actually taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan play book. It’s something he did in 1976 to 1980. He had a radio show. She’ll have tremendous support, a lot of primary Republican voters watch Fox News. And she’s going to be able to hopefully put together some cogent ideas on domestic policy issues, foreign policy. It’s a good platform and could lead her down the road to 2012.

SMITH: And Dee Dee, your opinion, very quickly?

MYERS: I totally agree with Leslie. She’s keeping her options open. I don’t think this means she’s in or out of the presidential race, but it keeps her in front of the public, particularly a Republican base that already loves her. Gives her a chance to flesh out positions and stay visible.

SMITH: Alright, Dee Dee, thank you so much. Leslie, do appreciate it. Have a good morning, guys.

MYERS: Thanks, you too.

SANCHEZ: Thank you.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC