CBS's Rodriguez: 'Undignified' Obama 'Offering No Evidence' of GOP Taking Foreign Money

Grilling Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez questioned President Obama attacking Republicans over unproven claims of accepting foreign campaign donations: "Why did he spend so much time talking about the Republicans trying to steal the election? Offering no evidence of that. Isn't it a bit undignified for the President to resort to that?"
 
The Democratic governor attempted to defend the President: "Well, the President's got dual roles, he's the commander-in-chief...but he's also the campaigner-in-chief....[talking] about what's to be afraid of....the unreported money that's coming into this campaign through groups that we'll never know who contributed to, that's something our citizens should be worried about." Rodriguez pressed him: "If you gave them evidence to support that claim, it would be one thing. But, to make claims like this without backing them up, seems not right."

At the beginning of the interview, Rodriguez rightfully observed:

So your party has this opportunity to have the President of the United States come to your state to try to convince the voters to go Democratic in three weeks and he spends a good chunk of the time accusing the Republicans of trying to steal the election with money from foreign companies. Don't you think, Governor, that voters would rather hear how he's going – how Democrats are going to create jobs and grow the economy?

As NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard earlier reported, on Sunday's Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer openly mocked the Democratic line of attack as he challenged Obama advisor David Axelrod if it was "the best you can do?"

Near the end of the Monday segment, Rodriguez wondered: "It can't all be the Republicans' fault that the numbers are so bad for the Democrats in the polls. Where do you think that your party and the president are failing to get out the message?" Rendell argued: "Well, I think from the very beginning, we got out-spun on things like stimulus and health care reform, which have done great things for the citizens.... those things are enormously popular, but we got out-spun."

Here is a transcript of the October 11 interview:

7:10AM ET

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: President Obama will be back on the stump today trying to fire up the Democratic base. On Sunday, he was in Philadelphia, hoping to get voters excited about the Democrat Joe Sestak, who is trailing Republican Pat Toomey. Only about 18,000 supporters turned out, which is about half the number who attended an Obama rally two years ago.

BARACK OBAMA: On November 2nd, I need you as fired up as you were in 2008. Because –  because, we've got a lot of work ahead of us.

RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now from Washington, Pennsylvania Governor and former Democratic Party Chairman Ed Rendell. Governor, good morning to you.

ED RENDELL: Good morning, Maggie.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Campaign Crossfire; Obama Hits the Trail as State Races Heat Up]

RODRIGUEZ: So your party has this opportunity to have the President of the United States come to your state to try to convince the voters to go Democratic in three weeks and he spends a good chunk of the time accusing the Republicans of trying to steal the election with money from foreign companies. Don't you think, Governor, that voters would rather hear how he's going – how Democrats are going to create jobs and grow the economy?

RENDELL: Well, sure. But, the President does that pretty much every day. In fact, the reason I'm in Washington, Maggie, is we're having a press conference about the President's plan on infrastructure, which I think is the single-best job creator we can do right now.

RODRIGUEZ: But, why did he spend so much time talking about the Republicans trying to steal the election? Offering no evidence of that. Isn't it a bit undignified for the President to resort to that?

RENDELL: Well, the President's got dual roles, he's the commander-in-chief and he sets policy, like the infrastructure conference today, but he's also the campaigner-in-chief. And his goal in this campaign is to get Democrats off their duff and get them to the polls. And sometimes you do that by talking not only about the good things that Democrats have done in the Congress, and he sure as heck spends plenty of time talking about those, but also about what's to be afraid of. And the influence of outside money, the unreported money that's coming into this campaign through groups that we'll never know who contributed to, that's something our citizens should be worried about.

RODRIGUEZ: If you gave them evidence to support that claim, it would be one thing. But, to make claims like this without backing them up, seems not right.

RENDELL: Well, but, I think, Maggie, you know, for example, that Crossroads and groups like that are putting millions of dollars into this campaign and under the Citizens United decision, they don't have to report who gave the money. So, money's coming into the campaign, mostly on the Republican side, that's unreported and that goes against everything we've always held in this country. You can give money to a campaign, but the public's got a right to know who's supporting each candidate.

RODRIGUEZ: Okay. Let's say that that's happening. It can't all be the Republicans' fault that the numbers are so bad for the Democrats in the polls. Where do you think that your party and the president are failing to get out the message?

RENDELL: Well, I think from the very beginning, we got out-spun on things like stimulus and health care reform, which have done great things for the citizens. For example, on health care reform, there have been seven things that have happened since September 23rd, all of them very popular. Like you can't deny children health care because of pre-existing condition anymore, seniors getting a $250 check to fill that doughnut hole in prescription drug coverage, those things are enormously popular, but we got out-spun. The message at the beginning was bad and once you lose that message war, it's tough to make up ground.

RODRIGUEZ: Governor Ed Rendell, we thank you for your time, sir.

RENDELL: My pleasure.

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